The Embroiderer's Story


October 17th, 2008 by Tricia

The panel at the Embroiderers’ Guild has often been referred to in some texts as a coif. The confusion may have occurred because the dimensions (width and height) are similar to many coifs. But it is a panel. We took a look at the edges and it was obvious that the piece was in its entirety and not cut from something larger. The small amount of linen around it had either nail marks or holes from being stretched on a frame. There was an embroidered stem stitch outline around the four sides and the embroidery appropriately started or ended at the boundaries if the motif was cut by the boundary.

Other details that are different from the jacket: there are less flowers, only nine types instead of the 11 borage being repeated twice) of the jacket. (I had to read this twice, my brain doesn’t move as fast as Tricia’s. The jacket master repeat is 3 x 4, therefore 12 motifs, but there are two borage so only 11 different motifs.) The borage and strawberries are missing. The blue and red flowers (carnation, gillyflower, or cornflower?) on the pieces are different between the two pieces, but not much different in terms of tracing. Just embroidered differently.

The calyx of the foxglove is stitched in silk and not gold. There is a different technique used for the detached pea pod parts, detached buttonhole in silver strip wrapped silk on the jacket and silk buttonhole over a gold thread (return) for the panel. The roses have an extra set of detached petals. Some of the thistles have an extra layer of detached buttonhole. The coiling stem is also a different stitch. On the jacket it is plaited braid whereas on the panel the stitch is ladder with wheat sheath. This stitch is much slower to work than plaited braid and done in two passes. Overall, the panel has a higher level of detail work which is absent from the jacket.


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4 Responses to “Panel”

  1. Linda Vinson says:

    I wonder if the jacket wasn’t made with fewer dimensional pieces because as an article of clothing, there would be more friction on the embroidery. The sleeve against the jacket body; the baCK against a chair; the shoulders brushing against walls, furniture, etc. More dimension would mean more wear and a shorter useful life. Just wondering aloud…

  2. coral-seas says:

    I think Linda makes a valid point above. I also imagine that as the panel is so much smaller than the jacket, the customer could afford to splash out on a few extras such asexra layers of detached petals or a more intricate coiling stem. With regard to the motifs, is it possilbe that the customer might pick and chose the flowers that appealed to them.

    These posts are fascinating, Tricia. Of course we would have like to be with you at the viewing but since this was not possible, these detailed descriptions are greatly appreciated. Thank you.


  3. Susan K. says:

    I wonder if the panel was a sample piece of what the shop could produce?

    I study medieval calligraphy and illumination, and it was common for a scribe to have pages of the “hands” they could do, so patrons could have confidence in the scribe’s skill as well as select the lettering style they desired; ditto for a scriptorium, for showing potential patrons the workmanship and available styles of their illuminators and scribes. Perhaps the embroidered panel served a similar purpose?

    Just a thought!

    Thanks again, Tricia, for sharing all this. It is fascinating!

  4. I have just blogged about the panel and its “not plaited braid stitch” at my blog, White Threads.

    The books that I have seen this panel in all say that it features plaited braid stitch. I agree with you Tricia, that it does not, however I came to this conclusion independently. I had just been looking at a close up photo of it and thinking “That is NOT plaited braid stitch. I wonder what it is.” So I studied it and studied it, and with my needle and thread I think I might have figured it out.


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