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craft, History & Traditions, Painting, Photography, Traditional Art

Kashubian Embroidery

Traditional Tuesday – [A look at traditional Art Forms]

Poland is a country of deeply rooted culture and pursuits, not the least of which, is iconic Polish Folk Art forms, such as a specialist kind of stitching, called Kashuby embroidery. Initially used as a decoration for clothing, particularly folk costumes and women’s caps, these distinctive motifs have been transformed and used to decorate items as diverse as pottery, furniture, tableware and a range of merchandise from lanyards to mouse pads.

Kashubians are a proud people with a separate language, craft and folklore to other Polish areas. Their motto is “There is no Kashubia without Poles and Poland without Kaszubians.”

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Previously considered an activity for Grandmothers, girls of all ages and even men, in Kashubia, enjoy decorating clothing with Kashuby Embroidery.


Kashubia, [a province in coastal Pomerania], is famous for its distinctive embroidery that consistently features seven main colours.


The palette used in Kashuby embroidery utilises seven main thread colours and believe or not, this tends to be strictly observed, i.e. 3 shades of blue, yellow, red, green and brown/black, for it to be called Kashuby Style.

Each of the colors used symbolized something from nature and the people.


  • Dark Blue – represents the profound depth of the Baltic Sea
  • Medium or Royal Blue – the colour of the Kashubian Lakes
  • Light Blue – for the sky of Kashubia


  • Light Yellow – representing the sand on the beaches and the sun.
  • Medium Yellow for the grains ripening in the fields
  • Dark Yellow symbolizing amber, commonly found washed up on the beaches, in these coastal areas.


  • Symbolizes the meadows and plant life
  • Indicates the forests teeming with animal life

RED :-

  • The use of the colour red indicated the heart and love
  • also indicative of the blood of every Kashubian. They are a fiercely patriotic people, and would die to defend their homeland.
  • Red also represents poppies in girl’s hairs


  • representing sorrow and adversity
  • symbolizing the earth in the fields awaiting to be sown seeds.



Because of the poverty of the surrounding soil, the Kashubian landscape produces flowers that are stringy, but still colourful. Nature is an important inspiration for floral motifs, especially bell-flowers, lilies, daisies, roses, cornflowers, pomegranates and clovers. Tulips and Acanthus motifs, derived from Christian religious traditions were incorporated as oak or thistle leaves and restricted to embroidery executed by Nuns in the convents.

Adding Beetles and bee motifs to the embroidery stemmed from connections to the ancient pagan traditions of honouring nature.

A lovely element used in Kashuby embroidery is the ‘tree of life.’ Ideally, the branches mustn’t cross or intertwine because it symbolises that life ought to be simple and clear.

In the nineteenth century, fashions changed and traditional folk art patterned outfits began to slowly disappear but some crafts hung on and were printed on to modern merchandise to appeal to tourists.

Formerly, the different style of embroidered costume was related to the particular job the person was doing. Farmers had different motifs and outfits to that seen on fisherman.

In modern times, these outfits are rarely seen outside of special occasions, events or musical performances yet the popularity of the embroidery style, lives on.

More posts on Polish Folk Art


Why Make it Yourself? Travel theme – Handmade

When it comes to darning socks, almost no-one does it anymore. Cheap items and time poor couples with high disposable income,  have relegated simple repairs to low priced essentials, to the pages of history books.

Shouldn’t we be overjoyed that we are freed from the yoke of menial tasks?

If so, why do I feel relaxed when making something with my bare hands; why am I so drawn to up-cycle items where possible, or feel desperate to create an individual item that was designed and made by me even though it is not so appreciated in today’s world? I am hopeful that design trends may come full circle and a retro movement will one day re- introduce hand made objects in preference to ready made, shop- purchased, mass- produced items? Or am I just  ‘dreaming?’


Factory made items lack the durability and quality of hand made and not only do they not last, but are sterile and you can see them duplicated in almost every home. Is this really what we want? No need to travel except to see the difference in natural landscape as no cultural individuality will exist?

Children are not taught practical hands-on skills either at school or by their overstressed, time-poor parents, so we are fast becoming a consumer in all senses, and are no longer creating. Where will this end? Do we realise fantastic one offs such as this wood carving will no longer be obtainable?IMG_20140614_204023

For these reasons, and more, I am drawn to any hand-made items on my travels. For these are items usually developed from crafts, that have evolved, in a small locale and been handed down  over many generations.  They scream workmanship, love, beautiful, naturally-synchronous ‘form’ and function. They inspire me to create  – more and more!

