Looking for a proverb for embroidery project

embroidering an 18th century pocketApparently I’m not only addicted to little embroidery projects, but I’m definitely addicted to accessories.  I’ve barely started working on one project (a hussif or housewife), and I’m already planning another project (I admit — I’m planning a few).

Here is where I think I’ll do something a little different, and I hope it will be fun!  I need your help for this project.

I’m working on some accessories related to sewing and embroidery.  Something I can pick up and use at home to make things easier, as well as toss into a basket and take to a costuming event.  I’ve got a lot of embroidery floss, knotted thread, and various things that are too big for a hussif.  I’ve already made a knotting bag for when I’m using my knotting shuttle, but I figure it wouldn’t hurt to have a few drawstring bags for storage.

I’ve decided to embroider and sew a work bag to hold cards of embroidery floss and knotted threads, as well as any other sewing threads, ribbons, bias tape, or whatever else I may be needing at the time.  Nothing huge, but just big enough to be handy.

I don’t think I’ll make a highly detailed embroidery design, and I’m not even sure what it will be yet.  It occurred to me, however, that a little proverb or something written in embroidery would be neat. Since items sometimes had little sayings embroidered on them, I thought it would be a nice little touch (not to mention practice).  I haven’t done that yet!

That’s where you come in!

I found a short list with some 18th century proverbs, but nothing really stood out.  Since this is a work bag, and I’m currently obsessing over putting more work into the details than I should be (embroidering something instead of just sewing it and moving on), I thought something focusing on that aspect would be neat and fitting.

  • It doesn’t have to be from the 18th century — if it is modern, but could pass as timeless, I’d be interested in considering it.
  • It can even be in French — I love that idea, even if I don’t know French (yet — it’s something my husband and I have always wanted to learn together).
  • I’m not religious, but feel free to share it with me if you have a favorite — it might help me think of something similar.
  • I’m hoping it’s not too long — I’m still not sure what design I will use, or how I’ll put the text on the project, but keeping it a little short might be wise for my first time trying this.
  • And finally, I would definitely love to keep it in a theme about how I keep decorating my sewing projects with embroidery.  Even if it doesn’t seem to be about embroidery, but hints at it (like bowerbirds decorating a nest, or something similar in nature).

It can be so hard to think of something if you don’t already see something that inspires you (especially if you have a ton of projects in mind already). I thought it would be fun to see what others think up and help inspire. It would add something special to my bag and be a reminder of the friends I’ve met online and in person.

Thanks in advance!


About Cynthia Griffith

I have way too many interests and hobbies, and continually cycle through them -- paying attention to some, while others wait for when I can get around to them again. My main interests are sewing and costuming (I enjoy historical clothing, such as 18th and 19th century, as well as fantasy costumes like elves and hopefully someday even dwarves), as well as getting back to art by drawing fan art of Thorin Oakenshield and Company. My husband Christopher and I spend a lot of time together, enjoying the outdoors and shared hobbies such as juggling. This blog and website is my way to share what I'm up to with friends and family.
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15 Responses to Looking for a proverb for embroidery project

  1. Okay, I admit… I’ve had some vague ideas about some embroidery designs. If it helps any of you…

    On one side of the bag, a birdie flying with bits of my embroidery strands… couched thread, knotted thread, ribbon, you-get-the-idea (and gives me a chance to practice embroidering a few types of things I haven’t had a chance to do yet).

    On the other side, a birdy sitting in a nest and the other perched on the side — the nest is made up of my knotted threads, ribbon, etc. I think it would be a cute way to practice a few more embroidery types as well as use up some scraps of knotted thread.

    Does that help give anyone ideas of some text to embroider on the bag?

  2. Jaci says:

    What fun, Cynthia… you certainly are keeping yourself busy!

    With a little teak, this one touched the part of me that becomes peaceful while doing something creative.

    “Sewing mends the soul. ~Author Unknown”
    from http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474976892744

    or this (probably a bit too long)
    All my scattering moments are taken up with my needle. ~Ellen Birdseye Wheaton, 1851

  3. Thanks for getting things started, Jaci! Love them — those are definitely along the lines of what I’m looking for. Thanks so much!

    Btw, did you use a different email address this time? Your reply was in the moderation queue — I was just curious if my anti-spam plugin is messing up or not. Someone else I thought had replied to me on here before had theirs go in the moderation queue as well. It can be hard to remember who all has replied to me where, using what. Just thought I’d check and make sure. I know some folks will change their email, so as long as they can get in after that without me having to moderate, I’m fine (although it does surprise me at first to see them in the queue until I realize the difference).

