Some time ago, I wrote here and here about the kind
of sewing that was done by the women in our family.
In particular, I mentioned free-motion embroidery that
mum and grandma did on their treadle machines.
Especially intriguing was a special variation of that kind
of embroidery, called cutwork. This tablecloth, that I
promised to take photos of when I visited Singapore
this winter, is something I still gawk at when I see it.
Mum made this, just because grandma said it couldn't
be done. The embroidery is so rich, so hand-made and
so classy (it's all white, like lace!) but that's even before
one considers the size and scope of this project.
This is a single piece of white fabric that mum embroidered
in sections, painstakingly cutting away most of the outer
area and replacing it with a web of thread, till only the
very middle has any visible fabric left.
I don't know the final dimensions of the tablecloth
but that table seats 10 + people. Not tiny.
And also not the "whip up" variety of project.
Here are some some cushion covers that also involved
free motion embroidery. Updated to ammend:
They are her own designs
eight were just her "practice pieces".
Most of us humans don't practice anywhere near this good.
* Apologies to grandma! My cousin Merle wrote to say
that there is also a lot of my grandmother's genius
in these designs - the faceless ladies, for instance,
are one of her trademarks. And mum adapted them.
Am always very grateful and thrilled and somewhat
wistful to learn something new about grandma
that I never knew. I remember her so differently as
a child myself, but I am slowly piecing together the
full person that she was, seen through the eyes and
stories of my mum, cousins, aunts and uncles. All the
women (the men, too, even if they don't sit around
the sewing machine like we do, reminescing!) in our
family, irrespective of how far we've come in our own
creative experiences, are unreservedly
in awe of her talent and skill. I'll share more stories when
I finally embark on my posts on drafting later this year.
These were some mum did later,
after having um, practiced a bit.
The leaves on these last two are very cool.
How cool? Here - I'll zoom in. See?
They were embroidered on some other fabric,
individually cut out and then stitched into the tree
pattern here. Now that's texture. I've always liked
running my hands over the leaves to flip them over.
But anyway, now you know why it seems completely
normal to me to sew leaves onto stems. It's in my genes.
Most of mum's embroidery was saved for clothes,
of course. Here's one of mum's dresses - a very
becoming halter-neck style sheath gown.
Mum hasn't done embroidery for a number of years
now, because her vision isn't up to it. She's regretful
that I haven't picked up this skill and am instead sewing
weird toys and bags. Now that I'm finally unemployed
(hurrah!) and ready to learn, we're in different countries
and I own an electric (ick ick ick) sewing machine.
How? There's all this good, old-fashioned, classic
sewing going on back home and I'm not there to learn it.
This is why I've put "teleporter" on my Christmas
wish list. Someone invent one quick. I'll even buy it on ebay.