Bateau Bayeux – getting the sailors dressed!

These guys must be cold and wet! No tunics, no trousers/hosen, no hats…brrrrr… It’s really fun to make up stories in my head as I work on this piece!


When I studied the stitching direction in the photograph from David  M. Wilson’s book “The Bayeux Tapestry”, I could see that the stitch direction changed according to which part of the piece of clothing was being stitched. It appeared that the embroiderers had tried to be “logical” about the direction of the holding stitches and made them all go in the same direction according to the part of the clothing – i.e.. the sleeves vs the body vs the neckline, etc.


On the blue tunic above, the holding stitches on the sleeve run from the left to the right of the sleeve shape regardless of which direction the arm is pointing. The same holds true for the tan tunic in the photo below. The body of the tunic generally has holding stitches that run from the left to the right side of the body.


The most ornate neckline is on the tunic in the top photo. The holding stitches are placed diagonally towards the center of the V neck with a vertical stitch in the center. This really brings out the shape of the neckline. In the photo below you can see a dark reddish/brown stitch in the middle of the neckline and the holding stitch running at a slight diagonal. Honestly, the holding stitch running uphill is my workmanship (or lack thereof). It’s more horizontal in the original!


The belts are also different from one sailor to the next. In the top photo it is stitched with Bayeux stitch.In the second photo it’s left empty for the linen to show through. In the third photo (directly above) it looked to me as if outline stitch had been used, so that’s what I did. In the photo directly below there IS no belt and in the last photo it’s outline stitch again and flows into the forelock of the horse!


The one uniform piece of clothing in terms of how it’s stitched are the caps: each one uses horizontal stitches as the laid work with vertical holding stitches.


This sailor is the only one with his legs visible and his hosen/trousers are stitched so the holding stitches are running horizontally around his legs. I quite enjoyed doing all these tiny spaces in the design. It was a bit fiddly but it was also fun to see how the direction of the stitching affected the texture of the clothing and how I perceived it when looking at it from afar.


I’m sure they’re much warmer now and I love the color their clothing has added. We know the clothing is a general representation of what they wore. Which “outfit” is your favourite? Let us know!


12 thoughts on “Bateau Bayeux – getting the sailors dressed!

  1. Hi Kathy

    Just wanted to say I’m enjoying the Bayeux boat trip. I love these colours your using. One day I’ll have to try this stitch-when I have time.

    All the best

  2. Does the hubby know that you’ve spent this much time passing out uniforms to a (cold and wet even) mens boating team? (hehe)

    I like “Leggy Louie’s” outfit best.

    • You can count on me, but we all know what blabber-mouthed braggarts Leggy Louie and his buddy Ornate-Neck Antoine are…… 🙂

      All of this joking around makes me want to pick a section to do, despite not having a frame to do it on…. How hard do you think it will be do a section (not necessarily a boat) with an ordinary hoop?

      Have fun!

      • Hi RMW,

        I know I can! I think you could easily do a bit of the Tapestry in a hoop. Remember the picture from the Broiderie Bayeux post about the owner of the shop? She was stitching her piece in a hoop. I know Philipa Turnbull uses hoops in her crewel work classes. I would just be sure to take the piece out of the hoop every time you’ve finished stitching to make sure there aren’t any marks on the wool or the fabric.

        Let me know what you decide and how I can help!
        Liebe Grüße ,

    • That’s right, the owner was using a hoop. I think that I didn’t remember that because I do not know how your version compares to hers, size wise. I suspect (since you traced it) yours is the size of the Wilson book (which I have already owned for several years)but have no idea how her horse and your boat compare.

      I don’t think I would be using wool, since I am used to using regular cotton DMC, and wool is not exactly in my crafting budget. Can you think of a reason why regular (divisible) DMC would not work? I could certainly use all 6 strands, or is that too much/ not enough, since I do not know how thick the wool you are using compares to DMC? I know that wouldn’t be a true blue replica, but since I am only doing it for myself, that does not matter much. (No offence to anyone.)

      The only thing I will have to do is figure out DMC colors for it. Won’t THAT be fun, lugging a giant book to the craft store and blocking the aisle for an unknown period of time, apologizing (the floss aisle is the only way to the restrooms) and finding the best colors.

      Perhaps I should just give it a shot and answer a few of my own questions, instead of posting the Domesday Book of questions on your blog???? 🙂

      • Hi RMW,

        Well, as for colors I can help with that since I just invested in the DMC color cards! Hooray! A use for them already! And I think that if you used between 4 and 6 strands that would work – anyone else have advice on this? Yes, the size of my design is the same as in the David Wilson book. I don’t think that’s a problem though. When Phillipa Turnbull stitches her pieces in a hoop, the pieces are much larger than the hoop. One of the things she recommends is to place plastic wrap over the fabric where you aren’t stitching to protect it from the hoop. You can see what I’m talking about here.

        Blue = 3750
        Aqua = 3768 or 3810
        Creamy yellow = 677
        Rustly red = 3857 or 918

        I would suggest you put all these colors together in the shop and see what you think.

        Please let me know if you need more help/advice! And anyone out there who has input please share it!
        Liebe Grüße,

    • Color cards, I have those as PDF’s (I think) from the DMC website, but the computer screen tends to mess the colors up so I just use it for numbers/names and just go to the store for the actual color comparison etc.

      I imagine that my snippet will also be book sized, because that is easiest to organize, making it smaller after tracing it would be more work than just doing it as-is…

      I have heard about the plastic wrap (or a disposable piece of fabric with an x cut in the top) before, but have never actually tried it.

      • Hi RMW,
        Yes, that’s a problem with relying on the computer screen for color. In fact, on a completely no – embroidery note, I was trying to find my lip stitck that I’ve been wearing for years last night online only to find out it’s been discontinued. I usually buy it whenever we go through an airport but I could find it recently. So, I was looking to find something that looked the same – on my computer screen. It finally hit me that I was doing the dumbest thing trying to chose a lipstick color using the computer screen when i won’t use it to choose a thread color. Duh!
        Liebe Grüße,

    • Also, different computer screen brands/types/settings do different things to the colors as well. So people who THINK they are ordering the same color could wind up with two different (both wrong) colors at the end of the day. 🙂

      Look at it this way, it is easier to fix a lipstick mistake than a floss one. With lipstick all you need is a tissue. With floss, you need a few tools and as more time than it took to install the stitches. 🙂 Though I doubt your new DMC cards will help with your lipstick problem. 🙂

  3. Hi Kathy,

    Just wanted to let you know how much I am enjoying the Bayeux boat trip!
    I really must try this stitch one day – when I have a moment-ha

    All the best

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