Friday, December 7, 2007

Whitework sampler so far

This is the sampler so far:

The dragons are embroidered in satin stitch, and the one on the right is outlined in stem stitch (I used running stitch for the one on the left, but that is not historically accurate).

The border is done in interlacing stitch (Finally!).

Some practical notes:

I received the Bockens linen shade card (see previous post). It's beautiful! For those of you who live in the Netherlands, you can order it for 2,50 excl. posting from

And, I handwashed the sampler gently in Biotex to remove pencil stains, and that works!

The last step is to use statin stitch to create different textures used to fill the bodies of some of the creatures. I have to look a few things up, so I'll write about that in a next post.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Amazing tutorials: blackwork, klosterstitch and refilsaum

The blogs by Laren and Racaire are some of my favourites (see links below). Their embroidery is stunning, and I really appreciate the way they share their information. This week, they both posted some very interesting tutorials. Do yourself a favour, and take a look!

Laren posted a great tutorial about blackwork embroidery, including pictures, background info and how to instructions. Take a look at her pfd here:


And her research page with other interesting handouts here

And Racaire posted her wonderful tutorials about klosterstitch and refilsaum . These have pictures, background info and instructions too.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Bildindex: interlacing stitch example

I found another beautiful example of whitework in interlacing stitch in the Bildindex:

What I like about this, is that it shows how the interlacing stitch can be used to embroider large and non symetrical shapes too. The big animal with the tail (cow?) in the upper part is so funny!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tutorial:14th century border in interlacing stitch

Finally I know how to do this type of borders, frequently used in 14th century Swiss and German whitework:

This example is taken from: Kroos, R. (1970), Niedersachsische Bildstickereien des Mittelaters, Berlin: Deutscher Verlag fur Kunstwissenschaft

The original embroidery is done in white linen on white linen. I used red cotton, because I'm still familiarizing myself with the stitches. Cotton is a bit easier to find here, and red thread is easier to distinguish from the background fabric

So, here is what I have done. Click on a picture to enlarge. (The pictures were taken on an autumn day with changing weather, so the light is a bit different in each picture)

Step 1: draw dots on the fabric. Each dot is one interlacing stitch

Step 2: make the 'skeleton stitches'

Step 3: the inner part of the square is embroidered separately. It took me a lot of time to find that out... :-)

Step 4: all the "skeleton stitches' are in place

Step 5: start lacing

Step 6: the inner part of the square is laced separately

Step 7: Yeah! The figures are not exactly parallel, but in the original 14th century work, it seems a bit shaky too (see enlarged photocopy in step 1 and picture above)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Pillows and tablecloths: some beautiful reconstructions

This German group made some beautiful 14th century pillows and tablecloths:

Go to "Galerie" and then click "Lager und Einrichting"

The embroidery is beautiful, and the research documentation is interesting too!

And take a look at the rest of their items too!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Example of a modern reproduction of a lenten veil

"Aldith Angharad St. George" made her own lenten veil in pulled work. It looks beautiful!

Read about it here:

and here:

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Interesting book

Appuhn, H. (1983), Bildstickereien des Mittelalters in Kloster Lune, Dortmund: Harenberg

I like browsing trough the tesis by Susanne Mosler - Christoph. That's how I found this interesting little booklet. It is a description of the embroidery made in the Lune Monastery (Frauenkloster, a monastery for women only, what's that called in English?) between 1300 and 1525:
  • whitework, 1300-1325
  • coloured woolwork in Klosterstich, 1480-1510
  • Tappestries (“Wirkerei”), 1500

I like it, because it is not just a “dry” catalogue description of sizes, materials and stitches used. Appuhn also describes interesting details about how the pieces were made and how they were used, putting the embroidery in its sociocultural context.

I'm going to give a summary of the whitework information by Appuhn, because I think it might be an interesting addition to the excellent introduction to German whitework on the Historal Needlework Resources site:

According to Appuhn, seven whitework pieces were embroidered in the Lune Monastery workshop between 1300-1325. 4 of these are “Altardecke” (Altar cloths?) and 3 Fasten/Hungertuche (Lenten veils?).

