A Silk Purse from a Sow’s Ear…?!

Happy Easter! Well, what a Holy Week I had… Father outdid himself indeed, what with fix this (pole removed from canopy – why?), revive that (ombrellino!), could you make this (new altar cloth!) and oh, by the way… I have this tapestry and it would make a splendid frontal! What a SORRY tale, read on!

What tapestry?!

The world’s most famous tapestry is actually an embroidery. But this ‘tapestry’ was indeed a rug! An old rug… Where on earth himself got it from I cannot possibly say but he had surely assured himself somehow that the source was acceptable. It was somewhat inelegantly folded into a lumpy heap in the sacristy. With great relish and precisely eight days to go he declared, “Would it not make a wonderful altar frontal for Holy Thursday?! The Mass of the Lord’s Supper! And we could use it for adoration too!” I told him I thought he was nuts. I might have rolled my eyes and sniffed.

My inner voice spoke, “Are there not other tasks! Regular life? Other responsibilities?!” But like a great big fat enabling ninny I actually took the rug away with me and said I’d see what I could do. I’m not helping him really am I…?

This?
Or this?

A little internet research and sure enough, straight out of the 70’s. Wool…? Hmm. I tested the fibres and it was inconclusive really… mixed fibres of some sort and rather mucky! I couldn’t say it was wool though.

Filth!
And Blue Fluff!!

What’s a gal to do with such an impossible task? Faint? Hissy fit perhaps? Take to the drink! Indeed no, first I cleaned up the ANCIENT OMBRELLINO which Father had produced with equal relish at the same time (that’s another story!!!) while having a little think about it all. And what I thought was that I could really only do my best and give the rest to God and that maybe, just maybe, I was up to the challenge.

First I gave it a vacuum at low suction but then I started to be concerned about the structural integrity of the piece so to speak, since it started losing fibres. I decided to do no further cleaning procedures and to let the transformation begin…

I hand sew. But have you ever hand stitched through a rug? A Holy Week penance if ever there was one! My poor hands… I do have a little sewing machine but I’m pretty sure it would have been wrecked if I tried to stuff the rug through it. Groan.

Detail…
Astonishing isn’t it! 😂

I cut away part of the rug, stabilised it onto a cotton backing, added silk panels to make it the right size, just a tiny bit of embroidery, some delightful ecclesiastical fringe and a lining and voilà!

In situ, Holy Thursday.

Honestly I can’t guarantee the piece will last. The rug is quite heavy and pulls even with all the backing materials etc. so even though while laid flat it was the right width it pulled in slightly when hung. It will probably get fairly saggy over time, possibly quite quickly, but such is life; it will look like an antique piece! To be honest if you happen to want to have a go at something like this I’d say to use the ‘other method’ of making a frontal and use a solid board, lots of glue and staples and call it a day 😬

The old expression of not being able to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse was certainly in my mind while I put the hours into this little exercise but it was an interesting thing to do. And for what it is it’s not bad. I do however, shudder to think what cockamamie idea Father will come up with next. I’ll have to put my foot down at some point!

Now back to some proper work (on Tuesday, I need a little rest). A happy and blessed Easter to you. And thanks for reading.

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