Orange Shift, first post


Basic Idea:
This is my work on my latest shift. It is going to be a high neck, cuffed elizabethan shift. I am basing the idea of it on two shifts that are in Janet Arnold PoF4, ones she labels 78( woman’s linen smock embroidered with isolated animal and plant motifs in pink silk, c.1620-30 V&A) and 81( woman’s linen smock with tapered sleeves, embroidered in deep pink silk, c1600-1610. Nat’l Museums of Scotland, Edinburgh)

I am only going to embroider on the underarm gores, the cuffs, the collar, and the edges of the ruff.

This is for “everyday” ware, so I want to be able to stuff it into the wash and not worry about it, so that is going to affect the thread I chose to use.

I have, however, decided to use a open work seem. I am following the instructions in Women’s Dress Patterns, Book Two edited by Susan North and Jenny Tiramani on page 14 for the triangular edging(14) and the instructions on page 13 for knotted insertion stitch (15) as I think that will give me an look similar to Arnold’s picture 81D(page 61).
As of this point, I have one underarm gore done, and I need to work on making my triangular stitches even!

Design of the embroidery:
I am basing the design off of Arnold’s 78(picture on page 59) which seems to be random motifs from A schole-house for the needle by Richard shoreleyker, 1632.

(Brief note, yes, I know all these resources are after 1600, so sue me! Or referrer me to earlier ones that are within my skill level and access)

Anyway, in the smock I am looking at, it appears to be random motifs, so I chose ones I liked, adjusted the size(in Microsoft word, I love computers) , printed them out, taped them to the window on a sunny day, and positioned my linen on it, taped it to the window, then used crayola’s washable markers( the thin ones) to draw the motifs.

I am not 100% happy with the placement of the motifs on the cuffs. But don’t know if I will change them.


I had thought I would go with DMC floss(one strand) color 976, but am wondering if it would stand up to the stress of seams, so thought I would go with gutterman normal polyester thread color 476. Oh, and hem the pieces with my 90/2 linen thread before doing the triangular stitch. I did both underarm gores with the DMC, then started one edge with the dmc (neglecting to hem it first) I then switch to the gutterman because I was not too sure the dmc would hold up for the seams. I am also going to hem the other one first, before I do the triangular edging (in the gutterman to keep both sides even, even if I chose to go with the dmc for the rest of the seams) to see if it is easier to get the edging regular looking.

One large question….for the eyes, tip of atena, and seeds of the the pea pods, I just did a bunch of back and forth stitches, but I think a French knot would look better, but I have never noticed them in elizabethan embroidery ( I am NO expert). Should I go with a French knot, or something different?

Second large question. My buttonhole stitch (used for the shells of the snails does not want to lay right. Where the main line is keeps shifting. What am I doing wrong! I can post more detailed picture if necessary, but I think I am doing what the books describe…..


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