Embroidery Feed

Making the most of the day

If I go to the mainland I try to fit in as many things as I can into the day.  Last week I had Guild in the morning and then had scheduled the physio and the doctor as well.  But there was a little break in between so I was determined to get to the Fabric Store also.

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This shop is a gem.  They have the best fabrics, not necessarily the cheapest, but the best.  I got 3 metres of wool/lycra for my coat.  It was super cheap but there is a catch.  On the label it says "tears easily".  That means I will have to use stabaliser in parts of the garment to give the fabric that extra strength.  (The other good point about the fabric were the lines in the weave, great for lining up embroidery .)  But it was only $8 per metre so even if it doesn't work out I'm not too worried.  The big problem with getting to the store was parking.  There wasn't any.  I joined the line of people driving around the blocks.  Even my secret places were full.  So I had to drive further away, which meant I had quite a walk, in the heat.  After my last experience of heat exhaustion I am being careful.  Lots of water, and carry that bit extra.  I have also taken to wearing my hat all the time out there and I had left it at home.  I was reading today that a police dog died of heat exhaustion after being out in the heat on that day, so it is not just humans who are having a bad time with the heat. 

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In the 2 years since I have moved out of the city there have been so many changes in my old stomping grounds.  It took me a while to get my bearings.  A number of fairly new buildings have been demolished to make way for bigger buildings.  The James Street Area has become very hip and is extending it's range into the houses.  Non of this helps the parking or me remembering where I am.  Anyway, on my way to the Fabric Store I noticed that what had been a corner store had been turned into a shop selling Indian homewares. 

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I marked this on my list to look at on my way back.  I just love this little shop called Aiyra Handcrafts. I bought 2  Kantha bedcovers and a dress.  (Wish I had bought every dress in my size now.)  I couldn't find a matching pair so I bought the same fabric design in 2 different colour ways.

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Because I wanted them to hang to the floor I bought King size covers to see how they would go.  This 2 layers of cotton fabric makes a great cover on a bed in our climate.  I made some scrappy ones for my boys when they were little out of used cotton pillow cases.  They were patched so many times because the boys loved them.

When I put the covers on the beds they were a bit long on the sides so I machined a hem on each side to raise them.  It was while I was doing this that I realised they were totally hand sewn, even the join down the middle of the fabric.  I like the use of Herringbone stitch to secure the edges of the 2 layers of fabric.

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I then wondered how long it would take to sew a King Size cover?  The stitches aren't very even, so I would say they are being paid by the piece and I wouldn't think that they will be paid very much for their work.  For me, working flat out I can't see me taking less than half a day to stitch this.  So to those women I say thank you for my bed covers I appreciate your work and will treasure them.






Hot and Cold

It is so hot here I am dreaming about winter.  In winter I normally dream about summer.  I just wish I could have my old summer and winter back again.  These extremes are driving me crazy.  I have bookmarked a whole lot of knitting I would like to start and then got to thinking about a winter coat.  I don't need a heavy winter coat, it rarely gets very cold but a light woolen one would be suitable, and I thought some embroidery on it might be nice. 

Onto the internet to see what I could find starting with my favourite designers one of whom is Gudrun Sjoden. (I remember when I first found her shop in Denmark, I didn't want to leave.)  These designs have been machine stitched but I think they would have been taken from traditional embroidery.  I found them all on Pinterest.

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I like the centre design  the best.  So it is time to hit the fabric shops and see what I can find.  I will have to get started soon to have it ready for winter.



The world and travel

This is  going to be my travel year, or, I hope it is going to be my travel year.  With everything that is happening in the USA what the year will bring is very uncertain and I, like many others, watch unfolding events  there with dismay.  If sane heads prevail, my plans for the year are , Sydney in June to see my family, then onto Japan in August, followed by Huston USA in Oct./Nov for the International Quilt Festival.  Then on to Guatemala in South America.

You might ask why Guatemala?  Well friend Pam is taking a group there and I plan to join them.  I had been tossing the idea around for a while and then I received this wonderful gift from her.

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This is a 'Huipil ' which comes from Guatemala.  It is a vintage piece from the highlands around Lake Atitlan.  The Mayan women usually wear their traje (traditional dress), which consists of a huipol (blouse), corte, (skirt) and Faja (belt).  These designs date back to before the Spanish Invasion.  in the 1600's.

