Monday, April 27, 2009

Hand Embroidery

I read recently that it was thought that hand embroidery was a dying art form. NAY!!!! say it isn't so!!! In my little realm of heirloom sewing there are still a multitude of hand stitchers who are indeed masters of the art!!!! Most of them I have come to know through the internet and some I have come to know personally. I have the utmost respect for these women who create beautiful works of art with a needle

I thought about my own journey of learning this beautiful means of stitching. I took some classes many years ago and was so dissatisfied with my attempts that I only dabbled with it in the ensuing years. Then one day I made the decision to attend the MarthaPullenCo School of Art Fashion in an attempt to improve my skills. I took the class offered by Wendy Schoen , which just happened to be a class for infant clothing, her specialty and my first love!!! I should add at this point that I consider Ms. Schoen one of the masters of hand embroidery and I can only dream of stitching as beautifully as she!!!!

I will never forget my intimidation by the ladies in that class who were much more accomplished than me. I was so embarrassed by my inability to execute those tiny stitches, which are the hallmark of beautiful embroidery. I learned a great deal in that class. First and foremost that good lighting and good magnification are essential. Then the biggest revelation that the proper needle is crucial to the desired stitch!!! WHO KNEW!!!! Who would have thought that something as tiny as a needle could make that much difference??? But a difference it makes indeed!!! Not only that, but some BRANDS are better than others!!! Fast forward a few years and all those projects from the school remained tucked away unfinished in my "Grandmother's Hope Chest" with the promise to myself that when one of my children had me a grandchild, I would finish them. And finish them I did.

Along the way, I have rediscovered my love for hand embroidery and have taken the opportunity to work on more projects and attempt to perfect my skill. I am still not at the level I want to be, but hey, it takes practice, practice, practice!! I would like to pay tribute to some of my other friends , who's skill I so admire. First , there is my dear friend Laurie, who is an amazing designer and regular contributor to SewBeautiful magazine, the hand book to heirloom sewists everywhere!!

Then there is a new friend

Martha, whom I first discovered on a sewing forum and then have followed her on her delightful blog.

Here, I am revisiting some of my work with hand embroidery, crude as it is!!! The initial below was worked on a baby blanket for my granddaughter (whom we are still awaiting to arrive). The stitches used are a combination of shadow embroidery, lazy daisy, granito, and bullion rose.

The bonnet below is for my granddaughter Lacey Claire, who arrived on Valentine's Day this year. The stitches on it are also bullion rose, lazy daisy and running stitch.