Bayeux Tapestry, encore!

One of our community  has been sharing with me her recreation of a section of the Bayeux Tapestry.

It’s now all finished and looking fabulous! One of the reasons I wanted to share this particular project with you is that she did two things very differently from what I did

1. She transferred the design using an iron-on pen

2. She used DMC cotton floss (4 strands)

She liked the idea of using David Wilson’s book as a template for her pattern and chose the scene you see below.

To transfer the pattern onto the fabric she used  iron-on pens. She scanned the pages on the computer then printed it out after flipping the border around (using an easy
computer program) to adjust to both sides, and used the iron on pen on the
back of the printed paper using a light box. She chose to do that way she could adjust some of
the “no longer as straight as they were last millennia” lines. This method also avoided the middle of the book crease which would have affected the design.

“I ironed it (the pattern) onto the REVERSE side of the fabric so that any lines not fully covered will be on the back and not the front. I have (at times) been using a (small, travel sized) craft light in my lap (light box style) as I stitch, so I can see the lines from the front. Thoughts??”

My thought was it is a brilliant idea! The light shining from below the fabric highlights the pattern that’s on the back but, as she pointed out, the actual drawn lines are on the back.

Eddie border

As she worked on the piece, she would regularly write with updates. This one made me smile as I had the same feeling about Bayeux stitch!

“I find this Bayeux Tapestry reproduction fun….I usually have 2 or 3 projects at a time, the other two I have going were just fine and fun, but now when I get my box out, Bayeux is what I drag out! I have almost finished the border areas. I have also decided that I do not like the Bayeux couching stitch very much, so why the reproduction is fun is a bit of a curiosity. Hm. I expect that I will be better at it by the time I am done, but at the moment it is not my best stitch.”

Bayeaux two thirds

AS I mentioned above, she used DMC  stranded cotton (only 4 of the individual threads, not all 6) rather than wool and described her thread color decision thus:

“I did take Mr. Wilson (the book) to Joann’s to  get my floss colors. I did not have your color suggestions with me, but stood in the aisle with the book open on the end of the cart and flopped skeins around in the book until I found ones that were close to the six colors mentioned (I already had black). They were even doing a weekend sale on floss for 27c instead of the usual 39c.”

As she continued to work, she encountered difficulty with the 6 strands of the floss but worked around it beautifully.

“I can say that I do not recommend using the 6 strand floss to do the Bayeux stitch.  I am enjoying working on it, but the fiddliest thing about it (my opinion) is the second stage of the stitch. That is the part where you cross the fillings and add the tiny stitches on that to hold the filling down. I have had to be careful (especially in larger areas) because if I do not “grab” one or more strand when I am putting down the tiny “holding” stitches, it leaves triangle openings and separates the filling strands and shows the fabric underneath….. Does that make sense?”

Yes, it does make sense. Because the wool I used isn’t stranded I didn’t have that problem but the cotton floss would be tricky. Here’s her solution:

 “I have also learned something you can feel free to share if you want. I am using stranded DMC, and in the case of the Bayeux stitch, (regarding the tiny holding stitches) if you do not use a needle and “catch” one or two of the multiple strands below, you wind up with gaps…. I am guessing that the original artists would not have had that problem…”

eddie bayeux

She made a rule for herself about reworking stitches which I think is very wise:

“As for pulling out stitching, if they did not, I do not need to either.  Especially when the area I am working on has obviously been  repaired at times and I cannot tell what color is supposed to be where, so I will just make my best guesses and enjoy the project instead of stressing about anything.”

Eddie End

This suggestion came in an email right at the end of her project and I think it’s a good one!

“As I was stitching earlier in the week it occurred to me that embroidery clubs (or EGA chapters etc) and other similar groups, should do their own (shortened) versions of the Tapestry (and other historical embroideries) and put them in craft shows, whether or not they win. You know, each member picking a section and then contribute them as a group.”

The emails we have shared back and forth have been such fun! It’s great to find an embroiderer who has an idea and decides the best way for her to realise the design. We don’t always have to use a particular thread on a particular fabric. Embroidery is about creating something beautiful and enjoying the act of creation, not about doing it in a specific, rigid way.

And I think this piece is absolutely WONDERFUL!

Thank you dear mysterious embroiderer for sharing this with us!

























7 thoughts on “Bayeux Tapestry, encore!

  1. Could you share the brand name of the “iron-on pen” you did use to transfer the design, please?
    I never had a good luck doing that.
    Thanks in advance and happy stitching

    • Veronica, it was just a regular Sulky brand pen, and I did launder (washing machine) it afterwards. Then, I damp stretched it instead of the dryer. 🙂

  2. I do hope your “mysterious embroiderer” reads your comments because I think her piece is wonderful! I love the idea of wrapping the border around the center scene is great and really enhances the work. Nice job “mysterious embroiderer”.

    • Paula, I am glad you like it. I flipped the border because it looked horribly lopsided without it.:-)

  3. Wow, that looks great. The colours are much more vibrant than the wool aren’t they? I doubt I would ever have thought to do it with cotton but I think it looks good. I love the wool too. It’s a case of one is not better than the other, just different. And this is one of my favourite scenes from the whole tapestry.

    I am inspired now to do one of these for myself. It will have to wait a few weeks until the nightmare of December is over, but in the meantime I will study Mr W and find a page I like.

    Thanks to both of you for sharing this. I think it’s great.

    • Christina, yes, very different, almost like the difference between oil and watercolor paintings, they look different even if it is the same picture done by the same artist. In this case one is animal fiber, the other plant fiber. They likely absorb the dyes differently somehow (speculation), since animals in general are a lot less vibrant color-wise than plants, even in nature. Vibrant animals (birds etc) are usually that way so they can hide in the plants, so maybe feathers absorb dyes differently than mammal fur. Who knows. 🙂 That scene is also one of my favorites, even though it is one of the most repaired areas. My plan B was the Halleys Comet scene. I hope Mr. W will offer you a pleasant project come New Years.

  4. I have done scene 51 in 4 strands of dmc floss and it sure was not fun…but if you can deal with that, doing a few scenes with wool are a piece of cake now 🙂

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