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I am surprised by just how heavy the fabric is. The blouse is made of two pieces of fabric, woven on a back strap loom and then joined with embroidery across the centre to achieve the width needed to make a garment.

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 The embroidery design in then transferred onto the fabric and stitched.

Back of stitching.  You can see how the neck has been scalloped and then faced.

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Front of stitching.

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Close up of stitching.

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I love this piece and would also like to buy one with the bird embroidery on it.

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You can see lots of other examples here.




Monday Morning

It's Monday and I don't know what I have done over the past few days.  Oh, I know, I was gardening and have managed to put my neck out.  When I was a kid I was knocked down by a car on a pedestrian crossing.  It was a surreal experience.  I don't remember seeing the car before it hit me but I must have because I jumped up into the air and didn't go under the wheels.  I do remember being in the air and thinking,

"you are going to do a backwards flip, you have never been able to do one of these before.  You are going to come down on the median concrete strip, tuck your head in and roll.  Also, I'm going to wreck my school blazer and my Mother will kill me."

All that in just a few seconds.  I did tuck my head in and roll but I fractured my skull and cracked a bone in my neck along with hurting my leg.  Now that I am getting older these things are coming back to haunt me. My neck is the worst and I am usually pretty careful but I got carried away with a new hoe I bought at the hardware store.  

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The soil in my garden is terrible.  Someone must have put down a plastic layer and then added lots of gravel in an attempt to break up the heavy red clay.  I need to break it up and get the plastic out.  As we live by the sea I also have to contend with the wind and salt air.  Behind the house is sheltered but over run with ferns.

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  I have more I want to do in the garden but will have to put it off for a bit while I recover.  I think pots will be the best option. 

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I now actually have some flowers I can pick from the pots.

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So I have been stitching.  Some samples for a new "Introduction to Kogin" class. 

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One thing a teacher has to have at the forefront of their mind when teaching beginners is that you have to think like they would.  Now, once you reach a certain level of compentancy this isn't easy to do.  We all remember that Math teacher who couldn't understand why we couldn't see it.  He couldn't explain it at a beginners level. Technically what happens  is that our learning has switched into the automatic, like when you know how to drive a car. We don't have to think about it we just know.  But the beginner hasn't got here yet and is still at stage 1.  It is not easy to switch your brain out of that automatic mode.

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  So, that is what I have tried to think about when planning this project.  I am trying to keep it simple but have some challenge in there as well.




Xmas 2016

Advent has begun and I have unpacked all the old decorations and Xmas pieces.  This is the first Xmas in this house since it has had the extensions finished and we unpacked all the boxes.

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All the old favourites rose to the surface, some a little worse for wear.

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Some are broken and will have to be fixed and failing that replaced.

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 We have so many memories of Xmas' Past tied up in all these thing.

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I was going to get the advent calendar set up for the grand children but they had a commercial one they were looking forward to using.  So, this one will go away until some Xmas in the future. But my Drops Christmas calendar has arrived, so I have my own advent calendar.  The countdown is underway.

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25% Fluent

That is what my Italian classes say that I am but I'm not sure about that.  I have turned the translator off on the Italian embroidery blogs I follow and I can make out about 25% of the script, so perhaps they are right.

One blog that I follow is "Il Piacere del ricamo", The pleasure of embroidery, written by Silvana Fontinelli.   I now know what 'Salve Ragazze' means.  (Hello Girls)  On her post No 640 she has a lovely little project that I am about to start stitching.

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It is stitched in No 8 DMC perle cotton, so should stitch up very quickly.  All the patterns are there on the blog along with very clear photos of how to stitch the piece.  Silvana also does beautiful drawn thread work and if you are not learning Italian you can just translate it into English.  This might make a nice Xmas decoration? (Oh the Italian says it's a Xmas decoration)


Heating up

It is hot here 38 degrees centigrade.  I have been working flat out stitching samples for the next Children's Class.  I had the idea for this class back in April but could never get it all together.  Now, with a dead-line looming, the samples are finished. 

