There comes a time in every 18th century costumer’s career when embroidery seems like a good idea. So many 18th century garments feature embroidery, and so many different types of needlework at that. If you are a novice like me, trying to make a start with Georgian embroidery can be incredibly daunting, but luckily there is 18th Century Embroidery Techniques to get noobs like us started.
I was delighted by this colorful, hardbound book, when it arrived, because it was so dang affordable, for one, but also because it’s in full color. The illustrations are clear and easy to read, and the accompanying photos allow us to see how the finished techniques look in real life.
The book covers various methods, with an emphasis on metal thread embroidery, which is perhaps the most lost to us today. Silk embroidery, whitework, and quilting are also covered, as well as tambour, crewel, and novelty embroideries such as ribbon work. The author starts us off with a thorough description of the tools needed, as well as a historical note, and finishes with a very useful glossary of terms.
18th Century Embroidery Techniques provides a nice variety of clothing examples, from men’s waistcoats, to women’s stays, neckerchiefs, aprons, and petticoats. We also get a look at pockets, mitts, and caps, all of which give the reader a good idea of how extensive was embroidery in the 18th century.
Perhaps most importantly, this book removes some of the intimidating mystery surrounding these complex-looking motifs. Miss Marsh breaks down the designs and points out each type of stitch or method used for each part. The beginning embroiderer can pick and choose from the designs, and try her hand at many styles, in many materials, finding which works best for her and her project.
|typical 18th c. design w/ drawn work, Provencal fichu|
While 18th Century Embroidery Techniques is very informative, the author assumes the reader will know a little bit about embroidery already. I was confused by some of the terminology, especially in the metal thread section – for instance, “purl” is mentioned regularly, but I had to flip to the back of the book to look up what “purl” meant, before continuing.
Some sections of the book are more in-depth and instructive than others. The metal thread, silk embroidery, and quilting sections showed some “how to” for the stitches or technique, but the whitework section, particularly in regards to Dresden Work, was very scant in directions, and I was not able to understand how this technique is done.
I would highly recommend 18th Century Embroidery Techniques for anyone with a serious interest in learning how to embroidery in the 18th century style. It is an excellent book to use in conjunction with other resources and tutorials, and gives specific examples that can be adapted or copied for your own projects. As with any craft, embroidery is highly skilled, but also easy to get into (and addictive), and you will soon find yourself stitching spangles and bullion knots onto your robes and petticoats.