Thursday, July 28, 2011

Vintage Skills: Hand Embroidery, Basting Stitch

Hand embroidery is an art form that is becoming harder and harder to find since the invention of the embroidery machine. While I am a huge fan of embroidery, whether machine made or not, there is a touch of something sacred in the skills of this centuries old art form. Kings and Queens adorned themselves in elaborate embroidery, but the meek and lowly also had family treasures passed down from generation to generation that were hand embroidered. The stitches marked the time of people who lived and worked long ago. In ages where many people could not read or write, their legacies lived on in the stitches passed down through generations. Tapestries were added to when marking the family tree, and family histories were often stitched to capture important memories, grievances, or victories.

When I look at the underside of an embroidered design, it shows me the time, patience, and attention to minute detail that was all put into the creating of the brilliant design on the front. That doesn't exist with machine embroidery. My Grandmother and my Mother taught me the basic skills of embroidery when I was young. Of course, I had little appreciation or patience for it back then, but I am very grateful for the knowledge that was passed down, now that I am older. My other Grandmother made handmade gifts for me and my sisters, so I feel very sentimental when I embroider anything.

Since I was blessed with learning to hand embroider, I would like to share this treasured skill with my readers. Once the basics are mastered, greater skill levels are easy to obtain. There are books that have simple and complicated stitches to keep up levels of improvement. The materials needed for embroidery are very inexpensive. Embroidery needles, embroidery floss, embroidery hoops, needle threader (if you can't thread the needle easily), scissors, fabric or garment, and stabilizer are necessary equipment for hand embroidery. These items can be purchased at craft stores and fabric stores. *If you are a beginner, avoid fancy metallic or iridescent floss; it is not easy to work with.* Always use fabric that is not important, or the final garment to practice on before starting a major project. Mistakes are part of the learning process.

Now that the materials have been discussed, it is time to learn the most basic stitches, and a few tips that are important for embroidery. Each week, a new video will showcase a new stitch or technique.

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