Past Present

Today I’m calling it finished.

Past Present, hand stitched long cloth, 6.25” x 42”

Fragments of antique cotton, silk, and lace, hand-stitched to tea-dyed vintage linen and cotton.

Vintage embroidered monogram with vintage mother of pearl buttons

It only named itself this afternoon. The past is always present. We carry it with us wherever we go. I guess that’s what memory is.

Fragments from vintage silk clothing, with hand-stitched buttonholes

And these fragments from the past are still present too. Clothing and accessories made by hands long dead and yet still here. Their voices still speak to us, and the sheer beauty of their work still moves us.

Eighteenth-century silk and nineteenth-century cutwork

The fragment of MJ’s monogrammed chemise became a pocket for some vintage needles.

Lace and silk, with Flora MacDonald needles

New stitches on old cloth, layering new memories over old ones

Past Present lower section: silk and lace

It hangs from some tea-dyed silk ribbon, which may or may not be strong enough – the cloth is heavier than it looks.

Stitched marks, with tea-dyed broderie anglaise from a nineteenth-century cotton petticoat

A short view of the other side:

Past Present

There are lots of frayed and ragged edges. Time made visible. The marks made by a quilter’s needle are still visible in this fragile cotton:

Fragile fragments of cotton from a Victorian quilt, with original quilting path still visible

It’s like making time stand still.

Author: Karen

Textile and mixed media artist

26 thoughts on “Past Present”

  1. I got out my vest embellished with antique doilies yesterday and admired again the wonderful work. Hand sewing the doilies to the vest was a joyful journey–full of admiration for handwork of the past

    1. What joy 🙂 It really gives you a deep sense of connection doesn’t it?

  2. This is so beautiful. Very calming too. A beautiful way of honouring the past and the present with something that will last into the future.

    1. Thanks so much, yes it was very calming to work on. Like having a conversation with the distant past.

  3. This is so lovely and you have given me many ideas for doing a similar thing with all the laces & silk yarns that I get out of an old cardboard box belonging to my Grandmother. Normally they get put back where they came from but now I can at last see a way of using them, including the box! Thank you!

    1. Excellent! These kinds of treasure are fragile but they have a surprising strength too when supported by fabrics and stitch.

  4. Absolutely exquisite! So many “small” stories collected to tell a new story.

    1. Some of the original hand embroidery takes your breath away, it’s astonishing.

  5. Exquisite. Thank you for the close up photos—just right for appreciating the intricacies of your artwork. Perfect for Women’s History Month.❣️

  6. Beautiful!!! Such a great idea for those scraps of history…thank you for sharing.

    1. Thanks so much, Mary. I’ve really enjoyed bringing these scraps and pockets of time together.

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