Ukranian Folk Costumes

During the recent Olympic Games in Sochi, quilters everywhere admired the Games’ patchwork theme, which I wrote about back in May 2011.

The fact that the patchwork bits were inspired by different traditional crafts, including embroidery,  reminded me of some photos I took not very long ago, and which I intended to show you here.

The museum at Maihaugen, Lillehammer cooperated with the Museum of Folk Architecture and Customs of Lviv, Ukraine,  to show part of their collection of Ukrainian folk costumes at Lillehammer last summer.  We travelled through the area at that time, so we planned a stop at Lillehammer to visit the exhibition.


I have spent some time during the last week or so, sorting through the photos I took there. Meanwhile, the political situation in Ukraine has escalated, and is still unresolved and threatening as I write this.

Amidst all the turmoil, maybe it is fitting in this situation to also have a look at the beauty that has been created in this region. One term that comes to mind after studying these dresses is: “Flower Power” :-)


As the small poster accompanying the exhibition tells us, the costumes are from late 19th century and first half of 20th century, during which time the sewing machine came into use. The poster explains how the shape of the costumes changed after the introduction of the sewing machine. (Click on the photo to enlarge).


At the exhibition, the costumes were divided into two groups: before and after the introduction of sewing machines. The latter group, above, has costumes with sewn waists, while the group below has the older long shirts with woven belts.


Here I will post some photos of the youngest costumes, and will have to make a new post with the older ones later.

(Click on the small photos above to see the full version of the photos.)

Like we do with quilts, I find it interesting to study how things were done, and to sometimes wonder why. The joyful red colour of the embroidery above (which seems to have been colourfast, by the way) is very prominent on the white background, and would certainly stand out in a crowd. The shirt is very well made with lots of detail and even stitches, and the edges of both the collar and the cuffs are beautifully finished off with embroidery stitches. From a distance the waistcoat is the most eye-catching piece, with the larger flower embroideries.

However, when looking closely, one can see that there is a difference in workmanship between the shirt and the waistcoat, and also in the waistcoat itself, namely between the embroidery and the general construction, including the machine stitching. It looks as if more than one person has been involved in the making, or perhaps some older item with embroideries still intact, has been remade into a waistcoat. Lots of questions pop up when you start looking closely.  The buttonholes, for example, puzzled me especially, – why buttonholes (and not very well made at that) and no buttons? At least the maker took care to cut them in between the flowers so as not to ruin, or unravel, any embroidery stitches.


The “make-do”- phenomenon, which we often see in quilting, is also present here. The maker seems to have run out of the flowery ribbon and had to use some yellowish ribbon instead on top of the left front piece (to the right on the photos). It goes both vertically and horizontally at the top, but in the corresponding horizontal space on the other front piece, there is no ribbon at all. Again the question pops up: why?

The skirt raises similar questions. It  looks like hand embroidery, but the border patterns do not fit at the seams, at least not all of them. Why go to all that work and not have the pattern fit?

But let me assure you: none of these questions entered my head while walking through the exhibition. At the time I was just impressed with the gorgeousness of it all, and had no time to contemplate the details. It is when I look at the photos afterwards that I start noticing things.  So, any young or older woman wearing this costume, would just look beautiful, I think.

Below are more costumes, and similar questions could be asked about a few of them. There is always something to wonder about when you are curious, but I will try to not repeat myself too much.

This one was quite restricted colour-wise, – only “a few” coloured flowers and leaves on the vest, -  but the blackwork on the shirt is to die for. You can also see that the machine stitching in black is very well done. The distance between the two parallel seams is so even that one might suspect a twin needle has been used.

There was no written information about the individual costumes beyond the general information on the poster at the top, except for the name of the region the costume came from. The two above, and the next two below are all from the Lviv Region.

The costumes were behind ropes, and the lighting was a bit varied. I had to zoom in on some details where I could not reach close enough with the camera, so not all my photos came out great. I could only use the flash sparingly, so on some of the darker costumes, the details do not show up very well, or they are a bit out of focus. Still, I chose to post some of the lesser photos anyway.

