Friday, July 12, 2013

Getting By With A Little Help

by Beverly Singer of CROSS STITCH BEFORE DYING by Amanda Lee (to be released August 6, 2013)

All right, how many of you are now humming that Beatles' song? If you are, I hope you won't be angry with me over it. I know I hate getting songs stuck in my head, but I'm going off on a tangent and need to get back on track.

You see, I'm a costume designer; and I've just signed on to do a lavish production about a famous Bollywood star. I've enlisted the help of my daughter, Marcella Singer. You probably know her as Marcy. Marcella owns the Seven-Year Stitch, an embroidery shop on the Oregon coast. I live in San Francisco, and I've missed Marcella terribly in the year that she left. While it's true that I'm off on location much of the time, I always knew she would be there when I got home. And now she isn't. That's tough for a mom. I know, I know...we give our children wings to fly and kick them from the nest, and yadda, yadda, yadda. But all that is much easier said than done.

Anyway, I'm working with director/producer Henry Beaumont--I adore that man; I've known him and his wife for years--on this movie about the life of Bollywood starlet Sonam Zakaria. There will be a ton of embroidery work needed on the costumes as we tell Sonam's rags-to-riches tale, and I need Marcella's expertise. Not only that, her friend Reggie Singh does some of the most beautiful chikankari work I've ever seen. I'm hoping Reggie can teach Marcella, some of her friends, and my seamstresses how to do enough of the Indian embroidery technique for us to get by.

Primarily, chikankari utilizes white embroidery floss on muslin. The word chikan comes from the Persian word Chakeen, which means to render delicate patterns on fabric. Chikankari is a delicate, sometimes tedious process. It includes such stitches as Bakhiya, a double back or shadow stitch done on the wrong side of the fabric to produce a herringbone style; Zanzeera, a small chain stitch, and Banarsi, which is a twisted stitch worked with six threads. The Barnarsi stitch has no European equivalent.

Is it expecting too much to ask Marcella and her friends to sign on to help with this movie? Probably. But I'm shameless. I miss my daughter, and this will give me a wonderful excuse to spend time with her. So tell me--what do you do with your children?


  1. Counted cross stitch has always defeated me but I LOVE the stamped embroidery. I've also done some of the crewel embroidery which is done with heavier yarns and threads. You used to be able to buy kits which when finished were wall hangings or decorator pillows. Looking forward to reading this series which includes embroidery.

  2. Thank you, Dianne! I love the stamped and the old-fashioned iron-on patterns (when I can get them done correctly!) because it's so much easier than the counted cross stitch. I think I must get distracted too easily! :)

  3. All needwork escapes me, but I love the crafsmenship and the beautiful disigns.

  4. Lol I prefer reading needlework cozies over doing some myself. I can sew on a button if necessary, but that is about it.