    Thanks again!

  4. Mary says:

    Jaci stole one of mine 🙂 The one about scattering moments……

    A couple others I found here http://www.white-works.com/famous_quotations_in_needlework.htm

    “The only place where housework comes before needlework is in the dictionary”

    I cannot count my day complete  ’til needle, thread and fabric meet.

    This one is too long but I really like it:

    “It is a token of healthy and gentle characteristics when women of high thoughts and accomplishments love to sew; especially as they are never more at home with their own hearts than while so occupied.”

  5. Thanks so much, Mary! These are all great… I’m enjoying this! 😀

  6. Mary says:

    I’m looking forward to seeing what others may find, and on what you finally decide on. 😀

  7. Arlen says:

    How about some Gaidhlig!

    Chan ann leis a’chiad bhuille thuiteas a’chraobh. – It is not with the first stroke that the tree falls.


    Bidh an t-ubhal as fheàrr air a’mheangan as àirde. – The best apple is on the highest bough.

  8. Ooooooh! I hadn’t thought of that (how silly of me) — I really like that idea since it’s fitting for my character, and those are very nice! Thanks so much, Arlen! I’d have to ask you how to pronounce them if I used them… I really need to get over that hurdle of trying to memorize Gaidhlig pronunciation. *laughs*

  9. I have this feeling I’m going to be saving all of these to use at some point *laughs* 😉

  10. Amy says:

    A few Frenchies for you:

    Il n’y a pas d’anguilles sans fémur
    – Idiomatic translation: Where the birds are, the trees grow.

    Il n’y a pas de sot métier.
    – Literal meaning: There is no inane craft.
    – Idiomatic translation: Every trade has its value.

    This one isn’t sewing-related or nature related, but it’s timeless:
    L’espoir fait vivre.
    – Idiomatic translation: Where there’s life, there’s hope.
    – Literal meaning: Hope keeps alive.

    What about the motto from your clan, or whatever clan you’re portraying? Like mine, McKinnon, is “Aduentes Fortuna Juvat” -> Fortune Favors The Bold. I know it’s not feminine or anything, but I thought I’d throw it out there just in case the idea inspires. 🙂


  11. Heileen says:

    Just wanted to answer to Amy’s comment about her french propositions : I know they are from wikipedia, but I can tell you the first one doesn’t exist and actualy just doesn’t mean anything at all (I am a native french). I think they mistake it with “Il y a anguille sous roche” which basically means “there is something hidden under auspicious looks”.
    Just don’t use it in your embroidery, It would be very weird !

    Appart from this one, I think the wikipedia page is realy interesting if you’re searching french proverbs : http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/French_proverbs

    This one is perfectly accorded to your embroidery : “Petit à petit l’oiseau fait son nid”. Little by little the bird builds its nest.

    I don’t know enough about english proverbs, but french proverbs often have an inside rhyme : here “petit” rhymes with “nid”. (Both are prononced like english “i”, like in “ship”. The t and d are mute)

  12. Diane says:

    A few more in French:

    Un hirondelle ne fait pas le prientemps (one swallow doesn’t make a spring)
    Mains froids, coeur chaud (cold hands, warm heart)
    Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose (the more things change the more things stay the same)

  13. Thanks so much, everyone!

    Heileen, thank you so much for replying. If I use one in French, I will definitely check with a native speaker to make sure the phrase is correct. I like yours about the bird building the nest. I’ll have to see if there is another one related to that (what a huge list to look through on that page!), and decide which phrase will go with which side of the bag since there are two designs. I’m really leaning toward the bird nest one because it does feel right with the embroidery design, and it’s very fitting for me.

    Thanks to everyone for all of their wonderful replies — I’m sure I’ll keep this as a little collection to pull from for future projects. This was a blast to see what everyone came up with 😀

  14. Amy says:

    Totally off subject (well sort of — it’s embroidery related), but a friend sent me this link to the Williamsburg VA clothing museum (online). Lots of beautiful stuff, with embroidery, to be sure. Enjoy!


  15. Thanks for that link, Amy! I thought I had something like that bookmarked already, but I didn’t recognize it and I think some of my bookmarks are a little unorganized at the moment. Are you also familiar with http://larsdatter.com/18c/index.html It’s been a nice inspiration for me as well.

    Best wishes!

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