Re: Regency Needlework
Posted by Tilde Binger on September 19, 1997 at 07:13:18:
In response to Re: Regency Needlework, written by Caroline on August 30, 1997 at 23:18:16
I do not know an awful lot about British needle-work in the Regency, but when it comes to needle-work in the late 18th and early 19th c. Denmark, the remainders are fairly good.
Needles were made of iron, and were - all things considered - very fine (there are iron-needles and pins registered in Denmark as early as the 16th c.). Silk was only used for the very finest pieces, the usual being wollen embroidery, and this is amply registered among the wealthier peasants and burghers as well. A favourite in the early 19th c. was also what I believe is called "tatting", which is a kind of crocheting on tulle-like material done on a frame, as was applique and pearl-(glass-beads)-embroidery. The particular type of embroidery used depends very much on the country and county, since styles were rather local, even among the higher classes.
Whitework on linen was mostly used for bed-linen and undergarments.
Quite a lot of the finer embroidery and craft-work was not, however, necessarily done by the mistress and daughters of the house. It was - when one was sufficiently rich - quite common to employ a woman to do most of the embroidery on clothes etc. whereas the women of the house were only expected to do the pretty but not necessarily very useful pieces that were displayed in the house.
That all the techniques in vogue was done in schools (for the "general" public) does not mean it was cheap, since most of the produce of the girls was sold, rather than kept by them, thus most of these "schools" in Denmark at least, were not so much schools as factories, turning out knittet stockings and wollen mittens for sale under the guise of teaching the girls something useful. What was kept by the pupils was usually only the pattern-pieces, both knitted and embroidered, from which they would draw for the rest of their lives. The curriculum of sewing and knitting for girls as young as 6-7 yrs. old in those schools was punishing.
Hope this helps.
A good place to start research on topics like this is the costume ware-houses of an old theatre, since very few theatres get rid of their old costumes. They re-adapt them or just have them hanging for ages. Thus the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen (Denmark) has costumes and set-pieces from as far back as the mid-18th century.
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