Have you ever been charmed by embroidery?
Well, to start your Monday off, here are two pieces of embroidery that have charmed me. I find them delightful!
Both handkerchiefs below are hand embroidered with figures – a dancing lady, children playing. They’re colorful and fun, and they were undoubtedly embroidered for the tourist market.
Just because they are souvenirs, though, don’t write off the embroidery! Sure, at souvenir shops these days, you can still find embroidered hankies – machine embroidered, produced in bulk, lacking quality, and usually pretty devoid of personality.
But these hand embroidered hankies are just lovely, they’re packed with personality, and they can teach us a lot!
Here’s an elegant dancing lady, embroidered in a white gown festooned with green flowers; she has red roses in her hair, and very tiny feet!
The embroidery here is interesting. It’s worked in a soft cotton, like a coton a broder.
The majority of stitching is satin stitch, with a bit of double running stitch and some straight stitching.
The white background of the dress is embroidered in long satin stitches that run down the whole length of the dress, from neck to hem.
All the decoration on the dress – from the flowers to the scallops – serves not only to embellish the dress, but to secure those long satin stitches.
Here it is from the back. What might look like backstitch on the front (the green lines, just below each row of flowers) is actually a double running stitch (or reverse running stitch) – running stitch worked in one direction first, and then returning along the same line, filling in the gaps with another running stitch.
You can see that the threads carry across the motif. There’s a flesh colored thread traveling from arm to arm, run underneath some of the stitching already there.
Here’s a close-up of the flowers on the front of the dress. They’re pretty simple rounds, like eyelets, and while they might not look very accurate close up, their overall effect in that little space is quite balanced.
The vine is backstitched along the main movement, with small straight stitches coming off it.
The face, the hair, the roses, the green leaves – all of these are satin stitch.
The whole piece is outlined in a double running stitch in black, in a slightly finer thread. This was a good move. The double running stitch allows for the look of backstitch on the front – a solid line – but on the back, it avoids the build-up of stem stitch that results from a regular backstitch.
She’s from Panama, by the way!
When I first glanced at the handkerchief – another handkerchief from Jane’s collection, which I’ve written about before – my brain took in “Pamela.” It took it a second to register “Panama,” so I have dubbed her Panama Pamela.
(Try saying that ten times fast!)
She’s pretty tiny, by the way.
And this delightful little hanky hails from Korea. Jumping teeter-totter is a popular game in Korea.
The game or sport is featured here, played by young girls in traditional clothing.
This particular embroidery is worked in a fine cotton floss. The majority of stitching is stem stitch for the outlines, worked at an extreme slant where the outlines are thicker. The hair, bows, and scarf are worked in satin stitch.
I love this piece! It seems like such a strange scene to embroider on a hanky, but given the size of the handkerchief (which is just about 8″ square), I’m thinking it’s a child’s handkerchief.
The ground fabric on this one is linen, by the way. Panama Pamela resides on a cotton ground.
Fun, aren’t they? You don’t often see figures embroidered on handkerchiefs. These two examples have just charm the heck out of me. They make me happy!
More Vintage Embroidered Handkerchiefs
You can find more handkerchiefs from this collection highlighted in the articles listed below: