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Shopping for Embellishments | Morning, Friday 23rd September 1678 [Open]

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That Madam Garland caters to the upper crust of society is immediately evident upon entering her shop. Silks and wools of the highest quality dominate her shelves, in an assortment of colours to please all but the foolishly particular. Madam Garland herself only appears for special customers, but an assistant is always on hand to answer questions... And assure dirty paws don't mar expensive fabrics.

Gown repairs and alterations can also be performed by the Madam and her excellent staff.

She'd had an idea. It was still forming in her mind, but she had a fair hunch as to what she'd need. She knew she'd know it when she saw it. 

Eleanor was not a stranger to Madam Garland's, having come previously to purchase a few hanks of silk embroidery thread to replace supplies that she'd used, and a few silk handkerchiefs. Lord Grey had established an account there for her and she used it judiciously, not wanting to abuse his trust. But the embroidered handkerchiefs were both personal and convenient gifts. The shop assistant had helped her then, and perhaps could again, since she hadn't come looking for a new outfit - one day! - but rather something to embellish one that she already owned. 

The way that Madame Soraya's robes had glittered and twinkled in the dim light of the fortune teller's tent had stayed with Eleanor, and kindled inspiration. 

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"Good Morning Mistress Bayning"

Came a voice to her right. 

"Madam Garland has asked me to assist you. My name is Louise."

"How might I be of help?"

She was perhaps in her mid twenties slim of proportions and with a lace cap set atop her dark curls. Her hazel eyes focused on the younger girl with just the right amount of interest.

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Eleanor smiled when the shop assistant called her by name. Clearly Madam Garland had remembered her, but must be busy at this exact moment. 

"How kind of you." The girl replied warmly. "Those silk embroidery threads were simply divine to work with." She ethused, recalling her previous purchase. 

"I was wondering whether you might have something that will show well in the candlelight. Perhaps some silver thread, or some spangles*?" Something that would reflect the candlelight. 

* Sequins. Hammered and cut from metal in our time period. 

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"Are you looking for metallic threads then?"

"If so are you looking for gold or sliver or copper?""Any of those will naturally show in candlelight."

"Might I inquire what you will be sewing - that will help me to determine."

"And the Style perhaps  ...."

"Couching - laying the metal thread flat against the fabric then securing them in place with finer threads for a rich textured finish or

Nué - using colored threads to hold the metal in place to create shaded patterns for the illusion of depth to the sheen?"

"We also have Spangles but what metal types do you want?"

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It was a good question. What type of metal did she want? 

Well, like any woman ideally Eleanor would like gold but she doubted that Uncle Henry would appreciate her using the account he had set up for her like that. Besides, she wanted something that would look ethereal. 

"Silver is what I am looking for." She decided. Yes, silver implied innocence and was more demure. "I will be couching the thread; I want the metal to shine through."

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"If you will follow me  ..... I can show you what we have   ..."

Louise would take them to another part of the store thru an archway.

Here it would be clear was a space dedicated to fabrics and trims. It was a windowless room with shelves standing on three sides and a large square wooden table in the center.

"Now  ... shall we begin   ....

You have said Silver as to metal and so I will show you only that. I have two shades - a soft silver and a regular."

She took from a shelf several large wooden boxes laying them out across the table top. Once opened Eleanor would see metallic threads wrapped around wooden discs not on a spool.

"Now then there are different types of thread

Passing Thread which is a thin metallic that is widely used for couching. There are two types - smooth which is a very thin flat, and slightly stiff and glace or wavy. Which means it has a slight crimp on it and thus will have some difficulty going thru fabric.

Next are Braids. Hollow and Flat. Fine are used for cross stitch, needle point and embroidery. Tapestry braids are heavier and are used for couching.

Cords is a special metallic thread that is twisted. Used mostly for gold work and couching. The threads can be used as one or separated. Crinkle is a metallic thread that is formed of metal wire wrapped around a cotton thread core with a crinkled appearance. This would be used for couching."

