All posts by Helen Barnes

Mexican Embroidery

This spring I have been travelling to see my family Sean and Camila in Costa Rica and Caitlin in Lisbon, Portugal. Costa Rica does not have a distinctive tradition of embroidery so I decided to look at the Central American embroidery from Mexico. Having done research on the internet I then bought a book’ Mexico bordado’ by Gimena Romero . This book is inspiring, it shows different types of embroidery and gives you clear instructions on how to do the stitches. It is in Spanish but the photos are so good I could work from them to do a sampler . 

I enjoyed the picture making of Bordado purepecha. Building up a story scene was a lovely restful activity. I used a couching stitch, detached chain stitch , french knots and stem stitch.

 

Otomi embroidery from central Mexico has been sewn for centuries but evolved in the 1960’s as a desperate need for income after severe droughts . The designs are from native flora and fauna and spiritual beasts. I started off using images from the book but soon started drawing my own images from animals and fauna I saw in Costa Rica .

Sean had previously bought me a cloth from Mexico which is Otomi embroidery. This is a close up of some of the design. It is mostly sewn in herringbone stitch with stem stitch used for lines.

Caitlin also bought me a Mexican piece of embroidery which is quite unique and I am still investigating its origin. If anyone has seen anything similar I would love to know about it .

I have enjoyed my Mexican sewing and will certainly be using these techniques in the future maybe with a Yorkshire twist.

 

 

Palestinian Embroidery Samples

I had the delight to obtain a copy of this book produced by Sunbula in Jerusalem. https://www.sunbula.org/en/category/57/1/Our-Story . It is a beautiful book full of beautiful photos and thoughtful text. In the book it shows very clearly some of the stitches used in Palestinian work other than cross-stitch.

One fascinating section shows the joining stitches used in clothes.(as fabric woven by hand would be the width of a hand loom. ). At first glance the join looks like two rows of satin stitch but it is in fact a plait joining stitch. It was lovely to learn this new technique.

I also had a go at the couching work seen in the Bethlehem area

These couched areas are filled in with satin stitch, these designs just show the simple motifs the work on costumes is far more complex.

The last set of samples show the use of applique , particularly the use of triangles and V shaped reverse applique. The applique was embroidered in a zig zag back stitch. 

I unfortunately have no photos I can use of the beautiful dresses but if you follow this link to the British Museum you will see some exquisite work. Hopefully in the future as I continue my research I will be able to show you examples. 

https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/W_As1993-18-1   

Palestinian Embroidery

I have recently been preparing for a charity workshop on Palestinian Embroidery . It is a fascinating area of study. and here I share a little of what I have learnt.

The design on the right is one of my samples with the popular cypress trees on  indigo dyed fabric

Palestinian embroidery is very beautiful and unique. It is recognisable with its rich colours and distinctive patterns, influenced over time by ideas from the east travelling along the ancient trade routes. Contact with Europe also inspired new patterns for example from the church convent schools and pattern books from DMC arriving with new threads in the 1930’s.

The geometric and later the floral patterns were embroidered onto cotton and linen cloth. These were popular on the clothes and household linen. Girls would learn at an early age to embroider and growing up they would work on their wedding trousseau, which would include some intricate dress wear. The dresses may have an embroidered chest panel, side panels and sleeve panels, the patterns and style depending on the region.

 Bright colours were often used on natural undyed cloth or indigo dyed cloth. Red was a predominant thread colour, each village having a slightly different shade Pink, green, orange, violet, and yellow thread would pick out parts of the patterns to give the design vibrancy. The random placing of accent colours adds interest and as an imperfect finish gave protection from the evil eye.

This card  is one of the designs  for use at the workshop.

Although a lot of cross stitch is used for the designs, couching, chain stitch, split stitch and satin stitch are also used. Applique was also a feature and often sewn down using a zig zag back stitch. As the hand woven cloth would be quite limited in width it had to be joined so the joining stitches became part of the garments pattern embroidered in bright colours

Geometric designs create the base of Palestinian patterns but flora and birds add interest. One popular motif is the cypress tree, each region would embroiderer it slightly differently. This symbol is said to represent longevity.

Palestinian embroidery is now on the UNESCO cultural heritage list to “protect Palestinian identity, heritage and narrative”.

This photo is of some purses from a co-operative of ladies stitching Palestine embroidery for sale. To see further designs have a look at their website . https://crosstitch4palestine.wordpress.com/

2022 Happy New Year

Wishing you a Happy New Year full of rich cultural experiences and creative activities to fill your days .

I have a busy year lined up with workshops and talks for Quilting and Stitching Groups, as well  as new workshops for Dutton’s for Buttons in York and Ilkley. ( See the link below to view workshops and booking procedures).                     https://www.duttonsforbuttons.co.uk/workshops/ 

For January I would like to share another quilt from the Reeth Museum, Swaledale.

This is a beautiful handmade patchwork quilt made in the traditional method of English Paper Piecing . The unit shapes are called Periwinkle . If you look at the use of fabrics some units use what is now called fussy cutting , using a stripe or motif to create a more interesting pattern within a unit like the radiating lined fabric emphasizing the star design.

I have volunteered to help with the conservation of the Museums quilts by running a workshop on English Paper Piecing, learning how to make one unit to be used as a mat or to start a bigger piece of mosaic patchwork.

