Embroidery has had some really bad press, to put it mildly. Time and again I’ve encountered it mentioned in literature as the quintessential boring pastime — what girls and women who lack courage and imagination settle on in place of adventures.
The precision and patience that embroidery demands must have been the source of many a writer’s frustration but the rest is a case of echoing a cliché. I don’t think embroidery was that province of well-behaved girls that dismissive novelists imagine. Peasant blouses show defiance: a scrap of plain fabric became a garden conjured by thread. Where often severe constraints limited what was available to the maker, ingenuity still came out on top.
There are many kinds of embroidery, historically tied to different social strata as well as to different places and traditions. Peasant blouses are just one example, and one kind of story that embroidery can tell.
And one I find really intriguing. In the past months I’ve seen quite a few interesting peasant blouses pop up online. Seamwork had a feature on 1930’s peasant blouses in the May 2015 issue and By Hand London released a peasant blouse hack for their Zeena dress pattern later that summer. There’s also a new pattern from Kate & Rose in the most recent Sew News magazine.
If, like me, you’re interested in ways you could bring embroidery into a modern wardrobe, Kate & Rose patterns is an excellent source of inspiration. Kati’s designs offer a unique combination of modern silhouettes and embroidery inspired by Hungarian folklore. The photos at the top of the post are two of her embroidery designs.
Those of you on Kollabora or BurdaStyle may be familiar with the talented sewist Kelerabeus. The wedding dress she made for a friend is a work of art. Her shirt with a fox peeking out of the pocket, on the other hand, brings a bit of magic into the everyday.
And how about botanical embroidery? You can start very small, with a single flower, and then create a whole garden. I was blown away by these designs from The Craft Sessions workshops.
Images from The Craft Sessions
More images, because how could you not.
Do you embroider? What do you think is a good place to start for a complete novice?