V23: 18th Century Accessories – Embroidered Aprons
January 23, 2012
Lewis Walpole Library
Despite working on a 1912 Titanic gown currently, and having several other projects lined up before I need to start on the Colonial Williamsburg stuff, I just can’t stay away from the 18th century.
I’ve been thinking about accessories, primarily the pretty, sheer, white, embroidered type – caps, apron, and neckerchiefs. I want to make a variety of these to take to Williamsburg, to give a different look to my ensembles each day.
For all the ambitions I have to suddenly pull perfect hand-embroidered Dresden work out of my ____ , I know that my patience and skill for embroidery actually sucks. Really. So I’ve been shopping for sheer items that have already been masterfully embroidered that I might use to trim an apron, a cap, or a neckerchief.
Click “Read More” for my findings and research images…
I found this lovely piece on Etsy:
From “Shopolga” on Etsy – an embroidered sheer net panel 37″ wide, 42″ in length
Detail from the embroidered net panel – sold as “Victorian,” definitely vintage.
I thought this panel made a pretty good go at Dresden-look embroidery, is not too obviously machine-made (maybe not machine made at all), and matches up pretty closely with these embroidery designs taken from Provencal folk costume, which itself is very 18th century in style:
Aprons were worn by all levels of society. They were useful for the lower sort, but were symbols of domesticity for the upper classes. They were constructed of all kinds of materials – silk, net, sheer cottons, linen, cotton check, stripe. They could be white, black, polychromatic, spotted, worked, tamboured, printed, you name it. For my impression, I want white and textural, so I will be looking for dotted swiss voiles, batistes, and lawns, along with embroidered trims, or open-work on sheer, for ruffles and edges.
Here are some images showing upper class gowns with aprons:
From Colonial Williamsburg’s site. The model’s apron is sheer and embroidered all over. It looks wider than 37″, but not by much.
Aprons were not always square. This one is an oval shape, also embroidered with dots, and with a ruffle. I believe this is from the Lewis Walpole collection
“An Evenings Invitation, With a Wink from the Bagnio” – Walpole gallery – examples of a very long apron embroidered all over with floral sprigs
From the V&A, 1785-90, a simple sheer apron with no embroidery, but what looks like a ribbon trim.
Patricia Harris Gallery – a heavily embroidered border – you can see the neckerchief is embroidered too
Ekaterina Ivanovna Nelidova (1773) by Dmitry Levitzky, showing off her apron
V&A – quite a massive apron, embroidered all over, 1750-70
I’ve bought the one piece on Etsy so far, and there is another in her shop I have my eye on. I will also be on the lookout for embroidered cotton curtain panels, and bits of “special occasion” and heirloom sewing fabric that might do nicely.