Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Hills are Alive......

            With the Sound of Stitching!

     On one of our days, we were invited to travel into the hills to the home of one of the agents.  The agent is the go-between that takes the unfinished goods from the factory and delivers them to her embroideresses in the hills.  She also picks up the work that has been done during the previous week and delivers that to the factory.

     The agent had invited herembroideresses to her house also, and we had a stitchin' party!  We were sitting out in the sun, enjoying their company (even though none of us really understood what the others were saying)!

     They would look at our work (and in my case, a lot of tsk, tsk, tsk was going on), and of course, we watched them stitch!  Their talent is amazing!


     They brought out hats for us to wear so that we would not be bothered by the sun.  Here I am in the middle, sitting next to Becky Busching, of Becky B's (remember her Just for Rosemary pattern?  So sad that it is out of print).

     Here is the cutest little girl, learning her craft at her mother's knee.

     Some intense stitching going on here!

     We had a wonderful time - the agent was most gracious and the ladies were excited to meet the Americans!  We learned as we were (trying) talking to them, that most of them do not own many embroidered pieces - even though they can do the work beautifully, the linen was very expensive, so they did not tend to stitch a lot of pieces for themselves!

     I hope you all are enjoying this as much as I am!  I am going to be at the EGA convention in Santa Fe, NM next Wednesday, which is also Halloween.  Once I get back I am home for a while and I know I am being optimitic when I say I will catch up on things, since I know I will have time, once I am home for a while!

     I am also watching my friend's 4 children this weekend, while they go on a little get a way - I will post pictures of Mary Frances and Sammy.  Some of you have taken my Mary Frances Daydress class - the dress was named after Mary Frances.  She has the cutest clothes, most of them smocked, and her mother doesn't sew or smock! 

Happy Stitching,

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pretty Whitework plus more.....

    Some things for you to enjoy.....

     I just got back from the Smocking Arts Guild of America national convention in Atlanta!  I had a wonderful time, other than the fact that it was too short!  It is hard enough to try to chat and catch up with everyone.  I am still going through my suitcases, as I am leaving Friday for ETAC (Education in the Textile Arts).  Thankfully, that one is here in SoCal, so no plane rides or long driving, but I still have to wash my clothes and stuff the freezer with cookies for my hubby.  That man can eat and stays skinny as a rail!  I made 100 sugar cookies and 2 big coffie cakes before I left for Atlanta............cookies are gone and there is about a half a coffee cake left in the freezer, so need to refill before I go.
     Normally, I love to bake, but it has been 95+ degrees here every day this week and it is supposed to be even hotter tomorrow.  Just thinking about turning the oven on is making me sweat.

     Technically, on Pacific time, it is still Whitework Wednesday, so I am including a few pictures of some embroidered goodies that I got while I was in Madeira.  This is a round doily that is embroidered with bullion roses and padded satin stitch leaves.  It is about 8-9 inches in diameter, and still has the gremio seal attached.
      The gremio (little silver seal at the top right) is attached after the embroidered piece passes inspection by the Madeira Institute of Embroidery.  Only those items that have been embroidered ON the island of Madeira and have passed inspection can have the gremio attached.

     This is the corner of one of the place mats that I purchased on my forst trip.  They have soo many wonderful designs and I could't make up my mind, so I decided to be a bit different and get a variety.  I have 2 different sets of china - a white on white and a white with a blue band.  I figured white on white would coordinate, so I bought 8 different placemat/napkin sets, each of a different design.  I will share them all with you at some point, but here is the first.  The base fabric is white linen, with an organdy insert.

     The napkin is not quite as elaborate - just one organdy insert motif in the corner.  Notice the gremio!

     Enjoy, more next week, and I am off to bed!  For all of you that I saw in Atlanta, I wish that I could have spent more time with you!  You all should come out for one of our Santa Barbara sewing retreats  - lots of chatting AND sewing!

Happy Stitching,


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Whitework Wednesday.... Pulling Thread...

        Pulling a Thread

     This is a bit out of order, but i just found the picture..............  one of the things that I found most fascinating was preparing the fabric.  I have already talked about how the designs are chosen and marked on the fabric, but even before that, the fabric has to be cut.  I know for myself, whenever I am working with the finest linen (and I use and carry Ulster linen, which is divine), I do not tear the linen!  I pull a thread and cut the linen.

