November 29, 2012

Embroidered camisolas from Póvoa de Varzim - a men's story

OLÁ! Today I'm going to show you one of the most beautiful pieces of regional costumes I've ever seen. They are so different from what we have in Portugal (and maybe elsewhere)... I'm talking about fishermen embroidered pullovers from Póvoa de Varzim, a city in the Litoral North of Portugal well known for being a fishing community.

For the past months I've been talking here in feeling stitchy about women... The embroiderers that by one reason or the other and inspired by different influences were in the origin or the rediscovery of traditional embroidery in Portugal. There were many stories, but all of them were women's stories!  But this is a men's story... Men began embroidering the wool pullovers to be worn by other men... And when these embroideries were forgotten, one man recovered them... It's a special story!

"Tio Luiz Nicolau" from here
"O Peroqueiro" from here

The camisolas poveiras (pullovers from Póvoa de Varzim) are made of white wool yarn and then embroidered using black and red wool yarn. They reproduce fishing motifs and a kind of local code, a proto-writing system also compared to Nordic runes, sigla,  inherited from the vikings and used for many generations. Usually it was made with a razor on wood to mark family belongings, but it was painted on boats, too. I advise you to follow the link and read more on that... So interesting...

Sigla symbols reproduced in Portuguese Pavement, from here
When I was a child I used to visit my grandmother that lived in Póvoa do Varzim and I got to know the camisolas by her hands. I learned to embroider on my own, and the only technique that someone taught me was to embroider on a wool pullover to make it appear knitted instead of embroidered... My grandmother taught me this and although traditional wool pullovers are embroidered with cross stitch, in my childhood I always associated both types of embroidery with each other.

Embroiderer from Póvoa de Varzim, from here
Traditional embroidered pullover from Póvoa de Varzim, from here
They were made to protect fishermen from the cold and were used in pilgrimage and festive occasions. Boats, anchors, fishes, shells, oars crossed and coats of arms were embroidered in cross stitch. At the beginning (first half of nineteenth century) they were knitted in a nearby town and embroidered by the old retired fishermen from Póvoa de Varzim. They expressed all their sea life in their stitches. Years later the camisolas began to be made and embroidered by the mothers, wives and brides of fishermen.

Popular costume - Póvoa de Varzim, from here
But its history is marked by tragedy. In 1892, February 27, a great maritime tragedy forced the families of the 70 dead fishermen to dress in black putting aside their white costume for many years. Only in 1936 it was recovered by Santos Graça, while organizing the Poveiro Folk Group. Curiously, Santos Graça is the grandfather of one of my dearest Portuguese embroiderers and bloggers, avó meri, whose work I'll talk about one of these days...

Patterns used in Póvoa de Varzim embroidered camisolas, from here
I found these patterns used in embroidered camisolas from Póvoa de Varzim and I'm waiting for the opportunity to embroider them in cross stitch. Wouldn't you like to do the same?

November 28, 2012

Best Advice Ever

life advice

Listen to the hoop, it knows....So does Drop Dead Quirky. Absolutely love this piece and I think I need it for my office.

November 24, 2012

New Embroidery with Vintage Patterns - an interview with...

** Be sure to read to all the way to bottom of the interview to find a wee preview of the New Embroidery with Vintage patterns contest that begins January 1, 2013!!  It is hosted by, and will take place in, the NEwVP Flickr group!! **

Hi, everyone, hope everyone is enjoying the new interview format for my monthly round-up post for the New Embroidery with Vintage Patterns (NEwVP) stitch-alongs (SALs). I think it is really fun and interesting to get to know some of the people behind the stitches!  (If there are questions you wish I was asking, please let me know in the comments!)  This month, instead of featuring someone who participated in the monthly SAL, I am featuring someone who stitched up vintage embroidery patterns in a really cool, non-traditional way.     

As always, I invite all of you to join our New Embroidery with Vintage Patterns group or at least stop by and take a peek.  There are lots of new embroideries with vintage patterns being added on a regular basis that are totally unrelated to any monthly SAL.  Plus, since I'm doing an interview format now, I'm not able to show-off all the beautiful SAL stitcheries in our photo pool!  

And now I am pleased to introduce you to Flickr peep filmresearch, I hear his real name is Mark ;)   

1.  Please tell us a bit about yourself. 
I love making things. I love looking at reading about art. I love feeling a needle pierce fabric. And I love all the great people I’ve met through embroidery. I have a lovely life on the coast of California with my spouse and a yellow-eyed tuxedo cat named Tinky. And I have an obsession with vintage crewel doorstop kits, the type where you stitch on fabric or felt and then cover a brick. 