Ailsa’s Hand made travel theme was a no-brainer – I had to participate. How about you?

Something for our hands and brains to ponder about?


embroidery project

blog pictures 002


New Needle Book for Me – thanks to Very Berry Handmade

VeryBerryHandmade  has a great tutorial on making a new needle book. 2013-07-01 12.56.54

And I really need to make a dent in my voluminous remnant collection. This equals a marriage made in heaven. Destiny. Except for one thing and that is my less than average sewing skills.


Needle book, sewing, crafts






Nevertheless it was fun matching and using up scraps. And finding my needles is an easy job now, something I won’t spend much time pondering on….

Thanks so much VeryBerryHandmade









Embroidery – Inpire me Monday project with mitred corner border

embroidery project
embroidery with mitred border

Mitring the corners on a border for an embroidery project has always been a challenge for me. I fashioned my own method after some trial and errors, well a few errors, but this method from Youtube, explains it really well. The visuals really help it fit together and you can fine tune it to your own applications.

Why she cuts the fabric where the two corners meet before sewing the mitre “line”and doesn’t just mark it, is something I pondered about.

Beginner embroidery
Completed Embroidery in hoop

Embroidery is not difficult, but very satisfying, and useful decorations on clothing, bags, cushions, linens, bedspreads, and ornamental objects. You don’t need pattern packets, create your own!

Embroidery is one of the easiest crafts to begin designing your own projects.

Do you have a larger sharp needle and 6 stranded threads? 2013-06-11 09.41.07

Perhaps an embroidery hoop?

A few stitches and a few spare hours can turn a plain piece of fabric into something beautiful.

I created this project from an outline in a child’s colouring book, and I found a symmetrical design works best for those just starting out in embroidery.


1.Back your chosen piece of fabric with an iron on interfacing. This will stabilize and support the fabric,preventing any puckering from occurring as you stitch. It is not essential, so if you don’t have it, don’t stress.

2. Transfer the image on to tracing paper using a light box, or if you don’t have one, tape the paper to the inside of a clear glass window and lay the tracing paper on top, and trace the outline.

(You can make a simple light box with a clear plastic container (like Sistema clip-it range) and a bright torch inside, pointing upwards)

3. Either:  Trace the design on to the fabric using a washable transfer pen, or erasable pen. The outline will either fade out or wash away. Or/

Place paper tracing directly on to fabric and secure in an embroidery hoop. Stitch around the outline, using a long tacking stitch, and ordinary sewing thread, then tear the paper from inside the hoop, and remove, leaving the tacking as a guideline for your embroidery

Transfer embroidery pattern

4. Select colours and threads. I use 6 stranded embroidery floss, which is split into sections of 3 strands each for stitching.

5. Decide on what stitch you will use in your design.
There is a variety of instructions for basic embroidery stitches available on the net, that you can use to instruct you on how to do Basic stitches such as Running Stitch, Back Stitch, Satin Stitch, Chain Stitch, Lazy Daisy and French Knot. With even just three of these stitches you can create many effects. If the following links don’t work, just “google” or “youtube” embroidery stitches, and you will find plenty of clever videos to help you on your way.

I used Back stitch to outline the green foliage behind the flower. Chain stitch for the petals, Lazy daisy stitch for the central flower, french knots to decorate. There is a circle in the centre which is a couching stitch, which I plan to pull out and re – do as it is a bit crooked.

I added pearl beads for the outer filler flowers. Embellish with ribbon, beads, and fabric applique as needed.

Here are some links for stitches:


Making your own Embroidery Designs

Now comes the creative part.

Use the outline you have chosen, only as a guide or if tentative the first step in stitching.

Lay the threads you have chosen over the top and see what colour works best. Then just start stitching. If it is boring, you can always pull it out or add more to it. A plain back-stitch can have a contrasting thread stitching underneath each existing stitch to highlight it.


Experiment with different embellishments and stitches as you go. Build up the colours and layers. Fill in the petals or design with smaller seed stitches, stars, hearts, running stitch, french knots, or satin stitch.

Remember, if it is does not seem interesting enough, you can always pull it out or add more to it. A plain back-stitch can have a contrasting thread stitching underneath each existing stitch to highlight it.

First timers can find templates and outlines everywhere, especially in children’s colouring books, and when your confidence grows you can try freestyle embroidery. Flowers are great to use in this technique as you can keep filling in the design, until you are satisfied.


Don’t feel constrained by a pattern.  Make it personal, make it your own. Something you will ponder about?

Find more inspiration on a blog hop Inspire me Monday at Create with Joy