The coloured frontispiece represents the centre portion of a quilted linen coverlet, embroidered with coloured silks. English, late 17th century [532 - 1897]. During the latter part of the seventeenth century much of the design for English embroidery was influenced by Oriental work. The elements in this example have evidently been borrowed from the Chinese. The gaily coloured bird is specially characteristic. Similar birds appear in the crewel-work hanging given on Plate No. 4. The design for the quilted coverlet is not intended to be seriously discussed; it is slight, delicate, and perhaps a little absurd, at the same time interesting and instructive. The stitches employed in the work are long-and-short, satin, and stem stitches, with chain stitch for the quilting. Plates No. 1 and 2 contain symbolical signs (see chapter commencing on page 36).

Plate No. 3.

Description Of Designs Illustrated 25

Bedspread, modern, in the style of English seventeenth-century crewel work. Embroidered at the Royal School of Art Needlework. Excellent needlework was produced in England in the seventeenth century, and some of the best examples in crewel work have been copied by the Royal School of Art Needlework - in fact, the revival of this kind of embroidery is entirely due to the efforts put forward by the School, where for many years they have been engaged in making hangings, curtains, valances, bedspreads, and furniture covering, using the old crewel-work designs.

The subject of this plate is a characteristic all-over type. The idea of the spreading branches of trees, with various flowers, leaf forms, and birds evenly distributed over the surface in this form, was, in the first place, borrowed from Oriental patterns. There is usually along the bottom of the design an indication of undulated ground - little hillocks of soil, over which odd animals prance and caper. Practically no attention is given to the relative proportion of the creatures represented. The rabbit may be the same size as the antelope and the squirrel the size of the elephant, all very irresponsible and indulgent. At regular intervals sturdy tree stems spring from the ground and meander upwards; these have small branches which intertwine and carry boldly shaped leaves and flowers. The rest of the surface is covered with small foliage, and gaily coloured birds scattered among the branches. The large leaves are often filled with diapers (darnings), the outer edge being worked solidly, occasionally in the form of turnovers, in shades of green,.gra-dated from dark to light. Green is usually the most predominant colour, with touches of tawny yellow, reds, and rich browns to complete the scheme. The foundation of the old examples is generally of linen, or a mixture of linen and cotton. The one from which our plate is made is an ivory-coloured twill of linen and cotton.

Plate No. 4.

Description Of Designs Illustrated 26

Cotton Hanging-. English, 17th Century. Embroidered in Coloured Wools with Leaf Forms, Small Flowers, and Birds.

Plate No. 4. Cotton hanging. English, seventeenth century. Embroidered with leaf forms, small flowers, and birds in various shades of olive-greens, browns, and old gold coloured wools; the birds are worked in rather brighter colours than those for the foliage. At the bottom of the design there is a conventional suggestion of earth, from which spring the long, formal main stems at regular intervals. The big leaves make a point of curling over the main stems; they are worked solidly in rows of stem stitch (called crewel stitch when worked in this form). These leaf forms are really groups of small leaves taking the general shape of a single curling leaf, as will be seen by the detail on Plate No. 5. The edge of each inner leaf is commenced by an outline of light-coloured wool; then a centre line, representing the rib, is worked in dark coloured wood; then this is followed by rows of stitches, graduating in colour from dark to light until the space is filled.

Detail of cotton hanging, from example illustrated on Plate No. 4. This detail is given to show the direction of stitch on the leaves, and the system adopted in the introduction of darker colours. The treatment may be considered a little heavy compared with the method of leaf filling shown on Plate No. 6, also in the bedspread, Plate No. 3, where a large number of the leaves are filled with diapers.

Plate No. 5.

Description Of Designs Illustrated 27

Detail of Cotton Hanging-. English, 17th Century.

in Coloured Wools.


Description Of Designs Illustrated 28

Leaf in Coloured Wools, from a Linen Hanging-. English, 17th Century [1392].

Plate No. 6.

Leaf in coloured wools, from a linen hanging. English, 17th century [1392]. This reproduction illustrates a light method of leaf treatment. The outer band of work is in blue wool, in close herring-bone stitch. The next, in green, is an Oriental stitch - one long stitch the width of the band crossed by a short one in the centre; sometimes called "Roumanian stitch." Then follows a row of very open herring-bone stitch in green. This group is finished on the inside and outside by a tooth border in green. Each fang is made with three stitches which spread at the base and meet and enter the material at the point; the space between each tooth or fang is about a quarter of an inch. The stem and centre fibre of the leaf, in yellow, is formed by a double row of satin stitch worked on the slant; the small veining, in the same colour, is in herring-bone stitch. The diaper filling in green is made with loops of wool held down (couched) by a stitch in the centre, thus taking the shape of a horseshoe.