I usually try really hard to blog on specific days of the week - it's a vague attempt at organisation but yesterday I got engroseed as I attempted to make a final decision on the latest Lady Elinor design.
You see, I've reached the point where the cross stitch is almost finished and I have to make a decision on the beads. The previous two Lady Elinors use white petite seed beads as pearls and the original plan was to do the same for the third Lady Elinor design.
But then I got to thinking about Tudor fashion and billiments. I dug out some books featuring portraits, I scoured the web - and I came to the conclusion that pearls were incredibly popular. But I also found some other examples. For instance, this portrait has been identified both as Katherine Howard (Henry VIII's fifth wife) and Elizabeth Seymour, sister of Jane Seymour (Henry VIII's third wife). I'm inclined to go with the Elizabeth Seymour identification because they look like each other. However, the point of including it is the billiment.
Next to her hair there is some sort of gold tace, possibly a crespine, then there is a pair of billiments - the lower billiment is closest to the face and seems to be made from some twisted metalwork - gold, perhaps? Finally on the outer edge is the upper billiment, which was usually more ornate - in this instance it seems to be made from twisted metalwork again but the twists are larger and the pattern bolder.
Madame de Canaples, above, also has billiments of twisted metalwork - along with a few pearls!
The thing with billiments is that many portraits from the time do not feature them at all - indicating they could be attached separately. As a result, it's possible that a lady would own only one pair of billiments and simply move them around.
Obviously, for cross stitch patterns what matters is how entertaining the design is to stitch and how it looks at the end - but you can see why I got so engrossed!
On a separate note, I also found that the President of Brazil presented President Obama with a cross stitched picture of himself and Michelle - the bit that isn't mentioned in the story is whether Dilma Rousseff stitched it herself.
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