**"Bullion has a hollow coil-like shape which makes it very soft and pliable. I would think that Check bullion would suit as it is faceted and shiny and has a sparkly surface. It is a flat thin wire wound around a triangular form. Bright bullion is a round and smooth flat wire which is very shinny! Wire bullion or Purl which has a matt surface meaning it has no shine. Purl is cut into small pieces and threaded and used just like beads."

"Tambour Thread is a very fine metal thread. It is used in couching work to lay the couching thread. Since it is real metal it may tarnish."

"Now all you need do is decide which threads to use. It looks confusing but it is easy really. You know what you are making and so you must think what threads will best suit."

"You must also 'test' the thread you choose - and I shall explain that when it is needed."

It was a lot to take in but she assumed that the Lady had sufficient knowledge to have followed along with her words.

There was a large selection of thread in those two colors as stated for her to look through.


**(I think that this is what Eleanor was describing as wanting)**

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It was an absolute pleasure to speak with someone who understood the intricacies of metallic embroidery threads, though really in an establishment as prestigious as Madam Garlands it was only to be expected. 

"I am after some check bullion, and also some passing thread, in bright silver please." That would allow her to achieve the effect she desired, she felt. She didn't want the heavier braids and cords, she wanted something that would look light and ethereal. Magical. 

What else might she need? "Do you have any silk veil fabric?" She asked, whilst in her mind's eye the lightest possible fabric danced on the slightest breeze. 

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Louise nodded and set about returning to shelves that which did not apply before she returned back to the table.

"Now that we have eliminated those of no use let us begin to 'test' the threads that you have chosen."

"Now let us begin with the Check."

She took up the wooden holder pulling some of wire lose that could easily be handled.

"First pull a length through your fingers - does it feel thick or rough? Next bend it back on itself. Does it curve smoothly or kink?"

"You must also remember the size of the needle you will be using. The right size must carry the thread thru the fabric without damage to it or the fabric"

"You will use an embroidery needle yes - because they have a larger 'eye' and groove."

"As to the Passing thread - the thin or the glace?"

"What are you making - that will determine how much of the metallic you will need and if we have enough in stock."

She was then asked about silks for veils    ......

"But of course"

"Are you making some kind of costume perhaps? For a Masque or play?"

She was curious as this young lady did not look the type to be work in for a Theatre Company but one never knew these days!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Curious, for she couldn't recall a shop assistant like Louise who took such great care with her wares, Eleanor did as instructed, testing the metal check between her fingers. "Of course." She replied, when the woman asked whether she would use an embroidery needle. 

"The thin passing thread please." She wanted the patterns to be delicate and ephemeral, not large and bold. Unusual for court, but she wanted the outfit to twinkle when she moved, rather than show thick braid and embellishments at any angle. 

What was she making? "I am making a costume for the upcoming masque." She replied. "I have a dress already, and a simple mask, but I want to embellish them." She explained. Some light silk veil and the glitter of silver would be very effective, she felt. 

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So it was indeed for a costume but not upon a Stage as thought.

"Your choice is excellent."

She busied herself with putting things away then measuring and cutting and wrapping carefully so that the metallic would not be bruised or tangled.

"I think with this added it will indeed be a thing to see."

"Now  ..... You asked for silks? Are you intending it to be for a garment like a cloak or some sort of head device as in a veil?"

"If for a garment then I shall need to measure you should to shoulder and you must say the length from hip to knee or ankle?"

"If for a cloak then a heavier silk is needed but for a veil only the softest. That is called a Mulberry Silk which means its weave is different and front to back look the same."

"It is soft against the skin not rough."

"And as to color  ........."

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Eleanor smiled when Louise complimented her on her choice. Despite the surety she'd been raised with, there had been the niggling fear that she might be judged foolish for her requests. "I hope so." She agreed, when Louise suggested her costume would be a thing to see with the embellishments. 

"I am thinking a veil, and perhaps pieces from the shoulders, almost like... wings?" She could see the design in her mind's eye, but trying to put it into words was a little difficult. It was easier to sew it into reality. "I am hoping that the fabric will float on the slightest breeze, so the Mulberry silk will be ideal." Yes, something that would lift and sway, she would need to be careful to only embellish the attached edges, so as not to weigh the rest of the fabric down. "A cream or white please. The dress is cream silk brocade." She hadn't completely decided how she would fit the veil, she would have to think about her hair and how it would work with the mask. 

