Sunday, December 30, 2012

Embroidery....Back to the Factory

           From the Hills to the Factory!

     As I have meandered my way through my trips to Madeira, I am now back onthe trail to finished goods!  We started at the factory, went into the hills to visit the agent and her embroideresses, and now we are back at the factory again!
     When the embroidered pieces come back to the factory with the agent, as you can imagine, they are not in pristine condition.  They have been held by hand to be embroidered, and if it is a piece that has seveal different techniques, chances are that it has been handled by more than one embroideress.
     The first thing that is done is to have it inspected to see if all of the embroidery has been not only completed, but completed to the high standards of Madeira embroidery (more about the final inspection in another post......).  Often, there will be a few touch ups made.  I mentioned in an earlier post that the embroideresses at the factory are considered to be the best of the best.  If anything needs to be done to the embroidered pieces that come in to make sure they are up to par, the factory embroideresses are the one to do it.

     You can see 2 of them here doing touch up work (and they were 2 of our teachers on both of my trips to Madeira).  They look at the embroidered piece and rework anything that is not up to par.

     Once the piece is completed, it is off to the laundry.  The blue dye has to be removed, so the pieces are soaked in a solution that will loosen the dye.  It is then scrubbed, and when I say scrubbed, I mean SCRUBBED!  We were standing with our mouths hanging open when we watched them!  They have long cement sinks with grooves int he side, kind of like an old washboard.  The women scubbed the embroidered pieces against the side of the sinks until the pieces were completely clean.
     Then they were rinsed in clean water and then run through a hand wringer (my grandma had an old washing machine that had a swing ringer onthe top with a handle, just like the one they used in the factory).

    After the washing/ringing process, they were taken to the ironing tables (you can see them in the background of this picture).  The pieces were pressed dry, and NO starch was used.
     After they were ironed, they were cataloged and then taken to the Madeira Institute of Embroidery where they were inspected. 

     Once they retruned they were packaged and shipped.  (Wish they were going to me!).

Hope you are finding this interesting!  More about the Madeira Institute of Embroidery next time!

Happy Stitching,

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!

             From me to you.............

     Here is my wish for all of you for 2013.........

Time to spend with your loved ones, family and friends

A healthy year where you can put 2 feet on the floor (or scooter) each morning
Time to stitch at least a little bit each day

The ability to see the beauty that surrounds people, in nature, and in our creativity

The chance to make a new friend

To remember to be thankful for all we have, especially when there are so many that have so little

   I also want to thank all of you for being my stitching buddies!  I get so much enjoyment from talking to you, teaching you, and sharing with you.  I count my blessings that I am able to travel around the country and meet so many of you and share ideas.  Fun, fun, fun!  I always say that stitches are the best, and I truly mean that.

    Have a wonderful rest of the holiday!  All of the chicks were home at the same time for a brief 48 hours - it seemed to fly by!  We also had our 26th anniversary on Thursday, so this has been a busy week!
     I also want to say so sorry!  I had all of my posts for December done early (except for this one, as we took our xmas card picture Chritmas morning) and posted them on a timer.  I did not realize that once I had the date/time set on each one that I still had to hit post, so they will be coming!

     I am also working on my newsletter, so that will be emailed soon!

Happy Stitching

Sunday, December 2, 2012


          Floche is Fabulous!

     This goes along with the whitework and Madeira Embroidery! Floche (French for floss) as we know it is a wonderful 100% cotton emmbroidery thread that is the primary thread used in Madeira Embroidery!
    It is a 5 ply, soft twist thread that has a wonderful sheen when stitched.  It is not stranded - one piece is one piece!  It is a bit haeavier than one piece of stranded cotton - 1 strand of floche is abouthte same equivalent of 1 1/2 strands of stranded cotton.  For example, when I smock, I usually use 3 strands of stranded cotton, but I would only use 2 strands of floche.  It fluffs when you wash it, so it is ideal for shadow work.  In Madeira embroidery, all of the cutwork, padded satin stitch, granitos, bullions, outline and stem stitch are all stitched with floche.  The sheen gives it a rich, full look that results in an elegant piece of emvroidery.
     On my first trip over, the first day that we went to the Imperial Bordados factory, there was a beautiful antique armoire - the piece was beautiful!  But then they opened it up!  It was full of boxes of skeins of floche in a rainbow of colors!  Keep in mind, this was in the mid 90's when floche was not readily available in the U.S., and when you did find it, it was in a braid (it is 1/3 of a skein) in a little ziploc bag.  I though I was in heaven - like a little kid in a candy shop!  The workers that were putting the kits together would come in and choose the colors that they needed - oh how I wanted to just pick up some skeins and pet them.  In case you have not worked with floche before, it is very soft - fluffy and light.  Not only does it look good, it feels good!


                                The original 87 colors.

     Most floche in the U.S. is made by DMC.  Anchor also makes floche, but at present there is not a U.S. distributor.  (When I talk about floche, unless I note, I will be refering to DMC floche.)  The floche skeins are much larger (150m) than a skein of stranded floss (8m).  The prices are different also - stranded floss should retail for about .75 cents a skein (although you can often find it on sale). Floche retails for $6.25 a skein and you can find specials on that also - I always have a 'Buy 5, get #6 Free' special.  While this price difference may seem huge, when you take into account the different amounts in the skeins and the quality of the thread, floche is a clear winner!  For years, it was available in 87 colors, but about 2-3 years ago, they added another 7, so it is now available in 94 colors.

                                    The 7 new colors!

     When we were on out lunch break, we went over to the drug store (one of the few businesses that were actually open during the 2 hour lunch break).  Believe it or not, the floche and embroidery supplies were sold at the local drug store (more like an old Woolworth's with medicines).  Even though I do not speak Spanish (and Portuguese is a close cousin to Spanish), thanks to Zak (my oldest) being in a bilingual class in Kindergarten and first grade, I knew my colors.  I could say rojo (red), verde (green), azul (blue), rosa (pink), blanc (white), negro (black), amarillo (yellow), and naranja (orange).  Thank heavens for kindergarten colors!
     The floche at the store was Anchor, and the skeins were only 50m, but I got my fill!  I still have some of them in my stash that I pull out every once in a while!
     Since many of the embroideries are white on white, just a heads up - DMC makes 2 different whites!  There is the tradiitonal Blanc, which I would call a soft white.  They also have B5200, which is a stark white.  When choosing your colors, it is a good idea to have a piece of your base fabric with you to see which white 'goes' better.  Many times, they are both close, with neither being a perfect match.  If this is the case, just choose the combination that you like the best!

Hope youhave found this informative and interesting!

Happy Stitching!