Saturday, June 23, 2018

Boy Bishop!

Here are some lovely photos of the dressing up clothes I recently sent off to the Pugin Centre & Shrine of St Augustine in Ramsgate..

First we have a Grey friar:-

Next we have the Gothic Chasuble I showed in an earlier post, with its accompanying maniple and stole:-

And finally, the Bishop's Mitre and Cope - good to see the Mitre stays on!!

I love the pious expression! Maybe he will be a Bishop one day!

Saturday, June 2, 2018

First Communion Gift

My sweet Godson will be making his First Holy Communion tomorrow. As he is chuffed that he will soon be able to join his numerous illustrious elder brothers in serving at the altar, and has recently got interested in "playing" at Mass, I thought I would whip up a 'play chasuble' for him for a First Communion gift.

As he has an angelic name, I thought the angelic orphrey bands would suit - it was a huge roll of stiffened ribbon I bought, ahem, about 20 odd years ago, when my lad was a baby - in the vague hope that I would find some use for it...sometimes it pays to horde things!

It looked a bit bland in the centre of the cross, in need of a motif, and as I had plenty of red velvet scraps, what better in this month of the Sacred Heart, to place one there.

As I've been rather busy sewing lately, I didn't have much time to spend on this, and I was racking my brains for a quick solution to the flames needed at the top of the heart ….

Having just completed a dress for a certain young lady, I had plenty of scraps of the fabric lying around, and realised that if I cut a piece in just the right way, it would do splendidly...

Sweet Heart of Jesus, bless all the little ones about to receive you for the first time. Amen.

Summer Sunflowers

My Super Model decided she wanted a "Sunflower" dress, and so I ventured forth to find suitable sunflower fabric. There was quite a lot of quilting fabric, (which is not usually suitable for clothes) but not much dressmaking fabric around. Eventually, after much scouring of the internet, I came across some delightful sunny stuff at a reasonable price in my local fabric shop; such is the way of the world!  Having got the young lady's measurements I proceeded to make a "muslin" as it is known. This is basically the dress made up in a cheap fabric in the required size which is then fitted to the person, before using the "real" fabric.

The only snag was that my model kept moving around the country, so after the first trial muslin was sent to her, and photos and said muslin were duly returned, it was obvious that it would have to be re-cut and re-shaped to get a perfect fit. This is not an easy task when one doesn't have one's model to hand. A second muslin was made up and sent off, but the ensuing photos still didn't quite come up to the mark, although it was much closer than the first one - everyone's body-shape is so different, this is why buying off the peg only works for a few! However, we had dithered long enough, and as I was never going to pin this model down in my vicinity, I decided to take the plunge and make the adjustments by eye, and get the dress made up and sent off.

I was relieved to hear that it was a perfect fit - she had specified certain features, the neckline, the sleeves (which got changed half way through to a style I'd never made before, but which turned out really well) and the skirt shape. I had suggested princess seams for the bodice, as they create such a flattering line, and she ended up delighted with it.

Doesn't she look lovely, and she's even found a stylish pair of shoes to go with it!

 Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, plant, tree, shoes, flower, outdoor and nature

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Recent Shenanigans

Well, the busyness of the business has been taking over to the degree that I haven't managed to post anything much lately. So here's a random selection of what Zelie's Roses has been up to...

A winter wedding dress of pure silk

It started out as some very large circles - I am so grateful that I have my wonderful cutting room floor!

And became a very elegant flowing gown, with almost a 1940's feel...

Then to carry on the circles theme, I managed to make a couple of circle skirts for a little lady...

Who chose the teapot one for her first day back at school!

Whilst I'm also working on several altar frontals/tabernacle veils, I did manage to get this one made in time for Easter...

This was it being tried on for size, during Lent, hence the purple Tabernacle veil!

Oh yes, and somewhere in between all that I managed to pop in a set of vestments for the Shrine Church of St Augustine, and the National Pugin Centre. It included an Alb, Chasuble, Cope and Mitre.. as well as a Monk's habit. As it was to be a Pugin-esque Chasuble, I was very blessed to find just enough vintage orphrey banding to make it look sufficiently authentic....

