Women's chemise and blouse decoration patterns

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Cămaşă cu tablă,
Budacu Transylvania

Cămaşă cu şire peste cot,
Salciua, Apuseni

Cămaşă încreţită decoration map

Cămaşă încreţită cu altita (typical of south Romania)

variant 1

variant 2

variant 3

Cămaşă cu şire
peste cot

Cămaşă cu tablă

Cămaşă cu umeraş
şi şire

cămaşă, Maramures

Cămaşă cu umeraş
şi şire,
Sibiu Transylvania

Cămaşă încreţită cu altita,
Mehedentii, Oltenia

Cămaşă încreţită cu altita,

Cămaşă cu tablă, Făgăraş Transylvania

Cămaşă cu tablă,

Cămaşă cu platcă
Certeze, Tara Oaşului


The patterns of embroidery on blouses and underskirts vary from region to region. Embroidery is used to emphasise the lines of the cut. A straight blouse (cămaşă dreaptă) usually has embroidery around neck, on the shoulder seam and along lengthways seams of sleeves, and on poale hems. These blouses also are sometimes made from fabric with woven motifs (especially if made of thin woollen material or silk). Gathered blouses (cămaşă încreţită) usually have embroidery around the neck, front, and sleeves, with little or no embroidery on the back. The hem of the poală was usually decorated with a narrow band of embroidery. In areas where catrinţe were worn (parts of Oltenia, and southern parts of Muntenia – Teleorman, Vlaşca, Ilfov,) where the poală was more visible, vertical rows of embroidery continued up the seams, and in Pădureni, Hunedoara the seams of the gussets were marked with rows of embroidered motifs.


Threads used for embroidery were made at home originally from local materials, wool, hemp, linen, or silk. Industrial threads were introduced from the end of 19th century. The colour schemes varied from region to region. The main colours used were red, black, sometimes dark blue, white, black, brown, beige, yellow. Older blouses were decorated in geometric designs. Floral designs were introduced later, also more elaborate blouses were decorated with gold and silver metal thread, spangles, beads. The range of colours used broadened once factory made threads were available. On a single women’s blouse there can be 8-10 different types of embroidery stitches.

Decoration on variants of cămaşă dreaptă

Decoration on variants of cămaşă dreaptă with platcă and umeraşi in West Romanian (Ţara Oaşului, Sălaj, Bihor, and Maramureş) have decorative patterns grouped into compactly stitched areas on the edge of the shoulders. Seams are joined using 2 rows of decorative motifs (cheiţa de dantelă) sewn in white thread. White thread is used in many râuri, along the cheiţa in middle of the sleeves from the shoulder to the wrist. Sometimes these vertical râuri evolve into a tablă on the sleeves, as in Arad. In Maramureş cheiţe are used together with white smocking (creţuri de Maramureş) around the neck, and top of sleeves. This is decorated with small embroidery stitches in white and yellow thread. The cuffs are gathered tightly and decorated with a narrow row of coloured geometric embroidery,  and then open into a frill edged with white drawn thread embroidery  called ciur împiedicat

Decoration on Cămaşă încreţită

There were 4 main typical types of decoration on cămaşă încreţită which can be differentiated by the arrangement of the motifs. The first type was found on gathered blouses in Oltenia, Muntenia, Dobrogea and Moldavia, the other 3 types of blouse decoration were found in Transylvania.

Cămaşă cu altiţă - typical in Oltenia, Muntenia, Dobrogea and Moldavia

Decoration on the sleeves of this style of blouse is divided into 3 parts, the altiţă, Încreţ and râuri)

A rectangular strip is embroidered across the top of the shoulder (altiţă). Originally this decoration was a single row of embroidery on the base of the altiţa as can be seen on old blouses from Oltenia and Muntenia, Haţeg, Târnavelor, Mid Carpathian, and blouses of Moţii Apuseni and in certain zones of north west Transylvania, This decoration developed into rows on 3 sides of the rectangle, leaving the middle white, without ornament. This form was still found in Câmpia Dunarii. Most often embroidery on altiţă was in horizontal rows embroidered with silk or dyed cotton thread, older blouses had between 3 and 9 rows with the row on top separate from the body of the altiţă. The motifs on the altiţă were traditionally not repeated anywhere else on the blouse. Since the end of the 19th century the structure of the blouse has changed so the altiţă is not separate, so the sleeve is often cut from a single piece of cloth and the altiţă became purely an element of decoration.

