Embroidery ‘Work in Progress’ – my hand embroidered ‘shlama’ bag


‘Shlama’ hand embroidered bag, in progress (front panel, 5 x 8 inches)

I have been working on this bag on and off throughout the summer – I’m just about to have another spurt of activity on it, so I thought I’d post a couple of images here, before I do that.

The fabric is a golden yellow shot silk, which I’ve backed with cotton batiste, to strengthen it, as areas of the stitching will be quite dense. I’m using Anchor stranded cotton for the stitching (two strands most of the time, and just one for the finer details), with Kreinik braid for the gold outlining. When the embroidery is completed, I’m planning to add tiny beads and sequins, and possibly a beaded fringe, in colours that echo the stitching.

‘Shlama’ embroidered bag detail, showing gold braid couching

The motif was inspired by an Indo-Persian panel on a building, which I have ‘coloured in’  in deep jewel shades. The word embroidered in red along the base of the front panel reads ‘shlama’, which is Aramaic (the language Jesus spoke) for ‘deep abiding peace’. The word is read from right to left. The ‘dots’ indicate vowels. When it’s finished, the bag will have a drawstring about an inch down from the top.

This Aramaic word is ‘shlama’ – it means ‘deep abiding peace’

I haven’t yet decided what to embroider on the reverse of the bag – I may leave it plain, or I may stitch just the barest outlines of the main design again, simply outlined in split back stitch.

I want to use the finished embroidered bag to keep my MP3 player in. This might seem quite a large bag (5 x 8 inches) to keep an MP3 player in, but that’s because I want to be able to keep notes in it as well. I tend to use my MP3 player to listen to guided meditations and body prayers, so I need an index of what I have stored on the MP3 player, so that I can choose a relevant one – brief titles aren’t enough. So, I intend to make an inner pocket for the bag, so that the notes can be kept separate from the player itself. I haven’t yet worked out quite how to assemble the bag to incorporate that, but I’m sure it’ll work, somehow 🙂 !


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5 thoughts on “Embroidery ‘Work in Progress’ – my hand embroidered ‘shlama’ bag”

  1. This is stunning! Also, it must be the first time I’ve ever seen Western Syriac in a piece of contemporary needlework. I studied Syriac in graduate school, especially the Peshitta and Ephrem Syrus. Although Jesus probably did speak Aramaic, he wouldn’t have used this alphabet. This orthography dates to the third century CE. I’m not familiar with Douglas-Klotz’s book because it appeared after I left academia.

    1. Aren’t you lucky to have studied Syriac? I realise Jesus wouldn’t necessarily have spoken the exact dialect as I’ve written it, but I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have said things like ‘verily, verily, I say unto you’!

      1. I was referring to the alphabet, specifically, the western Syriac alphabet that you used for your embroidery. Jesus would have used the Hebrew alphabet.

        The Aramaic would have been spoken the same way, regardless of the alphabet (western Aramaic in this period was pretty much a fairly uniform dialect), but Jesus would not have recognized these characters. As for the Jacobean English, yes, you’re right about that!

    1. Thanks! I’ve been doing more on it, over the Christmas break….but I’ve had to order some beads for a fringe for it, now, so that’s slowing me down. I’ll post some more images soon.

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