[The first entry on hand sewing was published back in 2006 and has nothing to do with this entry -other than that both are about embroidery.]
Three years ago, Plimoth Plantation approached Tricia Wilson Nguyen, an MIT-trained engineer specializing in, of all things, historic needlework, to see if she would help lead an ambitious project. The museum wanted to re-create a lavishly embroidered 17th-century woman’s waistcoat as the centerpiece of an upcoming exhibition on how America’s founders dressed themselves.
“I told them they were totally crazy,’’ said Nguyen, who lives in Arlington.
She knew it could take hundreds of people thousands of hours to do the intricate needlework, using a centuries-old embroidery stitch few people know. As if that wasn’t enough challenge, the materials needed – silver gilt threads, hand-cut sequins – had been out of production for centuries and would have to be reinvented.
In the end, Nguyen was right, it took hundreds of volunteer stitchers and over $12,000 to complete the work. At top right is a close up of the stitching detail.
The story of the jacket and the required labor is told on Nyguyen’s site Thistle-Threads on the Plimoth Plantation website. There’s lots of photos of the work and fitting in process. This entry will be educational if you can’t imagine how the work was structured. While cumbersome and difficult to handle the work piece, I really don’t think there is a better way to do it than this.
Not to be missed on Nyguyen’s site is a listing of artisan manufacturers who stock unusual embroidery (and complimentary) supplies. I know what I’ll be doing for the rest of the afternoon.
Edit 5/9/12: Tatiana (thank you!) left a link in comments below to the Flickr album with over 300 images.