Dresdenwork neckerchief finished!

I have finished a piece of Dresdenwork I have been working on for a year now - not all the time, of course, but I started it in February last year! It's a new neckerchief, since the one I already have is on exhibition in the Captain Cook Memorial Museum in Whitby this year. One of the hazards of exhibiting stuff is needing more stuff to keep you going in the meanwhile......

I love Dresdenwork! Dresden Whitework was very popular during the 18th century and on into the 19th. It was used for accessories such as caps, neckerchiefs and ruffles, as well as baby gowns. It was usually stitched on white linen, silk or cotton muslin with matching white cotton or silk thread. It uses a variety of outline stitches, satin stitch or close blanket stitch, plus a dazzling variety of pulled work infill stitches. The fabric they used was about 70 threads to the inch, and was much closer to what we now call "cotton voile" than today's muslin.

There are some beautiful examples of Dresdenwork in museum collections, and if you are interested, Heather Toomer has written a lovely trio of books about Whitework, "Embroidered with White", "White-embroidered costume accessories the 1790s to 1840s" and "Baby wore white". The photos and illustrations are super!

This particular piece is cotton on cotton, using a couple of lace-making threads for much of the embroidery. Lace threads are tightly twisted, and fine enough for the small stitching of the outlines and the infill work. The outlines are tamboured, producing double lines of chain stitch. Infills are stitched with a 120/3 lace thread which is almost the same thickness (thin-ness?) as the threads of the weave. The blanket stitch leaves and scalloped border are stitched with Anchor stranded thread, using a single strand. Once stitched, the scalloped edge is trimmed close to the stitching, which is a fiddly job best done with small, sharp embroidery scissors! Many of the 18th century examples use different threads, some more tightly twisted than others. The design is my own, but loosely based on 18C examples. The piece took me 170 hours work, which is quite a lot of time!

One advantage of Dresdenwork is that it is washable: that was also an advantage in the 18/19th centuries, where the Whitework sleeve ruffles, for example, could be much more easily laundered than the gown itself. It hand-washes easily, with care, and can be starched. Once dried, it irons well. Starching helps it keep its crisp feel. I use old fashioned powder starch, as it gives a more even crispness than spray starch. And is more historically accurate, of course........

Pictures show the finished piece, plus a picture taken while it was in progress.

First outing for the new neckerchief will be my lecture on the Cook Waistcoat Project to Skipton Branch of the Embroiderers Guild in a couple of weeks. I'm glad to have it finished, except that I now don't have a nice little portable piece to take out stitching. Sleeve ruffles, anyone?

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