2.   And let's point out the obvious: you are a man who stitches, thus you are a manbroiderer! Do you feel the pieces you create are different than what maybe a gal would stitch up? Or is it not that big of a deal that you are simply a man who chooses to express himself artistically with needle and thread?

That is a hard question to answer. I create pieces which are interesting and meaningful to me, but not necessarily the ‘man’ in me, more the spirit and sense of humor and desire in me. So I don’t think being a man really makes a difference in creating pieces. 


3.   H
ow long have you been stitching (embroidering)?  What or who got you started?
I have been stitching since 2009. Jenny Hart, artist, author, and owner of Sublime Stitching, taught me how to embroider at a class she gave in Seattle. It truly was a life changing evening. Thanks Jenny! 

4.  W
hat attracts you to vintage embroidery patterns or other vintage items?
I love old stuff, things with a bit of age on them. I also love things which are totally in their moment, that they could only be created in that year. Vintage embroidery patterns are of their moment. They were created in a world which is gone, but somehow we can capture a bit of it by embroidering or admiring it. 


Let's talk specifically about your new embroidery with vintage patterns.  It's so interesting that you stitched them up on microfishe.  Please tell us about the microfishe, what it is and what it's primary use was before you repurposed it and turned it into art. What made you decide to stitch up the patterns on microfishe rather than fabric or something else?
I work in a library, and they withdraw materials once they outlive their usefulness. Microfiche are flat sheets of clear film about the size of a postcard that have micro-reproductions of documents printed on them and are viewed on a special viewer. They were meant to be a space saving method and a way to archive materials. Basically one of them has about 100 pages on a 3x5 piece of film. In looking at the world of ‘stitched things’ I am often attracted to work not done on fabric, but on other materials. The microfiche I got were all agriculture based, with reports on dairy, pickles, sugar, tobacco, so I got the idea to use my extensive collection of vintage embroidery patterns and stitch something vegetal on them, and once I saw the weeping onion patterns I was happy. I also find very cool patterns on flickr. 

I'm stitching on microfiche as it was once one method for permanently archiving printed materials. Each of the 'fiche' I used ties in with the stitched pieces on them. What was once permanent has become ephemeral. Similarly, what was once ephemeral, cute, anthropomorphic iron-on designs for embroidery, has become permanent. So the friction between what was once thought permanent and now thrown away, and what was once short lived is now permanent.


6.  D
o you have a favorite embroidery stitch?  If so, why?
I adore french knots, but mine have a way of being more lumpy than nest-like. 

7.  Do you have a favorite DMC (or other brand) floss color? If so, what is the color name & number?

I love the new floss from Sublime Stitching and my favorite color is from the “Parlour” set and is called “Fainting Couch.” I love that flair of the dramatic in naming, like Crayola crayon colors. 

8.  And speaking of floss, how do you organize all your skeins of embroidery floss?

This is embarrassing but I have a big box full of large Ziploc bags filled with floss by color. I also have separate boxes for my vintage Strandsheen floss, and an entire separate box of metallic floss. A dream of mine is to have a ‘floss wall’ full of pegs with floss arranged by color and type. 


9.  I
n your home, where do you usually sit to stitch? do you like it to be quiet while you stitch, or do you watch tv, listen to the radio, or talk on the phone while you stitch?
I sit by the TV sometimes and watch something I know on Netflix. I have to pay attention when I stitch or my stitches get very wonky. If I’m working by the computer I’ll put on music. Stitching can be meditative, but sometimes it is mind numbing. 

10.  Anything else you would like to share? (blog link, shop link, or anything that you want to say that I didn't ask) 

Thank you so much for your interest in my pieces. It really means a lot to me when someone notices my work.
You can see my more serious work at I blog about my artistic process here And of course you can see my work on flickr at


The New Embroidery with Vintage Patterns group on flickr is hosting another contest!  It will begin January 1, 2013 and end February 10, 2013.  Check out this discussion post for the announcement of the eight new prize sponsors!  Over the next couple of weeks, one-by-one, each prize sponsor will be introduced in a separate discussion post in the NEwVP group -- there will be a fun interview to read, some stitchy photos of their work to see, and a picture of what each prize sponsor is donating!        
The official contest announcement will be published in the NEwVP group shortly after Christmas so I invite all of you to join so you can keep up with all the forthcoming and exciting contest details!



November 22, 2012

agulha não pica giveaway: and the winners are...

