suggestion from writer/cousin Jackie Gill, formerly of Miami,
Texas, to write a column about embroidery left me almost speechless. At this
age I know a lot, if I can only remember it. After some research and a few vague
recollections I am writing a column this week about embroidery. |
is the art of decorating fabric or other materials by stitching in designs using
thread or yarn and a needle.
This decorating of materials came about after
people learned to fit and stitch their clothing together. Decorating such articles
followed quickly as people sought individual identities by appearing somewhat
different. This same desire to look different was shown by native tribes who used
beads, quills, teeth and claws of various birds and animals for decoration.
think the history of embroidery goes back 5,000 years. Probably the Chinese, who
invented silk thread and fabrics, were among the first to embroider such objects.
Until the Industrial Revolution, all embroidery was done by hand, stitch
Shuttle Embroidery was invented in the early 1800s leading eventually
to the development of the sewing machine.
In the American early South,
young maidens were expected to know how to sew and do embroidery in order to be
classed as ladies or experienced homemakers. Sewing children's clothes or patches
on other clothing was everyday labor. Decorating with embroidery added class.
were often shown the results of efforts made by maidens enhancing their values
as prospective wives. If a young lady could sew and cook, the rest of her attributes
In my younger years from 1933 to about 1955, I observed
a lot of embroidery.
Both my mother and grandmother embroidered on quilt
tops and lesser size items. In fact most young rural girls and single women each
had a "hope chest" filled with items, inherited, saved, made or gifted that would
enhance her chance of marriage and improve her home whenever that event occurred.
At marriage my first wife, O'Leen, had almost everything we needed to set up housekeeping
except furniture and food.
Among the contents of her hope chest were sheets,
pillowcases, towels, wash rags, dish rags, dish towels, doilies, table cloths,
curtains and gowns.
Most were embroidered with hand-stitched designs of
varied colors and were beautiful.
All were stored in a cedar chest bought
at her high school graduation from W.W. Virtue Furniture Co. at Perryton.
this early era, many baby or marriage shower gifts were hand-made items enhanced
In the hard times of the Depression and Dust Bowl the most
economical and practical gift was a dozen plain white cloth diapers, to be used
as dish drying towels. Many were decorated with embroidery designating a day of
the week such as Monday, Tuesday, etc. Another item often embroidered and given
as gifts to women was handkerchiefs.
If I remember correctly from the
remarks my mother made, these handmade utility items, stitched patiently with
love and care, meant more to the recipients than the store-sponsored gift selections
of modern day.
Trew - "It's All Trew" May
3 , 2011 column
was hub of family, social life by Delbert Trew