Slavic Folk Embroidery Sampler Apron – Hanya Vladimirovna Polotskaya

The embroidered garment is on is a later than period style apron. The embroidery is within the SCA period. Thread used is double thickness 40/2 Normandy linen. Fabric is Burnley and Trowbridge medium weight linen. It is the closest to even weave linen that is densely woven enough for clothing. Red panel is Kona cotton, which is closest to a popular red fabric used for traditional Slavic clothes as accents called Kumach.

The red panel in white thread embroidery is with chain stitch done with needle, cotton crochet thread. Chain stitch comes from early period Asia. It arrived in the Slavic region by mid period, the most archaic tree of life and similar designs are shown with this stitch. Traditionally it is done with a needle not a hook. Use of a tambour hook is post-period but becomes quickly widespread because of it’s speed.

Redwork bottom section is all double running stitch, it is a completely double-sided embroidery. The cuffs and back panel were done with Nabor style pattern darning with braid stitch borders. Cuffs include blanket stitch embroidery at the fold to protect the fabric. Nabor and red work double running stitch shows up in the Slavic areas in the later period most likely traveling up from Egypt and middle east as similar embroidery work is present there from at least the 9th century. From my own observations redwork embroidery, while it uses the same techinique as blackwork, the designs themselves less lenient with thread count. Evenweave or very close to it fabric is required. Nabor gives a bit more leeway in fabric choice if evenly woven fabric is not available. It is more sensitive to weave density. Dense structure prevents wrinkling of the fabric. For looser woven fabric other techniques such as counted satin or brick stitch should be used instead to get the same pattern.

Annotated References:

Ellis, M. Embroideries from Islamic Medieval Egypt in the Newberry Collection, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Textile history. Col 32.1, pg 61-74.

9th through 13th century embroidery in Islamic Egypt. Same types of stitches as found in folk Russian embroidery. Motifs are different. Several example images presented.

Маслова, ГС Народная вяшивка восточных славян, в частности русских: Орнамент Русской народной вышивки как историко-этнографический источник. (1975)

Notes that motifs used in  folk embroidery of the 17th through early 20th centuries draw significantly on motifs at least as old as the 11th and 12th centuries, before full Christianization of Russia.

Малахатьков У.В. Архаические мотивы вышивки в искусстве Русских Томской области. (2007)

                Backs up the above conclusion as pertaining got Tomsk obrast of Russia.

Gillow, John, and Bryan Sentance: World Textiles, Bulfinch Press/Little, Brown, 1999, ISBN 0-8212-2621-5, p. 178

 Chain stitch dates back to the Warring states period of China, 5th to 3rd century BC.

14 thoughts on “Slavic Folk Embroidery Sampler Apron – Hanya Vladimirovna Polotskaya

  1. Beautiful patterns. I had thought this type of stitching was not done in red in period. not sure why I thought that – but thanks for the education.

  2. Lovely embroidery! I am a fan of monochrome embroideries as well. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Beautiful work! I’m especially impressed that you did some of that in double running stitch. If you haven’t yet paneled at the EK embroidery guild, Athena’s Thimble, I strongly encourage you to take this piece – it is a lovely example of several of the guild’s embroidery categories.

  4. Beautiful and impressive embroidery! And I love learning more about the history — thank you for sharing!

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