When you work in smaller scales, it often becomes apparent that you need smaller scale materials-materials that aren’t always easy to find, if they exist at all. In attempting to recreate the small embroidered bags that were popular in the 17th century, I found myself looking for fine scale cords for handles and drawstring-type closures. Perle cottons can be found in various sizes can be found, but they looked out of scale. You can, and I have done a lot of twisting my own cords. It is fairly easy to twist cords from the same threads the bags were stitched with, and sometimes that is a suitable choice, but in this case, I was hoping to find something a bit more complex, as the original cords were quite ornate, using metallic threads and multiple colors. The aha moment came when I was looking through a book entitled 200 Braids to Twist,
Knot, Loop or Weave by Jacqui Carey. When I first got the book, I had worked through some of the braids with various yarn and cords just to learn the structures, but now I wondered what would happen if I worked them with thread. Voila! perfectly scaled cords and cords that matched perfectly as I could use the same threads the bags were worked in. Including a single strand of metallic thread would give them a bit of sparkle as well, the perfect accent. Altering the number of threads used or the weight of those threads provides infinite variations to the cord’s thickness as well, enabling me to braid a thinner cord for the draw-string that closes the bag and a thicker cord for the handle.
Another adaptation forced by the smaller scale is the use of metallic threads in stitching. These two bags were worked on 72 ct silk gauze and I have yet to come across any metallic thread that can be stitched on such a small scale, either it isn’t fine enough to pull through the material, or the act of pulling it through shreds the fabric or the metallic coating on the thread. The work around in this case, was to couch a very fine metallic thread in place on top of the work.