Archive | April 2009

La Vie En Rose- embroidered handbag

La Vie En Rose by Christen Brown

La Vie En Rose by Christen Brown

The November/December 2007 issue of PieceWork Magazine, included an article on my collection of vintage handbags: The Glamour of it All Collecting Vintage Handbags and La Vie En Rose the purse shown here to embroider. The version in the article shows the back of the purse, and the instructions are for a smaller embroidered floral vignette.

During my research for the article I collected quite a bit of additional information and I have written two other articles that may be of interest if you collect vintage purses.

This purse is made from black silk shantung fabric. I embroidered the stitches in #5 pearl cotton thread, using six colors for the flowers and three for the leaves. I used a variety of traditional embroidery stitches including: bouillon knots, woven rose and spokes, cast-on, lazy daisy, feathered leaf, French Knots, and Peking knot.

Happy Stitching! Christen

Tambour Embroidery-by Christen Brown

Close-up view of vintage tambour embroidery

Close-up view of vintage tambour embroidery

Excerpt from Tambour Embroidery– by Christen Brown

Tambour embroidery, introduced to the Western world by France, is a continuous worked chain stitch formed with a tambour hook, which forms a loop similar to a crochet chain. The stitch is formed on the fabric with the thread held underneath in one hand while the other hand inserts the hook down through the fabric to catch the thread. The needle is brought back through the same hole, forming a loop. The following stitches are formed a short distance from the previous stitch, catching the loop of the last stitch at the beginning of the next. SEE Tambour Embroidery for further reading.

Vintage Purses with Tambour Embroidery

Vintage Purses with Tambour Embroidery

These three purses are from my vintage purse collection. All are embroidered with tambour embroidery, possibly French. Clockwise from the left:

  1. Handbag with plunger clasp and chain handle: black moire silk with cream and pink roses and sage green leaves. Circa early 1900’s.
  2. Handbag with double frame and cloth handle: black silk satin with light pink, deep pink, crimson, and mauve colored roses and olive green leaves. Circa early 1900’s.
  3. Handbag that flips open flat with chain handle: black faille with pink, red, yellow and orange roses and olive green leaves.

Artistry in Alchemy- article by Christen Brown

Vintage French Handbags with Metal Thread Embroidery

Vintage French Handbags with Metal Thread Embroidery

Excerpt from Artistry in Alchemy– by Christen Brown.

The term gold-work embroidery was originally used to describe a form of decorative embroidery that employed real gold threads in a mixture of surface applications and techniques that use both laid and stitched yarns. The term now is extended to gold-work and metallic thread embroidery and includes all metals: gold (though this proved costly for most industries and was not used much after the 10th century), silver gilt, silver, pewter and copper, and metallic (alloy or synthetic) colored threads and yarns. See Artistry in Alchemy for further reading.

These two examples of incredible metal-thread embroidery are part of my vintage purse collection. The handbag I purchased at an estate sale, has copper, green and bronzed colored embroidery threads. The coin purse is mainly copper and silver colors, and I found this on ebay.

The March/April 2008  issue PieceWork Magazine included my article The Glittering World of Metal- Thread Embroidery. I created the project shown below Deco Butterfly, which appears in the magazine and Velvet Bracelet that you can download the directions to from their web site (use the link above and scroll to the bottom of the index).

Velvet Jewelry by Christen Brown

Velvet Jewelry by Christen Brown

Throughout the article they used pictures of the many examples of this fascinating embroidery that I have been collecting over the years. In fact the front cover shows a piece of fabric that I have been saving for my daughter’s wedding dress, now if she would only start dating…..

Stitched Adornments- article by Christen Brown

Vintage Floral Embroidery

Vintage Floral Embroidery

Excerpt from Stitched Adornments– by Christen Brown

Floral embroidery is a descriptive term that was used for both thread embroidery (silk, wool or chenille); and ribbon work flowers (a piece of ribbon or fabric that was stitched with a needle and thread) see the sample on the left. The flowers were arranged in sprays, or as a single bud on men’s waistcoats, ladies gowns, shawls and other accessories. Popular stitches for the embroideries were satin, long and short, and stem. The chain stitch that could also be worked with a tambour needle is often used as the only stitch in the design.

