The Costumer's Manifesto: 18th Century Embroidery
18th Century Embroidery
Here the needle plies its busy task
The pattern grows, the well depicted flower
Wrought patiently into the snowy lawn
Unfolds its bosom buds, and leaves, and sprigs
And curling tendrils gracefully disposed
Follow the nimble fingers of the fair
--A wreath that cannot fade.'
Textiles&needleworkEmbroideryDiderotwkshpAn Embroidery workshop from Diderot (click to see full size)
Embroidery was another status symbol of the 18th Century both commercially stitched in factories, and home produced by the many middle and upper class women with no other work or recreation.
(V&A Costume Collection)
During this period, silk thread embroidery replaced wool as a favorite, and cotton white work reached new heights of popularity. In the first third of the 18th Century patterns with oversized flowers in full bloom symmetrically balanced, were in favor, usually in natural and pastel colors, with gold and silver.
By the 1730's, the motifs were fresh cut blossoms of life size using natural colors alone. In mid-century bright acid colors were introduced and smaller border patterns became popular. After the mid-century pattern switched to symmetrical, delicate floral designs.
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Embroidery Patterns for "Court" suits of the second half of the Centuryfrom book of "Floral Patterns"
In the 1780s, a mania developed for men's embroidered waistcoats and men's dress showed profuse embroidery for court wear.
18th Century Embroidery patterns typical of those found on 1780's-90's waistcoatsfrom book of "Floral Patterns"
After 1790, embroidery, like
lace, was year by year abandoned by men, and simple white work became the fashion for women.
18th Century Embroidery at at the Musee de la Mode et du Textile, Paris: