Sunday, December 9, 2012

Some lovely whitework trim, circa 19th century.

I came across this great trim on eBay. I bought it thinking it might be nice at the top of my 1903 Edwardian corset. I thought it looked similar to the trim on this Edwardian corset, owned by Shelley Peters.

C. 1912 Edwardian corset.
Click here for loads more pics and info!

The seller said it was "Victorian", but I can't tell for certain how early or late. It may be early 1800's. Now that I have it, I don't think I'll use it for the corset after all. I don't want to cut into it, it's so pretty!

It is hand embroidered and the thread and fabric are cotton. The fabric is a very soft, fine plain weave, like the softest lawn you could ever find, or a true muslin. Very gauzy. The design looks to be grapes with flowers and leaves. It's done in satin stitch, which has been padded, with buttonhole around the openwork and at the scalloped hem. The heart shaped petals on the flowers are outlined in satin and filled with a closely spaced seed stitch. The thread used for the embroidery is a non-divisible two ply, very thin, much like one strand taken from a skein of 6 strand DMC floss. I think each of said strands is a size 25. The picture at the very top shows the embroidery and sheerness of the fabric very well.

Most of the piece, which measures 50" by 3", is in excellent condition, with only a small portion damaged with small holes.

In the following photo, you can see how the ends are treated. This 50" by 3" piece is complete and not a cut off portion of the original trim. The scalloped hem ends about 1/4" from the end, on both ends. The ends and the top are cut straight, with the top showing some evidence of having been hemmed.

In the next two photos, you can see some interesting evidence of the piece's former use left behind. Along the top, there are a few bits of thread left stitched. They show that the top once was finished with a rolled hem. I pulled on the threads to see if the edge would gather up, like a whipped gather, but it does not. The stitches are loosely spaced. It looks to me like that edge wasn't meant to be seen, so perhaps it was just quickly finished to keep it from unraveling. Why it is unpicked now, I have no idea. Any guesses?

There is also a little stitch, done with double thread, about 16" from the left end, and in the center width-wise (below). It is cut through on the back side, and is now only tacked through the fabric. While the thread along the top is fine sewing thread, this little stitch is done in the same thicker perle that is embroidery is done with. I wonder what it's doing there...

This last photo shows the back side of the work. The embroidery is mostly finished neatly, though some thread ends stick out. I would love to know what this was originally used for. I'm guessing some kind of exterior trim. The whitework is reminiscent of some mid to late 19th century under things I have, but the fabric is much, much finer. Maybe a gauzy collar or cuffs? Maybe it's much more recent, but something about it says like 1820's, 1830's to me. Any ideas?


  1. Such beautiful embroidery, I can understand why you can't cut into it, perhaps use it to trim a petticoat?

  2. Caroline,
    I wanted to thank you for keeping such a lovely blog. Your posts have been a joy to read, and I'd like to show my appreciation by awarding you with the 'One Lovely Blog Award'. You can get the graphic at the following shortlink and read the details about the award.

  3. I agree with Susan, this is winning award blog! It deserve it!