Embroidery from the Plimoth Plantation project to recreate an embroidered 17th Century Stuart Jacket

In June 2007, Laura Mellin was invited to participate in the kick-off session for Plimoth Plantation's V&A Embroidered JacketParadise in Silk and Gold project of recreating a 17th Century Stuart embroidered ladies jacket, based on an extant jacket in the Victoria and Albert Museum's collection. I was fotunate enough to be able to go with her, and have become ensconced in the project. If you catch me in person or read my blog under the "plimoth" tag, you will receive more information than you ever wanted to know about this fascinating project. New old materials are being created just for this project, such as the Gilt Sylke Twist (GST) threads and teardrop spangles, that might hopefully become available again going forward as a result of this project. A community of stitchers has erupted over this project, including some from the modern embroidery world, some coming from the living-history side of things, and some new folks who have never embroidered before. The spearheads of the project, Jill Hall, Tricia Wilson and Wendy White have been able to take unprecedented looks and determine the smallest details in this recreation project. I've been fortunate to visit Plimoth Plantation in June '07, October '07, January '08, May '08, September '08 and May '09 to participate in the project. Here are some pictures of the elements I've been fortunate enough to be able to complete on the jacket, with smaller pictures of examples off the original for comparison.

As of June 2009, most of the embroidery was completed at the last stitching session. The blue handwoven silk lining and gold and silver lace was brought out to dispay with the complete sleeve. Now to wait patiently for the display and exhibition at Winterthur Museum. I have created a handout of notes on the many facets of this project.
Complete Sleeve

Details of the original jacket
My versions of the motifs, based on the instructions given.

Trefoil leaf
V&A Trefoil
The Trefoil leaves are worked in silk perle in 3-5 colors, and are sprinkled all over the jacket. They are used as an initiation for most new stitchers since there are so many to be done.

My trefoil

VnA Thistle
One of the first floral elements I was able to work on was the thistle. First the leaves are worked up in silk perle using the ceylon stitch, and then the flower is outlined and filled using the GST. A lady named Carol kindly did the fill in the flower that I didn't have time for.

My Thistle
V&A Cornflower
I had worked the calyx on this cornflower in the first session, and filled it in in January after Carol had done the outline in a previous stitching session. The calyx is in the silk perle, and the fill uses Indico Blewe and Graie Blewe GST for the outline and detached buttonhole fill.
My Cornflower
V&A Sweetpea
I worked this sweetpea from start to finish in January. The calyx is done in the silk perle in the detached buttonhole. The center is yellow silk perle in the trellis stitch. The petals are worked in Carnacion and Bisse in the GST in the detached buttonhole stitch.
My Sweetpea
V&A Rose
The rose was my first project in May. The petals are outlined and filled almost to the center using the Carnacion GST in the detached buttonhole stitch. Then the pink silk perle is used to fill in to the center circle using the detached buttonhole in a spiral.
My Rose

V&A Columbine
I completed the centers of two columbines on the right sleeve in January, and finished a flower on the back in May. The Columbine used the Indico Blewe, Carnacion, Redde, and Grene in the GST, and a small bit of the silk perle in pale pink near the base of three petals. The Grene portions are worked in the ceylon stitch.

My Columbine Tea CupMy Columbine
Strawberry Flower
V&A Strawberry Flower
Lastly for the May session, I completed a small strawberry flower in Indico Blewe GST on the back of the jacket in May. It was small and fiddly, but quite enjoyable to recreate.
My Strawberry Flower
Butterfly Wings
First on my plate for Sept. was to do the outline and fill on a spikey butterfly's wings. The body had already been done in trellis stitch by another, so I warmed up with the reverse chain stitch outline, and the detached buttonhole fill using the pink and red Soie Perle. On the original these wings are mostly covered with a detatched set of wings.
My Butterfly Wings
V&A Borage Flower
The borage flower is worked in the Graie Blewe and Indico Blewe GST. The absolute center is done in the trellis stitch (which I left for someone with a more practiced hand), and the green little leaves are done in the ceylon stitch in the green #325 Soie Perle.
My Borage flower
Plain worm
V&A Plain Worm
There are two kinds of worms on the jacket, both done in ceylon stitch. This version is a single line of ceylon stitch and the center is wrapped with Noir Soie Perle to define the ridges. I did make a mistake and miss a line, inadvertently creating a saddle for this worm.
My Plain Worm
Fancy worm
V&A Fancy Worm
The fancy worm is two rows of ceylon stitch in Bisse and Isabella GST side by side. The head is then also worked in GST in Redde, and the antennae are finished off in black backstitch.
My Fancy Worm

Oes detail

Final details include the chain stitch gold tendrils off the vines, and attaching the small round gold sequins called oes.

Plimoth Oes detail


Links to more information :

Plimoth Plantation Embroiderer's Story:

Plimoth Plantation Participation FAQ and links to stitch instructions from my blog:

Photos of the original jacket from the V&A's collection downloaded from The Queen's Court Photoalbum:

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