Here the flowers are blooming in a riot of colours. The shirt has lots of flowers arranged in orderly borders. It is interesting to observe the arrangement of the decorative elements on the shoulder pieces. Also, I love the creative use of colours in the embroidery on the vest.

This costume strikes me as a celebration of earthly gifts: golden wheat fields with poppies in them, and an abundance of grapes. And then the flowers on the apron. The amount of work to make a dress like this is awe-inspiring.

The pattern of the necklace could be an inspiration to any quilter.

This costume is from the Polissya region. The flowers have been left behind, except for the cuffs. Also notice that the embroidered pattern on the collar is widely different from the one on the cuffs, – and then the shoulders and sleeves have yet another pattern, which is a bit similar to the woven pattern on the skirt.

I found this costume especially interesting as it was the only one with sewing that resembled quilting on the waistcoat, – or maybe the term machine embroidery could be used.


Also, we can deduce that at one point the owner must have put on weight, or the dress has been passed on to a new owner and needed to be fitted.  As you can see, some of the buttons have been moved.  The old positions are still visible for the two buttons at the bottom. With the buttons in the old positions, the quilted leaves forming a zig-zag pattern, would have fitted nicely at the front, so this was well planned from the beginning.

When looking closely, you may also notice that the red fabric in the waist border is a twill fabric, while both the red and black fabrics above are satin weave.  The two red colours are so similar that the difference is not noticeable, except when looking very closely.  With so many different elements coming together, one could almost call this a patchwork project :-)

The last costume for now comes from the Boiko area, and is almost solemn compared to the riot of colours displayed on most of the previous ones. As with the  rest of the costumes, the shirt does not lack decor, particularly on the shoulder pieces. I also love the smocking on top of the sleeves.

This was it for now.

I will start sorting through the rest of the photos, and eventually write another post showing you the older costumes.



New Look

I have just changed the look of my blog a little bit. I found that my old theme had been retired and did not get updated with new, useful features.

I found another theme which looks a little bit like the old one, but has features like Gallery, which I plan to use a lot. I love to add lots of photos in my posts, so this means you no longer have to scroll miles to read through a post, but can choose to click through a collection of photos, or just  look at the thumbnails if you are in a hurry.

It is not quite finished yet, – I still have to tweak a few things to get the look closer to what I want.



A Christmas Present for Myself

Sometimes I just fall head over heels in love with a quilt. That is what happened with this one:


I spotted it as it was posted for sale at the website “Through our Hands”, and I could not believe my luck that it was still available when I came across it. I decided on the spot that this was going to be a Christmas present for myself, and hurried to buy it before someone else could snap it up from under my nose.


It was made by UK artist Annabel Rainbow in 2011. If you visit her website, you will see that it is very different from her current work, which is absolutely fantastic, by the way.

The quilt is approximately 58 cm square, each block is 6 cm, and it is made entirely of silk fabric. The centre is Cathedral Window blocks, surrounded by a row of Secret Garden blocks. Those of you who are familiar with the technique, will know that a lot of fabric goes into the creation of each block. It is hand sewn through and through.


The borders have a pattern in reverse applique, with border fabric re-appliqued on top of the circles in every corner. The blocks all have a small pearl in the centre.


The name of the quilt, “Hoc Sensu Modo”, is hand embroidered along the top border, and it means “This side up”.

It is a gem, and I just love it.



Night of the Iguana II


Sometimes I buy quilts that I like, if they are for sale, and if I get the chance.


This spring, Australian quilt artist Dijanne Cevaal advertised a sell-out on her blog. When I became aware of it, my absolute favourite was already gone, but my second choice, “Night of the Iguana II”, is a stunner too.


This week she is having a second sell-out on her blog .


Many of the advertised quilts have already sold, but there are a few left as I am writing this.

Go and have a look at her blog “Musings of a textile itinerant”.



Tulip Quilt


This quilt was started as a way to use some blocks that were left over from a previous project,  The blocks had lots of colours in them.

I wanted to make something to resemble a landscape, so grouped some blocks with similar colours and added strips in between.  The blocks and strips were then framed in a light blue fabric with a pattern that looked like clouds.

I wanted a very big tulip to be in the centre of the quilt, and with the background finished, I drew it to size and appliqued it on top of the background and border.