Ribbon work flowers such as aerophane or crepe floral embroidery (used in the late 19th century) had the details of leaves and stems stitched in with thread embroidery. The ribbon, a thin silk gauze or crepe would be cut then gathered with stitches to form each petal of the flower. Narrow silk “China” ribbons were available in shaded colors, and were first used in ribbon work floral embroidery. This narrow silk ribbon could also be threaded into a large eyed needle and stitched into flower shapes (usually a straight stitch) with added silk thread embroidered accents. The combination of ribbon work flowers and silk ribbon embroidery gave the design dimension. SEE Stitched Adornments for further reading.

Vintage Floral Sewing Bag

Vintage Floral Sewing Bag

The top image is from a satin purse, with the ribbon worked flowers and leaves of stitched chenille. A gift from my husband for my birthday, probably circa early 1900’s. It is incredible in person.

The second image with the whimsical floral vignettes was made, I believe as a sewing or knitting bag, but I use it as a purse, circa 1940’s judging from the fabrics used. Some of the flowers are made with ribbon, some with fabric scraps, some with added felt details. Primitive embroidery and beading were used to enhance the floral sections. I found this lovely treasure on ebay, and I adore it.

Winter Symphony- French wire ribbon corsage and headdress

Corsage and Headdress for Winter Symphony

Corsage and Headdress for Winter Symphony

Collaged Memories is a new category that I have added both to my blog and my web stite. It is dedicated to re-cycled, up-cycled and re-purposed creations. Winter Symphony is listed there.

This French wire ribbon worked ensemble was made to accessorise an embroidered silk shawl and purse, images below.

Both the headdress and corsage are made from 1″ and 1-1/2″ French wire ribbon with gold stamens for details. The headdress is stitched to a vintage millinery leaf, and wrapped floral wire. The corsage is backed with three leaves. I wore my hair in a bun at the back of my head, and the headdress fits on top and around it. The corsage I used to keep the shawl closed and around my shoulders.

The shawl and purse accessories were purchased separately, one on ebay the other at a thrift store. The embroidery and coloring were great but the colors needed some help to match the rest of my ensemble. I added in ribbon worked flowers and embroidered silk ribbon leaves on the shawl, using 3/8′ and 1/2″ ribbons with silk ribbon added in for the leaves. I added in ribbon work flowers on the purse, leaving the embroidered leaves and vines and beaded centers to show.

Happy Stitching! Christen

Winter Symphony Shawl

Winter Symphony Shawl

Winter Symphony Purse

Winter Symphony Purse

Ocean Rivers Bracelet- free form peyote

Ocean Rivers Bracelet by Christen Brown

Ocean Rivers Bracelet by Christen Brown

This is a new project that I just created for Joggles.com. The base of the bracelet is a grosgrain ribbon, embellished with shell buttons and covered in beads stitched with the peyote stitch. This class will mark the first time that I have taught an on-line class, hope to see you there! Click here for class details.

Happy Stitching! Christen

Aubrey’s Autumn Afternoon Vest- silk ribbon embroidery

Aubrey's Autumn Afternoon by Christen Brown

Aubrey's Autumn Afternoon by Christen Brown

This vest is another created from the class that I teach, Renaissance of Ribbon Embroidery, using a tapestry fabric for the base of the project, and stitching in silk ribbon embroidered stitches to embellish the print.

I fell in love with this tapestry mainly because of the sunflowers, I loved the bold colorful brilliance. Unfortunately I forgot to check where the sunflowers were going to land the first time I cut out the pattern pieces, well you can probably guess where they wound up, yes big bulls eyes at breast level. So I had to re-cut the pieces, made two purses from the other pieces and learned a very expensive lesson!

Close-up of Aubrey's Autumn Afternoon

Close-up of Aubrey's Autumn Afternoon

I used mainly 4mm silk ribbon for the stitching with silk button hole twist for the vines and details. I incorporated a few tatted flowers here and there. I also used Japan Gold thread to detail the petals of the sunflower, as you can see in the lower left hand corner of this image.

The center column of flowers was added after I realized that the pattern no longer fit me. Ugh! But I have to admit you do grow and learn from these design dilemmas!

I used vintage velvet trims, like the garnet colored one sewn down the front panel, and the garnet and green on the back of the vest. I also used several wonderful large pieces of vintage lace on the back panel.

Down the center panel and on the back of the vest I incorporated silk bias and French wire ribbon flowers with dyed fabric leaves. The front panel also has several vintage and new buttons mingled amongst the flowers with charms and other beads.

Happy Stitching! Christen