It’s a good thing the kind gentleman at Benton & Johnson didn’t give me a deadline to work to – in fact, I may come to regret my tongue-in-cheek remark, when he said there wasn’t a deadline because this design had been on the backburner for two years, that at least I’d make sure it wouldn’t take another two years. At the rate I’m going, two years is beginning to look distinctly optimistic. I was sent the kit at the end of March, and nearly two months later where are we? Well, the silk fabric is on the Millennium frame…
In my defence, getting it mounted was a bit of a saga on account of the calico backing which turned out to be anything but rectangular. But with the help of the Millennium frame and a spray bottle of water, I got that sorted out and last time you saw the project it looked like this:
I hadn’t quite decided yet whether to attach only the top and bottom of the silk, or all four sides, but I thought I’d start with the top and bottom and then see how well that worked. It worked quite well, but not perfectly – the silk obviously needed a little sideward pull. I had worked the top and bottom herringbone with the fabric on a slightly slack tension, but for the sides I stretched it a bit more; not quite taut as a drum with the Millennium frame stretched to its maximum reach, but definitely tight. The result: a perfectly flat piece of silk to work on.
To attach the silk I had to use the frame’s side bars at their maximum extension, but for the actual goldwork embroidery I could do with a smaller area; and I much prefer that if it’s possible because I don’t like using the frame at its full 10 inches, for fear of overstretching and damaging the mechanism. So I repositioned the calico on the rollers, cut off the excess fabric, put on the roller guards and my needle minder, and collected my faithful helper. I was ready to roll.
So have I done any stitching at all? Well, no. But I’ve done some more preparatory work! There are a number of felt shapes to be cut out for padding. As I find it very difficult to draw on felt, I decided to make use of some thin Vilene. I traced the outlines of the felt shapes on to the glue side of the Vilene, so that when it was ironed on to the felt they would be back-to-front. This meant that the cut-out shapes, non-Vilene side up, would be the right way round. The design is not quite symmetrical, so this is important.
There is some leather to cut as well, but I will leave that until it’s needed. First I’d like to get some proper stitching done on this balloon, even if it is only attaching the padding.
Finally, a few remarks on the kit so far.
- The crease in the silk that worried me, and which I couldn’t get out completely with ironing, is a lot less noticeable when the fabric is stretched, so it should be all right.
- The silk is generously cut, with a 2½” margin all around the design.
- The felt, too, has plenty of room for all the parts.
- The felt outlines are numbered, and the instructions very clearly explain in which order they need to be attached. They explicitly point out that it is unusual for the small shape to be sewn on top of the larger one, so that stitchers who have done some padding before won’t get confused by this.
- According to the instructions, the two “half-balloon” shapes go underneath the full balloon shape. Although this is the usual order (smaller underneath larger) in this case I didn’t expect it, as the gap between the two half shapes is there to accommodate a line of pearl purl, and I’m not sure how this will work with the full balloon shape on top. It’ll be interesting to see it develop.
Now stretch up that frame, it’s time to start stitching!