Saturday, 17 March 2012

The Hours #3

Work on my Degree Show final piece The Hours is coming along slowly but I'm excited by the acquisition of two old books that I intend to use alongside my quilt of embroideries.  One of the books is Mary Thomas's Embroidery Book which she originally wrote in 1936 - this version was printed in 1941. She says that:

"Embroidery, like every other art needs to be understood to be enjoyed. We are enjoying a revival in all arts and crafts - it is fashionable to be dextrous.  There is always infinitely more joy and satisfaction  derived from the simplest tray-mat evolved by one's brain and fingers than from twenty ready-made articles of more elaborate conception. Embroidery has been woman's art through innumerable ages." 

What she has written here could so easily apply to what's going on today with the great revival in the handmade and artisan crafts and I can't help but agree with her that there is more to be gained from using one's own skill in creating something unique out of love and enthusiasm for one's craft than buying mass-produced items churned out by a computer programmed machine somewhere in China. The book is full of every embroidery technique you would want to know from Applique and Cross Stitch to the more exotic sounding Florentine Embroidery, Hardanger and  Jacobean Embroidery.  

What really caught my eye was Mary Thomas's dedication which really expresses exactly what I think about embroidery and is the concept behind my work; the idea that embroidery is a precious skill that should be preserved and the many hours of dedication invested in their needlework by women is to be celebrated.  

The second book is Elizabeth Craig's book on Needlecraft published in 1947.  Again another book that was written to teach and preserve the art of sewing and needlecraft.  Everything from first steps in embroidery, the art of knitting,  the home launderer's ABC to the art of renovating: 
"Never throw away a frock, coat, blouse, skirt , jumper or any other garment that shows signs of wear and tear without first examining it carefully to see if it cannot be renovated"

"A stitch in time saves nine is a saying no housewife can afford to ignore if she wants every memeber of her household to look well groomed and her home to look always tidy."

 These are two books that even though look quite dated and some of the projects a little out moded like for example making layettes for babies and making your own cami-knickers, the techniques and processes still apply today.  They are also a slice of history to be treasured. 


  1. Thanks for a great post! Jacqui, can you tell me more about the title or is it complete as shown in your photo? I would like to purchase a copy or can I buy photocopies of the book from you...

  2. I got it from Ebay. There are usually ones for sale all the time. There is one on there now you can buy for £10.00

  3. Enjoyed reading the article above, really explains everything in detail, the article is very interesting and effective. Foods Embroidery Designs Thank you and good luck for the upcoming articles.