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In late 2006 I was honored to be invited to participate as a technical consultant in the recreation of a 1620's Stuart style embroidered waistcoat at Plimoth Plantation. During the early planning stages of this ambitious project, we realized that the project could become much more than just the resulting object. The staff at Plimoth Plantation was amenable to use the project to:
  • Educate the public about embroidery, lace, and costume
  • Extend the research on embroidery of this period as it pertains to the materials, professional workshops, and methods of manufacture
  • Broadcast the research to the largest audience possible
  • Recreate the materials originally used as closely as current technology and economics would allow us
  • Enable the specialist communities to execute the embroidery and lace while sharing our expertise with them to build skills and join knowledge bases
One of the means to achieve these goals was the suggestion of a young teenage embroiderer I spoke to. She suggested that we blog the progress so those who might not be able to participate on-site could follow the project and benefit from the experience. Thus, this blog on the Plimoth Plantation website was born. Jill Hall, Manager of Colonial Wardrobe and I write the blog with input from other consultants on the project. It has become a fantastic place to discuss embroidery research. The blog has fast become the most popularly visited page on the museum's website which has prompted the museum to think in detail on how to engage specialist groups in the future. But what thrills me most is how the blog has been followed by such diverse groups as Museum curators, conservators, costume experts, re-enactors, the SCA, lace makers, embroiderers, and the general public. Readership is far and wide across the entire world. One of our goals for the blog is to archive the process but also to lay bare the research we have been doing during the project to show our thought process and methods. Over a year old now, there are many engaging stories on the site to keep you reading and coming back for more. Please link in here and read the latest and peruse the archive for earlier entries.

And while you are there, consider participating in the project and becoming part of living history. The embroidery is expected to continue through 2008 and into early 2009. We have many methods to participate:
  • Purchase a sample kit for the embroidery or lace on the project. $20 of each kit sale supports the project.
  • Send your embroidery or lace sample in and be eligible to stitch or bobbin lace on the project by attending a session
  • Send your embroidery or lace sample in so that it may be used as part of the 'touch it' portion of the exhibit when the jacket is on display
  • Contribute directly to the project to help us defray the cost of the project
For more information on any of the above options, email me (Tricia Wilson-Nguyen) at tricia@alum.mit.edu.