Lately, I’ve taken to considering the scale of embroidery projects that I work. “Small” and “large” are relative terms when it comes to hand embroidery. Sure, a small four inch embroidery design, when lined up next to a large forty inch embroidery design, will look small, no matter what.
But there are times when a four inch embroidery design can be huge. Let me show you what I mean!
Remember the Tudor-style Rose project?
It’s always difficult to see the scale of a design in photographs, unless there’s something in the photo to establish perspective. In the two photos above, the only thing that might establish perspective, if you look closely, is the fabric. Both designs are drawn on the same linen. In the top photo featuring just the line drawing, you can’t really see the weave of the linen too well. In the second photo, you can see the weave pretty clearly.
This newly drawn rose is ready to stitch. It’s 3.5″ in diameter, to the tips of the leaves. The previously embroidered rose is just over an inch in diameter.
Compared to the little rose, the 3.5-incher is large. To me, it seems Huge. It’s not that big, in the Scheme of All Things Big and Small, but when you start thinking about what it will take to embroider the 3.5″ rose compared to the smaller one, the project suddenly blossoms into something Large.
What points will I consider when translating my tiny rose into a larger version?
First, there’s the question of materials. If I use the same materials, the large rose will require much more of the same materials. If I change materials – if I scale them up a bit to match the size of the design, then I won’t use as much as I would, if I were using the same type of threads used in the small rose. So, for example, if a #7 tambour thread becomes a much thicker passing thread, I can cover more ground with the thicker passing thread. If the silk becomes Soie d’Alger (a stranded spun silk) instead of Soie de Paris (a finer filament silk), and if I work perhaps in two strands instead of one, I could cover more ground per stitch.
Second, there’s the question of the number of colors and shades. With much more space in the larger petals, there’s more room for gradual shading, which means that I can use more than three colors if I want.
Third, there’s the question of technique. In the small rose, none of the goldwork is padded. It is flat on the fabric, as it’s too tiny to need padding, not to mention that padding teeny spaces is a pain in the neck. I wanted the rose to be flat, anyway, so I didn’t worry about padding the goldwork. On the larger rose, the goldwork areas can definitely take padding. In fact, given their larger size, these areas are open to a whole new interpretation with the goldwork. With a larger area in which to work, can’t you imagine all different ways to fill those areas? This leads to the question of whether or not I should change the filling techniques for the goldwork areas. What do you think?
And if I pad the goldwork, there’s also the possibility of padding the silk embroidery a bit. And that can change the whole look of the rose!
See what happens when you change the size of a design? So many possibilities!
Now, it’s true. I could just proceed with the same materials, stitching the large rose in the same manner that I stitched the small rose.
But this is when hand embroidery really becomes fun! Different materials, different techniques, applied to the same design – and voilá! You see the practically infinite variety that can be had with needle & thread!
Ain’t it grand?!
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