Long ago and far away, before the invention of the internet, I found a super bargain on Brooks Brothers' clearance rack- a very fine Irish Linen shirt. I took the shirt home and carefully tucked it away. I had plans for it, but it took 7 more years for events to take place making it possible for my plans to come to pass....
It had all started ( even further ago and longer away) with a book. Blackwork by Mary Gostelow. In this book is a very faded picture of a portrait of Sir Christopher Hatton, painted in 1589. I've included a much clearer pic here, from the National Portrait Gallery in London. Hatton is wearing a smock with pomegranates and flowers embroidered on the cuffs and collar. I fell in love with the design but it was nearly impossible to get a feel for the entire design from the copy in Gostelow's book because it was so faded.
I was also working under the misunderstanding that all linear blackwork is reversible and counted. So I was trying to chart a reversible, counted version of the design, and failing miserably because it needed to be done in surface embroidery to get the smoothly curving lines. In 2002 I took a class from Catherine Jordan that opened my eyes to the fact that all linear blackwork isn't necessarily counted or reversible.
Then a few years later, the internet had progressed enough that museums began to include "zoomable" versions of portraits on the internet.
At last I had all the knowledge and tools I needed to create my shirt.
Embroidery worked in DMC 6 stranded cotton, using one strand. Stitch used is Outline.