Friday, March 20, 2009

18th Century Embroidery Techniques

Embroidery in the 18th century was a professional occupation, dominated by men who belonged to a Guild. Creating the intricate and elaborate decorative effects on courtier's clothing required considerable expertise, patience and time.

In one of my earlier posts about Marie Antoinette's letters to her mother, she refers to a waistcoat she was embroidering for the king. While it is not known if she ever finished that waistcoat, I thought it might be fun to see a photo of an embroidered waistcoat from that period.

Man's Waistcoat, 1750-1770
Gawthorpe Hall, Lancashire, UK

This elaborate waistcoat in cream satin illustrates the metal-thread technique known as rapport embroidery. This specialized technique required a high level of skill and I'd hazard a guess to say that it is highly unlikely that Marie Antoinette could execute it.