Research point

When was the piece made and how long has it been in your possession?
The piece is a "chemin de table" and it has been in my possession for almost one year, I brought with me after my last holidays, it came from my mother's house.

Who made it and where was it made?
This piece was weaved by my great-grandmother and embroidered by my mother. It was made in Alentejo, a region in the south of Portugal.

What is it made of?
It is made of linen and embroidered with cotton.

Can you identify the techniques that have been used?
It was embroidered by hand using satin stitch, cross stitch and a stitch that I cannot identify that looks like a kind of couching mixed with Herringbone stitch that I cannot really identify. The weaving is normal and straight, made with an old wooden weaver. I know the fabric is handmade, the stitches in the embroidery are handmade stitches.

Was is made by hand or machine? How are you able to determine this?
The weaving is normal and straight, made with an old wooden weaver. I know the fabric is handmade with a weaver, it is not an industrial fabric. The stitches in the embroidery are handmade stitches, I can determine this because even being perfectly stitched the stitches are only similar to each other instead of being equal to each other.

What is its purpose? Do you still use it? If not, how was it used and by whom?
The purpose of this piece is to be over a table to decorate it. I use it when the table is not being is for meals, otherwise I am afraid it will get stained. My mother used it the same way over the years.

What does it tell you about the maker or the user in terms of gender, role in society, wealth or environment?
It was made by a woman belonging to a family of weavers, it was the family business and fabric was made by both men and women. My great-grandmother was not wealthy but she could afford to send her sons to university, what means that the family had a fair income. As for environment, it was not industrial but flax is known for rapidly destroying the soil, the soil after a flax plantation needs approximately a 9 year pause to recover. I wonder if this was respected at the time.

What do you particularly like about the piece?
I like the fabric, linen is my favourite fabric, it is natural, it is local in both "my countries" and still produced in both too. Linen can soft and delicate or rough and rustic. It is fresh and it has a smooth touch and texture. The best sheets and linen are linen. And I am proud of having a piece weaved by my great-grandmother embroidered by my mother.