Sunday, April 29, 2018

Cruise - Madeira Embroidery

Besides beautiful gardens and toboggan rides, Madeira is also known for embroidery and its namesake wine. I got to kill two birds with one stone at the Bordal embroidery factory. We stumbled upon the factory by chance and while exclaiming over the shop goods, they invited us up for a tour. How cool is that???

Much like the carpet makers in India, the embroidery is done not here at the factory, but at homes across the island. It's a dying art and they're steadily losing their supply of skilled embroiderers. 

The patterns are hand drawn and the stitches are counted or measured using map tools. This determines how much the embroiderers are paid.
Example patterns
The pattern is punched into tissue paper using a tattoo-like tool.
Tracing the pattern
Then the tissue paper is brought back to the dying area and a special blue dye is used to transfer the pattern to fabric.
All their nails were painted with blue polish
There are thousands of patterns stored here.

Historical designs
The fabric is sent out to be embroidered and then brought back for washing, ironing, and cut work. 

Hand washing away the dye
Carefully cutting to reveal the stitch work
We were so fortunate to see everything and the women working there were incredibly friendly. I found out that you can take embroidery classes there too! Hmmm, an excuse to spend a few months?
Yes, I bought some.
Oh, and the wine? They just happened to have a supply of some local wine on hand. I tried the Verdelho, a medium dry Madeira, and still found it very sweet. Not so sweet that I didn't buy a bottle though...

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