Sunday, April 17, 2011


My sister's mother-in-law recently passed away at the age of 93.  She was a wonderful lady and is surely missed.  MIL (as I'll refer to her - mother-in-law) was first generation Australian of Italian heritage, and her famiily made a tremendous mark on the history of this state.  She came from a large family, and family was the most important thing to her.  
Recently her daughter has come across embroideries that MIL hand stitched as a young woman, and I've been lucky enough to enjoy them and photograph them to share with you all. 
These embroideries are all approximaely 75 years old and are in brilliant condition and the stitching is exquisite.  MIL worked for a tailoress when she was young, and she would sit with her sister and they would spend  hours together stitching and chatting.
Even the back of the work was as neat as the front.  This one above is cross stitch worked on a damask tablecloth ... no fabric threads to count over.  Perhaps the design had been printed on the fabric, we don't know.
This table cloth is again worked in cross stitch and four sided stitch for the hemming.  It is soooooo neat!!!  Looking closely you can see that the stitches are all worked over the same fabric threads, yet the linen is very fine and it would've been hard on her eye sight.
Its nice to imagine the stories shared whilst stitching with her sister.  Many people dismiss embroideries such as this, but only those who have spent many hours doing it can appreciate the love and devotion that goes into such work, and the stories behind them.  Sometimes they are done whilst watching babies sleep, or waiting for a husband to return from work, or as gifts for people they love, or as items for a home when newly married - they are all intricately woven into our lives, and are as special as a photograph or a diary.
Again you can see how neat the back of the work is.  The one below is my favourite.  It's a tablecloth with rounded cutwork corners and crocheted edges, and is as crisp and fresh as the day it was made.
Having just worked my own cutwork design I can appreciate the work put into this, and marvel at the consistency of her stitching - the tension is all the same, the stitching is precise and neat.  It's just beautiful.
The colours are so fresh and still very white.  I believe it was only used on special occasions, and can understand why.  Can you imagine someone dropping beetroot on it !!!????
Some close up views for you.
Even the crocheted edges were done by MIL.  She was very much a woman who did things by hand, as that was the way in those days.  She made her children's clothes, was a wonderful cook who could provide a banquet at a moment's notice - enough to feed half a nation at each sitting.
And like many Italians of that era she and her family would gather to make tomato puree, this was something that would be a family affair and take all day to do, amidst laughter, eating and chatter.  Do you think we've lost something nowadays?  I do.  What wonderful times they were, and even though she will always be missed, how lucky are we to have such wonderful heirlooms to treasure, all made by her own hands and with an abundance of love woven into all of them.

1 comment:

  1. What wonderful, beautiful work, you are so lucky to have them. I'd give my eye teeth to have my Nan's things she made.