On a recent visit to the Henry Art Gallery (www.henryart.org), I had a chance to spend some time absorbing two very wonderful embroidered textiles from central Europe. Of course, photographs are never as good as seeing the objects in-person, but hopefully you can at least get some idea of the incredible level of detail and labor intensiveness needed to create such beauty!

This is a back view of a very densely embroidered cap from Czechoslovakia, made sometime in the mid 20th c. The metallic shapes are delightfully 3-d — they were probably stitched over a shaped core of some kind — and originally were much shinier than they are today. I got up really close and even got to see the underside! (It’s always incredibly exciting to see just how it was done.) The level of detail is incredible — just think about stitching back and forth, over and over again, to cover all those shapes with thread!  

I also got to spend some quality time (no glass between us!) with this decorative apron from Yugoslavia. Here’s a closeup of one corner.

Satin stitch is predominant here, as it was for the cap (satin stitch is taking long stitches back and forth right next to each other; the overall effect is very shiny and smooth). Here, however, the embroidery was done by machine on flat fabric.

With satin stitch, you have to keep your stitches short enough to avoid snagging. Obviously, the motifs on this apron are quite large, and just filling up the spaces with single stitches could result in some very long stretches of thread! But, very cleverly, the embroidery designer broke up the largest bits of flower petals into a grid and stitched the squares and bars separately. Subdividing the big areas keeps your stitches from getting too long and adds an additional layer of  texture that you might miss on first glance; I love the way it adds dimension and interest to the motifs while still ‘coloring in’ all of the flower and retaining the overall satin-y look.

In other news, we’re sewing, sewing, sewing — which means yes,

the spring line is coming!

 We’re working on a release date and hope to have it finalized by the weekend; one of us will definitely post again once we’ve got it all settled!


All images from the Henry Art Gallery’s Website, www.henryart.org. Click on the pictures to visit each item’s individual page!


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