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The Costumer's Manifesto: 18th Century Embroidery

18th Century Embroidery


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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.'


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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)

DesignmotifsShambalaFp013.jpgfrom book of "Floral Patterns"

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.

Textiles&needleworkEmbroiderySaintaubin1.gif Embroidery Design by Saint-Aubin

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.

Sorry, but all the V&A Photos have been removed at the request of the

Manager of the Picture Library of the V&A

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Embroidery Patterns for "Court" suits of the second half of the Centuryfrom book of "Floral Patterns"

In the 1780’s, a mania developed for men's embroidered waistcoats and men's dress showed profuse embroidery for court wear.

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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:

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narrative.php?irn=50&QueryPage=index.php&themeback=1@160x120.jpg Gallery of Costume - Floral Embroidered Apron 1730-1750

narrative.php?irn=61&QueryPage=index.php&themeback=1@160x120.jpg Gallery of Costume -Waistcoat with Embroidery and Applique 1780-1800

Product Links

Textiles for Colonial Clothing Textiles for Colonial Clothing

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18th Century Embroidery Techniques Books Gail Marsh

Silk Designs of the Eighteenth Century : From the Victoria and Albert Museum, London Silk Designs of the Eighteenth Century : From the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Four Hundred Years of Fashion Four Hundred Years of Fashion

Patterns in a Revolution : French Printed Textiles, 1759-1821 Patterns in a Revolution : French Printed Textiles, 1759-1821

Embroidery in Britain From 1200 to 1750: The Victoria & Albert Museum's Textile Collection Embroidery in Britain From 1200 to 1750: The Victoria & Albert Museum's Textile Collection

Full Color Historic Textile Designs (Dover Pictorial Archive Series) Full Color Historic Textile Designs (Dover Pictorial Archive Series)

Textile Design Textile Design

Fashion in Detail : From the 17th and 18th Centuries Fashion in Detail : From the 17th and 18th Centuries

Madame De Pompadour : Sex, Culture and Power Madame De Pompadour : Sex, Culture and Power

Sadi Thread & Shisha Glass Embroidery: Techniques and Design to Inspire Creative Stitching Sadi Thread & Shisha Glass Embroidery: Techniques and Design to Inspire Creative Stitching

Masterpieces of Women's Costume of the 18th and 19th Centuries Masterpieces of Women's Costume of the 18th and 19th Centuries

Baroque & Rococo: Art & Culture Baroque & Rococo: Art & Culture

Shambhala Publications

Shambhala Publications

Shambhala Publications

This Page is part of The Costumer's Manifesto, originally founded by Tara Maginnis, Ph.D. from 1996-2014, now flying free as a wiki for all to edit and contribute. Site maintained, hosted, and wikified by Andrew Kahn. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License; additional terms may apply. See Terms of Use for details. You may print out any of these pages for non-profit educational use such as school papers, teacher handouts, or wall displays. You may link to any page in this site.