Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Women's Roles in Sapa, Vietnam

Visiting another country on holiday and seeing the many roles of the women of the Sapa region, Vietnam inspired my quilt design. Here the women are multi-skilled in farming, domestic duties and the production of their traditional clothing which their adorn with embroidery, patchwork or indigo batik. The women grow, process and weave hemp into lengths for clothing. They use natural indigo to dye the hemp cloth.
The Museum in Sapa had many story boards of the village production processes. It was fascinating reading.
Old textiles are recycled into bags, wall hangings, jackets etc  sold at the market by the women who often have started their day in the fields before walking long distances to sell items.
These are some of the recycled embroidered pieces made into neck pieces, based on those worn by women of the Black Hmong ethnic groups.
Back baskets carry everything needed for daily life and this was a common morning procession. We spent 9 days in the area and I bought a few small embroidered items, cut from clothing to use in my work so when the challenge was announced I was still in Sapa and thought about my designs for a quilt. I also had a piece of  batik fabric I had made a few years ago. This fabric piece had the family roles of women written on it- wife, mother, sister, aunt, daughter, grandmother and was a perfect inclusion. The women of Sapa work very hard in all their roles.
Women's Roles in Sapa, Vietnam
18"W x 40.5"L [46cm w x 102.5cm]
Women in Sapa, Vietnam work very hard in their family roles and those of farm worker and textile producer and seller. The batik text in the central section lists familial roles while the three short woven hemp, indigo dyed with embroidery strips, showcase their needle skills. I have reversed the strip under the batik to show the hidden side of the piece, just as we don't see all the women do in a day's work. The necklaces are stitched and hand painted over the batik section.
Materials: cotton, hemp, embroidery thread, wax, dye, paint, batting, thread.
Techniques: batik text hand drawn, hand painted, hand couched, hand woven fabric, machine pieced, machine quilted.



  1. I love how you piece doesn't just represent women's work, it feels like it, too. Lovely use of indigo and repurposed embroidery. I've totally enjoyed following your travel.

  2. What a beautiful work! I love your use of indigo and batik. I am fascinated by the techniques you used. I like the work.

  3. Thanks Martha, this was a joy to make!