You may well ask how I managed to do all that in such a short space of time, well, they are meant for children on their educational visits to the centre, so didn't have to be too perfectly finished, although I did spend time making sure they were robust! I hope to get some pictures of them all being modelled in the not too distant future.

And just as I thought I could settle down to some serious work on a real-life full-sized Chasuble that needs to be ready for an Ordination in June, a Bride to be in distress got in touch asking if I could make her a Wedding Mantilla Veil, as she hadn't been able to find anything big enough, and her Wedding was in two weeks' time! Happy to oblige, I fortunately had some lovely lace in stock so was able to come up with this...

Now, back to that Chasuble...(and the next Wedding dress I'm working on too...!)

Sunday, March 18, 2018

2018 First Communion Traditional Long Sleeved Dress

The goal posts got moved for this one, from mid May to mid April, had to keep my head down under the parapet, and over the sewing machines to get it in the post on time. Won't be doing that again in a hurry, even if it did turn out lovely!
Any further orders for First Communion Frocks this year will need to be made at least 2 months in advance in the UK, 3 months for overseas.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Lenten Array

Haven't had much time for posting lately, as I've just finished a wedding dress, and then was asked to make a Lenten Chasuble and Dalmatic in time for Ash Wednesday. I didn't get a single photo of the wedding dress, so I'm hoping I'll get some from the Bride once she's settled in to married life!

I made sure I got some of the Lenten Array. It is quite unusual in Catholic Churches these days, but apparently it was an old English tradition to have very plain vestments from the beginning of Lent, then changing to violet for Passiontide.

I availed myself of my new "studio" cutting floor. It's great to have a large space to lay out swathes of pure Irish linen, and wonderful silk when making large items.

Although the linen is plain, with the red lining, and orphrey bands it does look quite striking.

Maniple burse and veil.

 Father asked for a Gothic style Chasuble, which is appropriate to the architectural style of his Church. This is the Church interior with its Lenten hangings for Altar and Tabernacle in place.

As Father offers Mass in both the Usus Antiquior, and the Novus Ordo, he needed a Dalmatic for the Deacon who assists on Sundays.

It was quite a tall order, since I only had about 3 weeks to get the fabric ordered, and make everything up - the hardest thing being that I needed to make up all the orphrey bands by cutting strips from the red silk lining fabric, and attaching the dice braid down each side - very time-consuming! Needless to say I was hand-finishing the items right up to Shrove Tuesday evening!

  Father Reads the Gospel on Ash Wednesday

Father descends the Altar at the end of Mass.

Now I've just got 2 chasubles to restore/make, three altar frontals, and two tabernacle veils, plus another wedding dress ... won't have much time to post for the near future!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Mystery Saint, Opus Anglicanum restoration Part 2

One of the most satisfying things about restoring something ancient, is when the original intention of the artist, which may have been made obscure through time due to disintegration of the original, or poor restoration, can be brought to the light again.

Here will be detailed the finding of the "Mystery" Saint between the two prophets on the front Orphrey of the Opus Anglicanum.
It was obvious that this figure was a Saint, since he had a halo. He held a tome in one hand, but the other raised arm had no visible hand, and seemed to be holding a large lozenge shaped object, which was impossible to identify as any saintly attribute.

Having studied many other images of Opus Anglicanum Saints juxtaposed with Prophets, it was concluded that it would be likely to be an Apostle, but which one?
Since the embroidery was heavily restored in these areas - as could be seen by the amount of newer threads coming through to the back of the later lining, as well as the poor quality of workmanship, especially in the face - the embroidered lines delineating the eyes nose and mouth were positioned very crudely - it was decided that the threads should be carefully removed, using tweezers, from the back.

The result was most surprising, and extremely gratifying to see..

Even though there was very little left of the original, the black outline threads were still in place, and the positioning of the features, beard and hair, could be easily worked out from them. What also could be seen was that he has a left hand holding the raised object, and from careful examination of where the original background threads had extended to, it could be seen that it was a short-handled curved blade of some sort.  This made the task of discovering who the saint was a lot easier.
Having researched typical attributes given to Apostles in the iconography of this period, it was deemed to be a flaying knife, and since St Bartholomew is frequently shown with this as his attribute,

St Bartholomew, from All Souls, Oxford.

the conclusion was that it is an embroidery of St Bartholomew.

