The beautiful blackwork jacket inspiring my jacket project

I’ve had a lot of questions about blackwork lately.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been talking about my jacket project more or maybe more people are catching the embroidery bug (Catch the bug!  You’ll love it!).  Either way I think it’s awesome.  Monochromatic embroidery like blackwork and scarletwork was used extensively during the 16th and early 17th centuries to embellish all sorts of items from clothing to soft household goods like pillow cases.  If you have been curious about blackwork (or scarletwork, etc) here is a link to my tutorial on monochromatic embroidery.  The tutorial also includes a short pin cushion project so you can try you hand at an small project (and a bonus band motif for those of you wanting to try you hand at a collar and cuffs for a shirt).

The right sleeve: 9 motifs from completion of the outlining

I know what you all are probably thinking…didn’t she start this project like two years ago?  Why is it still in progress?  Why isn’t it done or discarded?  Well the truth is I am still working on it.  And as of this evening the right sleeve is 9 motifs away from completion of the outlining.  More pictures are available in my galleryif you would like to see them.


Well we didn’t make it out to Fort Raleigh after all but my tutorial on Elizabethan Monochromatic Embroidery is now available in the tutorial section of my website.

Sometimes it happens.  You had this fab idea for a project.  It was exciting and it really got your juices flowing.  But once you got further into it you realized that it wasn’t quite what you had had in mind when you first got started.  It’s just not making you happy any more and you find yourself wondering if it’s better to trudge through and finish it up or shelve it until it does start to make you happy again.

I’ve been feeling that way myself lately.  And I’ve come to the conclusion that sometimes it may just be better to shelve a project rather than to keep working on something that is no longer bringing you the joy it once was.  Sometimes its better to shelve it and free yourself up to take on other projects that will bring you joy.  After all, isn’t the fact that they bring us happiness and some measure of joy and fulfillment the whole reason we do these projects in the first place?  Besides there is nothing that says you can’t come back to that old project at a later date.

So I’ve decided to step back from the projects that haven’t been bringing me joy so that I can focus on the things that are.

What am I putting on hold?

  1. The eBooks. Working on them and selling them through the site just hasn’t been as fun as I thought it would be so I’m shelving the project.  What will I do with the two I already have?  I’m not sure yet but I’m pondering several options.
  2. The Flanders Gown. It was so much more fun when I started it but once the fur went down hill it just wasn’t as inspiring anymore.  Since all it needs are sleeves I will probably finish it but I’ll do something more simple that I had originally planned.
  3. Commissions. I’ve enjoyed working on the commissions I’ve taken but now that my most recent one is done I’ve decided to take some time for myself for a while.  I have about 20 buttons to make and that’s it.  I’m going to finish them in the next couple weeks and then I’m going to focus on some personal projects that have really been calling to me.  The calendar will probably open up again for commissions at some point in the future but for now I’m going to focus on personal projects.

What am I still deciding on?

  1. The Etsy Shop. I just don’t know what to do about it.  On the one hand I’ve enjoyed it and I have some big ideas for changes to it but on the other I’m not sure that the things I want to produce fit in best at Etsy.  Still pondering this one.

What am I going to do more of?

  1. Fight. Fighting has been bringing me a lot of joy lately and I want to free up more time for it.
  2. Sew and Embroider for myself. I have several personal sewing projects that are calling to me.  Plus less free time has meant less time for my embroidered jacket.  I worked on it recently and it reminded me how much I’ve enjoyed this project and really want to free up more time for it.
  3. Enjoy the fresh air and warm sun. This winter was rather stressful but the thing that always made me feel better was going outside and walking around the building.  Now that its starting to warm up being outside is even more pleasurable.  I want to spend more time outside, go to fighter practice in the daylight, move my workouts outdoors, and get in a little diving.  I can’t wait for Spring.
  4. Write. I’ve really enjoyed the FR and YWU articles that I’ve written and I have several ideas for new tutorials and HMA articles that I’ve been neglecting.  I have two more FR articles in the works and I want to get started on at least one of the HMA articles after Ymir.  I might even see about teaching at summer University.

I did get pictures of my Flanders gown.  They are still currently on the camera with my KASF pictures because I’ve been totally lazy about downloading them but I should have them up before the end of the weekend.  In pseudo related news I discovered at KASF that I have to take in my last last pair of bodies and I expect I will have to alter my Flanders gown now as well.  That was pretty cool.

KASF was really inspiring.  I’ve been rather uninspired project wise lately and it really helped to get my juices flowing.  I’m currently brainstorming a couple of projects and I’m getting back to my long sidelined jacket project.  I am doing some reevaluating of the jacket project though.  My vision of where I’d like it to go has changed a bit and I don’t know whether it’s better to alter to project to suit my vision or to continue to push on to finish it as is.

I’m also considering a website reorg and maybe a new template.  It’s been about two years since the last one and since I usually get this itch every 2 years or so this one is hitting me pretty much right on schedule.

It’s New Years Day which means it’s time look back on the projects I’ve finished and the goals I set for myself over the last year and start planning out the ones I want to work on this year.

