Textile Art

The Turkish Ship Embroidery

The Turkish Ship–inspired by the Turkish Ships on Turkish Plates that I saw last year in Turkey!

Here, at last: behold a completed piece of textile art!

This is a Turkish Ship.

Well, that’s random, you may say. Why a Turkish Ship?

I’ll ‘splain.

Last May, my boyfriend and I went to Turkey to visit his parents, who are currently living in Ankara. We spent a few days there, then took a road trip to Göreme (basically the moon), and then flew to Istanbul to see the sights. And let me tell you, there are sights to be seen!

For all of you unfamiliar with history, the first city on that site was Byzantium, founded by Greek colonists  in 657 BC. In 330 AD, the Roman Emperor Constantine made it his new capital, and gave Byzantium a facelift and a new name–Contantinople (because who is cooler than Constantine?). Constantinople remained the capital of the Byzantine Empire until 1453, when it was captured by the Ottoman Turks who made it their capital. In 1930, to distance themselves from the Ottomans, the Turkish government officially renamed it Istanbul (“to the City”).

It is a huge city. I couldn’t tell you (without asking Wikipedia) whether Istanbul or London is bigger, but Istanbul certainly seems bigger. It is built over the Bosphorus Strait, between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara, so you can stand on the eastern bank in Kadıköy and look across the Strait at the shining domes of numerous mosques and endless houses built up the hills. There are public boats ferrying people across the water from residential areas on the eastern side to the endless bazaars, mosques, and historical sites on the western. I could go on and on and on about how great Istanbul is. If you have a chance, go there! No, actually: Go there at all costs!

Istanbul Strait of Bosphorus
View from a ferry in Istanbul

Back to the embroidery. Well, in the endless bazaars of Istanbul there are many beautiful painted ceramic plates. Most of them portray stylized flowers, but my absolute favorites had ships on them. To me, they look like the Dawn Treader (except they’re not green and there’s no dragon prow), or some other such fantastic ship. I didn’t buy a ship plate (sad, sad me) but I did buy a tiny fridge magnet with the same design on it. So I created my own Turkish Ship Plate using a needle and thread!

embroidery of a Turkish Ship
The entire embroidery. Yes, it’s not made into anything yet, but at least it’s finished!

I used many layers of cloth for this. The very center disk is a white polyester-something fabric I bought years ago and have a ton of. I appliqued the black parts of the ship on (from an old scarf), and stuffed them with poly fluff through slits in the back of the fabric. Then I appliqued the red velvet and the dupioni silk sails onto the ship, and the cotton batik waves, finally embroidering and beading the heck out of it. When that was done, I prepared a second piece of white polyester-something fabric and stabilized it by quilting it together with a piece of denim from an old skirt. I appliqued the ship/wave disk onto the second piece of fabric, emboidered around it (which took a loooong time. Frodo and Sam got all the way through Mordor during this process), and lastly added an appliqued border of pieced red velvet, which I then beaded and embroidered. Then I did a celebratory happy dance, and put the finished piece into my closet for a year.

Here are a few more pictures:

See the nice satin stitch embroidery!

The embroidery is satin stitch, lazy daisies, double woven chainstitch, long-and-short, and backstitch (on the velvet).

back of embroidery stabilized with denim
It’s not very glamorous but at least it’s stable.

You can see how much of the stitching was not done through the denim. That stuff is tough on needles. The tiny stitches show where the appliques are.

embroidery of a Turkish Ship
Stormy seas!

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