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Ukrainian Folk Costumes II

We have just celebrated the 200 year anniversary of our Constitution on 17th May, and as usual on the National Day, everybody who own a national costume, wore it to the festivities.

While I was enjoying myself looking at different dresses with a myriad of interesting details, I was reminded of the rest of the photos of the Ukrainian costumes that have been sitting in my computer for some time, waiting to make their way into this post.

Well, here they are at last.

The first one here is a costume from the  Transcarpathian flatlands. We are still in the era of the sewing machine, as can be seen on the vest. It has colourful ruffles made from a very thin fabric, which have frayed a bit over time. The shirt has fantastic smocking and embroideries on the cuffs. The photo of the skirt is sadly out of focus, but shows the multiple colours of the ruffle border.

I have been studying the belt, but cannot quite decide on the construction technique. I have been wondering if it might be made in the old braiding technique called “sprang”, but I am not sure. Maybe someone reading this will know. As I wrote in the first post, there was no information on the individual costumes other than the region they came from.

The costume above comes from the Lemko area. Again, the amount of detailed work is amazing. I like the dense embroidery of the head dress, which is also repeated on the cuffs, and I love the large pearl collar, – and not just because quilters are partial to hexagons.

When studying the embroidery on the skirt, you will notice that each motif is perfectly aligned with the pressed folds of the skirt.

I wonder how many pearls would be used for a dress like this.

Then we move on to Bukovyna, and here they had costumes for both men and women on display. The one above is for males, and it looks like they were not averse to wearing flowery decorations embroidered in many colours, – including hot pink.

The detailed work done on leather is impressive, and I love the woven belt. Also, I was surprised to see that the bottom of the trousers has a border of drawn thread embroidery. They show very little wear, so these trousers  must have been for very best use.

Above is the female costume, which, as a whole, appears less colourful than the male counterpart. The most impressive parts are the sleeves, which look unusually long, by the way, – and all covered in embroidery in three very different patterns. The edging on the vest with alternating dark and light fur, must have taken quite some time to accomplish. The belt has a similar pattern and colours as in the male costume, but seems to be narrower.

 

Now, this one from the Pokuttia region has everything: embroidery, fringes, pearls, handmade cords, – you name it, – and then some detailed leather work to blow your mind.

First, I love the head dress with the colourful borders. To wrap it around the head and make it sit correctly must be an art in itself. The shirt sleeves are also heavily embroidered.

But the most impressive part is the vest. I have no knowledge of leather work, so can only guess at how these things are done, but even to an untrained eye, there is no denying that a lot of work has gone into this piece. Just look at all those small pom-poms, – they look like they are felted. Anyway, each and every one of them have been fastened, – probably sewn, – to the leather along with an accompanying dark triangular leather piece.

The narrow checkered borders on both sides of the the front looks like narrow dark leather bands have been woven into slits in the light leather background. Then there is some cross stitch embroidery, and red and yellow twisted cords are couched on both sides.

The alternating pieces of dark and light fur on the edges of the vest, are even narrower than on the vest we looked at above, and there are also lots of small triangular leather pieces, looking like praerie points, on top of the fur pieces.

 

This women’s dress from the Hutsulian area is also rich in details, and colours.

The head dress is interesting, consisting largely of pearls, – but I wondered about the tinsel. I guess it must have been highly valued at some point to be displayed so prominently.

I love the pattern in the pearl necklace, – although there are repeats, it appears quite irregular.

The upper part of the shirt sleeves has a very dense, colourful embroidery.

The vest has similar decoration details as the one above, but they are arranged a bit differently. Lots of couched cords, and the edges of the dark triangular pieces are also couched in dark thread, – so much so the leather almost disappears. Lots of eyelets are also used as pure decoration. It also has a colourful embroidered border at the bottom, in style with the shirt embroidery.

Here it is obvious that the base leather is sheepskin, which I also suspect is the case of the vests in the photos further above.

In addition to a woven belt, there is also a woven band adorned with pom-poms wrapped across one shoulder, reminiscent of a ceremonial sash, some times used at weddings. Now, if this is a wedding outfit, maybe that would explain the tinsel, – just guessing here.

 

The corresponding men’s costume from the Hutsulian area is even more adorned than its female counterpart, minus the pearls.

The shirt front is richly embroidered in many colours and patterns, including numbers which indicate it was made in 1961.  The woven belt is quite wide and has stronger colours in it than the one on the women’s dress, – maybe it is newer and less faded.

The vest has similar decor elements and placement as the one above, minus the embroidered border at the bottom. This one has larger, dark triangles, and they are adorned with lots of eyelets and have their edges couched with green cord. The checkerboard strips are wider and have three bands woven into them.

The footwear is also similar between the two costumes.

This is a woolen cape from the same area as above. It has some embroidered decor around the neck, down the back, and along the seams.

The tip protruding at the back looks like it could be a hood, but  I have not been able to detect an opening for the head. It is a mystery to me why it looks like this, unless it is meant to cover a load carried on the back.

The last two costumes that were on display, are from the Podillia area. The men’s costume has a long shirt, with a wide embroidered border around the opening at the front. Stitches around this opening also serve as a strengthening of the fabric, which can easliy tear at the bottom of the split.

The decorative leather work on the west is more similar to the ones from the Bukovyna area than to the two shown directly above. This also goes for the belt, which seems to be woven in a jacquard technique.

The most prominent feature of the women’s costume from Podillia, is the strong decor on the sleeves. With two heavy, black and red pieces at the top, – not sure whether they are embroidered or sewn in fabrics, – and a wide, black zig zag ribbon sewn in a spiraling pattern around the sleeves, they sort of define the whole costume. The red colour is also repeated in a many stranded pearl necklace.

The vest is decorated in similar technique as the one above.

——————

Seeing this exhibition, and then studying the individual photos afterwards, has been like a journey, – very interesting. People everywhere like to dress up, and being well dressed is always a way to show off either wealth or status.

A lot of these costumes has been very time consuming in making, showing that these people had time on their hands, and material, to spend on other things than just scraping a living.

—————–

The first post about the exhibition can be seen here.

 

🙂

Eldrid

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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.

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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” 🙂

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

🙂

Eldrid