I think that defining this embroidery technique as a traditional, regional craft is stretching the definition somewhat, as it was invented at the beginning of the twentieth century by members of the Dorset Women’s Institute. But at the end of the day, it involves many traditional stitches and it can be traced back to a particular region so why not! Some would give credit solely to a lady called Olivia Pass, one of the members of the WI, who wrote a book all about the stitch. However in the foreword of the book Mrs Pass refers to ‘we’ and says;
“This happy easy work is a revival, by Dorset Women’s Institutes, of some old stitches in modern form.”
so it seems to me, it was more of a group effort than the invention of just one member.
Dorset Feather Stitchery is really a reinvention of various well known, basic embroidery stitches – Feather, Buttonhole, Chain and Fly stitch, working them together to form a distinctive design. Why I think that it clasifies to be here amoungst much older traditional crafts is because it is an evolution of older techniques. To quote Mrs Pass again
“In evolving this work, Dorset has drawn on traditions from many sources, notably a book of designs taken off nineteenth century smocks…… (and) a beautiful Balkan apron.”
Do you know, I feel a tutorial coming on!