Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Turkish Delights

We had a long weekend here in Canada, so I took the time to organize my stash and catch up on a few things that I'll blog about later. But first the stash that came back with me. I know before I left I said the trip won't be about stash enhancement, but let's just say the prices were just too good to pass up.

I was able to visit two shops: Hilalteks and Bursa Ipek. Hilalteks is located near the spice bazaar (on the European side) where there are a lot of shops selling linens, fake flowers and ribbons. From what I noticed this is the area where you go to shop when preparing for a wedding. Bursa Ipek is on the Asian side. If you take a ferry, you can easily walk to the store from there. I don't recommend taking a taxi, it's in an area that is pedestrian only. We took a taxi to get there from our hotel thinking it was far and our driver got lost. Just use Google maps.

If you only have time to visit one, got to Hilalteks. I had a really good experience the first time I visited, I ended up going back twice more. The downstairs sells ribbons, fake flowers and fabric. The good stuff is upstairs. There was a young lady there named Didem who spoke no English but she was a huge help and the main reason why I went back so many times. It's surprising how well you can communicate with someone even when you don't know the language. I showed her my Google translate trick, which she loved.

Note: Right before you get to Hilalteks, there is a shop called HIRAteks. That's not the right shop, keep going till you see the sign on the right.

Bursa Ipek needed a little more maneuvering for me to go visit and when I finally got there I didn't have a really good experience from the sales people. They made absolutely no effort at all when I tried to speak with them. I ended up leaving after 10 minutes.

Note: I'm looking at the map again, and I think I might have gone to the wrong Bursa Ipek. There is a second one called Goblen Bursa Ipek that has much more stock which was further up (see the map here). I think they might be connected in some way as they have the same website. Not sure if they would have been better than the one I visited.

I brought back quite a few magazines. Looking through them, the main embroidery techniques are (what we would call) Brazilian embroidery, stumpwork and metal thread embroidery. I bought many of them for the drawings. I got one issue on Tel Kirma as it was a technique I'm really interested in learning.

For the books, I got one cross stitch book with Ottoman motifs and an embroidery design book with Islamic quotes. The last two are more for inspiration. I love the designs on Turkish tiles and so wanted some books for reference.

Out of one of the books, we selected a design and I asked Didem to make a kit for me. The threads used is called Buket and it's a 100% rayon. This thread is similar to EdMar Co. Rayon Threads. It will be an experience stitching with it as it's very slippery. So far I've been avoiding anything rayon. Another thing I've been avoiding is Stumpwork. This piece has a few petals that will have to be stitched using Stumpwork techniques. It should be a good learning piece.

The second kit I put together, is from the Tel Kirma magazine. I'm really looking forward to learning this technique. I'd been seeing it on Instagram for months before my trip and I'm itching to try it out. There isn't any instructions in the magazine and I couldn't find any books on the technique. I did find a few resources online and the ladies on Instagram seem to be very helpful so I'm sure I can figure it out.

A little close up of the materials I'll be working with. It's some sort of metal plate. I had some 11s gilt plate on hand and it's very close to it in size. In English goldwork embroidery, metal plate is couched into place. However, in Tel Kirma you stitch with the metal plate as if it's a thread.

The needles used are different from what we're used to. The needle is completely flat and the eye of the needle is very round. They also had two types, one of which had two eyes. The two eyes help hold the plate in place, preventing it from shifting around. I was able to get three of the needle on the bottom but only two of the top one. I'll have to be very careful not to loose these.

The fabric in the magazine looks a little shiny, but the one that was recommended to me for this project is an evenweave linen fabric by Goblen. It's 35 count and the band on the side says Ugur ipek Goblen. I really liked the feel of it and ended up getting more in a light moss green color.

Hilalteks had metal threads! I was tempted to get one of each color, but ended up limiting myself to just these. I think I shocked the sales man working that day (Didem wasn't there) and he kept asking if I was buying all this. Honestly wish I got more.

In the silver, I found this very interesting metal thread that has a zig-zag in it. No idea how I'll use it but found it very interesting. I'm pretty sure I've seen it used in bead embroidery by Russian Instagramers.

I asked where these threads are from as they were really not expensive. Metal threads are usually either made in the UK (good quality and expensive) or India (less expensive, can't say about quality). I was told these are made in Turkey, which surprised me as I would never think of Turkey being a source for metal threads. Thinking back, pretty much everything I purchased is made in Turkey; linens, rayon threads, needles, magazines. It's nice to see a country that doesn't import it's embroidery supplies. This meant that the price was really good when you convert it to Canadian. I will say I didn't check the price of DMC and Anchor threads. Maybe I should have...

I saw some embroidery in musuems and shops in Istanbul, so I will share those in a post soon. I need to look through all my pictures to find them. I also brought back a small stitched piece that I found in a shop, that I will share pictures of as well.


  1. What lovely stuff you bought Dima! I've seen a piece of Tel Kirma style embroidery in Crete and was quite suprised when I saw that they had stitched with plate through the fabric. I also have a large stash of that crinkley metal thread. I bought them in the UK from Indian or Pakistani sales people when they shut their store down. It is generally good quality!

  2. Great read. Thanks. Enjoy your stitching and please post on Facebook

  3. Wonderful purchases! I look forward to seeing what you do with them!

  4. A fantastic stash! What fun you can have with all that!

  5. When I use a thread that keeps slipping out of the needle I've sometimes wondered if having two eyes in a needle might help keep it secure, so I was intrigued to see your new needles. Very interesting too to see the different embroidery supplies you found. Thanks for sharing.

  6. You've got some lovely projects to work on there - and when you use the materials you will be reminded of your trip, so there's an extra bonus right there!

  7. Your stash enhancement was very successful -lovely purchases, I can't wait for you to start working on them.
    It's very interesting that there are so many crafting supplies produces in Turkey. I've heard from a few people that they got crochet yarn from Turkey that's supposedly of pretty good quality, so I hope the same holds true for your new supplies!

    1. Yarn in Turkey is supposed to be very good. They even make their own silk. We found out there are mulberry tree farms in Bursa, where they have silk worms.

  8. Thanks for sharing your purchases! And it’s so interesting to hear just how big an impact sales people can have. A lesson for all retailers! You will have lots to work on here, and I look forward to seeing your creations.

  9. Thanks for sharing the details of your trip, the shop sounds wonderful and I am glad that you found a helpful assistant. Maybe she will get some commission! I wonder what the wages are like in Turkey if everything is so cheap?
    The two-eyed needles look very interesting. I shall look forward to seeing you stitch with those.

  10. Oh wow, you got some wonderful stash! How do you like those needles?

    1. I haven't had the chance to try them yet. I will let you know on the blog as soon as I do :)