One of my goals in making this quilt was also to practice some freehand machine quilting on a piece that was not too unwieldy.


I had a lot of fun thinking up different kinds of doodles that would fit inside the space between the wavy lines.


I also played around a bit on the tulip itself. The result is so-so, but I hope to experiment more with this kind of thread work later on.

This will be my contribution to the 10th Blogger’s Quilt Festival. A small jubilee, since I have participated in all of them up to now.

My quilt is entered in the Applique quilt category.

Here are my previous entries:

Spring 2009

Autumn 2009

Spring 2010

Autumn 2010

Spring 2011

Autumn 2011

Spring 2012

Autumn 2012

Spring 2013

Be sure to visit the Blogger’s Quilt Festival to see all the entries.

:-) Eldrid

Designing and Sewing with Boys

Lately I have been working with a very young designer on a new quilt.

He has long been dying to lay his hands on granny’s sewing machine, as he knew he would be permitted to do when he turned five. (The older brother was five when he first sewed, so we had to be fair).

However, there was a huge time span (for a five year old, that is,) between his birthday and their next visit to our house, and since he also wanted granny to make him a new quilt, he started the design process while he waited.

First, he thought about what figures he wanted to have on his quilt. He decided on an octopus, an egg, and a car, which he drew on paper. He also thought the car wheel and speedometer should be included, and a (self made) road sign would also be appropriate.


After drawing these shapes on paper, he decided to make all of them in fusible plastic pearls (nabbi), and then tape the pearl shapes on top of the drawn ones.  A very wise decision, since this made the shapes to stand out very clearly.

It was also important to make notes of the sewing sequence.


While working on this, he also composed a song (lyrics and melody) about the quilt. Sadly, this was forgotten by the time he finally came to granny’s house.

Before the visit, I had acquired a photo of the design sheet, and had made some enlarged drawings on paper backed fusible web.


But first things first.  Before we could go on with the quilt design, or food, or anything, he had to try out the sewing machine. Here is one happy child :-)

After a while, we managed to choose some fabrics for the quilt. The figures were easy, as he wanted the same colours as the pearly shapes, but the background was a bit more difficult. Blue with silver suns and stars was finally chosen for the background, and some green, turqoise, beige, and red for the quilt blocks.


After making all these decisions, and watching and helping with cutting and fusing the figures, he could finally work on a little project of his own. The leftovers were all his, to do what he wanted with.

Then the quilt was put on the back burner for a while, because he wanted to make himself a bag.


So he gets free access to granny’s fabric resource center (aka stash), and has a great time rummaging through lots of plastic bags.


Oh, the joy of finding a perfect, lovely fabric :-)


For the bag(s) he decided on a rosebud pattern, – perhaps because it was available in several colourways, so he could make many similar bags. He (and granny) managed to make three during that first weekend. Note that one of them also has a pocket for his future mobile phone.

There are still two more colours of this fabric, so I guess there will be more bags before long.


He also decided that he wants a fabric collection, and it is going to have at least a hundred fabrics. Of course, granny’s resource center provided a few to start with. He first counted 31. Then he cut some of them for one of his small projects, collected the leftovers, and when he counted again, there were 37.

Useful lesson learned: Fabrics multiply when you are supposed to use them. There will be 100 in no time.


As for the older brother, he goes for quality rather than quantity. This is a quick sketch of the design for his bag. Orange is his favourite colour.


And here is the result, which he can be very proud of.  Sewing all those squares down took some time, even if they were fused first. And there are squares on both sides.

The quilt?

It was finished a few weeks later:


The white, musical fabric was a favourite, and it reminds us that there once also was a song about the quilt. The designer and recipient was happy with the result.

Now, there are some Pokemon drawings waiting to be turned into another quilt, for another young designer.



Fading Test

Over the years I have made a few quilts which have included photos printed directly on fabric.


Before I started doing this in earnest, I did some research, and found that after the question of wash-ability had been solved, fading from light exposure was the biggest problem.


I found that there was a new (to me) ink being used, pigment based ink, which was said to be much more light resistant than the ordinary printer ink, which is dye based.


Luckily, by then, some printers using this new pigment ink were on the market, and I got hold of one.

I wanted to test for myself, to see if what they said was true.


