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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Oya/Bibila at Ethnic Study Group Embroiderers' Guild of SA

Last Tuesday I managed to get to the monthly meeting of the Embroiderers' Guild Ethnic Studies Group at which Mary Gabb led a study on Bibila or Oya - a needlelace edging technique common to the Eastern Mediterranean.                                                                                      

 There is much argument about the terms "Oya" (current Turkish term, derived from Greek & meaning
'edging') and "Bibila"(current Greek term).

Pat Earnshaw's A Dictionary of Lace says it is  a needle-knotted lace using a special knot and made in Turkey, Syria, Armenia, and parts of Greece. It often takes the form of three dimensional decoration of brightly coloured silks, like a garland of flowers, said originally to have embellished the yashmaks of the harem women. It was revived in the second half of the nineteenth century as dentate borders to headscarves and handkerchieves, sometimes using cotton instead of silk.

Mary had a lot of examples, some from the Guild Museum, and some of her own, purchased on visits to the Eastern Mediteranean region.

 Some are raised and stiffened, using transparent thread, like fishing line, on the edges.

They are purchased in strings, taken off and added to an edging.

Others are flatter, and more like tatted or crocheted lace.

Very beautiful.

Some of us then had a go at making it, using some samples Mary had begun for us by creating the first row - rather like a button hole stitch along an edge.

The basis is a figure 8 knot.

You thread your needle and tie the needle end with a knot so it doesn't slip.

You put the needle through an existing loop and cross the end away from the needle over the top of the needle (the eye of the needle is under my thumb).

You then take the needle end of the thread under the needle and draw the needle through, making a knot that sits at the top of the loop in the row below. You pull the needle through at an angle to your right (if right-handed).

After a while you fall into a rhythm and tension becomes a bit more even, giving a very neat edging. I fiddled with mine at home for a bit, and finished it off to form little peaks - making it up as I went, just to see how it might finish.

Elena Dickson, of the SA Lacemakers' Guild, is an Oya/Bibila expert and has written a book on the subject. She is, according to Mary, going to write another book for the 2014 Lacemakers' Convention.

It was a companionable and informative session on, for me, an entirely new embroidery technique.

The example I will remember longest is a headscarf - quite a simple printed fabric with an uncomplicated added border of beautifully blended colours. Mind you, uncomplicated would still have taken hours of work, even for an experienced Oya embroiderer!

Monday, June 6, 2011

I love my jeans

Yesterday I sat down to patch a pair of jeans I really like - very soft denim. They had worn away at the inner leg - both seams and fabric.  I had intended to cut the legs off below the knee and use the cut-off to patch the worn parts. When I came to do it, even I had to admit that they were too far gone. To avoid saying goodbye to them altogether, and because they would be of no use to anyone else as they were, I turned them into - surprise, surprise - bags.

The bottoms of the legs, which were wide, made two quite reasonable size drawstring bags.

The cuffs were a bit frayed, so I turned that into a fringe at the top of one bag.                                                                                                                                                                  

On another I added some pale blue lace from my mother's stash.              

The back of the jeans turned into a carry bag with pockets on the outside.

A bit mad, I think, (rather like my grandmother turning her nightdress into pyjamas by stitching up the middle of the skirt) but it really pleases me.

The rest of the jeans made small bags of various sizes.

They will embroider quite well if I decide to have a go in between other projects. I have a few iron-on transfers that would go well. Even as they are, however, they are sturdy, soft bags.

I also patched the knee of the dragon jeans I embroidered for my grandson a couple of years ago. 

The dragon is the one on this blog header.

I keep a few iron-on patches on hand for mending knees but always stitch them down as they lift if only ironed. The dragon is now accompanied by a motor-bike.

Perhaps when these jeans fall apart the dragon will reappear as a  bag!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

smocked featherwale cord tunics

With twin granddaughters I couldn't resist the Top of the Class tunic in the hot pink and lime green featherwale corduroy in Australian Smocking and Embroidery 93. It is a great, simple shape with the big attraction of embroidered figures around the hem.

 About four weeks ago I did the smocking

and over the next weekend blocked them and cut out the other pieces.


It took me half a day to make up each dress. I did a bit of unpicking on the second one - until I set it aside for an hour or so: either tiredness or lack of focus was causing me to make every mistake possible.                

They were then ready for me to transfer the embroidery designs to the hemline. I was hoping  to do a pleated hem over the embroidery because (1) it is easier and (2) it allows me to leave a bigger hem allowance.                                                                                                                                                                          

I used a white gel pen to transfer the designs - the same motif of two girls holding hands at seven points around the hem. I worked one motif right through, then worked the chain stitch outline of the arms and dresses on the other six in case the markings faded. I figure I can improvise around the basic form.

Of course, having done that, I am finding the gel pen isn't fading!

I finished the green one completely before moving on to the embroidery on the pink one. After some deliberation I made a pleated hem that sits just above the figures. Although not in the pattern, it allows me a bit of extra length for growth (I figure I can put rows of featherstitch around any fade marks that appear if they need to be let down), avoids handstitching a hem on a plain fabric and gives body to the skirt.

I worked away from home last week, so marked out the figures to be embroidered on the pink dress and packed it as my project for the week - a perfect choice, given it is all in black thread and I have already done it on green.

 I  also managed to find some black tops and leggings.


I did the hem and buttonholes within a couple of hours of arriving home, washed out the gel pen the next morning and dropped the completed project in to the twins.

This morning we met up with the girls and their mother shopping in the Adelaide Central Market.

Now that's a satisfying project!.