The Embroidery Process by Hind Al Adwani

The Embroidery Process by Hind Al Adwani

The Embroidery Process 

The Center for Palestinian Culture facilitates work for Palestinian women who have no source of income other than that generated through the completion of delicately embroidered items.  The Center currently provides work for over 500 women.  However there is also a long waiting list of women who would like to participate.  Unfortunately, the Center does not have the capacity or the market demand to include more women at this time. Each colorful and truly unique hand embroidered piece is created through a process involving much thought, dedication and time.

Following is a brief description of the various steps which every distinctive item in each exhibition has passed through before being displayed for sale.

Preparing the colors and designs

New pieces are carefully prepared with much thought to detail and color ensuring that each piece is unique.  Patterns from one particular region in Palestine are chosen and placed in an aesthetically pleasing arrangement, whether on a pillow, dress (the “Thob”), table runner or another item.

Documenting the Design

The final design is then written up in great detail so that the pattern may easily be followed by the woman to whom the article will be assigned.  Embroidered sample pieces are often attached so that a less common design can be easily applied. 

Handing the Work Over to the Women

All women work out of their homes dedicating the time they have between managing their household, raising the children, and earning money to put bread on the table and educate their children.  Women new to embroidery begin with smaller pieces such as coasters.  Those with more experience are given larger and denser embroidery jobs such as pillows and dresses.

Working from Home

The process is often cumbersome and extremely time consuming because not all fabrics can be directly embroidered with cross stitching.  Fabrics such as silks, velvets, organza and some cottons require a layer of canvas to be place on top of the fabric when embroidering.  Once the item embroidery has been completed the threads of the canvas must now be removed one by one to reveal the final fabric of layer underneath.  Mothers will often engage the labors of their children in this process in an effort to seek assistance and to teach them responsibility.

The Quality of the Work

The results are always striking.  As you can see from the two samples here, the embroidery is neat on the right side and on its reverse.

Delivery & Pick-up of Work

Every Monday the Center becomes alive with women who take great pride in the articles so painstakingly prepared to perfection.  Women patiently wait in the waiting room while items are received, and new jobs taken away.


Quality Control

Here articles finished by some of the women are carefully inspected.  Items can take anywhere from one week to one year to complete depending on the size and density of embroidery.  There are precise methods employed for ascertaining the exact amount of work completed and the corresponding payment to be made to ensure that every woman knows how much money she will be earning for each individual piece.

Payment for Work

Once the items are received, they are registered, and all excess yarns and fabrics returned to the Center for future use. After inspection and registration of the items, payment is made promptly, and receipt is confirmed in a registry.  Women may or may not choose to take on a new job at that time.

Tailoring & Finishing

Volunteers sort through all excess yarns returned by women and carefully place them back in their corresponding boxes for future use. All finished articles are then passed to the seamstresses who complete the process from stitching up dresses to placing finishing touches on cosmetic bags

Handing out New Jobs

New jobs are handed out to existing participants of the Center and the process explained to newcomers.  Great attention is paid to detail so that the final piece is completely perfectly.  Black and white photocopies of patterns and actual embroidered samples are often included. All materials used in are carefully recorded for future reference.

Several colorful samples here show embroidered patterns from various regions of Palestine.

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