The Tapestry of Bayeux

Taking DIY to the next level. 

Two years ago, I had the pleasure of traveling to the Normandie region of France for work. Talk about living the life. While preparing for my trip one of my co-workers and art history enthusiast pulled me into her office and started raving about this tapestry I simply HAD to go see while there. As she frantically googled the location and how many miles, hours, steps I would be from this tapestry I silently nodded. This is because I simply had NO CLUE what she was talking about.

I enjoy a good art museum, I’m looking at you Met Museum, but I wouldn’t consider myself self an art history expert. I took one class on art history in college and honestly, I don’t remember too much. However, once I started learning more about this tapestry I became obsessed! So, follow me down the rabbit hole of my new obsession…THE TAPESTRY OF BAYEUX.

Long Story Short

LIST-10-things-you-may-not-know-about-william-the-conqueror-E

The tapestry of Bayeux is a medieval tapestry that tells the story of William, the Duke of Norman (aka William the Conqueror) and the Battle of Hastings in 1066 which will eventually lead him to become the first Norman King of England. It’s known as the Tapestry of Bayeux because the first mention we have of the tapestry in history is in an inventory list in the Bayeux Cathedral. It’s technically NOT a tapestry at all but an embroidery but ya know details. This thing is a marvel, even if you aren’t into medieval embroidery techniques, it’s nearly 230 ft long and dates back to the 11th century. That. Is. Insane! Imagine this tapestry has survived centuries and two world wars completely intact. There is a theory that an additional 7 yards of tapestry showing William’s coronation is missing but nothing has been proven. I mean talk about taking care of things France.

City of Bayeux 

Upon arrival in France my co-worker Ana and I met up with our host Marie. Her house was beautiful and one of the first things I noticed was a section of the Tapestry on her dining room wall. Marie explained to me how she had made this herself and sat on the cultural board of the city of Bayeux. Super neat, I personally am a quilter so we had a lot to talk about. While eating in Bayeux the following day Marie quickly pulled me aside and told me to follow her. Ditching the group, we dashed across Bayeux to the Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux where the tapestry is held today. Okay, before anybody gets too excited, I never got around to seeing the actual tapestry while in France. Buzzkill. However, I WAS taken across the street from the museum to a tiny little store called the Bayeux Broderie that specializes in the Bayeux stitch. Quickly, I bought my own Tapestry reproduction and shoved it in my bag.

DIY Medieval Tapestry

I was lucky before I jumped into this project that I had a Bayeux stitch master class from Marie. It lasted about 10 minutes but it gave me enough confidence that when I arrived home I felt pretty confident to jump into the project. The Bayeux Stitch is made of four simply stitches.

  • Le Point de Tige Stitch (Stem Stitch)
    This stitch outlines all the images. The first step is to outline the WHOLE tapestry.
  • Points Lances (Long Stitch)
    This fills the space, kind of like coloring in the lines.img_1238
  • Les Barrettes (Couching Stitch)
    This one holds down all of your long stitches.img_1247
  • Les Picots
    This is pretty much a secondary couching stitch that holds down you previous couching stitch.img_1439

In total it took me about two years to finish my very OWN Tapestry of Bayeux. Now every day while sipping my tea I can be reminded of my time in Bayeux and William, the Duke of Norman kicking the ass of Harold, the Earl of Wessex at the Battle of Hastings.

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