Studio Visit: Heirloom Hardanger Patterns


Gentle reader,

I keep threatening to spew out a torrent of books like a cyclone from which the world may never recover — bwahaha.  But seriously.  My life is about finding the time and energy to choose from the millions of things I want to do, and then doing as many of them as possible.  It’s a dance.

I’ve already begun working on the samplers for a series of patterns, instructions, and possibly kits that I will be publishing in 2019.  As discussed in the video, I’m first going to tackle this book, DMC Hardanger 1 by Therese de Dillmont.  The link is to the English version, but it’s available in French and German too, as many of her books are.  Here is the general link to the Antique Pattern Library, as well as Ramzi’s blog, which is a goldmine of free patterns too.

I have found that it doesn’t matter what language these books are in.  They weren’t into the concept of “user-friendly” back then.  The descriptions of how to complete the work assume a lot of basic proficiencies that few people have anymore.   So basically I have looked at these books dozens of times like an incel on Kim Kardashian’s Instagram, over and over, imagining how I would work them, reading the descriptions, trying again years later, etc.  And I have finally taken the plunge and started working them.  I plan to offer each of these as a separate little project.  (These patterns will each count as one book for my goal, if you’re planning on busting me.)  Sorry they’re not configured the same on my frame as on the pattern.

hardanger sampler 1hardanger 2 plate 1

hardanger sampler detail

My thinking on each of these patterns is to make up a choker/bracelet pattern/kit, where it will have a ribbon backing and close with a delicate button.  I should probably also do a sampler, for people who just want to try this not-so-Norwegian style of Hardanger.  It’s really not so hard.  I need to figure out how to make high-quality videos of myself completing the work from the first step to the last.  Of course I also need to do all the stitching LOL  It’s okay.  I just need another few days when I want to stab something a million times.

plait stitch from original

There’s also this little bit of stitch wizardry above.  I have been unable to find a contemporary worker explaining this technique.  The lady who made these patterns, Therese de Dillmont, was trained at the Royal School of Austria.  She was a walking encyclopedia of everything that can be done with thread.  There is IMHO nobody riper for a modern revival, a translator who can bring her phenomenal talents to the modern audience.

But if you’re wondering, hey, if I’m trying to publish instructions and kits, why am I giving out the source material for free?  Because as described above, it’s a clusterbomb.  You have to basically know what you’re doing already and figure it out from the pictures.  She doesn’t give you stitch patterns or thread counts for the motifs, you just have to know the order of working that she gives at the beginning so well that you can apply it in every situation.  Then you count the threads.  Even with understanding the basic working order, I found that working the patterns actually teaches you how to do them.  So I’d like to bridge that gap and blow Therese up, put her work out for modern workers, because she was a phenomenon.

That said, again this work is easier than it looks — at least the Hardanger part, with the clipped and rewoven threads.  I have not yet deciphered the plait stitching.  But when I do there will be a pattern and maybe also a kit.  Look for this by the end of 2019.

You can make some truly luxurious high-end textiles with these techniques.  Below are some of the larger patterns from this book.  These are meant to be household linens, like for tables and sofas.  But they could certainly be applied to fashion by simply stitching them to size/shape and appliqueing them over the jacket, pants, or whatever.   You would use a contrasting color base fabric and it would look great.

hardanger large patterns

Just to be clear, each of those is a single piece of linen.  She has sewn the white square borders, then nipped out the threads between them, and woven patterns in the remaining threads.  So she’s surgically removed about half the fabric in these two.  More than half in the two below.  Even so, the one on the left below may be quicker to stitch; the reweave of the base threads is much simpler/quicker.  The one on the right is fairly simple other than diagramming the dragonfly, which I will obviously have to do for the book.  But wouldn’t that make a phenomenal scarf, backed with a contrasting fabric?

hardanger large ppattern 2

Well thanks for visiting my studio once again.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this new series.  It may turn into a Udemy course, I may partner with a supplier for the kits, I’m just not sure yet.  But I’m on the move!




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