An Altardecke was used to cover the altar (suprise!). Appuhn says that the embroidery design shows whether something was used as an Altardecke. The important scenes were embroidered in a square in the middle of the Decke. During mass, the chalice was placed in this square. Due to its function, the iconography depicted in the square was limited to scenes of e.g. the Pantocrator and the apostles. The rest of the Decke was embroidered with common or “neutral” patterns, e.g. geomatrical patterns, animals or flowers, kings and queens etcetera.

The Lenten veils were hung in front of the altar so that the people in the church could not see the altar nor the priest. These veils are embroidered in such a way that, based on the embroidery techniques alone, it is not possible to distinguish the front and the back. The only way to find out which side is the front, is by looking at the iconography itself (e.g. Maria should be standing at a particular side of the cross). I think it is amazing that the embroidery standards were so high that the front and the back are equally beautiful!!

Part of the Lenten veils and the Altardecke are embroidered in “pulled work technique” (see e.g. picture on the Historal Needlework Resources site and below). Three strands of linen were pulled together and fastened with a fourth. The technique is described in an online paper of the West Kingdom Needleworkers guild.

Appuhn points out that, because the Lenten veils were hung, and consisted of pulled work and other embroidery techniques, the light shines through and lights up the figures, a bit like a magic lantern. That must have been beautiful, and it's a pity that we can not experience the embroidery like that anymore.

Frequently used stitches:
  • Pulled work/ “Durchbrucharbeit”
  • satin stitch was used to create different kind of textures, see picture below
  • interlacing stitch/ “Hexenstich” for borders and geometrical decorations.

In 1372 the monastery was burnt down. Luckily, the whitework survived!

Altardecke from around 1300: close up of Maria

Monday, August 6, 2007

Interesting tesis: household goods in Luneburger testaments 1323-1500

Gunvor posted a nice link on the 75 years yahoo group. The group is not so lively as it used to be, but every now and then, someting interesting comes along, e.g. like this. You can download the free pfd copy by clicking on this link:


von Susanne Mosler - Christoph.

This tesis is about all kinds of household goods as they appeared in Luneburger testaments: jewelery, furniture, books, textiles, cutlery, cloths ...

Tablecloths are described on p. 182

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Another interlacing stitch tutorial: highly recommended

This is an excellent interlacing stich tutorial by Bhavani:

She calls it Kutchwork or Armenian embroidery.

And this is my own progress so far:

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Bildindex: interlacing stitch examples

I found some more amazing 14th century whitework pictures in the Bildindex!

This one is so beautiful, WOW, I just keep staring at it:

The borders and the 'giant' flower in the middle are done in interlacing stitch. The free flowing flower design is wonderful and the dragons that bite each other's tail are so funny! I'm actually tempted to change my mind and try this one instead of the Feldbach tablecloth...

I love this elegant design too. The borders might be in interlacing stitch, but the picture is not so clear, so I can't really tell..

The stars in this fragment might be interlacing stitch too, but the picture is not clear enough..

My own progress in doing interlacing stitch is still slow... I can do a straight line, but I seem to get lost when I try to make lines that cross each other. I decided to try some of the designs on this site to have some more practice.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Medieval tablerunners: do they exist?

I don't know ... :-)

In the previous post, Jerusha asked me about it, and I've been wondering about it myself too. Up till now, I've got more questions than answers.

Judging by the size of them, some tablecloths could be tablerunners.

This 13th century tablecloth is 670 cm x 109 cm:

This one from the 14th century is 105 cm x 308 cm

Both pictures are taken from this paper:

Das Tafeltuch vom 13. zum 20. Jahrhundert,
von Anne Wanner-JeanRichard, in: der gedeckte Tisch, zur Geschichte der Tafelkultur, von Andreas Morel,
Zürich 2001, 216 S., 265 Abbildungen, ISBN 3-0340-0506-7

There is some literature about how these were made, who made them and who owned them. I haven't found anything yet about how they were used..

