Thursday, 6 April 2017

18th Century Whitework Border c.1760-80


I very nearly jumped for joy when I saw this border of embroidered muslin in a bundle of mixed lace:-


18th Century Whitework 


My first piece of 18th century embroidered muslin/whitework.


c.1760-80 Embroidered Muslin


It is not a long piece, just 33" by 3 3/8" wide.


Details of Muslin Embroidery c.1760-80


As would be expected, the work is exquisite. Along the top is a microscopic rolled hem, with the tiniest of stitches. The fabric is an extremely fine muslin. The motif isn't as elaborate or as fancy as many others from this era, but I love the shape of the heart!

The 2 go-to books for me when looking as this piece were:-




Thank goodness for these two or I would be lost.

So here we have the tiny chain stitches (rather than tambour work, although I'm not 100% certain) which make up the bulk of the work above the the ladder-stitch. Using such sheer fabric made me see an applied braid at first, but of course this isn't so. Within the heart shape is drawn-thread work, very geometric with a square, grid like structure. Below the main muslin fabric is a ladder stitch, with chain stitch above and below it. The hem is constructed of fine button-hole stitches along a scalloped edge. And then the drawn-thread work just above the scallops is extremely fine; very dense and minute stitchery. The chain stitch is used once as a filling, in the leaves below the heart.

So my next question was "what was its use?". The piece has evident signs of use, with small holes and antique darns. It may have been cut away from something, then hemmed across the top and been put away for use at a later time? There are no pin or needle marks across the top. Ideas could be that it was taken from or was an edging for a fichu or apron? I can't see it having much impact as part of a gown. It doesn't look like part of a sleeve ruffle to me, but straight and narrow ones were worn around the 1770s, so it is plausible. All these thoughts and questions remind me (as if I needed reminding) of yet another aspect of why historical dress is so interesting. What is it? When was it made? When was it worn? Questions to answer and mysteries to be solved, and more learnt.

Naomi x