2010 Goals:

1)  Continue to work on my physical fitness and fighting.
2)  Only have one embroidery project at a time.  Until it’s finished this means my jacket.
3)  Do more sewing.
4)  Learn to play 2 pieces of music appropriate to Elizabethan England by Pennsic.
5)  Spend more time with my students.
6)  Continue to post Silver and Swetnam installments weekly.

I had a lot of false starts with my first goal of working on my physical fitness and fencing.  I would stay focused for a few weeks and then drop off.  I was really disappointed with myself in this.  These were really important goals for me and I let myself set them on the back burner over and over again.

I did OK with goals two and three.  I couldn’t maintain working on a sewing project and an embroidery project at the same time but I did enjoy more sewing projects this year and kept myself focused on the one embroidery project (my jacket) even if I didn’t get as far on it as I would have liked to.

I wrote about goal four recently already.

I did enjoy spending more time with my students both on and off the field this year and I’m looking forward to even more next year.

I did not continue with my Silver and Swetnam series mostly because I’ve decided to change those projects slightly.  Instead of working on them in a series I’ve decided I want to publish them all at once.

2010 Planned Projects

Get my fencing in top notch shape In progress
Embroidered Jacket In progress (Started August 2009)
Flander’s Gown In progress
Silver Training Blog Series In progress
Swetnam Training Blog Series In progress
Steampunk Gown Finished! January 2010
Wrapped and Stuffed Buttons @ Etsy Opened! January 2010
Grey Wool Bias Cut Hosen Finished! February 2010
Linen Kirtle Finished! April 2010
White Linen Bias Cut Stockings Finished! April 2010
16th-17th Century Stocking Tutorial Finished! April 2010
Blue Linen Bias Cut Hosen Finished! May 2010
14th Century Hosen Tutorial Finished! May 2010
Saviolo Dueling Blog Series Finished! June 2010
Early Modern English Dueling Class Finished! June 2010

Green Linen GFG Finished! September 2010
Burgundy Linen Effigy Bodies Finished! October 2010
Recreating Elizabethan Bodies Tutorial Finished! October 2010
Monochrome Embroidery Tutorial Finished! December 2010
French-Cut gown
A new linen suit
Natural Form Gown

2011 Goals

1)  Continue to improve fitness and fencing
2)  Have one sewing project a month
3)  Publish a new ebook every 1-2 months
4)  Be able to play 1 Elizabethan popular song by December

In December I rededicated myself for improving my fitness and I’m pleased to say that I was able to stay pretty straight and mostly narrow even through the Holidays.  I have also begun outlining my plan for working on my fencing one already and I plan on discussing them in more detail when their more firm.  My first fitness and fencing goals revolve around Gulf Wars and I will be discussing them in future posts.  My other goals are all pretty self explanatory. In order to keep myself on track and focused I’ve decided to keep my total number of goals this year lower than last and I will be posting monthly updates.

2011 Planned Projects

Get my fencing in top notch shape In progress
Embroidered Jacket In progress (Started August 2009)
Flander’s Gown In progress
Silver Training Manual In progress
Swetnam Training Manual In progress
14th Century Cloth Hosen ebook
New Rapier Armor
Shirt, Brais, Hosen
Charles de Blois Pourpoint
Edwardian Lingerie Gown
Arming Garments Class

The first non-fencing related projects I will be working on are the 14th Century Cloth Hosen ebook and finishing my Flanders Gown.

This week I start to find myself between projects.  My last article was published and I’ve started writing the next next one.  I’ve finished a couple of sewing projects and I’m getting ready to start a new commission.  This is the time that I generally make updates to my site.  So today when I was making some of those updates I found myself looking over some of my recent accomplishments and thinking that it’s nearly November and the end of the year is on it’s way.

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I’ve probably mentioned it here before but for the past year and a half at least I’ve had an unfinished green linen gothic fitted gown sitting on my shelf waiting to be picked back up.  It was all cut out, it just needed to be assembled.

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I’ve finally started rededicating time each week to work on my embroidered jacket last month and I finally completed the outlining on the first sleeve of my embroidered jacket last week.  I also finished the first gore are started the second sleeve last night.  Progress is being made once again!

I realized Sunday night while I was starting work on the second sleeve that I hadn’t updated my gallery for this project in several months.  Unfortunately when I pulled out my camera last night to snap some quick pictures I noticed that my batteries for the camera were dead. 🙁  So I pulled out the Flip, shot some quick video of the completed sleeve and gore, and then pulled out some stills from the video so I’d have something to show you guys this morning. 🙂  The stills I was able to pull out don’t give you a good overall view but I did charge the camera batteries last night so I can snap a few more pictures this evening.

So there are new pictures up in my jacket gallery if you all want to check them out and more are on the way soon.

The French Knot was one of those embroidery stitches that really gave me a tough time while I was trying to figure it out.  It’s used a lot in finishing thread wrapped buttons so I definitely wanted to master it.  It took me a while but in the end I got it.

For every one else trying to master this stitch, Make It Mine Magazine has a great French Knot tutorial on YouTube that I hope you will find useful.