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She had some confusion in her head at this part.

"Well the silk will not stand on its own. Something must be employed to raise it and for placements."

"So if this is what you wish for then you should create a form then place fabric over that and perhaps straps to keep it in place across your shoulders  ....."

"If you mean to sew it to the sleeves to create the appearance of it then that is easier I would think. Then the light silks we have is perfect."

"Please wait a moment  ..."

She excused herself doing a bit of under her breath mutterings and then returned with four of the silks spoken of so the she might choose which color was a best match.

"There are all I have. This color as you know is most expensive for its is the hardest to keep free of dirt and damage."

She set each down and unwound a small amount expecting that the Lady would understand her meaning and not overly touch. Raw edges could be trimmed but going further in could well ruin the entire thing. 

"You shall draw every eye I am sure in the 'costume'."

She smiled and stood waiting quietly for the Lady to make her preference known.

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"I mean to sew it to the sleeves." Eleanor explained of the veil-weight silk. Nothing fancier than that, she didn't have the time. But that would be quite effective, she felt. 

Louise brought out some swatches for her to view, unwinding a little of each bolt, and after a moment's consideration Eleanor chose one which was almost, but not quite, a perfect white. Like her dress it was a warm cream. "This will be perfect." She wanted to play with the fabric more, it was so fine, but steeled herself. She would have some to work with soon enough and there was no need to soil the shop's wares. 

That would suit her costume perfectly, but she had also been thinking of her Uncle's, which she had promised to embellish. It was a black suit, but she felt it needed something to make it a little more... godly. "Do you have a cloak-weight silk in black?" She asked. A square of that, pinned to each shoulder, would give him a regal cape, and she might work yet more stars upon it. In fact, if she acquired a retangle of the right dimensions, she might work the highlights of his star map... Remember your time constraints. You don't have long to work on it. Alas but she knew she could do a finer job if she had more time, but it was what it was. 

"And do you have any seed pearls? The really little ones." The main stars of the constellations she could work in spangles and snippets of check, but the pearls could be the lesser stars scattered over the black as over the night sky. With a few for my dress as well.

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The selection made and then next was the amount needed which would then be cut and wrapped up with enough paper to keep the fabric as pristine as possible.

The requested black fabric was brought in from another room by another staff person and the same questions would be asked to the amount needed. It too would be bundled up in the same fashion.

Pearls came next  ...

Louise excused herself returning with several wooden boxes that held loose seed pearls in various sizes  ....

"Please look at these and determine which fits your needs best."

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Eleanor knew how much of the black fabric she needed, just enough to make a cape that would drape from the shoulders. Already she could see the addition to Henry's outfit in her mind's eye.

The best had been saved until last. Louise brought out boxes of pearls, ranging from the minute to ones which would look quite at home on a very respectable necklace. Eleanor owned a very few, set on individual silver links in a necklace, spaced between enamelled violets, and they were quite modestly sized compared to some of these. Wouldn't she just love a string of the larger ones?

But the larger ones wouldn't suit her current purpose, and she was resolved to be responsible in the face of Uncle Henry's unprecedented trust in her. After a few moment she indicated the boxes containing the second smallest size of pearls; about the size of an embellished pin (~3mm). "These ones please." She said, with a last, longing glance at the larger pearls. One day. "I shall need three drachms."*

* ~5.2g or roughly 60 of these pearls. 

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The Lady knew what she wanted and so Louise set about filling it.

A wooden box was found and she carefully counted out each pearl as it was placed to rest safely on the fabric placed inside.

She had seen the glances to the larger pearls and hid a smile.

She was a good judge of a customer and so she thinks at some point this Lady will be back to count out the larger ones to be strung up for a necklace!

"There. Now as you have seen I have counted out exactly 60."

"They are all the same in shape and color but there might be one or two that are just a tiny bit different but that will not affect the design or look."

"I will suggest you use silk thread in the color that matches the pearls. You have a beading needle or do you need one?"

"If you have one then it must be thin enough to fit through the hole in the pearl  ... "

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