Guild School , Castine, ME
June 8-14, 2019
Instructor: Annelle Ferguson, Fellow
Project: Seat Cover for a Chippendale Settee
COURSE DESCRIPTION: In the 18th century, American needlework was often considered a valuable household possession. For the women of that period, fancy needlework was considered an accomplishment and demonstrated her expertise by embroidering functional items for their home. At times, furniture was commissioned especially to display fine needlework.
Settees were furniture pieces in which two or three chair backs were blended into a single seat. Colonial double chair back style settees were rare and possibly not produced in significant numbers. Following the British custom, American settees were often part of a set with other side chairs. Frequently, canvas work was applied to the furniture pieces with designs that were currently in fashion. Quite often, the patterns for seating were inspired by the love the English had for their gardens.
Referring to a picture of the original seat cushion, students will sketch and chart a pattern on graph paper, followed by needlepointing that design on #56 silk gauze with Gutermann silk threads. Class discussions will include the essentials for setting up the project and the selection of thread colors, plus adapting original needlework designs into 1/12 scale. A partial chart of the prototype will be available for those not wanting to design their own pattern. In addition, pictures of 18th century floral needlework will be available to use as inspiration if students wish to create their own design.
As an option, the needlepoint seat cover may be upholstered on a Chippendale settee created especially for this class by Mark Murphy. The settee, made of cherry, will have extensive piercing on the back splat and typical Chippendale straight legs with connecting stretchers.
TIME: 12 hours. Completion is unlikely. Although the chart will be completed by the week’s end, students will be given all the instructions and materials to finish the project at home.
POWER TOOLS: None
SKILL LEVEL: Intermediate and advanced. Magnification and additional lighting is highly recommended. Students should be experienced with basic needlepoint and feel comfortable working on #56 silk gauze.
MATERIALS FEE: $25 to be collected at school. Optional fee for the Chippendale settee is $295.