Applied or applique work is generally used in connection with ornament of bold forms. The larger and principal forms are cut out of one material and then stitched down to another - the junctures of the edges of the cut-out forms being usually concealed and the shapes of the forms emphasised by cord stitched along them. Patchwork depends for successful effect upon skill in cutting out the several pieces which are to be stitched together. Patchwork is a sort of mosaic work in textile materials ; and, far beyond the homely patchwork quilt of country cottages, patchwork lends itself to the production of ingenious counterchanges of form and colour in complex patterns. These methods of applique and patchwork are peculiarly adapted to ornamental needlework which is to lie, or hang, stretched out flatly, and are not suited therefore to work in which is involved a calculated beauty of effect from folds.
(g) There are two or three classes of embroidery in relief which are not well adapted to embroideries on lissome materials in which folds are to be considered. Quilting is one of these classes. It may be artistically employed for rendering low-relief ornament, by means of a stout cord or padding placed between two bits of stuff, which are then ornamentally stitched together so that the cord or padding may fill out and give slight relief to the ornamental portions defined by and enclosed between the lines of stitching. There is also padded embroidery or work consisting of a number of details separately wrought in relief over padding of hanks of thread, wadding, and such like. Effects of high relief are obtainable by this method. Another class, but of lower relief embroidery, is couching (Fig. 5), in which cords and gimps are laid side by side, in groups, upon the face of a material, and then stitched down to it. Various effects can be obtained in this method. The colour of the thread used to stitch the cords or gimp down may be different from that of the cords or gimp, and the stitches may of course be so taken as to produce small powdered or diaper patterns over the face of the groups of cords or gimp. Gold cords are often used in this class of work, which is peculiarly identified with ecclesiastical embroideries of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, as also with Japanese work of later date.
Fig. 5. - A form of Embroidery in relief, called "Couching."
(h) The embroidery and work hitherto alluded to has been such as requires a foundation of a closely woven nature, like linen, cloth, silk, and velvet. But there are varieties of embroidery done upon netted or meshed grounds. And on to these open grounds, embroidery in darning and chain stitches can be wrought.
For the most part the embroideries upon open or meshed grounds have a lace-like appearance. In lace, the contrast between close work and open, or partially open, spaces about it plays an important part. The methods of making lace by the needle, or by bobbins on a cushion, are totally distinct from the methods of making lace-like embroideries upon net. (/') Akin to lace and embroideries upon net is embroidery in which much of its special effect is obtained by the withdrawal of threads from the material, and then either whipping or overcasting in button-hole stitches the undrawn threads. The Persians and embroiderers in the Grecian Archipelago have excelled in such work, producing wondrously delicate textile grills of ingenious geometric patterns. In this drawn thread work, as it is called, we often meet with the employment of button-hole stitching, which is an important stitch in making needlepoint lace (Fig. 6).
(j) We also meet with the use of a weaving stitch resembling in effect, on a small scale, willow weaving for hurdles. This weaving stitch, and the method of compacting together the threads made with it, are closely allied to that special method of weaving known as tapestry-weaving. Some of the earliest specimens of tapestry weaving consist of ornamental borders, bands, and panels, which were inwoven into tunics and cloaks worn by Greeks and Romans from the fourth century before Christ, up to the eighth or ninth after Christ. The scale of the work in these is so small, as compared with that of large tapestry wall-hangings of the fifteenth century, that the method may be regarded as being related more to drawn thread embroidery than to weaving into an extensive field of warp threads.
Fig. 6. - Button-hole Stitching, as used in needlepoint lace.
A sketch of the different employments of the foregoing methods of embroidery is not to be included in this paper. The universality of embroidery from the earliest of historic times is attested by evidences of its practice amongst primitive tribes throughout the world. Fragments of stitched materials or undoubted indications of them have been found in the remains of early American Indians, and in the cave dwellings of men who lived thousands of years before the period of historic Egyptians and Assyrians. Of Greek short and long stitch, and chain stitch and applique embroidery, there are specimens of the third or fourth century b.c. preserved in the Hermitage at St. Petersburg. Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans were skilful in the use of tapestry weaving stitches. Dainty embroidery, with delicate silken threads, was practised by the Chinese long before similar work was done in the countries west of Persia, or in countries which came within the Byzantine Empire. In the early days of that Empire, the Emperor Theodosius I. framed rules respecting the importation of silk, and made regulations for the labour employed in the gynoecea, the public weaving and embroidering rooms of that period, the development and organisation of which are traceable to the apartments allotted in private houses to the sempstresses and embroideresses who formed part of the well-to-do households of early classic times.
Alan S. Cole.