Olá! Today I'm very happy to announce the winners of last week "agulha não pica" giveaway.

The first winner is "Ali M" and the comment was: "I think of all the beautiful things I like the Japoneira needlework kit best, I always over embroider things, never know when to stop, so I love the beauty and simplicity of it." She will win this kit:

Japoneira Embroidery Kit
Embroidery kit with pre-stamped Japoneira Portuguese traditional pattern by agulha não pica
Japoneira Embroidery kit
Japoneira embroidery kit - work done!
The second winner is "Jody C" and the comment was "What a fun shop you have! I love "all things embroidery" but my heart reaches to the heart embroidery. The color and the fill stitches grab me. I am just teaching my 4 year old granddaughter to embroider. She sits on my lap, and together we stitch in and out with red floss. I know she'd love a kit of her own to make. The cork beads -- love that natura"
As asked, Jody C will receive this embroidery kit!!

Viana's Heart Embroidery kit
Embroidery kit with Viana's heart pre-stamped pattern by agulha não pica
Viana's Heart emboidery kit
Viana's heart embroidery kit - work done!
I promised that I would choose one of the comments about my shop and the author would win a special gift... This was not a random choice... It was MY CHOICE!! And my first choice was the comment made by Arundhati: I love love love your ETSY shop. It gives wonderful insight into Portuguese art life. At the same time, we can use embroidery into our life in different ways such as necklace and book cases which I had never thought of. Very artistic and one of a kind. Love it

Arundhati will receive the material she will need to make an embroidered book cover made of cork fabric...
Supplies to make a book cover made of cork fabric
All the material needed to embroider a cork fabric book cover and make a book marker with cork beads
Embroidered cork fabric book cover
Embroidered book cover made of cork fabric - see tutorial here and free pattern here
But It was a hard choice... And the other comment that made my choice so hard was: The thing I love the most about your ETSY shop is the fact that we can choose between your amazing Portuguese products, materials, such as your cork beads and scraps, or your embroidery kits, that allow us to venture in this fantastic world of crafting.

And as so, Teresa Perdigão will win this burlap embroidery kit with Christmas patterns...

Christmas set with four pre-stamped patterns on burlap
Thank you all for your kind words about my shop and my products...  And I loved to know that some of you were already in Portugal. For those who haven't, next week will continue our trip on Portuguese embroidery traditions... Até para a semana (see you next week)!

(Ali M, Jody C, Arundhati and Teresa Perdigão don't forget to contact me in order to give me your addresses)

November 20, 2012

Tutorial Tuesday

Hello everyone! Happy Tuesday. I have a quick tutorial for you today. This can become a very nice little gift for the holidays or a contemporary take on creating a potential family heirloom hanky. I have been super inspired by vintage stitches lately and thought it would be fun to create something similar to those vintage handkerchiefs I love so much.

Thanks to Floresita, our editor and fellow blogger here at Feeling Stitchy, I found this darling bird embroidery pattern at her Vintage Transfer Finds blog, and it's free! She has some great vintage patterns in her archives at VTF, but I opted for this little bird in order to place it on the corner of a hanky. I found a package of 6 handkerchiefs at Target for $5, and I will be using one of those here.

To make this sweet little hanky you will need:

-A handkerchief
-Embroidery floss in colors of your choice
-Vintage pattern
-Pencil or water soluble transfer pen
-Embroidery hoop

Step 1: Begin by washing and pressing the handkerchief. This will take care of any shrinkage that may occur. 

Step 2: Transfer your pattern to the handkerchief. The hanky is so thin, that it was very easy to see through to transfer the pattern. I used a pencil to transfer the pattern in order to keep the line thin, but it's just as easy to use a water soluble transfer pen.

Step 3: Separate the strands of floss in order to use thinner strands and create a more delicate look. I used 6 strand floss, and separated it into different strand widths throughout the pattern. For the bird, including the eye, beak and little claws, I used three strands of floss and a backstitch. The lazy daisy leaves and french knots are 4 strands of floss, and the branch is 6 strands of floss in a split stitch.

I find that it makes it easier for me to pull strands of floss apart if I pull them very slowly and I don't use a very long piece. I use the length from my finger tips to my elbow as the measurement for floss that I intend to separate.

Step 4: Stitch up the hanky. As you are stitching, make sure you tightly knot the ends of your floss and trim the excess as close to the knot as possible. I double knotted my stitches just to make sure they would not unravel during use or washing.

Step 5: This step is optional. My sister requested that I place a bow tie on the bird, so I did that, which means this hanky is being sent to her. 