Did people use these embroidered tablecloths during dinner?

If so,
did they put the plates and dishes straight onto the embroidery or were they used as decorative tablerunners with another (bigger) tablecloth underneath?
how do you clean a linen tablecloth embroidered with linen and silk? A linen tablecloth with linen embroidery can be put on a bleach field, but that will damage the silk...

The website of the French National Library contains an interesting slide show with illuminations of late medieval people having dinner. You can see that the tablecloths are large, cover the whole table and hang from the sides of the table, sometimes reaching the floor. The embroidered tablecloths discussed above are not wide enough to cover the sides of the table...

Any feedback/ideas/suggestions are welcome!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Whitework tablecloths in Swiss Landesmuseum, Zurich

The online picture database of the Swiss Landesmuseum in Zurich contains 4 pictures of tablecloths from the period 1200-1600.

According to Jenny Schneider, this is the oldest known whitework tablecloth, dating from 1200-1250.

Tablecloth 1200-1250

This is a very elegant tablecloth from the first half of the 15th century:

Tablecloth 1400-1450

This one is very funny: an early 16th century tablecloth embroidered with food and cutlery:

Tablecloth 1527

And one from 1561 embroidered with biblical scenes:

Tablecloth 1561

If for some reasons the links don't work, go to the homepage of the online catalogue and insert "tischdecke", German for tablecloth. (the site is in German, French and Italian, but unfortunately not in English):

These books include more detailed pictures and descriptions of these tablecloths:

Schneider, J. (1972), Schweizerische Leinenstickereien, Bern: Verlag Paul Haubt
Trudel, V. (1954), Schweizerische Leinenstickereien des Mittelalters und der Renaissance. Bern: Paul Haubt Verlag

Monday, July 2, 2007

Whitework tablecloths: two other examples

I don't have time to do much embroidery these days, so I'd like to share with you some inspiring pictures from the Bildindex. I'm not so good with links, but I double checked these, so they should be working :-)

This is a 14th century German tablecloth that I really like. I love the geometrical pattern and the fringe is beautiful. I know from the catalogue description that the Feldbach tablecloth has fringe too. I've never seen a picture of it, but it might look like this:

Another favorite of mine is this tablecloth with a very delicate pelican design. The fragment is very small, so the embroidery must be really fine. The geometrical border (see top of the picture) is beatiful too.

This is a close-up:

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Interlacing stitch, again

I'm so happy I finally managed to make some stars/crosses in interlacing stitch. From left to right, today's progress, using DMC cotton floss:

I also found out how I can make the stitches more even. Instead of drawing the small auxilary lines, I drew a dot on the main line were each interlacing stitch should be. Then, I counted the linen threads, starting from the dots. Like this:

And a picture of my "goal" to keep me going: a 14th century whitework border in interlacing stitch:

This picture is from Pesel, L. , Newberry, N. (1921), A book of old embroidery, with articles by A. F. Kendrick. London: Geoffrey Holme, “The Studio”

Friday, June 22, 2007

Encyclopedia of Needlework by Therese de Dillmont (1846-1890)

I found a link to a wonderful online historical needlework book on the Project Gutenburg website. It downloads quickly (on my computer at least) and the pictures are beautiful and very clear. I'm absolutely fascinated by the alphabet done in some kind of embroidered braids. And I love the practical directions for transferring the design onto the fabric.

Encyclopedia of Needlework by Therese de Dillmont

This is the table of contents. The links don't always seem to work, but sometimes you can click on the titles for a direct link to the pages :-)

