Sewn Signs advocates for the recognition and preservation of the cultural heritage embodied in the traditional Romanian shirt. It highlights the intricate patterns and wisdom encoded in its design, showcasing it as a masterpiece of collective creativity.
Heritage is like a delicate flower. Neglect it and it will suffer, suffocate it with unwanted attention and it will also suffer. Take it from the garden and place it into the most precious vessel a Institution can offer and it will not live or die, but linger. Heritage is part of an intricate ecosystem and the smallest change will impact crafts in unpredictable ways. Gardeners know. For the best interest of Heritage, the fragile balance must be taken into account: the natural resources and human resources that provide materials, the politics and the trade agreements between countries, the industries that process everything, the skilled workforce, the artisans, the public needs and appreciation and of course, the education and awareness about all these. As technologies evolved during millenia, nobody can count exactly how many crafts appeared only to go extinct. Those which could adapt are alive today. And new crafts will be born and heritage will be created as long as people find reason and meaning in doing so. Like any living body, heritage can be treated only holistically. It’s physical body, spirit, mind and emotions are connected and mirror the world. While Institutions can prepare laws and regulations, they can not convince people to really care.
If you think a traditional Romanian Blouse is a simple peasant blouse, think again. It’s a complex interdisciplinary project. History, geography, geometry, physics, chemistry, anthropology, aesthetics, semiotics, logistics and project management all meet in 2 sqm of fabric. You think you’re about to learn a craft and discover a new Universe. It’s slow learning but each participant goes through a subtle process of metamorphosis. And in our community we are prepared to offer a mix of methods from which you can choose what’s best for your unique self. Individual study, based on numerous validated sources we offer: video tutorials, patterns, cutting patterns Hands on learning, experiment, try and fail until you succeed Observe our active learning community: the tips, the advice, appreciation and the critics. Ask the community Get personal guidance, step by step, by posting regularly the progress on your project Take the safe, beaten path and use an Embroidery SET dedicated to beginners There is a time to benefit and a time to contribute. After all, we are learning how to grow stronger as a community, while becoming better versions of ourselves.
We often embroider outdoors, to benefit from the natural light and vibe. Traditional textiles are connected with nature through their fibers, the dyes and the patterns. Traditional crafts keep the author connected with nature. We’ve learned the lessons of sustainable fashion from our grand-grandmothers, who could not rely so much on imported fabrics, obtained by cheap, exploited workforce. They had to work hard for each stage of their dress, starting from the seeds of linen and hemp to the last final touch and they were in contact with nature at all times. Plant the field, pray for rain, rely on sun and dew, use the power of wind and water, the power of tinctorial plants. And when they finally came to the rewarding and relaxing stage of embroidery, this was in the winter, when all nature is sleeping and dreaming. And they could choose to depict anything on their shirts: mighty dragons or proud lions, demons, stags or eagles. Their decision was humble but wise. They put insects on top of their priorities: ants, lady-bugs, butterflies, caterpillars, bugs, beetles and, of course, bees. The natural pollinators are crucial for our ecological system. We owe them so many colors, frequencies and flavors. While traditional clothes of other cultures celebrate deities or carry powerful talismans for charms, protection, fertility or good luck, our traditional shirts offer a lesson about the importance of biodiversity. Embroidering a Romanian blouse is a form of meditation and a beautiful craftivist manifesto.
One of the biggest mistakes is to imagine that the traditional Romanian blouses have been frozen and unchanged since immemorial times. It’s very romantic but in fact each generation of women knew how to bring their contribution and how to express the trends and changes in the society. We think that our blouses can never get out of fashion: simply because they get along with it. Our shirts were not worn only by genuine peasants but also by sophisticated elites, artists, queens and rebel city girls. They flourished during Art Nouveau after they sparkled during the late Baroque. They also reflected the scarcity during the wars and they became uniforms when the infamous regime decided to level us to nobodies. They became too available and too cheap as an effect of fast-fashion and now it’s our turn to define our style. Our Romanian Blouses are today a leading example of sustainable fashion: hand made, slow made, DIY from quality materials, ethically produced in Romania or EU. They will reflect our concerns and our post-consumerism renaissance and we’re prepared to teach and empower the future generations to have their say. Each time fashion will take a twist, our blouse will be there, reinvented yet the same.