It is a "Two in One" project.  The cover can be used as a needle case or a key case.  Each of the little pouches have a lining of wadding and a cotton fabric.  For 'Polly the Pig' I used some glitter fabric that was so pretty I extended it a little to make a trim.  I used a natural coloured fabric for the cover because they will be handled a lot and pale colours will show the dirt.  (they are washable.)

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Depending on how quickly the students complete the embroidery, they can have no trim, like the birds, or a row of stitching around the hem and also a small embroidery on the back.  For those really quick sewers, they can make their own cord.

There are seven different designs to choose from, although I have only stitched out three.  (I got a bit carried away with the drawing.)  The purpose of this class is to teach how you can fill in a shape using stitches other than satin stitch.  I tested these on the grand children and the pig won hands down.

That cloak

As you can probably tell from yesterday's post I have been to see Dr. Strange at the movies which invoked all those memories.

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I had been told by a friend not to leave when the credits came up as there was more so I sat and looked at all the names of the animators etc, that went on for ages, and there was more.  But in among all those names there was a small section recognising the costume designers.  So I went looking to find out more because that cloak is just wonderful.

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It is hand and machine embroidered, pieced using nap and like colours.  A work of art. As are all the costumes in this movie.

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There is a great article in Vanity Fair by Joanna Robinson about the designing of this cloak and at the bottom of the article are some wonderful images, where these two came from.

I have always admired the work of Alexandra Byrne in many movies and love the fact that embroidery is used in many of her creations.

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There is a huge body of work from costume designers that isn't really recognised, it is just part of the movie and gets a credit in those bits at the end, that a lot of people walk out on. 

I loved the movie, pure fantasy, which I love.


Some more goodies.

I also picked up a couple of donations for the Guild Collection whilst I was in Toowoomba.  The first is an apron.  These were available through a newspaper back in the 1920's and 30's.  There are lots of them still around and are sort after by collectors.  This one has a lovely story attached to it.

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It belonged to the Donor's grandmother who had travelled to a country property to be a governess for the children of a widower.  She and he later married and had a family of their own.  This was her special occasion apron and the donor remembers her wearing it when she was a little girl.  Some of these aprons were only outline stitched,

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image from Pinterest

but others had the whole design stitched like this one.  It certainly makes the skirt come to life.

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The woman in the design has the look of Wallace Simpson, I don't know if this was deliberate.

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There is a pretty small design on the shawl and this is mirrored on the pocket.

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The apron even has the original safety pins used to attach it do the wearers dress.

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A bit of detective work

After the shock of the camera on my phone not working and then it just popping up again I can now write about some of the happenings on my weekend at Toowoomba as I can post some images.

One of the other women at the retreat asked me if I could find out about an old piece of clothing that her grandparents had brought to Australia from Poland.  This was the old Poland, when it's borders extended north and it was part of Imperial Russia pre WW1.  It was part of a child's dress that had been mostly hand made from parts of other clothing.  The most notable feature was the beading on the bodice and sleeves.

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There are two distinctly different types of beading. The first is on the yolk across the shoulders, and is stitched.

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The second is across the chest region and is woven.

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I suspect that they were taken from two separate garments.

The beading on the sleeves is similar to that on the shoulders but might have come from another garment altogether.

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The beading at the side of these panels has been sewn into the pintucking and although the beads are a good match in colour, there is a slight difference in the beads.

On the back of the beading you can see the construction method and the piecing.

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The designs have a Scandinavian look about them and I suspect that some of the original beading was part of a Saami (Lapland) costume.  If you look at the bands around the sleeves those animals look like deer of some kind.  The other hypothesis is that the maker copied some of the Saami designs.

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The Saami today mainly live in Norway and Sweden but there are others smaller groups that live in Finland and Russia.  Although I have no documentary proof I suspect that some of the beaded sections of this garment originate with the "Skolt Saami" or perhaps the Karelians who live in the same area.

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Source: Wikipeadia

I  had read that the yoked sweaters that we know today were originally taken from beading designs used in Greenland by the Saami.

There is one interesting little feature.  One the back of the yoke there was a pyramid of yellow beads on each side. I wonder if these were original or added later?

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So here sits a piece of a small dress that was obviously much prized as it was brought to the other side of the world.  The decorated section was cut off and packed away probably because it held memories of home.   So if you have a treasured piece make sure you write it's history so that we are not guessing where it came from or who made it.