Saturday, April 26, 2014

Embroidery's rich cultural heritage carries on

Sherry shows embroidery samples from her textile collection.
Whether or not we learned to sew, embroider or quilt at a young age, many of us grew up surrounded by needlework of some kind—embroidered dish towels, cross stitched pillowcases, crewelwork pillows, dresser scarves, armchair doilies, or pieced and appliqued patchwork made from clothing, feed sacks or even men's old silk ties. Needlework pieces such as these can evoke memories of our family, our youth or our culture.

The program at the April Choo Choo Quilters guild meeting entitled "Embroidery on Quilts" featured time-honored embroidery techniques used throughout history and offered ideas and examples of how hand stitching can add detail and dimension to projects we're creating today.

A seminole pieced and crazy patch vest
that escaped donation to a charity.
Sherry Baldwin, the evening's presenter, grew up surrounded by needlework. Her presentation was peppered with beautiful and heartwarming examples from her extensive textile collection. Pieces included those made by and handed down from family members, pieces she created during various times of her stitch-filled life, or samples she collected during her travels. The evening's presentation was interwoven with guild members' Show and Tell—treasured embroidered examples that emerged from cedar chests, dresser drawers and closets—that added to the visual feast of hand stitched embellishment.

Sherry took the audience back into embroidery history, explaining how different cultures used the same core selection of embroidery stitches—chain, buttonhole, running, satin and cross stitches—and transformed them into beautiful and unique needle art reflective of that culture. She discussed the differences in yarns, threads and base fabrics that were used for different techniques. "Geography often played a part in the choice of materials people used [for embroidery]," she said. People used threads, yarn and fabrics made from the plants and animals that were indigenous and readily available in their part of the world.
References for various needlework techniques from different cultures.
Scandinavian and Hmong embroidery books.
Examples representing embroidery from various eras and cultures included:
Sashiko cloth and small bag.
Crazy patch made with silk ties.
Appliqued crazy patch.
Blue birds embroidered on a summer spread.
Can you find the "mis-pieced" blocks?
Bluework and Redwork.
Embroidery and hand coloring on a pillowcase.
Hand stitching on a painted quilt.
Stitch samplers come in a variety of styles and forms.
Stitch sampler detail.
Cross stitched flowers on a pillowcase.
Cross stitched feather wreath quilt. Hand quilted.
Cross stitched quilt top. 
Embroidery embellishes a Dresden Plate appliqu├ęd quilt.
Hand embroidery adds texture and detail to a contemporary quilt.
Folk art style of embroidery combined with patchwork.
Hand coloring done with crayons.
Small hand stitched piece by Susan Shie.
Quilt embroidered with the long stitch.
Candlewicking on a tree skirt.
Crewel embroidery.
Wool applique embellished with embroidery stitches.
Attendees were treated to a machine stitched piece by Carol Bryer Fallert.
Left: front of work. Right: back, showing the label.
For centuries—dating as far back as 475 BC—people have embroidered cloth for religious and cultural reasons, as a symbol of status or wealth, as art, and as expressions of beauty for their households. Our female ancestors embellished linens, quilts and garments with hand stitching using laborious and time consuming techniques. They enhanced the functional beauty of the objects that clothed and protected their families and adorned their homes. The beauty of the embroidered stitch continues to inspire us today.

Show and Tell
Progress continues to be made on the 2013 Brown Bag Challenge quilts.
Betty made a companion quilt for her other grandson.
Cristy worked with her father-in-law to complete this scrappy string quilt.

Guild members finished quilt tops using the 4-patch kaleidoscope technique.
Dawn's fabric had a beach theme.
Pam's kaliedoscope quilt features a swatch from the original fabric.
Joanna's quilt uses the same fabric as Pam's (previous picture above).
Twin quilts by different mothers?
A hexagon embellished shirt was inspired by the guild's program on Hexagons.
Becky made this patchwork stole (left) and embellished a denim shirt
with hexagons.

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