All The Grandmothers And None My Own

January 12, 2023

I’ve started the dirndl bodice today using the reclaimed wool from the skirt that I didn’t need for the Halloween costume.

  • I have cut out all the pieces
  • Staystitched neckline and transferred marks
  • Don’t forget to keep loose upper tension on lining

January 13, 2023


My childhood didn’t really provide a grandmother – at least not in the traditional sense.

I had a Norwegian grandmother for a short while, and she did all the grandmotherly things: taught me to knit and crochet (though I never developed past a chain stitch in crochet), made extremely thick slippers for Christmas, had that very hard and unwrapped candy in covered glass bowls. She taught me how to “seal up” the bread package by twisting the unfilled edge, then pulling the plastic back over the remaining loaf. I mean, classic grandmotherly skills and memories.

Her name was Aslaug, but we called her Bestamor, and she would paint traditional folk rosemale on trays and other household objects using oil paints. I had already decided to embroider the dirndl bodice, but I thought now that I will use traditional rosemale as the base for design. Much of traditional rosemale is made with very geometric florals, but I am planning to use (or insert) pomegranate motif for two reasons:

  1. I love pomegranates. Everyone who knows me knows this.
  2. Bestamor had a property in Northern California that had pomegranate bushes, and one of my fondest childhood memories was sitting on a log eating fresh pomegranates right off the bush.

I have also decided to use California poppies as another motif. I’ve started drawing out the design, though it doesn’t feel quite Norwegian enough. That might be because I am not at all Norwegian, and in my bones, I don’t think it really matters.

I have already stitched the darts on both the main fabric and the liner, and I am pretty sure I will need to do the embroidery prior to stitching it all together.

January 14, 2023

It turns out that I don’t know how to embroider. I spent most of last night teaching myself basic stitches and testing out the pomegranate and poppy design. I’m not yet sure if I have taken this idea too far, or not far enough.

The process went something like this:

I drew the design in half, then used software to double/ mirror it.

first iteration

The first iteration was terribly small and the embroidered result was truly unrecognizable. This is when I spent a bunch of time frustrated and stitching a sampler.

For testing’s sake, I printed again at 150% then transferred design by hand (using carbon copy paper) to the Stick and Washaway paper.

That was better, but now I think I’ve improved the design by enlarging the pomegranate significantly, and adding the traditional rosemale waves at the bottom.

second iteration

Now that I’ve done the sampler, I will try embroidering this motif, and see how it looks. After all this embroidery testing is done, I will stitch up the seams on the outer shell of the blouse and embroider.


One response to “All The Grandmothers And None My Own”

  1. JLyons Avatar

    I cant wait to see the finished dirndle!

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