Monday, 20 September 2010

Gallery of Members' Work

Here are pictures of recently completed items by Catherine Leighton:

The first is a Christmas cushion, hand and machined embroidered with beads and other embellishments: a beautiful and timely reminder that Christmas is getting closer!

Catherine's second cushion is in silk in shades of coffee and cream, again machine and hand embroidered, made as a present for a friend's special birthday.

Really beautiful. Thank you for sharing them Catherine.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

African Cloths and clothing. A Visit by Maggie Relph

Beyond the ordinary, into the fabulous” – this is how Maggie Relph described African costume at our June meeting, the final one of the current season before our summer outings and September AGM.

Maggie brought a sales table full of enticing African fabrics, beads, kits and much more. She also brought vintage and modern African clothing, ranging from special occasion wear to everyday outfits. She finished her talk by showing us a pair of sandals made from car tyres – they weren’t comfortable but they showed the resourcefulness of the African people.

Dorothy models a man’s garment made from a single piece of cloth. Such voluminous outfits made from heavy damask and beautiful embroidery were not intended for comfort but to demonstrate the owner’s wealth and importance.

Maggie and Elaine hold up two North African kaftans.

Maggie holds the top of a formal Moroccan man’s outfit while Norma has the bottom half! Made from damask cloth, it is embellished with Cornelli chain stitch embroidery

Maggie holds the top of a formal Moroccan man’s outfit while Norma has the bottom half! Made from damask cloth, it is embellished with Cornelli chain stitch embroidery

Carole’s garment would be worn by a Muslim and therefore would be accompanied by a hat like this one. The hat’s embroidery would have been stitched by a man.

Dorothy and Betty wear modern smocks from North Ghana, each weighing about 2 kgs. The cream one is hand spun cloth. The construction method for each is different and quite complex. Maggie told us that a person would buy a smock in the market then take it to an embroiderer to be personalised.

Hilary and Maggie show off a patchwork suit made from tailors’ offcuts. These cheap garments would be given to religious people who live without money.

Wendy – Pat Milius’s daughter-in-law from New Zealand – volunteered to wear this wealthy Nigerian woman’s outfit called an Aso-oke. Made from stripcloth it has a top, a scarf, a wraparound skirt, headdress and shoes. It would be worn at ceremonies, weddings, etc. The owner would buy an expensive piece of cloth and take it to a tailor. The unhemmed scarf showed that she was so rich she had cloth left over from the garments, but it didn’t matter if it unravelled because she could afford to buy more.

Dorothy’s outfit from West Africa shows the skill of the tailor. He has used the printed pattern of the cloth to make a feature on the fitted sleeveless bodice. As well as the top and skirt, the outfit includes a length of cloth for the owner to wrap around her when sitting on public transport or on a bench, to keep the skirt clean.

An extremely interesting and informative meeting!


Pulled thread workshop

Pulled thread workshop

In May ten of us were treated to a day workshop on pulled thread embroidery by Dorothy Hodgson.

Dorothy started by explaining that in pulled thread work the holes were created by pulling the threads of the fabric together rather than by withdrawing threads in ,eg, hardanger. She then showed us the sampler which we were going to attempt. This drew gasps of amazement at Dorothy’s beautiful work and sharp intakes of breath at the thought of what was going to be required of us!!

                                                                   Dorothy's sampler

Dorothy was as ever a patient and inspiring teacher. We learnt, to name but a few, satin stitch, four-sided stitch, honeycomb stitch, reed border, step stitch, wave stitch and three-sided stitch!! Although there was a fair amount of chatter, most of the day passed in deep concentration punctuated only by whispered counting of threads and anguished cries when the ends of the rows weren't level!!

But despite the challenges everyone was very happy with what they produced, and gladly took their sampler home, along with Dorothy's excellent intructions, to finish it!  Many thanks to Dorothy for an excellent workshop!