While we have been living in Stockholm, we have, of course, taken every opportunity to sightsee and one of our very favourite places to visit is Gripsholm Castle. Situated about 60 km south west of Stockholm it is a grand castle in a beautiful situation.
Like most historical buildings it has changed over the centuries since its beginnings in 1540. Home to an array of Kings and Queens - from Karl IX at the end of the 16th century, Queen Dowager Hedvig Eleonora at the beginning of the 18th century and Gustav III, Oskar I and Oskar II.
Since 1822, it has been home to the Swedish National Portrait Gallery and has a magnificent collection of paintings on display. Its best surprise is the supberb in house theatre installed by Gustav III in one of the towers, complete with auditorium, royal box and a fully equipped and operational stage. Unfortunately no photograps were allowed.
There was a mass of inspiration there though - the beautiful painted walls and ceilings and wooden pannelling provided lots of motifs to sketch and consider as ideas for applique and embroidery.
Everytime we have been there, I have come away buzzing with ideas. As our time in Sweden draws to a close, I finally decided to make a start on something which combined these ideas and another idea which has been lingering in my mind and my notebook for a while. Delving into the latter part of the 18th century, I turned to one of my most treasured books - if you want to get lost in quilt heaven, this is the place....
One image in particular has interested me. Taken from an embroidered coverlet of mexican origin in 1786, this is a truly wonderful peice of historical needlwork.
So I decided to take this idea and use it for the basis of my project, combined with some elements from Gripsholm. First of all, I traced and enlarged the image of the man, which I thought was splendid. I decided to use an outline of a different lady based on one of the paintings in the castle and simply searched through google images until I found the sort of thing I was looking for. I traced and altered it alittle too. Once I had my outlines: I traced the various shapes of each element of the costume on to 'Visolene' fusible web - remember that your image will be in the reverse once you start ironing the pieces on.
Once I was happy with my colour choices and all the pieces were in place - I fixed them with the iron and began to sew them in place. Its working out ok so far. Using the stitching to form part of the decoration on the clothes and also using my open toe darning foot for alittle free lance outlining.