Step 6: In order to ensure that your embroidered hanky can stand the test of time and become a vintage or heirloom hanky in the future, it's important to care for your stitches when washing. I usually wash hand embroidered items on the delicate or hand washing cycle in the washing machine. For smaller more dainty stitches, I recommend hand washing with a mild detergent, something akin to laundry detergent for babies. If you get makeup or lipstick on your hanky, I recommend spot cleaning and then washing the whole hanky by hand. It takes a little more time to care for stitches like this, but they will last.

Step 7: Enjoy your hanky! These would make a great gift to a family member or friend, as well. It's quick, and has a very nice handmade touch.

Hope you enjoy and have a great Tuesday!

Hi, I'm Kristen! I am a lover of all things stitchy and crafty. I have been sewing for as long as I can remember. My grandmother taught me how to sew Barbie clothes when I was young and I have been sewing ever since.

You can find me at Bobbypin Bandit, on Instagram, and my Etsy shop.

November 15, 2012

agulha não pica giveaway

Olá! Today is a very special day... I've been posting every Thursday since April and for me all Thursdays became special days...

I love the opportunity of researching and sharing Portuguese traditions, I love your kind comments and the mails I've been receiving. And I loved the coincidence of my birthday falling on a Thursday... So I decided to celebrate it properly... And I'll do it sharing my joy with you. I believe that a giveaway is a nice way of doing it. Don't you think?

Let's do it as if you were going shopping. I invite you to visit my agulha não pica ETSY shop. There you can browse my Embroidery Kits, Patterns or children burlap embroidery kits sections (and all the others obviously). Choose your favorite product and write its name on a comment to this post. That way you'll be applying to win it!

You can choose one of my beginner kits inspired by Portuguese traditions, like the ones with a heart or a Japoneira inspired by Viana do Castelo embroidery or the other one with a paisley pattern. All my beginner kits come in beautiful drawstring bags, taleigos.

Taleigos novos!
Portuguese heart - Coração de Viana

You may prefer an embroidery kit that comes with all the material and instructions to make your own embroidered pendant that you can use in a necklace or in a keyring.

Colar pronto - embroidered pendant
Embroidered pendant kit

Or is it better for you to choose a new kit that just arrived in my Etsy shop? Made of Portuguese felted wool, this kit will allow you to make a wonderful book cover embroidered with a Portuguese traditional motif. It comes with all the material needed and step by step instructions.

kit para capa de livro em burel - book cover kit

But if you are more interested in kids craft kids you're welcome too, you'll find there lacing card kits or card decorating kits...

All these products were created by me using Portuguese supplies and inspired by Portuguese traditions that I bring here each week. It's your opportunity to make your own stitches with Portuguese soul.

So... Don't forget to leave  a comment on this post with your favorite product from agulha não pica shop. There will be two lucky winners... And they will receive their favorite product. They will be randomly picked from all the comments.
But if you want to make a general comment about the shop, you'll be applying to a special Christmas gift, too. In that case I will choose my favorite comment.
Write your favorite product and a comment about the shop and you'll be applying to win both gifts!

Comments will be closed on 9 PM Nov.18, U.S. CST and winners will be announced next Thursday.

And to all of those celebrating their anniversary today: PARABÉNS!
(and we have one of "those" among us, here in feeling stitchy, I'm not alone!!!)

November 14, 2012

Way Back Wednesday

I am in love with Betty's Delights. Her "vintage" pieces are to die for. You can find them at her website or her etsy store.

November 11, 2012

Patterns: Season's Stitchings

Photos from  Septemberhouse

There's something about Septemberhouse's patterns that always make me go "squee" when I see them and boy did I squee loudly when I saw these! I love how they fit a range of different hoop sizes, how one of the patterns include applique and the colour scheme for the elf in particular works so well. I can see these patterns working particularly well in making small gifts this holiday season. You can find the pattern set here.

Hi, I'm Jo - I feature new embroidery patterns Sundays on Feeling Stitchy. I also post on our Twitter and Pinterest.

Is there a new pattern you'd like us feature? Email me!

November 8, 2012

Portugal - a living museum of embroidery - part III

Ola! This week we'll continue indoors near Estremoz, as it happened last time... You'll see why I say that Portugal is a living museum of embroidery. I've chosen the most colorful pieces of embroidery for this week. Hope you like them!

