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Sunday, 17 July 2011

Cuffs for Kathryn Howard

Before Christmas last year I was asked to by a close friend to make some cuffs for part of her new Kathryn Howard outfit. We spent quite a lot of time researching patterns for this project, as we were keen to get the period of the blackwork as accurate as possible. After much discussion we decided to combine blackwork used in two different portraits. The first being a portrait of Jane Seymour by Holbein -

From this portrait we used the blackwork band from around the edge of the cuff. I managed to find a better quality close up version of the cuffs, which enabled be to see the pattern in more detail, and re-draw it. After several tries at getting the size if the pattern correct I found one that worked well.

The second portrait is one believed to be of Kathryn Howard herself -

From this portrait we used the thin vertical bands that radiate in towards the wrist. The only versions of this painting I could find were all very low quality so I was unable to exactly copy the pattern used, and therefore decided to base mine on one found in the Janet Arnold: Patterns for Fashion 4 book. I drew the whole thing up on graph paper, and then set to stitching.

It's stitched on linen, with black silk embroidery thread from the Silk Mill. After getting started on the design there was much discussion on how long these cuffs should be. We eventually decided to make them just over double the length of the wrist measurement. I have a feeling they were around 18" long, but the paper this was written has evaporated into the sea of packed boxes whilst moving.

I was working on these on and off for several months, but when I had the time to focus on just them, the cuffs came along quite quickly. Here's some pics of the finished design -

And a close up -

Overall I am really happy with how the combination of the two patterns turned out. After finishing the embroidery I gave the lengths of embroidered material to my friend who was going to make them look more cuff like. The material was pleated into a cuff band and neatened up around the edge. The first time I saw the finished article was at the event at Blickling, and it was great to see them in use as part of such a beautiful costume.

(Gown was made by Prior Attire -
(Rings on show were made by Gemmeus -

Thanks for reading, Vicki x


  1. Um, I just want to let you know that these cuffs came out so nice! I saw them on DA and I just cannot get over the design...especially after seeing the research and detail that was behind them!

    Bravo :)

  2. Thank you so much for your comment :)