Friday, April 1, 2016

Inspired by 1775 Embroidery Patterns: The Lady's Magazine Stitch-Off

The Lady’s Magazine project (housed at Kent University) recently embarked upon a major undertaking – a stich-off! While there are many different aspects to this multi-faceted project, I was intrigued by the appearance of a 1775 embroidery pattern for shoes. Women were creating their own uppers which were then attached to a cordwainer’s ‘leather,’ meaning his sole and heel, as well as purchasing those professionally produced.

Once the generous owner of the privately held pattern made it available, the creative Dr. Jennie Batchelor threw down the gauntlet and inspired ‘stitchers” deftly created some stunning pieces.

I have had the good fortune to follow the work of the talented Nicole Rudolph over the last few years (to see more of her fascinating projects, see When she turned her talents to the project --- well, you can see the results for yourself. As the label notes:"These shoes have been constructed using historical tools and techniques in a style that would have been popular around 1775 when the pattern was printed. They are made from figured silk taffeta and satin, embroidered in unspun silk.

To place the work in context, you will find many extant museum examples – below find a few:
A later example, c. 1780-90
Courtesy, Manchester Art Gallery
Blue figured silk, c. 1776, European
Courtesy, Metropolitan Museum
Figured silk shoe, made in Massachusetts, c. 1780s
Courtesy, American Textile History Museum; Author photo

Thanks to the efforts of many, you can now view examples from the Lady’s Magazine stitch off on view at Chawton House as part of the Emma at 200: from English Village to Global Appeal’ exhibition.

For the latest:

Emma at 200: from English Village to Global Appeal’

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