The Dorest Feather Stitch Exhibition at the Dorset County Museum showed the work developed by one woman - Olivia Pass, self-taught embroiderer and founder member of Charmouth WI, whose aim was "to bring a simple skill to country folk".
This picture shows the inspiration for the technique, combining smock patterns with Balkan designs Olivia Pass had seen whilst travelling with her husband. The work exhibited is exquisite and shows what an inspired woman was behind it - the stitches are simple, stylish and very effective and clearly reached a responsive audience at a time when women were ready to discover new opportunities and put some colour back into their life, leaving the drab war years behind them. Much of the work was done by WI members and it was with the support of the WI that Olivia produced a book of designs and Feather Stitchery transfers.
According to the information in the exhibition, boxes of the work were sent to Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa and it would be interesting to find out how the technique developed in those countries - I feel an internet search coming on and wonder if, perhaps, this exhibition might be the inspiration for a revival?
I became interested in the technique as a result of my work with the WI Needlework Archive and think this era of the development of embroidery in England is sadly neglected. What treasures we have overlooked and how important it is to record and conserve these wonderful pieces of work, many of which might still be in use or squirrelled away in our cupboards?