I chose a random photo, which had all the main colours in it to some degree, and printed this same photo onto four pieces of fabric of the same kind.

This was in January 2003. So the test began, and it has been going on for more than 10 years by now.

One of the prints, shown in the photo above, has been kept in the dark ever since, except every time I had it out to check against the others. It is printed using pigment based ink.


Two of the prints have been stapled to cardboard and standing in a window facing west. The window is exposed to direct sunshine from 2PM to around 10PM when the sun is at the highest in summer.

The print above was printed using pigment based ink, and the photo shows how it looks after 10 years.


This is the other print that has been standing in the same window. This one was printed with dye based ink, and there is almost nothing left after 10 years.

During one of my firs tests, I found that this kind of ink showed considerable fading after just a few months, even if an UV spray was used. See photos on my website here.


The fourth of my prints was hung on a wall, 2-3 meters from a window. This is where we typically would hang a wall hanging, for instance, not directly in a window.

This print was also printed with pigment ink, and has fared quite well compared to the one kept in the dark.


In this photo I placed all the prints side by side when photographing, so they would all have the same light exposure in the photo. The two at the top have been in the window, the bottom left has been hanging on the wall, and the bottom right has been in the dark.

All the ones that have been exposed to some degree of light, have had a yellowing of the fabric itself, while the one kept in the dark still has very white fabric after 10 years.

See more on the topic on my website.

The test will continue, although I think I have found that I can trust my quilts to look almost as brilliant as when they were new, even after many, many years. Especially if they are not hung directly in a window.




Rose Window Quilt


I have been working on this project on and off for a couple of months, and finished it in time for the  Bloggers’ Quilt Festival, which Amy over at Amy’ s Creative Side hosts twice a year.

It is an experimental piece, which ended up as a wall hanging of approximately 70 x 70 cm.


My idea was to layer several fabrics with holes in them in order to achieve a three dimensional effect.


I wanted all the holes to have their edges finished in a different colour for each fabric layer, to make them stand out more.


Sewing all those holes took some time.


When the top layer was finished, I re-auditioned the rest of the fabrics.


Wondering which fabric to choose for the second layer.


It ended up being a dark red with gold specs.


Further on, wondering what to choose for the bottom layer.


It ended up being green with a gold net on top.


I thoroughly enjoyed working on this wall hanging, but I am already looking for what to do differently if there is a next one :-)

The quilt is entered in the Wall Hanging category.

This is the 9thBloggers’ Quilt Festival.  My quilts entered into the previous festivals can be seen here:

Spring 2009

Autumn 2009

Spring 2010

Autumn 2010

Spring 2011

Autumn 2011

Spring 2012

Autumn 2012

Be sure to head over to the Bloggers’ Quilt Festival to see all the wonderful entries.



Annual Spring Report

It is time for my annual May 1st update on spring.


This year spring is very late compared to my previous updates since 2009.


It is even later than it was last year.

Not a hint of green in the woods, the daffodils are not blooming, but a few of the earliest ones are sporting large, yellow buds.




Even though there are no green leaves yet, the pussy willows are in bloom.


So are the crocuses, and have been for a couple of weeks. However, they got quite beaten down by the hail a couple of days ago.

The winter has been long and cold, and the ground has been frozen until recently.


The snow keeps falling still.




Hexagon Season Again

In spite of having had very nice weather for a long time, – and nice means sunshine on this usually very wet coast, – spring is still some way off, it seems. As soon as the sun dips below the horizon, temperatures drop and the frost bites again.

sewing hexagons outside

But there are moments, – like this afternoon, – when it is possible, even enjoyable, to sit outdoors and sew.

I am working on my “let’s-find-out-if-it-is-possible-to-join-hexagon-flowers-without-folding-the-paper-templates” project. I have cracked the code on how to, but have not written up the instructions yet.

Since this is my out-of-doors project, it is slow going.


If the nice weather continues for some days, I should be able to get some more sewing done, as it is too early to do any gardening.


A bunch of snowdrops are blooming, plus three crocuses, – the rest is still under the snow at the moment.

The sunshine is nice, though, and if it could just stop snowing and freezing in between, we could have real spring in quite a short time.




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