Embroidering the truth – from traditional craft to protest sewing

This month our sewing Secretary Sophie, taught us all a bit about embroidery, from it’s history through to current trends, and then on to how to actually create our own bits of feminist (or otherwise) craft.

Sophie covered the history of embroidery from it’s time as a way of keeping well-to-do young ladies busy (idle hands and all that) and it’s ensuing decline in popularity as women rebelled against traditional handicrafts as they were granted greater freedoms to live their lives outside of the home, and be more than just a wife and housekeeper.  In recent years embroidery has seen a major resurgence in popularity as it is reclaimed for both art and politics (as well as part of the rise in people wanting to learn these traditional skills again). The right hand image above shows examples of handkerchiefs embroidered in Mexico in protest at the country’s appalling murder epidemic.

We then moved on to learning the basics ourselves.  Sophie showed us the three main stitched we could use (back stitch, split stitch and chain stitch) and after a bit of practise we were off!  Here’s some examples of what we made (and a lot of needles, thread and embroidery hoops got taken home so people could finish off their work!)…