With this in mind, the restoration was undertaken. The areas to be restored were quite extensive, so it was again deemed best to make a replica of the areas on hooped-up silk organza. Below, you can see the extent of the area which was to be covered, rather than sewing through the original canvas.

The restoration was completed in the same manner as described in the earlier blog posting Part One with the final result being like this.


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Top Prophet, Opus Anglicanum, details of Restoration (Part 1.)

The first task was to photograph, and assess the damaged areas, once the embroidery was carefully removed from the old chasuble.

The worst damage was to the front orphrey, the cause of which could be described, unscientifically, as "tummy rub" - but Father disclaimed having caused it, as he'd not really worn it that often! It is in the area which would most often rub against the altar edge whilst the Priest is offering the Sacrifice of the Mass.

Firstly, in the skirts, feet and floor of the top figure,

and secondly, on the middle figure, in the architecture above him, his face and upper body. The face had been very badly restored, and did not make much sense. It was also difficult to tell what he was holding in his left hand. This would have been an important symbol in trying to identify who he was, which shall be discussed later, in part 2.

The original mediaeval canvas had been backed with a linen at some time in the more recent past ,which made it easier to handle after removal from the chasuble -  (See photo below.)

When examining the back of the embroidery, one could see the extent of the restorations, since they came through both canvases - any threads that are seen on the back of the more recent lining canvas are obviously not original.

Looking at other Opus Anglicanum work, one can see that it is frequently Prophets and Apostles who are depicted. The Prophets very often wear a funny hat, and carry a scroll. The Saints will have a halo, and some identifying symbol. It seemed obvious that this orphrey had a Saint with his halo, sandwiched between two prophets - (It may well have been cut down from a larger piece of work at some time in the past, since the embroideries looked as though they could have carried on at either end.)

The decision was made to intervene in the original as minimally as possible, so some smaller areas were to have the poorer restorations removed, and some careful filling in of the gaps with embroidery threads, but larger areas would be covered in a new piece of embroidery carried out on two layers of fine silk organza, a very fine lightweight but stable fabric, which could then be lightly stitched in place on top of the damaged area. 

This shows the organza hooped, with a light chalk tracing of the area to be copied.

It was necessary to use as fine a fabric to embroider onto as possible, in order that the final piece would not end up too bulky.

When the loose threads, and the dark green under the top Prophet's feet, which were later additions, were carefully cut away, it could be seen that the floor had originally been made up of pale blue, and fawn coloured threads couched down with green crosses, so this was emulated in the copy.  The floor would also have extended up either side of the bottom of the gown, on either side of the figure, so one didn't mind extending over the restorations in that area. It is interesting that the original embroidery had worn away there, as had the restoration - it is evidently a vulnerable area, when being worn. In placing an independently embroidered piece over this part, it would be the first area to wear, and help minimise further damage to the original.

The embroidery unhooped alongside the original.

Below can be seen the free-standing piece of embroidery with the organza edges tucked round to the back, prior to mounting on the orphrey. The threads used were modern embroidery threads, mostly 3 strands, and an attempt was made to emulate the directionality of the original threads as much as possible, using a split-stitch technique, similar to how the original work was carried out. This is the first time such a technique had been carried out, so a certain amount of learning on the job took place!

The Prophet's face and hands had been badly restored, but the original features - eyes, nose and mouth were still intact, and under the restoration threads, the original positioning of the fingers and thumb could be detected. The restoration threads were removed with tweezers from the back of the lining canvas, so no original threads were lost, and some embroidery stitches were put in in a closer matching coloured thread to fill around the original features.

Before, with claw hand and ghost face!


Finally, here is a comparison of the top Prophet area before and after restoration. The previous restorations included the very bright royal blues, but it was decided to go with more muted blues, closer in tone to the original. The work carried out will be fairly obvious to anyone who wants to distinguish between the original and the restoration, whilst at the same time it gives a nice finish to the orphrey, newly mounted onto a chasuble, which can now be used on special occasions, for its original intended purpose of offering Mass.