The building blocks

Today my pattern arrived, and so did the free fabric samples.  Here they are, alongside the current state of progress with the embroidery pattern:

Pattern, fabric samples and current progress on embroidery chart

The samples of the fabrics that I’m going to be using are at the top right of the picture, and the other two are the ones I decided against.  Here’s a closer look at the fabrics I’ll be using, showing the colours more accurately:

Fabric samples

The rather natty gold stripe is polyester, and will be the lining.  The centre sample is a heavy linen which will form the front pieces.  Oddly, on the website the other linen – the one that looks bright blue in the first photo – looked a very similar colour, but as you can see they are very different in real life.  Finally, the third fabric is a good quality silk which will make up the back of the waistcoat.  It’s a very similar shade to the polka dot lining that I eventually rejected, but it eventually got chosen because it is just that little bit more blue rather than green, so it matches the linen better.  To be honest I prefer the polka dot fabric, but I had to go for the better match, and this one is about as good as it could possibly get.

While waiting for these to arrive, I have been slowly progressing with the embroidery pattern, working madly to get the current piece of cord off the lucet so I can start making a sample with the purple wool I mentioned in an earlier post,  and having a lot of thoughts about the project.  For a start, I think I need to build a couple of custom frames, which won’t be expensive but may need some help from a friend who does DIY.  I have a wrist problem which means I can’t saw up bits of wood, even if they are fairly light.  Normally, in fact, I don’t use a frame or hoop for embroidery at all, since I’m well practised at keeping a good tension, but I think this project is going to need it.  I do own an embroidery frame, the sort where you can rotate the work on rollers at the ends, but with all the couching (and eventually beadwork) I don’t think that is going to cut the mustard.  I think I need a flat fixed frame, and, since it’s going to be so cheap to make one, I may as well make two so that I can work on both front pieces at the same time, rather than having to finish one before I can make a start on the other.

I will also need to make a mock-up to ensure that it fits… so I won’t be able to surprise my friend completely, but I can at least keep it quiet till the project is well under way!  To this end I have recruited another singing friend as my co-conspirator, and he has agreed to try to find out the height and chest measurement of our unsuspecting waistcoat-wearer in a discreet fashion.  At the moment, I have a good guess at these measurements as a back-up.  There’s a chap at work who is about the same height as my friend, but slightly thinner, so I explained what I was trying to do, asked him for his chest measurement, and added two inches.  The height I’m fairly sure about.  Let’s just say my friend is a classic haute-contre.  He’s not tall.  This means I have to scale down the vertical measurements of the pattern by a factor equal to my friend’s height divided by 5’10”, which is the height for which the pattern was designed.

This weekend I’ll probably get some unbleached calico and cheap lining material for the mock-up, though I can’t really do much about it until I get the measurements I need.  I should also be able to make a lucet sample and get more work done on the embroidery chart, and I have just the music to relieve the tedium of that particular job.  On Tuesday night I went to hear the Orlando Consort (linked on the right), who were singing some beautiful 15th-century music.  I bought another of their recordings during the interval… well, it would have been rude not to, don’t you think? 🙂  So you know what I’ll be listening to while I’m filling in all those little squares.

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