Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Beads & Sequins on a Polish Vest


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Even though today is Halloween, and I know many people expect something pumpkin-ish, orange, or scary, I’m afraid I don’t really have anything to offer in that regard. So how about a splash of color, instead?

This past weekend, I had a blast at a local festival that featured booths and costumes and performances highlighting different countries and their cultural customs, costumes, foods, and so forth. Besides being fun, the festival is always a huge splash of color. I don’t often take photos at it (and I didn’t take very many this year, either), but I did snap a few shots of this Polish vest that’s covered with sequin and bead embroidery. The girl who wore it is my nieces’ friend, so I was able to cajole her into some shots and take a look at the vest’s construction.

Bead and Sequin Embroidery on a Polish Vest

When I first heard that Mary had found the vest on eBay and had bought it, I expected a vest heavily embroidered with thread. I don’t know much about Polish costume, but I pictured something that looked a bit more like Hungarian embroidery, with heavily padded satin stitching on a black background in bright colors. The sequins and beads on the vest, all hand-sewn, certainly demonstrate someone’s enthusiasm for creating a vivid costume. It’s very pretty! The vest is covered with sequins and beads in these large floral motifs, front and back. It’s lined with ric-rac and tied with a bright red ribbon. Sequins and seed beads make up the majority of the decoration, but a good quantity of bugle beads make up the smaller flowers, stems, and leaves.

Bead and Sequin Embroidery on a Polish Vest

The vest, made from what looks like a velvet or velveteen, is completely lined with muslin. The back is covered with sequins and beads as well – which is a tribute costume maker, too. It’s not just a front facade of a vest. I like the “wheat” stalks made from the bugle beads and sequins. This arrangement translates well into goldwork, too. Gold spangles and long bits of purl can be sewn in the same arrangement, to create a nice representation of wheat.

So that was the one thing I managed to take photos of while wandering the festival. Some day, I’ll remember to have my camera at the ready, rather than carrying it around like an after-thought!

It was a busy weekend, but I did manage some embroidery, too, and I also made a Monumental Decision on a current project – that would be, I changed my mind! So I’ll tell you a bit about that later and show you what I’ve done (which might surprise you – it surprised me!)


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(5) Comments

  1. Hello Mary! Happy Halloween!

    A lot of Polish folk costumes contain embroidered vest, called gorset (corset).

    I’m not sure where that vest is come from, but it reminds me South Polish costume, f.e. from Cracow.

    In this film You can watch costume from Kraków (some of them used in this film were original old costumes).

    1. Hi Mary,

      I have done a lot of research into historical dress and while it is accurate, traditional Polish gorsets (vests) were a thing in certain regions. Most were of wool or velvet and heavily embroidered with thread and beads, sequins are a modernized version. And each region has their own form of dress for example Kashubian, Silesian, and Bilgoraj.

  2. I’m a big fan of costumes as well. I had a Mexican folk dancing costume made for me once and I was impressed with how much hand embroidery it contained. I like to get ideas from traditional ethnic clothing and incorporate it into my own designs. Thanks for the beautiful pictures of that vest.

  3. Growing up wearing these with the rest of the costume while folk dancing, this one looks cheap. The ones I know have much less sequin and way more variety in terms of incredible beadwork. I think mine must’ve weighed 5lbs from all the beads! But thanks for the blast from my past!

  4. I realize that “E” made her comment a few years ago but I had to respond. She is wrong this looks very much like what I have always seen. I have three vest from Poland. All hand made and yours looks just like them. They are beautiful and heavy, (the only thing she said that was right.)
    I am in the process of learning how to make these now. It is a lot of hard work but will be so worth it come show night.

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