A Vintage Heirloom

Hi everyone

It’s 41C in Canberra and the prediction for tomorrow is more of the same so it’s a good time to be sitting somewhere cool cruising around the work on the Members Gallery. I’m aiming to add some new photos to various galleries overnight – so check in again tomorrow for news of which galleries have been updated.

If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere please send us some of your cool air! I hope you’re somewhere warm and cosy.

Vintage Semco

I’m sharing a vintage Semco apron that I stitched in 2012 – it has a lovely story.

In September 2011 I was in Ingham, North Queensland visiting my extended family there and doing some family history research. My Mum’s cousin Nella gifted me some vintage embroideries that she’d never got round to stitching – including a Semco apron. She was given this apron when she was a small child so around the early 1940s.

Nella had lost the instructions with the picture of the completed work and thread details. She also gave me a tin of vintage threads but didn’t think any were originally bought for this apron.

Using Stem Stitch to Create a Textured Surface

The pattern design is a typical ‘shepherdess’ style girl in a hat, blouse and long skirt. I thought I’d like to stitch it for Nella’s daughter Ros and at the same time experiment with using stem stitch to create a textured surface.

So instead of just sewing around the edge of the girl’s skirt I decided to fill it in with lines of stem stitch using a single thread in a repeat pattern of 5 colours: purple, bright yellow, pink, turquoise blue and pale green.

Here’s the finished apron – just click on the photo if you’d like to see it in more detail:

Vintage Semco Apron stitched by Carmen Zanetti

….and here’s the skirt:

Bottom half of Vintage Semco Apron stitched by Carmen Zanetti

and a more detailed close-up of the skirt:

Detail of Skirt on Vintage Semco Apron stitched by Carmen Zanetti

I used chain stitch to fill in the outline of the original stamped pattern and then drew a line down the middle of the skirt so that the repeats of the five colours would match.

When I started filling in the skirt it was just an experiment and I didn’t know if it would work – but it turned out really well. It’s interesting that when people first see the apron their reaction is to look closely at the skirt to see if it’s an appliquéd woven fabric.

Here’s a view of the top of the girl:

Head of Girl in Vintage Semco Apron stitched by Carmen Zanetti

and the flower detail:

Detail of Flowers in Vintage Semco Apron stitched by Carmen Zanetti

I was around the corner when artistic skills were given out so it’s always a struggle to decide on colours. To get some ideas on how to stitch the flowers I went into a florist shop and bought a bunch of gerberas – it was fascinating to see that some of the centres were multi-coloured in quite unusual colour combinations.

And here’s a look at the binding around the edge of the apron and on the pockets – it’s a contemporary ‘vintage’ look and works well with the design:

Bias Binding on Vintage Semco Apron stitched by Carmen Zanetti

the only thing left to do is to deliver the apron to Ros next time I’m in Brisbane.

Take care!

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One Response to A Vintage Heirloom

  1. Glenda Hudson says:

    Carmen, love the story and the apron. Just shows that we non-artistic folk can use some imagination and create something unusual and interesting if we try.