Taking an idea from the past

Years and years ago, I bought a white cotton shirt and a long cotton petticoat at a vide-grenier in the Gers, where we were visiting a friend who was restoring an old farmhouse about a hundred yards from the route of the “Camino” to Compostela to run as a pilgrim hostel. I don’t wear either of them much, the petticoat being a little long, and the shirt a bit short in the arm, but I do occasionally just look at them to delight in the work that was put into them.

There is machine stitching on them – they’re not as old as all that! – but there is a lot of hand work too.

The careful reinforcement between the ruffle and the edge of the garment is a case in point, with a single length of neat feather stitches providing just the variation in texture it needs to stand out, subtly, but definitely. From a distance, it looks almost like a braid, but instead of being bought and applied, it was something the maker could do by themselves.

The ruffle itself is a super-simple version of broderie anglaise, a single eyelet within a pointed edge, hand-finished.

Well, now…

I don’t always do epic garments like the Jacket of Many Stitches or the Coat of Many Flowers, but sometimes I do decide that a garment needs a little bit of lift.

Expect to see rows of feather stitch popping up on assorted garments for the next several years!


  1. Sue Jones says:

    That feather stitch is perfect for the job it’s doing, isn’t it? And a good reminder that texture and stitch is often far more effective than colour and pattern.

  2. Lin says:

    Amazing what difference that single row of stitching makes.

  3. Kathy says:

    I’m so glad someone else has oddments of clothing, unworn but kept for the joy of them. I have a old blouse of my grandmother’s, no embroidery but delicate lace and pin tucks at each side of the button front and delightful glass buttons. There is such pleasure in clothes with a history isn’t there?
    Enjoy your feather stitching, it has a lovely rhythm once you get going.

  4. It is such a delight to look over old clothes, to see details of embroidery or check how something was hemmed up or stitched in ‘hidden’ places.
    The Feather Stitch is not only beautiful, it is easy to do, too!

  5. Jillayne says:

    Love this – the feather stitch adds a beautiful texture to that join as well as a look of complexity and richness to the garment and yet it’s fairly simple to do. I look forward to seeing what you do with this idea!

  6. Amanda says:

    It’s surprising what the eye notices without being shouted at. It all adds doesn’t it.

  7. Carolyn Foley says:

    That feather stitching really adds to the garment.