Sewing on cord and flaps10
Sewing on buttons12
Binding slits13
Sewing on piping13
Fixing whale-bones—Herring-boning14
Linen darning16
Satin or twill darning17
Damask darning18
Open-work patterns27
Cutting out threads at the corners39
Cut open-work40
Patterns for cut open-work42
Net embroidery51
Net patterns52
Net darning62
Damask stitches63
Different kinds of scallops79
Eyelet holes80
Six ways of making dots81
Venetian embroidery82
Patterns and alphabets83
Encroaching satin stitch105
Oriental stitch106
Plaited stitch and mosaic stitch108
Persian stitch109
Straight and encroaching flat stitch patterns110
Chinese embroidery111
Raised embroidery113
Turkish embroidery113
Implements and materials for gold embroidery115
Stitches used in gold embroidery119
Patterns for gold embroidery120
Marking out the embroidery ground128
Tapestry stitches129
Tapestry patterns138
Stitches for linen embroidery143
Patterns for linen embroidery152
Position of the hands172
Casting on173
Stocking knitting182
Scalloped edge183
Mending knitting190
Piqué patterns195
Patent knitting201
Turkish stitch201
Knitting patterns203
Position of the hands223
Method for copying tapestry patterns in crochet238
Crochet with soutache or lacet239
Crochet square, hexagon and star240
Tunisian crochet241
Hairpin crochet243
Patterns for hairpin crochet245
Crochet lace patterns249
Crochet counterpanes284
Crochet stars300
Crochet collar304
Crochet chair-back316
Position of the hands326
Patterns of scallops and medallions331
Materials and implements344
Formation of the knots345
Macramé shuttles360
Macramé patterns361
Implements and materials395
Patterns produced in netting400
Mounting the netting on the frame410
Stars and wheels414
Grounds and lace423
Embroidery on netting434
Netted insertion438
Tacking down the braids440
Bars of different kinds442
Insertion stitches445
Lace stitches450
Needle-made picots467
Irish lace patterns468
Pillow lace and the implements for its manufacture474
«Stitches» or passings481
Patterns or grounds481
Armenian lace503
Laces in knotted stitch505
Knotted cord518
Balls for trimmings519
Tambour work521
Smyrna stitch523
Malta stitch525
Triangular Turkish stitch526
Turkish embroidery530
Morocco embroidery535
Spanish embroidery536
Different kinds of linen stitches540
Pattern for linen stitches541
Pattern for Roumanian stitch544
Pattern for Piqué embroidery546
Embroideries with Soutache546
Chinese subject551
Tracing and drawing the designs553
The preparation of the stuffs and the subdivision of the patterns557
To transpose and repeat patterns by means of looking glasses559
To alter the proportions of a pattern by dividing the ground into squares560
To prepare the paste for appliqué work564
To stiffen new needlework565
To wash ordinary lace565
To wash real lace566
To stiffen lace566
To iron lace566
To pin out lace567
To wash coloured cottons and work done with the same568

Monday, May 28, 2007

14th century drawstring purse

14th century drawstring purse:

  • purse 8x8 cm
  • large tassels 6 cm, small tassels 3 cm
  • lining in dark blue linen
  • embroidery: au ver a soie silk
  • tassels and drawstring: aurora fine 2 ply silk
  • gold thread: Japanese thread K4


Sunday, May 27, 2007

Border in interlacing stitch: work in progress

This is how I tried to transfer the design of the interlacing stitch border onto the fabric. It works, but I'm not really happy with it. There might be better ways to transfer a design, and maybe I should not work with a soft pencil :-) If you have any feedback/suggestions, I'd love to hear it!

First, I made a sketch of the border, using:
  • an enlarged photocopy of the original border
  • this tutorial for sketching interlacing stich designs
  • a geometrical square

Next, I tried to transfer the design onto the fabric. I outlined the design with a dark marker and put the fabric on top of it. This way, you can see the lines through the fabric. I traced the lines of the design with a soft pencil. Next, time I might use one of those erasable pens, because I made some errors and now I probably have to wash it.

The final step is marking traces were the stitches should be. Mine are about 6x6 mm. Once more, maybe I should use an erasable pen here.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Whitework: interlacing stitch, first try

After some false starts, this is my first attempt at a horizontal interlacing stitch. It's about 1 cm. If you want to google it or look it up in a book, there are a lot of different names for this stitch:
  • English: interlacing stitch, and sometimes also known as German, Maltese or Armenian interlacing stitch
  • German: orientalischer flechtstich
  • Dutch: oosterse vlechtsteek
In my seventies stitch dictionary, I saw that you can also use this stitch in more complicated patterns, such as blocks or crosses. In fact, in the tablecloth and wallhanging, the interlacing stitch is used in zig zag patterns and in angles. For a picture of the zig zag border of the tablecloth, click here and scroll down.