If you would like to attend the workshop and take a look at this wonderful quilt it is on Saturday July 2nd at the Reeth Museum.

http://www.swaledalemuseum.org/whatson.html

Red and White Strippy -Swaledale Museum, Reeth

I was privileged to visit the Reeth Museum when on holiday in the Yorkshire Dales. Helen Clifford welcomed me and showed me several quilts, the hexagon patchwork, the beautiful mosaic quilt mounted on the wall and the red and white strippy I had requested to study. The front of the red and white strippy is made from red turkey twill fabric and white plain weave fabric. It is backed in plain white cotton and has a Turkey red binding, the wadding is probably cotton. The quilt has 9 strips and is 80” x 100”, the 7 central strips are 9 1/2” wide and the two white outer strips are 6”wide.

The arrangement of the pattern is interesting for a strippy as it has a border of parallel stitch lines in triangles and geometric curves, giving the central area a frame.

The central area is filled with a half wine glass, which is roughly marked out giving it an individual charm.

 

I worked in my sketch book to document the patterns and drew out (in a smaller scale) and quilted the half wine glass design. Although I am still trying to work out if she quilted it in curved lines or one circle at a time!

It is lovely to imagine a lady in a Swaledale cottage quilting this bright coloured strippy ready to put on the bed to keep her family warm over the bitter cold winter nights.

I hope to visit The Dales Museum in Hawes to see their strippys , there is certainly no shortage of quilts to study and my North Country Strippy pattern bank continues to grow.

If you are up in the Dales Swaledale Museum it is definitely worth a visit .

http://www.swaledalemuseum.org/

 

 

 

A little bit of Embroidery

At the end of July I was fortunate enough to go on an embroidery weekend with the Yorkshire region at Bishop Burton College. It was so lovely to chat and stitch with friends -all in a COVID friendly way of course!

I spent the weekend being tutored by Florence Daisy Collingwood who both inspired me and taught me new skills. I had taken my Celtic/Viking sketch book with me and worked on two bird designs taken from that period.

As Florence had experience working at the Royal School of Needlework she shared new stitches and techniques which stretched my abilities. I am really pleased with my finished pieces of work ,my only disappointment is Florence lives so far away I can not go to more of her workshops. I will however endeavour to grow my skills and as I have started going to the Airedale Stitchers’ Group I hope to take guidance from more experienced embroiderers there.

Here are my two embroidered pieces.

This is the Celtic bird design made into a book cover ,appropriately for my sketch book .

This piece I have mounted and framed, the Viking bird design has been used to learn linear knot stitches. 

Thank you for new friends I made at the weekend , Pauline Heywood for organising the weekend and Florence for her inspiration. . 

New Workshops in Ilkley and York

In the past month I have been busy working on the workshop content for the York and Ilkley Workshops, hence the lack of posts on my own work. I have also been on an embroidery weekend which was excellent led by Florence Daisy Collingwood and when I have finished my Celtic embroidered pieces -hopefully this month, I will share them on my blog.

I am tutoring the hand embroidery and hand quilting classes including ‘Stitching in the Dales’ classes, looking at Vintage embroidery, English Paper piecing, North Country quilting patterns and Gold work. 

Along side these are ‘World Embroidery’ workshops once a month starting with Indian mirror work, Indian kantha work, Vietnamese stitching and Japanese Sashiko work. 

Our first class was a taster session , sampling applique, embroidery and quilting which was very enjoyable and samples of lovely work were completed.

If you would like to book or look at the complete selection of workshops take a look at the Dutton’s link below

https://www.duttonsforbuttons.co.uk/workshops/

If you have any questions please get in touch , it would be lovely to see you and to share my love of textiles with you.

 

 

Samples all labelled ready for the Quilters Guild

I cannot believe were the last month went.

I have met a lot of lovely ladies around the UK doing zoom talks and workshops to embroidery and quilters groups. Thank you all for you kindness and asking me along to your meetings. 

I have also tutored my first real class at Dutton’s for Buttons in York. The class was based around canvas work and looked at the Arts and Crafts movement. We also discussed Louisa Pesel , an amazing lady who I will talk about in a blog all of her own . You may have heard of her as she designed and organised the kneelers and cushions in Winchester Cathedral in the 1930’s and was a central character in T. Chevaliers book ‘A single Thread’ . 

In-between  I have been labelling up the quilted samplers from the North Country strippy quilts. I have put them into sets which can be added to in the future. Next month should see my textile hanging finished, I am at present doing the butt edge and getting it ready to hang up.

Three types of bellow designs

Continuous designs including plait, wave, cable and trail

Diamond framework designs

Running feathers

Infill designs

Repeated motifs

Loop and circle frameworks

and finally two of my favourite continuous designs the Weardale chain and the Allendale feather.

Making patterns

Over the last month I have been working on my Textiles hanging , using chainstitch and embroidery stitches along side quilting the patterns I studied on the strippy quilts. I have also added sequins, buttons and beads to add detail and focus. I enjoy the variety of techniques and spending time working out the exact colour and thickness of thread I want to use to create the right balance in the composition, although it has led to some unpicking when I’m not quite sure. Next month it should be ready for hanging and display which will be a great accomplishment.