Tuesday, 7 December 2010

coif progress

I have been studying Elizabethan and Jacobean coifs for about seven years now, and it all started with a photo of a gold and black coif at the V&A. I was able to visit the museum, and actually had one on one time with that coif, and several others as well. Since my journey began, I have studied the embroidery techniques that I would need to master in order to be able to produce an embroidered coif appropriate to this period, and I feel that I am ready to proceed.

There is a lot of back story here, but I am not going to go into all of my research and findings at this point. I am, however, going to post some photos of my final design, which I have only recently finished. I started drawing this about five years ago, perhaps longer. I have kept all of my concept drawings, and my embroidery practice as I have progressed.

This is my final drawing in this form, but I am going to take this and transfer the design in black ink to clean, white paper. When the design is drawn on the linen, the plaited braid coils will be drawn in a single, center line, as opposed to the two sides that are shown now. I did that for spatial reasons. I felt I needed to be able to "see"how wide the coils would be, so that I could properly size the motifs to fit in and around them.

My coif design is an original. I did not want to reproduce one that is in a museum. I studied, learned, and took what I saw and then created my own pattern. I made up several coifs out of linen, in order to perfect the fit for my head, and then started drawing, and redrawing my coif. I now have my Kingston 55 count linen, my Soie de Perlee, beautiful spangles and gold and silver passing thread from Golden Threads, and most of the Gilt Sylke Twist that I need. I am only lacking a slate frame of the proper size, but I am working on that.

Here is my final version. Any comments are welcome.


  1. I'll be fascinated to see your progress on this. I'm not a historical embroideress, so I can't offer any helpful comment on the design, but I think it looks lovely!

  2. Rachel, I have moved since my last post here regarding the coif, and am also home schooling my eleven year old. My husband is also gone to sea quite a bit, but I am still working apace on furthering this project. In light of some further research, I am yet again rethinking the size of my design. Not fun!