I came across a very fascinating website about Armenian embroidery, which uses the interlacing stitch as basic stitch in different patterns. This website explaines how you can draw your own charts for interlacing stitch patterns:

Drawing charts for interlacing stitch

So, the next thing I'll do will be drawing a chart for the zig zag pattern, using this website as a tutorial.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Whitework: interlacing stitch tutorial (basic stitch, horizontal line)

I was trying to work out a chart for interlacing stitch myself, when I found this wonderful step-by-step tutorial by Linda Fontenot:

Interlacing stitch tutorial

This stitch was used to embroider borders in 14th century whitework. Some examples are the borders of the Feldbach tablecloth and the borders of a "Chase of the unicorn" wallhanging. For pictures, see these books:

Pesel, L. , Newberry, N. (1921), A book of old embroidery, with articles by A. F. Kendrick. London: Geoffrey Holme, “The Studio”, plate 58

Schuette, M., Müller-Christensen. S. (1963), Das Stickereiwerk, Tübingen: Wasmuth

Now I can start with the next part of my sampler :-)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Whitework through the ages

The Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles published a beautiful online slide show and catalogue (in pfd) about whitework embroidery through the ages.

They don't offer any information about technical data, styles, period etcetera of the work that is shown, but the pictures are breathtaking! I'd love to be able to do this type of embroidery one day...

Friday, May 4, 2007

Gimp thread tutorial

Another great tutorial by Isis! This one is about making your own silk gimp thread (used e.g. in turk's head knots). Check it out here:

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

13th-mid 14th century tassels

Set of tassels for an early 14th century drawstring purse.
  • silk and gold thread
  • large tassels 6 cm
  • small tassels 3 cm
  • for a detailed description and tutorial, click here

Monday, April 30, 2007

13th century- mid 14th century embroidered tassels

I think most (late) 14th century tassels were adorned with a turkish head knot. However, I saw some examples of tassels embroidered with gold thread too. This type of tassels were used in the 13th and 14th century, probably until ca 1350. You can find pictures of these type of tassels in:
  • Hoving, T., Husband, T., Hayward, J. (1975), The secular spirit: Life and art at the end of the Middle Ages: New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art v
  • Schneider, J. (1975), Textilien. Catalog der Sammlung des Schweizerischen Landesmuseums Zürich, Zürich: Verlag Berichthaus
  • Wilckens von, L. (1991), Die textilen Künste. Von der Spätantike bis um 1500, München, Verlag CH Beck

For online pictures, click here (insert LM 1825 a, LM 1825 b), here or here.

This is how I make these tassels. I used Aurora 2 ply silk for the tassels and Tanja Berlin's Japanese gold K4 (beautiful gilded silver thread!)

Make a basic silk tassel and a roll of linen

Wrap the linen around the tassel head

Wrap a silk thread around the linen core and attach with tiny stitches. And have a lot of patience! For me, this feels more like sculpure than embroidery :-)

Wrap the gold thread around the tassel head and attachit with tiny silk stitches.

The finished tassel

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Finishing the seams of 14th/15th century pouches

The outward seams of (embroidered) textile pouches can be finished in at least two ways. One method is to cover the seams by tablet weaving. There are some examples of textile pouches finished with this technique in Dress accessories (Egan, G., Pritchard, F. (2002), Dress accessories. c.1150- c.1450, London: The Boydell Press). The side seams of the 14th century London textile pouches discussed in this book are covered with tablet weaving.

Another technique is that of “embroidered braids”. The technique is described by Frida Sorber (Ceulemans, 1988, in Dutch) and she calls it “lussenvlechten”. I haven't found an English translation yet, so I just call it “embroidered braids”, because that's what the technique is all about. Some authors present descriptions of pouches, and seem to try to describe this type of braided finishes. In his embroidery manual “A stitch out of time” Wymarc, for example, describes his observations of the finishing of the German14th century pouches in the Victoria & Albert as follows: “The seams of the bag are covered with a decorative stitch. The stitch is composed of alternating colors, red and what might have once been gilt. I cannot be sure how the stitch was done, but I have re-created it using two needles (one for each color) and threading each color up through the previous stitch and back down, in a kind of double running stitch.” (p 41) Schmedding (1978) describes the finishing of a Swiss 15th century purse as follows: “Alle Kanten sind mit Grünen Seidenzwirnen und Goldfäden (...) in einer Art Flechttechnik befestigt.” p 190

It seems to have been quite common technique in the European mainland in the 14th and 15th century. You can find examples of purses finished with embroidered braids in these books and/or musea:

the Netherlands , Maastricht St Servaas Cathedral
Staufer, A. (1991), Die mittelalterlichen Textilien von St. Servatius in Maastricht, Bern: Abegg-Stiftung Riggisberg
Belgium, Tongeren
Ceulemans, C. (1988), Tongeren. Basiliek O.L. Vrouwe Geboorte. I. Textiel van de vroege middeleeuwen tot het Concilie van Trente, Leuven: Peeters
Germany, e.g. in Victoria and Albert Museum
Wymarc, “A stitch out of time”
Switzerland, Zürich, Sweizerisches Landesmuseum
Schmedding, B. (1978), Mittelalterliche Textilien in Kirchen und Klöstern der Schweiz, Bern: Abegg-Stiftung
Schneider, J. (1975), Textilien. Catalog der Sammlung des Schweizerischen Landesmuseums Zürich, Zürich: Verlag Berichthaus

Some conclusions drawn from the literature discussed above and my own observations of purses in Maastricht and Zürich:
each seam is covered with a braid
use contrasting colours in silk or silk and gold thread
tassels are attached over the seams

This is how I apply the technique:

attach two loops of thread (A and B) to the inside of the pouch

attach loop A

attach loop A, finished

pull loop B through loop A and attach loop B

pull loop A through loop B and attach loop B

cover all sides

Sunday, April 15, 2007

14th century whitework sampler part 1: creatures

This is "sketch" for the Feldbach tablecloth.
  • 23 x 12 cm
  • background fabric: linen, thread count 14/14
  • DMC linen floss, Au ver a soie silk
  • body of the creatures: versetzter Gobelinstich, or satin/brick stitch
  • outline left: running stitch, outline right: stem stitch (I like stem stitch better)

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Thread counts of medieval linen fabric

These are data about the thread counts of linen fragments discussed in “Textiles and clothing”

period: 1375-1400 nr of threads per cm, warp/weft: 20/ 19
period: 1400-1450 .. : 22/ 22

This type of linen is quite fine/ tightly woven. It can be used very well for “free style” stitches (e.g. stem stitch), but it is less suitable for counted work (e.g. brick/ satin stitch). Jenny Schneider describes the thread count of a number of embroidered Swiss linen tablecloths:

period: 1200-1250 nr of threads per cm, warp/weft: 13/ 14
period: 1300-1400 .. : 15/11
period: 1450-1500 .. : 14/14

This type of linen is quite “loose”. I think a thread count of about 14/14 or 15/15 is suitable for a tablecloth that combines both counted and “free style” stitches.

Crowfoot, E., Pritchard, F., Staniland, K. (2002), Textiles and clothing: c.1150-c.1450, Woodbridge, The Boydell Press
Schneider, J. (1972), Schweizerische Leinenstickereien, Bern: Verlag Paul Haubt

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Researching 14th century white linen embroidery: The Feldbach tablecloth

The Feldbach tablecloth is a Swiss 14th century linen tablecloth embroidered with white linen and colored silk (105 x 308 cm). For a picture, click here and scroll down. Originally from the Feldberg/ Feldbach monastery in Thurgau, Switzerland, it is now in the Basel Historical Museum (but, unfortunately, not on display).

The figures are embroidered in white linen and, according to the catalog description (Trudel, 1954, p 134), some patches of faded colored silks. Although the black and white photos do not show where the colored silks might have been used and the catalog description is quite vague (“Weisses Leinenstickgarn, farbige Seide”), other sources might help to reconstruct the use of this colored silk.

In Schneider (1972, pp 211-213), there are some color pictures of similar types of 14th century embroidered pieces (Cataloged as “Reliquienhüllen”, embroidered fabric to cover relics (?), but not pouches). The fairy tale creatures, circles and floral elements are in the same style as those in the Feldbach tablecloth and are embroidered in white linen. The contours of the circles and leafs/flowers are embroidered in red silks and the contours and details of the creatures (e.g. eyes, ears) are lined in green silk. The silk contours are done in what looks like a simple running stitch. Schneider also refers to some other pieces of embroidery in the same style (white linen, colored silk contours) from St. Gallen and Zürich.

According to Trudel (1954, p.10), almost all white linen embroidery dating from before 1500 was lined with colored silks, although today, most silk is gone, often showing the black/grey lines of the original drawing. Besides covering the sketch, I think there is another technical reason for contouring the figures. Most figures are embroidered in versetzer Gobelinstich (see Anne Warner's stitch vocabulary). This is a nice stitch to fill up the space of a figure, but the edges of the figure will be a bit “wobbly”. Contouring the figures with a running stitch will make them look “sharper”. The combination of versetzer Gobelinstich for the body of the figures and running stitch for the contours was also used in silk embroidery (see e.g. the purse in Schneider 1975, p. 135).


Schmedding, B. (1978), Mittelalterliche Textilien in Kirchen und Klöstern der Schweiz, Bern: Abegg-Stiftung
Schneider, J. (1972), Schweizerische Leinenstickereien, Bern: Verlag Paul Haubt
Schneider, J. (1975), Textilien. Catalog der Sammlung des Schweizerischen Landesmuseums Zürich, Zürich: Verlag Berichthaus
Schuette, M., Müller-Christensen. S. (1963), Das Stickereiwerk, Tübingen: Wasmuth
Trudel, V. (1954), Schweizerische Leinenstickereien des Mittelalters und der Renaissance. Bern: Paul Haubt Verlag
Trudel, V. (1954), Schweizerische Leinenstickereien des Mittelalters und der Renaissance. Katalogband. Erganzung zu Band 61/62 der “Schweizer Heimatbucher”, Bern: Paul Haubt Verlag
Wilckens von, L. (1991), Die textilen Künste. Von der Spätantike bis um 1500, München, Verlag CH Beck
Das Tafeltuch vom 13. zum 20. Jahrhundert,
von Anne Wanner-JeanRichard, in: der gedeckte Tisch, zur Geschichte der Tafelkultur, von Andreas Morel, Zürich 2001,

Thursday, February 1, 2007

14th century drawstring purse

  • 8*10 cm
  • embroidery: Au ver a soie silk and DMC linen
  • embroidered braid to cover seams: Au ver a soie silk
  • inside: dark blue linen fabric
  • pattern: German, 14th century, original in Victoria and Albert Museum
  • chart by Wymarc
  • 4 cm
  • Aurorasilk
  • fingerloop braiding
  • Aurorasilk

Similar purses from the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland can be found in:

Ceulemans, C. (1988), Tongeren. Basiliek O.L. Vrouwe Geboorte. I. Textiel van de vroege middeleeuwen tot het Concilie van Trente, Leuven: Peeters

Schmedding, B. (1978), Mittelalterliche Textilien in Kirchen und Klöstern der Schweiz, Bern: Abegg-Stiftung

Staufer, A. (1991), Die mittelalterlichen Textilien von St. Servatius in Maastricht, Bern: Abegg-Stiftung Riggisberg

Sunday, January 28, 2007

My own history

I just found this purse, which I made when I was about 14: