Sunday 21 July 2019

Stitches in Time

Finished July 14
Stitches in Time: The Art and History of Embroidery by Hilda Kassell

This book is one I came across in my mother-in-law's collection that she didn't want anymore. It is a short book split into three sections. The author includes some black and white photographs scattered throughout of various embroidery pieces.
The first part is called History Through the Needle's Eye, and covers some history of embroidery in the United States. She begins with samplers stitched by children, mostly by girls, the earliest documented of which is by Loara Standish, likely a few years before her 1650 death. The one boy she mentions working on a sampler was Lemuel Vose in 1737, and it was left unfinished. Besides describing a number of samplers, and giving some information on the stitchers, she also discusses some other works. Some are pictures of homes and communities. Some included some painting on the work as well, particularly in backgrounds. Some works were patriotic, particularly around the time of the American Revolution.
Also included are some examples of clothing and accessories, such as wallets, suspenders, and vests for men; domestic items such as chair seats (by Martha Washington no less!) and table tops; and textual items such as family records, family trees, and maps.
Into the 1800s there are pictures of ships, rural scenes, and a variety of folk art pictures.
Part Two is Twentieth-Century Embroidery, and the author has included works commemorating soldiers from World War One, Lindbergh's flight across the Atlantic, and World War Two patriotism. One in this section that definitely spoke as being from a different time is Mrs. Teddy Roosevelt, Jr's picture depicting the large animals her husband trophy-hunted.
I found some of the more modern works, but immigrants following the Second World War interesting, particularly those by Reet Pukk and Margaret Haas.There are many examples of patriotic pictures and those inspired by historical events. There is also a picture showing the actress Mary Martin embroidering, which she apparently did in her dressing room often. Again, there are some domestic items such as rugs and chair-seats.
She has a number of religious examples as well, many from kneelers, but also from communion rails cushions, altar frontals, and wall hangings.
There are also a couple of examples of vests made by women for their husbands depicting items from their careers.
Part Three is Instructions and here Kassell gives some instructions of making designs, transferring them to the stitching material, the use of working frames and other preparatory helps. She talks about the different kinds of threads available, and the best uses for each one. There are good descriptions with drawings of a variety of stitches including blanket and buttonhole stitch, back stitch, chain stitch, Cretan stitch, cross stitch, feather stitch, fishbone stitch, Florentine stitch, French knot, hemstitch, herringbone stitch, needlepoint stitch, outline stitch, and satin stitch. There is also a section on applique embroidery.
The book finishes with a short bibliography, including books as well as booklets and leaflets.
It was a very interesting read.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds fascinating! How enjoyable to find a book with so much variety on the topic.