I found many similar table doilies, all using the same colors but with different patterns. So simple and beautiful...
Very simple piece of embroidery, photo by ZPmoreira
I believe that the photo of this bedside table cover perfectly describes the atmosphere that we live in a "Monte Alentejano" (a farm house from Alentejo)... Of course it is old... And very simple. But so colorful and cosy...

Vintage Stitches
Vintage bedside table cover, photo by ZPmoreira
This tea tray cloth set is one of my favorites... Love the colors and the mixture of free embroidery and cross stitch are simply perfect! I've never seen it before.

Vintage tea tray cloth, photo by ZPmoreira

Do you recognise the stitch used in this colorful table doily? I believe it is bullion knot, embroidered using a traditional technique typical in the North of Portugal and applied when a larger bullion knot is needed. Follow the link and learn how to do it with avo Meri.

Embroidered table doily, photo by ZPmoreira
I end this trip with a very simple embroidery piece... A bread drawstring bag where you can read "Pão" (bread in Portuguese). It's close to another bag, a drawstring patchwork bag, very common in Portugal. Although many Portuguese people never heard about its popular name, in rural areas it is still known as "taleigo" (with some differences on the exact word, depending on the region it belongs to).

This photo was taken at the front gate. And as it happens in many Portuguese homes you are received with a welcoming message in ceramic tile.

Bread drawstring bags - sacos do pão
Bread drawstring bags, photo by ZPmoreira
"Dá-nos Senhor o pão nosso de cada dia" - "Give us Lord our daily bread"

*See you next week... Don't forget to pass by... I have a surprise!

November 6, 2012

Tutorial Tuesday

Hello, everyone! Happy Tuesday! I can't believe it's November already, can you? I didn't have any decorations ready for the November/Thanksgiving season, so I stitched some leaves up for a wreath that I am going to share with you as today's tutorial.

Supplies needed to create this Thanksgiving Season wreath are:

- 12-inch styrofoam wreath/ring
- 8 sheets of felt in Fall colors
- One leaf template (available for you here)
- One skien of yarn (you will have left overs)
- Embroidery floss
- Scissors
- Hot glue gun and glue sticks
- 20-inch piece of twine, string, or ribbon

Step 1: Begin the wreath by wrapping the yarn around the styrofoam ring. I placed the end against the ring, then looped the yarn over it. As you continue to loop the yarn around the ring, tighten it as you go and making sure to keep the yarn taut as you cover the styrofoam ring.

Step 2: Once you have finished covering the entire styrofoam ring, pull the yarn as tight as you can and place a dot of hot glue underneath that last string to seal off the yarn covering. Press the yarn down into the glue, making sure not to burn yourself. Once the glue cools, cut the yarn to separate the skein from your covered wreath. Set this aside, as this will be the base of your wreath.

 Step 3: Cut 16 leaves out of felt using this template. My leaves came out to 6-inches high and 4-inches at the widest point. If for some reason the template does not print out in this size range, adjust the size on your computer, and print. You are going to be doubling up the leaves when you stitch them, so make sure to cut two of each color.

Step 4: Take two leaves of the same color, and begin stitching them together with different accent stitches. I varied my stitches between running stitches and back stitches. I added veins to some of the leaves just to give each one a different look. You should have 8 leaves by the time you finish adding stitches.

Step 5: Using your hot glue gun, place a strip of glue on the back of a leaf, and add it to your yarn covered wreath. Keep adding each leaf until you get the look you want. 

Step 6: Cut two 9-inch by 2-inch rectangles out of felt. There should be some large enough pieces of felt left over after you cut out your leaves that you can use for this. Cut triangles out of the ends, as though you were trimming ribbon. Add the phrase, "Give Thanks" to one rectangle with a backstitch. Place this piece on top of the other rectangle, and attach them using a running stitch.

Note: I didn't use a template for the writing. I just stitched it as I went... which is why it looks like a very very young child wrote it. I don't mind this handmade look, but if you want a more polished look, I recommend using an embroidery alphabet pattern or stock computer font of your choice. 

Step 7: Place your "Give Thanks" banner on the wreath and when you have found a place you like it, add some glue to the back and attach it to the wreath.

Step 8: Take the piece of twine or string, and very gently, string it behind the leaves. Tie the ends in a knot and hang.

Step 9: Enjoy!

Hope you have a great Tuesday!

Hi, I'm Kristen! I am a lover of all things stitchy and crafty. I have been sewing for as long as I can remember. My grandmother taught me how to sew Barbie clothes when I was young and I have been sewing ever since.

You can find me at Bobbypin Bandit, on Instagram, and my Etsy shop.