As I said I recently spent a beautiful weekend in Plas Tan Y Bwlch with the North Wales Embroiderers Guild.
At first I was overwhelmed by the talent of the other Guild members, but then I decided that I can only learn from them. I learned a LOT.
There were three tutors on the weekend and we each chose to attend one “craft” There was screen printing, machine embroidery and Appliqué. I chose to stay in my comfort zone of appliqué.
Our tutor was particularly good as she showed slides of her journey through Uzbekistan and the textiles which are a specialty of that area. The Suzanis were very similar to the textiles that I saw in India.
These cushion covers were embroidered by my Nanna ( Grandmother) in circa 1950 They were embroidered using a variety of stitches and stranded silk threads.
The cushion covers were worked onto white linen and have to be stitched onto the cushion pad as there is no zip or fastening. They have been freshly laundered and had some running repairs today. They now have pride of place in my lounge and I adore them!
They are NOT for sale in my Etsy shop!
Having watched, and sort of enjoyed, The Great British Sewing Bee, I remembered making a waistcoat for a special person.
I don’t think it would pass inspection by the Bee Judges but at the time I was proud of this attempt at tailoring! It was in 1979 that my Sis got married and asked my eldest son to be her Pageboy! I made the trousers and waistcoat for the event and forced him to wear a bow tie. I remember making bound buttonholes as my machine didn’t have the facility. I was taught how to do bound buttonholes at school and have always had success with them.
There was men weaving on “pit looms” the most exquisite silk saris. Their sons would often sit with them to learn the trade. The homes where this takes place, were frequently poorly lit. Interestingly they were also listening to cricket on the radio ( and India was winning!)This lady attempted to show us how to work Chiken stitch a traditional shadow stitch often worked on saris and pashminas. I tried hard but failed miserably!Market stalls were piled high with traditional textiles in eye popping colours.
Traditional crafts were apparent in the maintenance of buildings, contrasting with the poverty on the roadsides and city streets.
on my recent “Textile Treasure Hunt” to India I saw many people working long hours in often, difficult conditions. They were invariably pleasant, smiley and happy.
I recently had a holiday to India when I visited Delhi, Varanasi, Lucknow and Agra. It was a fantastic trip aimed at learning about Indian textiles. The experience was wonderful, enhanced by the many people that I met en route. How do they do this?.
Making fishing nets , the whole family involved
Still working! This time assembling packets for sale Could be a knit and natter group
The Village water supply
I’m attempting a little slow stitching, which in other times was called “embroidery!”
Slow stitching centres around the “make do and mend” and “waste not, want not” ethos of yesteryear. It is a nod to the generations that came before ours in which reusing and recycling were necessary and admirable.
This is not a complicated process which relies on numerous fancy, perfectly executed stitches and fastidious neatness. Rather, we embrace the timeworn nature of our materials, and the individuality of our stitching methods.
Simplicity is key.
We are passionate fabric lovers, and we have a stash of “just because” pieces we’ve found along the way to prove it. We love to hunt at flea markets, charity stores and church fetes for the cloth treasures and embellishments we will repurpose. We can lose ourselves in the online world of instagram and etsy…..oh the possibilities…
I am currently using some of my vintage stash to create a Hexi quilt, which is the ethos of the Slow stitching movement.
One reason that I wanted to make the Harris Tweed quilt that I mentioned in my previous post is because I want to improve my embroidery skills. My Grandmother and to a lesser extent my Mother were great needlewomen. I can embroider to a certain extent but there is always room for improvement.
I found this book in my Grandmother’s belongings many years ago. It is a small paperback book first published in 1967.The instructions are clear and simple and it’s a delight to learn from.
I also have another book, not quite so old, published in 1981. So….. back to slow stitching.
I’m nothing if not indecisive! I have thought this project through and gathered together the necessary. I’ve researched, upcycled and finally started to work on my future travel project. I don’t like it! I like the theory, I enjoyed the ideas book and I tried hard. However I don’t like it!
On review of my first hexigan ( which would be the first of many) it just doesn’t work. The beautiful Harris Tweed is too thick when folded over. It doesn’t sit well with the vintage embroidery and in short it doesn’t work! No amount of pressing will improve the look, but I haven’t abandoned it completely.
I adore the vintage embroidery which was worked by my Grandmother over fifty years ago. Don’t worry! I only cut up the cushion cover because a Grandchild tried to colour it in with a permanent Felt tip pen! So….. rethink, re trench and start again.
I did like the embroidery that I had done on the reverse of the hexigon so I intend to incorporate that into the “take two” project!
This is the second plan. I love the Harris Tweed that I’m going to use and I’m delighted to upcycle my Grandmother’s vintage embroidery.
I couldn’t make my mind up which of these two books is my favourite. The book “A Trip around the Wool” is a great book and up there among my current favourites. It’s a bi lingual book in both French and English and beautifully illustrated. I’m just starting a project titled “52 Happy Memories of 2007”. The aim is to create an embroidered hexagon each week culminating in a 52 hexi quilt. I’m already falling behind so nothing new there.
The second book “Stitched Memories” by Tilly Rose is a glorious book sub titled “Telling a story through cloth and thread” which sits well alongside the other book. I’m using old embroideries and Harris Tweed to create my memory quilt. But lots more about that as it starts to come together.
For the last few days I’ve been busy making a cotton tunic for my forth coming Indian trip. I finished today and am pleased with the result. Well…..actually I like the tiger fabric, the pattern went together fine and it fit well. Ok I confess! I don’t like it. There’s nothing technically wrong I just wouldn’t have bought it in a shop! Which is the acid test for home dressmaking. Whilst I love the tiger fabric perhaps it’s too busy?I like the tunic pattern but it’s just not “me”. Ah well! Lesson learned and all that! I’m sure as Hell trying!