Crewel work – old and new

Years ago my mother gave me a large remnant of crewel work fabric left from when my grandmother had a chair reupholstered. The fabric has traveled with me to Germany and then back again to Iowa when we returned in February. I always knew I’d do something with it but wasn’t sure what that would be..

The chair below is one that my grandmother purchased in the early 1960’s. It’s made by the Stickley Company and was originally upholstered in a solid coloured fabric. At some point during my childhood (I can’t remember when) she had it recovered in the beautiful crewelwork fabric you see; the same crewelwork fabric that I have had for years but done nothing with.  One of my favourite things about my family is that we all tend to choose things that are made to last and then, because they do last, we use them from one generation to the next. We also save fabric from chairs, curtains and bedspreads just in case we might use them again in the future. Obviously my love of textiles is inherited!

The chair is now with one of my brothers and he loves it and will cherish it so it can be passed down to the next generation at some point. But the fabric is still in my stash, waiting to be used in a new project. Until now!

In 2012 I embroidered The Marriage Pillowe designed by Phillipa Turnbull. That piece has been stored for all this time, carefully wrapped in tissue, waiting to be made into a pillow. You can read more about that project here.

About a month ago, it was time for both of these textiles that had been waiting for so long to be brought to light. I was looking for a way to brighten up our new bedroom and wanted pillows and perhaps a bed runner for our bed. (Who knew there was a name for that piece of fabric you see at the foot of a bed in many hotels today!)

I called my new friend DJ Lauritsen who owns Brackets Custom Window Covering in Ames, Iowa and told her I had an idea I needed help with. As she and I spread out the piece of crewelwork fabric and the Marriage Pillow top we were amazed at the way the colours and the styles matched! It was as if they were made to be together.

Together we chose a fabric for the reverse side of the pillows and bed runner and a deep navy velvet for the piping. They were finished about a week ago and we are thrilled with the results!

DJ and her team had quite a challenge working with crewelwork fabric that was so old. There we a few moth holes and some stains so she had to consider and plan carefully how to use as much of the fabric as she could. Some of the threads were quite brittle and the fabric creased even though it was stored rolled up, not folded. However, the team did a marvellous job using the remnant from my grandmother’s chair to create something new for our home.

It’s so lovely how the colours and the patterns coordinate. Traditional crewelwork is timeless and the combination of the old and new in this project proves that!


4 thoughts on “Crewel work – old and new

  1. Oh wow Kathy, what a treasure! The match could not be any more perfect if you tried.
    Have a wonderful and safe Christmas.
    Hugs Anna

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