Crewel Work Fabric for hangings

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Crewel Work Fabric for hangings

Postby Sophia » Sun Dec 03, 2006 1:34 am

About what date did crewel work hangings appear in England (by crewel work, I mean chainstitch embroidery in wool on a cotton or linen canvas type ground)?

If so would either of the following be suitable for making tent hangings:


Sophia :D

edited once 00:42 03/12/06[/url]

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Postby seamsmistress » Sun Dec 03, 2006 3:51 am

Not an expert by any means, but as far as I can tell, crewel work goes back to the 16thC. Plenty of interesting links out there. I found this one which cites some good references.

Come to think of it, I'm certain I saw some items at Hardwick Hall, but unfortunately was limited for time and didn't have chance for a really close examination.

So I'm thinking it depends on which period you're re-enacting as to whether it will be of any use to you. That said, the first design has a rather crude 16th C appearance [by which I mean, the tudors were exacting in their furnishing embroideries and this has a rather clumsy look to it, but the tulip shape is often used in that period] and the second design is reminiscent of the 18thC.

Only my opinion, for what it's worth.

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Postby calicocloth » Sun Dec 03, 2006 9:33 am

Just a thought - tulips were not introduced into Europe until the late 16th century so that too depends on the period you are interpreting.

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Postby Sophia » Sun Dec 03, 2006 2:48 pm

Thanks for that folks. You have pretty much confirmed my thoughts. Will have to rethink on hangings as they have to do WOTR and - assuming I get accepted - Kentwell.

Will probably go for a generic plain cloth at this rate.


P.S. Might buy the tulip stuff anyway though.

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Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Sun Dec 03, 2006 6:46 pm

T'wd be crewel if you did all that hard work and everyone said sorry not here.


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Postby Shadowcat » Sun Dec 03, 2006 7:21 pm

Paraphrasing Pamela Clabburn in "The Needleworkers' Dictionary" published in 1976, "Crewel wool has been used for embroidery for at least 600 years. However, crewel work, meaning work done with crewel wool, is often erroneously used for the 17th Jacobean embroideries popular at the time."

In other words, you could probably use crewel wool embroidered hangings if you wanted to, just not the patterns that you showed. Incidentally, wall hangings in the 15th century, I thought, were usually tapestries? Anybody correct me?


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Postby Theotherone » Sun Dec 03, 2006 7:25 pm

Aparently Queen isabella bought a hanging embroidered with pictures of baboons on one of her trips to France.

Because there would have to be three of them.

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Postby Tuppence » Mon Dec 04, 2006 1:22 am

crewel work (which it's quite true is the modern name for multi coloured jacobean type embroidery) had it's heyday during the 17th century, although it was known from a bit earlier (like blackwork, it cam efrom europe.

that said, crewel wool (as in what we today know as crewel wool) has a very long history.

the bayeux EMBROIDERY is done in what we'd call crewel wool.

Sorry, but both patterns would really be wrong for anything prior to late 16th century (although I saw one Norman group a couple of years ago with jacobean embroidered curtain fabric as a table cloth :shock: ).

Of the two I'd say that the second one you posted is more akin to the motifs and designs generally thought of as jacobean. that said - the other one isn't wrong in pattern for the later period - I think I might know the pattern that's based on and it's bang in the middle of the first half of the 17th C.

However, all that said, the main problem I have with al the modern variants on these designs (i.e. the commercially available ones), is that they're just all way too crude.

I don't mean crude in the sense of badly or inexpertly worked, but the designs are enlarged so that they can be worked faster, and the stitches used are far larger than anything in the historical stuff, and it just looks glaringly wrong to me. I've seen several people (17th C re-enactors mostly) with assorted clothing made out of this stuff, and it just makes me want to poke them!!!!

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