     It may be a bit hard to see this, but the woman in the picture is holding a thread with her left hand and 'cutting' with scissors in her right hand.  She didn't actually use a cuttin motion - she pulled the thread and followed it with her razor sharp scissors, in one smooth motion.  I stood at the table and took pictures several times.  I pressed the button when she started and by the time the camera actually took the picture, she was 3/4s of the way across the fabric.  She was fast and she was accurate!  No rotary cutter for her.  As a matter of fact, this was on my first trip and I don't think I had even heard of rotary cutters!  You can see the pile of linen that she was cutting. Once cut, it would go on to the next step of getting marked.

     Here is a design that they were preping.  Very intricate!

     One of the workers that was marking fabric.
     Stacks on the table............ linen that has been marked, and the 'packets' are getting ready.  The linen is put with the floche and the applique' fabric and bundled, ready to go.
Stacks of marked fabric.
More fabric that is marked.
     Once the fabric is marked and bundled, an agent picks them up.  the agent is the contact between the factory and the embroideresses that do most of the work.  The embroideresses live up in the hills and do not get down to Funchal.  The agent takes the bundles and drops them off at her embroideresses and then picks up the completed work from the previous week.  She brings that back down to the factory to begin the next step in the production process.  We met a couple of the agents - they showed us what work they were bringing in.

     This is one of the goodies that I bought when I was in Madeira........... it is a blue linen pillow sham with organdy insert (the bow and flower background), shadow work (flowers, leaves), and embroidery (stems and leaves).

     This is the corner of a table scarf - the big fabric is a white voile or batiste, with a cutwork edge.  Cutwork is also used to applique' the scallopped linen to the inside of the piece.  Granitos are stitched in the border.  Beautiful!

I hope you are enjoying this as much as I am reliving the wonderful memories I have of these visits!  I will be in Atlanta at the SAGA convention when this posts - hope to see some of you there!

Happy Stitching,

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Whitework Wednesday....A Cottage Industry

A Cottage Industry

     I took this picture of a picture in one of the displays - 2 women sitting and sttiching!  While the dress has changed, the act of sitting together and stitching is timeless.  One of my favorite things to do is to get together with my friends to stitch.  Our smocking guild has several retreats each year in Santa Barbara where we can sit and stitch, sew, (read, rest, relax, or what ever strikes us!) in the company of women who love to stitch.


     This is one of the teachers who helped us at the Imperial Bordados, where we took our lessons.  (I was so young!!!)

     This is another one of our teachers.  I do not speak Portuguese (or Spanish, which is close), and they did not speak English, but the universal sound of tsk, tsk and the shaking of the head let us know when we were doing something wrong!
     It was amazing to watch these women with a needle - they could make it sing!  They would stand next to each other, chatting away, and would barely look at the needle or fabric as they were stitching! 
These women learned how to stitch as a child and it has been their livelihood, as well as a skill and talent.

     This cute little girls is sitting next to her mother and stitching, just as the rest of the women are.  We had a chance to spend some time stitching at the home of one of the agents (but more about that later) and this little girl came along with her momma!
     The embroidery skills are handed down from mother to daughter, through the generations.  
     Last week I showed some pictures of the patterns and the gentleman that was marking the patterns and fabric.
     This is the beginning version of the tea towel that we worked on - the white linen is marked with the blue pounce ball.  We used white floche for the cutwork edge and grey floche for the granitos, outline stitch, and padded satin stitch.  We had grey linen that we used the Madeira applique' technique to add the leaves.  I bought an extra kit so that I could remember what the beginning looked like!

     This is a hankie that I found at an antique mall - not true whitework, as it has color, but has the traditional whitework techniques - cutwork, granitos, madeira applique', and padded satin stitch.
     My doorbell just rang - the FedEx guy with 5 boxes of (sigh) the last issue of Australian Smocking & Embroidery - Issue 100, along with the Indexes.  I am going to run and start working on these - I am going to try to get most of them packaged up tonight.
     See you next week for Whitework Wednesday (I am going to post it before I go to Atlanta) and some of you I will actually SEE on Wednesday at the SAGA convention in Atlanta -yeah!

Happy Stitching,