HNW - 15th/16th c. embroidery Noramunro at
Thu Mar 22 15:01:19 PST 2001

In a message dated 3/22/2001 9:04:11 AM Eastern Standard Time, 
SNSpies at writes:

> This may be part of the answer, but I would like to go back to your 
>  off-the-cuff answer, Alianora:  fashion.  

Well, my point (possibly a bit oblique!) was that these things were 
available, and better, they were new and expensive.  Sounds like the perfect 
recipe for a new fashion craze!

>  Although embroidery was used 
>  throughout the entire Middle Ages, from what I've seen in my research, the 
>  preferred method of trimming a lot of garments was the addition of bands 
>  various sorts.  You'll notice that many many pictures show garb with bands 
>  at the neckline, cuffs, hems, as well as other places.  Apparently these 
>  could be made in a variety of techniques:  loom weaving, tablet weaving, 
>  appliqued fabric (especially silks), and appliqued embroidery.

But again, you just don't find this in the 14th and 15th centuries in 
northern Europe (I'm talking the British Archipelago, France, and the Low 
countries, here, my particular sphere of interest).  Cotehardies, both men's 
and women's, are very plain in terms of ornamentation, and generally also in 
terms of fabric.  15th C clothes in the same general region again don't show 
much ornamentation.  You see the fur trimming (actually fur lining in most 
cases) at collars, cuffs, and hems, and of course expensive patterned 
fabrics, but very little in the way of banded trims otherwise.  The few 
representations we have of women's underclothes and men's shirts from that 
period also don't show embroidery -- almost miraculous pleating sometimes, 
but not embroidery proper.

I with my modern eyes look at the piece that fills the front of the v-necked 
Burgundian gowns and see a space just crying out for embellishment, but the 
only example of decoration I've ever seen on such a thing was in one 
illumination, and there the pattern was regular enough it might have 
represented a woven design ...  

>  Embroidery, 
>  again from my years of looking for bands in pictures!. seems to have 
>  flowered greatly in the Renaissance.

Certainly in its use on garments, anyway!  People before the Renaissance did 
marvelous embroidery -- they just don't seem to have worn it much.

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