So far the New Year hasn’t been great, with flooding, power cuts and general yuckiness so I had been looking forward a one day workshop at the delightfully named Fluffatorium
(http://www.gilliangladrag.co.uk) in Dorking. Yesterdays workshop was an opportunity to learn Ribbon Embroidery.
This pretty and highly decorative technique was popular in the early to mid 18th century in France (Rococo period) when ladies of the French Court had their dresses richly embellished with ribbon-work sprays. The work was carried out by skilled professional needleworkers and kept very much within the Royal family. It wasn’t long before the British Court caught on and ladies adopted the use of ribbon rosettes to embellish their clothing.
It fell out of favour after the mid 18th century, but saw a brief revival in the late 19th and early 20th centuries following the success of the French couturier Charles Worth, and ribbon work became popular on mens’ and women’s clothing as well as on household and fashion accessories. It wasn’t until the 1990’s that it resurfaced again in Australia, where embroiderer’s began to reintroduce the technique to embellish ladies handbags and other small accessories. Today it is still widely used in a number of countries as an embellishment for fashion items as well as for purely decorative purposes in the form of wall hangings or cards. The technique itself has not changed and employs simple (but effective) stitches – the woven wheel, straight stitch, looped straight stitch, ribbon stitch and gathered ribbons.
The workshop was led by embroiderer and author Sophie Long (www.sophielong.co.uk) graduate of the Royal School of Needlework and who was also involved in the making of embroidery for the wedding dress worn by Kate Middleton on her marriage to Prince William. The project for the day was to make a needle case in the shape of a heart embellishing the front cover with ribbon embroidery.
Sophie teaching at the Fluffatorium
Sophie proved to be a delightful and helpful tutor demonstrating the various stitches as the day went on. The stitches used are variations on traditional hand embroidery stitches – woven wheel, straight stitch, looped straight stitch, ribbon stitch (appropriately enough) and gathered ribbon.
The finished article – my needle case embellished with ribbon embroidery
Another great fun day spent learning a useful technique in the company of lovely, friendly people, drinking tea and eating cake – perfect!