Presumably, you have already completed my first class of the beginner series, “An Introduction to Palestinian Thobe Embroidery”. In this class, we learned the basics of cross-stitch, how to follow a pattern, and you have hopefully enjoyed the lecture on the development of Palestinian thobe making from an art historical perspective.
As a refresher, the thobe, a traditional embroidered dress handmade and worn for centuries by Palestinian women, is the bedrock of Palestinian textile artistry. Since the 11th century, Palestinian women have showcased skillful stitchery on their traditional costume, displaying unique motifs, colors and styles across the various villages of old Palestine. After 1948, nearly one million Palestinians were forced into exile, and carried their Palestinian embroidery traditions with them into refugee camps and around the world, also referred to as the ‘diaspora’. As the diaspora spread across the globe, the largest and longest-standing population of displaced people in the world, the thobe evolved into a symbol of national identity and solidarity.
For many of you, you will not complete the embroidery for the bookmark in the 2-3 hours allotted for the class, and need to finish the bookmark at home. Once you are done embroidering, you should feel very accomplished! But to make this embroidery a bookmark, you have a few more steps left, that shouldn’t take longer than an hour to complete.
Below are instructions to complete your thobe bookmark, so that it has a professional finish that will last for years to come. If you have any questions or need further guidance, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that I am only able to offer video/phone guidance to students who registered and attended the class.
- Stiff felt
- Black and white sewing thread
- Fabric or any sharp scissors
Carefully cut around the embroidered design, leaving 6-10 rows all around. The more the better, so if you can go to 10 rows, do it. If you have less, its okay, do your best with what is left and do not trim the edge.
Thread your needle (double-up) with black thread, in order to stitch “mitered corners”. Instructions to do this are here. First I suggest pinning the mitered corners down, then sewing with black thread (basting stitch), then removing the pins and using white thread to do the final stitch. Once the white thread is sewn and tied off, remove the black thread.
Once your mitered stitch is completed with white thread, and you’ve removed the pins and black thread, it is time to secure the stiff felt on the back.
Without trimming the felt, pin the bookmark against the felt. Using the black thread, sew a basting stitch (or a loose running stitch just to hold the felt. The basting stitch should be done around all four edges of the bookmark.
Using sharp fabric scissors, cut the felt to the size of the bookmark carefully.
Thread your needle with white thread, or any thread of your choosing and sew in place using a running or blanket stitch all around.
Remove black thread. Your bookmark is now finished!