European Embroidery of 17th century. Caskets.
Sewing was the most important skill for a woman in the 17th century in Europe. Every girl started to learn the skill from an early age. By the age of 10 every girl knew how to make basic clothes and household linens. Embroidery, that required expensive silks, beads, and other materials, was taught to girls from wealthy families. There also were embroidery schools for young girls. Their programs included learning basic embroidery stitches. By the age of eight girls completed a band sampler of variety of stitches in colored silk. Then they learned cut-work technique and sow a more complicated cut-work sampler. On their third year they developed skills in raised work, the technique of embroidering over padding, appliqué, beading, and other embroidery techniques. These skills were applied in a complex work, such us embroidered casket or book-binding, which most often depicted scenes from Bible, flowers, animals, and intricate ornaments.
The casket depicted on the second photograph was completed by 11 year old girl, Martha Edlin, England, in 1671. Such caskets were used by girls from privileged families to keep jewelry, small treasures, letters, sewing tools, and keep-sakes.
Embroidery designs were transferred from pattern books, lithograph prints, or hand drawn pictures. Small holes were pierced along the lines of the pattern. Then the pattern was placed on the fabric and charcoal rubbed into the holes. Most of the complex embroidered items made in the 17th century, such as caskets, book bindings, jewelry boxes, fire screens, etc. were made not by housewives or bored privileged girls. They were produced for sale by professional embroiderers of the Broderers Guild.
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