A couple of pieces of needlework adorn the walls of our home. One is this Bible verse from 1 Corinthians. Mama Clark cross-stitched it for us as a Christmas gift. The other is a small embroidered rose made by Brandon’s grandmother, Bert.
I didn’t grow up around much framed needlework. As a matter of fact, I can’t remember ever seeing any outside of a museum. The women in my life didn’t really embroider that I can recall. Instead, they patched up rips and holes, quilted, or made clothes.
This utilitarian view of sewing has always been the norm in the South. Poor Southern colonial families couldn’t afford expensive silk threads, and rich ones pushed their daughters to master entertaining rather than stitching.
Of course, that’s not to say Southern women didn’t create any needlework. They did. It’s just that framed samplers and decorative embroidery hanging on the wall wasn’t commonplace. Instead, embroidered items were more practical.
In Southern homes, embroidery was found on clothing, handkerchiefs, and household goods. Crewel pillows, fire screens, and stools were popular in the 19th century. You can still find them floating around local antique shops today.
These are the kinds of items I grew up around. I don’t know who made them, but I remember a lot of embroidered linens from my childhood. Mamaw had table cloths embroidered with flowers, and my Aunt Sandy had ducks on her towels.
We have a little collection of embroidered linens at our house too. They remind me of childhood.
Did you grow up around needlework? If so, was it framed?