Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Sandy is back with us for this week's Headbanger challenge and has provided the theme of "Linen". My guess is that she and I have the advantage over the guys with this theme, but they are wily and creative, so we will see what they manage. You will find their links in my sidebar, and the headers should be up by late afternoon Wednesday..

Other than a couple of blouses I have had that I remembered were linen each time I had to iron them to make them presentable, my thoughts of linen take me to my Nana and the hand work that she did. I recently came into possession of some pieces of this when my niece moved to a smaller apartment and gave me a box of things that had come to her through her mother. This included three tablecloths, this embroidered one:
And two others with Nana's drawnwork embroidery. Nana had made one for each of the daughters, daughters-in-law, and the older of the granddaughters. I am the youngest grandchild on both sides of my family by about five years, and by the time I was old enough that she would make one for me, she was no longer able to do this fine work.
 The M would suggest that this one belonged to my aunt, Mary Marguerite (Marnee).

 Each side and each corner has a different design.
In addition to tablecloths, Nana did a lot of drawnwork making items for church such as altarclothes and amices. (An amice is a part of the priest's vestments--no longer used--consisting of a rectangle of linen worn around the neck and shoulders under the alb.) Nana made an amice for each new priest of her acquaintance on the occasion of their ordination. (Nana knew a lot of young priests.) She also sent one to two popes.

When I was very young, I would watch Nana work on the drawnwork and she taught me how to do it. I guess that is what piqued my interest in doing decorative sewing for church, though the techniques I use are more those I gleaned from quilting--the handiwork done by my Methodist Grandma. I have made altar hangings and appliqued vestments for several years.

In preparing for this post and the theme, I decided to see what I remembered of what Nana taught me.  I drew out the threads in a sample piece:
and found a tutorial on hemstitching, the first step, at this website: Needle n Thread.
The hemstitching is done along both sides of the drawn threads area.
Next I looked to this website for further help in remembering what to do: Mary Jane's Farm.
 Here's where it starts to get a little wobbly, and I am going to find a better embroidery hoop, another piece of fabric, and give it another start before going on to try working the designs. When I have more to show, I will show it here on this blog.

This is Nana in approximately 1908:


Lew said...

Nicely done! You are right, you will not see hand made linen from me. It is nice to have those memories and skills from your Nana.

imac said...

Real nice piece of History with your post my friend.

Craver Vii said...

I agree that you probably have an advantage here. But that's quite all right.

That looks to be very labor intensive. I'm impressed by the work it takes to produce those details. Now I know why my mother covered those table cloths with clear plastic. I didn't have the same appreciation for that when I was a child, though.

Liz said...

What wonderful work she did! How lovely to have it to keep. I have some old pieces but doubt very much that they were made by family members, certainly not my grandmother!

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Kathy: Yes you do have an advantage. Now that I see this I used a much broader look at what linen is comprised. Beautiful and intricate work from your Nana.