Category Archives: Embroidery

Mary of Hapsburg’s Hemd: Chemise Pleatwork and Pattern Darning Notes

One of the few extant pieces of early 16th century female garb (1521) remaining today is Mary of Hapsburg’s wedding dress. Mary was the granddaughter of Holy Roman Emperor Maximillian. The gown and chemise are housed in the Hungarian National Museum. The hemd (chemise) may or may not go with the gown (according to museum docents), but it is believed… (more…)

How to Apply Pearls and Beads in Smooth Lines

German women in the 16th century were partial to putting pearls on their garments and accessories. My research indicates that this has a lot to do with the fact that pearl-producing mussels (pearlenmuschel) flourished in the Saxon streams and rivers of Germany in the 16th century5. Unio margaritfera is the principal pearl-bearing mussel in this part of the world. The… (more…)

Dressing a Slate Frame to Embroider on Silk

It’s important to have the right tool for the job, and this is especially true when it comes to the fiber arts. Back in 16th century Germany (and many other European countries and periods prior to this century), Der Seidensticker (embroiderers) used what we call “slate frames” to keep their fabric taut and tensioned while stitching. A slate frame is… (more…)

Learning German Pleatwork (Seidenfitzen) on a 16th-Century Style Hemd (a.k.a. Smocking)

One of the projects on my big wish list is to replicate Dorothea Meyer’s pleatwork and goldwork smock. Thus, it naturally follows that I need to learn how to smock. It turns out that “smocking” (the gathering and manipulation of pleats in a decorative manner) is a Victorian term, so I’m calling this silk pleatwork, which is the literal translation… (more…)

German Blackwork Modelbooks: Patterns, Designs, and Motifs from the 16th Century

Blackwork embroidery was prevalent during 16th century Western Europe, including Germany (where it was known as Schwarzstickerei). Unfortunately, most of the extant embroidered items, books, and online resources are heavy on the English blackwork styles. So what’s one to do if you want to embroider blackwork that would be appropriate to renaissance Germany? Well, we can thank Johannes Gutenberg, who… (more…)