In March, there’s something coming to Needle ‘n Thread that I’m very excited about! Thanks to Mike up in Canada, I’ll be adding a new element to the free embroidery patterns offered here. These new patterns will feature formerly unpublished patterns from a Hungarian lady – a professional embroiderer and artist – with an interesting history. I’m excited to provide them to you for several reasons: 1. I think it’s important to keep alive the interest in folk embroidery from various regions of the world, and Hungary has a very rich tradition of colorful folk (and fine) embroidery; 2. the patterns can be easily adapted to other embroidery styles, such as Schwalm whitework techniques and so forth; and 3. the patterns are just really beautiful!
So as the time creeps closer to presenting those patterns, I want to highlight some books that I have in my collection that feature folk embroidery from different regions. I’ve already touched on one book – Nagyanyáink öröksege – which illustrates the variety of color and styles in Hungarian embroidery.
The book I want to show you today is called Korai Kalocsai Hímzések, or Early Kolocsa Embroideries. It’s essentially a pattern book, excellent for embroiderers looking for patterns to use on tablecloths, household items, and costumes, and the individual motifs would serve well for adapting to all kinds of needlework projects.
The books is a very simple publication. It is not packed with color, and it has no photos of finished embroideries. But the patterns that are packed between its pages make up for any perceived shortcomings!
While the text of the book is Hungarian, in fact, there is very little text – just a little sprinkling at the beginning of the book, explaining the different elements of traditional Hungarian costume and household goods.
For anyone interested in traditional costumes, the line drawings of blouses, shirts, aprons, and so forth, would be of interest, I would think.
I love the line drawing of this apron! Even though it’s black and white, it’s not hard to imagine the blazing colors that would embellish the thing. And I can’t help contemplating the amount of care and time that went into creating various elements of traditional regional costumes!
There are also line drawings that show the layout of embroidered tablecloths…
… and embroidered pillowcases…
… and embroidered scarves or table runners.
The book does not demonstrate visually any stitching techniques. If there are instructions on stitches, they correspond with these motifs. But I am not certain if they are actually instructions, as I don’t read Hungarian. But what these motifs do demonstrate very well visually is stitching direction. In a style of embroidery where elements are often boldly and heavily filled, it is good to know the prescribed direction in which the stitches should be worked.
Here and there on the pattern pages throughout the rest of the book (the bulk of the book is page after page after page of patterns – some pages unfolding into larger pages) there are splashes of bold color, but most of the patterns are presented either as line drawings or as filled drawings, filled with either red (as in the photo above), blue, black, or sometimes a combination.
Here’s part of one of the fold-out pages, packed with a variety of border patterns.
And here are a few patterns printed in bright colors that imitate the bright colors found in Hungarian folk embroidery.
This book is a real gem for anyone interested in patterns, and even if you aren’t keen on the more “rustic” colorful folk embroidery, the patterns herein are equally adaptable to all kinds of needlework. Hungarian needlework, by the way, is not all “folk” needlework. There are some exquisite examples of very fine whitework from Hungary in many of the books on the subject. So the patterns, while they seem simple, are perfectly suitable for complex techniques.
Now, the disappointing thing is that this book is a bit older, and it is out of print, so it’s somewhat hard to find. However, thorough searching of the title (in Hungarian) at used book sources may turn up a few copies available here and there. The website Folkology features the book, but in fact, they don’t have it in stock (and you may be able to find it less expensively at other used book sources).
I’m looking forward to sharing some Hungarian patterns with you this year, hopefully starting in March. I hope they inspire an interest in the folk embroidery of other regions of the world – helping, perhaps, to renew an interest in these techniques and to keep them alive for future generations of needleworkers.
By the way, when you look at the patterns above, can you see other uses for them, besides needlework? I was thinking appliqué, paper cutting… Can you think of others? Leave a comment and let us know what you think!
Have a swell Friday – and a smashing weekend with your needle and thread!