A gentle sewing day

Who could say no to ‘a gentle sewing day, using vintage patterns and traditional embroidery stitches’? Not me! Today I spent a wonderfully exciting and relaxing day in the company of a dozen would-be embroiderers at Country Threads in Bath.

Teacher Jan set the scene with vintage embroidery, 1930s ceramics and collectables and even period music. To welcome the class, name badges were set out in mini crinoline lady place holders. Heaven!

Most of us had some knowledge of basic embroidery stitches, so while Jan brought the complete beginners up to speed, we started the tricky business of deciding what to stitch. There were piles and piles of incredible old embroidery transfers to choose from. Some very British and some very French. It was fascinating to see how differently the ladies of these two countries were using the same skills around 80 years ago. The French monograms were stunning but a bit complex for our ‘gentle’ day. (I would love to know more about how these elaborate 3D confections were created. Please share if you have such know-how.)

I have to confess to being rather overwhelmed and it must have taken a good half hour to decide on the rather modest little chain of forget-me-nots you can see in progress below. I envisaged creating a vintage shelf edge but as you can see, I still have some way to go. It only uses three simple stitches, so I will persevere.

Jan was kind enough to let us copy any of the transfers we wanted to take home, so I’ve stored up a dinky cut-work oak leaf and acorn, a cheeky little deer, and a 1930s house with hollyhock-packed garden for when time permits.

Many of my fellow stitchers also brought along inherited pieces for a lovely show-and-tell session. It was heartening to see that so many hours of work were so treasured and even half-finished pieces were being given new life as the stitchers of today took up the challenge to complete them. If my work is passed on in this way, I can promise to keep future generations busy for quite some time!

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “A gentle sewing day

  1. How fun! Any chance you will show pictures of the1930s house with hollyhock-packed garden? Would love to see!

  2. Those flowers you’ve done look lovely. I’ve not embroidered before but I’m gradually getting more interested in sewing so will definitely attempt it at some point. Am doing a free machine embroidery class in February which I’m definitely looking forward to! Have you tried this? Any tips for a total novice?

  3. That’s so pretty, I absolutely love vintage embroidery

  4. Pingback: Hollyhock House | The Button Jar

  5. Hello, that sounds like a perfect day! I love embroidering by hand; machine embroidery is fun, but nothing beats the sheer satisfaction of hand embroidery. I use a lot of embroidery in my brooches and it always reminds me of cosy childhood days. I recently rediscovered my old (1930`s ?) embroidery book that was my bible as a wee girl when sorting through some old books- what a happy find!
    Just got new Mollie Makes and love your wee mice! They remind me a bit of Maileg bunnies and the finger puppets I used to make as a child. Very nostalgic, I`m definately going to make a wee family for myself!

  6. Diana Powell

    In 2010, my group – (Coventry) Phoenix Stitchers – made a great textile book with detatchable pages consisting of members’ re-interpretation of vintage iron on transfers saved by some of us from old family work boxes! Some were very traditional, some used more contemporary techniques. We display it when we stand at public events, to show that anyone can join us, whatever their preferred style, be valued, have fun and learn new things. It’s always really well received.
    I love vintage images especially those which open up aspects of social history for me, and vintage girls’ and women’s magazines are a treasure trove of information about what it might have been like to have been a woman in times past. Old photographic postcards of people old and young (often the only picture of an event or a moment in time) living their lives in completely different environments, are also terrific spotlights on the past. If you enjoy historical things Or even if you don’t!) these all make great jumping off points to develop your own ideas for making original art & craft images, patterns or objects! Joining a group like ours is the perfect way to get going in a friendly and supportive atmosphere – as women have discovered many times over from time immemorial – not to say we don’t want men in our group, we’d love more male stitichers ‘come out’ and sew in public, but at present we’re all female and that’s great in its own right too!

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