The încreţ  (literally, “puckering”) is a band of 1-2 inches wide which separates the altiţă from râuri. Its main function was originally to join 2 pieces of fabric of unequal width and it was initially gathered. It is decorated with one horizontal stripe of monochrome embroidery in white, greyish or yellow silk using an embossing stitch also called încreţ. The design of the încreţ  runs at right angles to the sleeve embroidery which gives a contrast to the altiţă and râuri.  

The râuri contains between 1 and 5 vertical (or occasionally diagonal) rows of embroidered motifs. These cover from below the încreţ to the sleeve hem. Occasionally individual motifs were spread all over the sleeve in a decoration called flori sărite (sprung flowers) The râuri can also merge into a tablă when all the sleeve below the încreţ is covered in a rectangle of closely grouped embroidery motifs.

The front of gathered blouses (cămăşă încreţite) are decorated with several vertical rows (râuri) of embroidery reaching to the neck of blouse. The width of these râuri varies, the most narrow are found on blouses from north Moldavia, wider râuri are found on blouses from Muscel, Argeş, Vâlcea, and Mehedinţi. The neck & collar edges are decorated with a row of small delicate motifs. The back of the blouse could either be plain or alternately had a smaller number of motifs either in râuri or scattered, the latter being found especially in Oltenia. 

Types typical of Transylvania

Blouse with block - Cămaşă cu tablă

In the zones of Hunedoara, Arad, Caraş-Severin, Timiş, and part of Bihor the sleeves of the cămaşă were decorated with a large rectangle of compact embroidery covering from shoulder to wrist. The colour of the threads depended on the zone; red predominated in Pădureni, Hunedoara, black in Făget ( Timiş), and white in Bihor.

Blouse with shoulder and rows - Cămaşă cu umeraş şi şire

In Sibiu, southern parts of Alba, Târnave valley, south and east Hunedoara, and north Braşov a narrow horizontal line of motifs is embroidered in black on the shoulder (umeraş) with 3 to 5 vertical rows of tiny motifs down the sleeves (şire). The sleeves are gathered with a frill at the wrist, which is often edged in black crochet lace. This type of blouse is also found across the Carpathians in certain villages of north Oltenia, where this costume type was called "ungureasca" (Hungarian). This was a modified survival of an older blouse with altlţă and râuri found in southern Transylvania.

Blouse with row above elbow - Cămaşă cu şire peste cot or cu piu peste cot

This type of cămaşă was found in a large part of Transylvania, in the zones of Sălaj, Cluj, Bistriţa–Năsăud, Hunedoara, Alba, Mureş, Lapuş, Făgăraş and Târnave (in the last 2 it appeared concurrently with the type above). This type of Cămaşă has 2 distinct characteristics. The sleeves are gathered in just below the elbow and then opened out into a flounce "fodor" decorated with hand woven lace at the wrist. These sleeves were decorated with a horizontal linear band of embroidered motifs at elbow level. The rest of sleeve is undecorated except for a single row of embroidery at the wrist end of the sleeve. In some areas the neck of this type of blouse is tightly gathered (smocked) into an embroidered "cuipag". In Apuseni Mts. and central Transylvania this cuipag extended over a large part of the front of the blouse. It is embroidered in one colour – red for young women, black for older women, and consisted of small geometric patterns, occasionally grouped around a large central one. The blouse with ciupag is coexistent with the distribution of zadii vânătă (blue aprons) in a large area of central Transylvania from Valea Arieşului in Apuseni mountains to Valea Gherghului, in upper Mureş and along the Someş valley in Năsăud zone and in Lăpuş.

A recent decorative variation is mâneca cu râuri de la umar sau râuri lungi. These blouses have 1 to 3 straight parallel vertical lines (râuri) of embroidery down the sleeves from shoulders to wrists. This style is found in Vrancea, Oltenia and in certain zones of Transylvania and more seldom in the rest of Moldavia and Muntenia.


© Eliznik2005, First issue 2002, Last updated Aug-05