Author Topic: Alexandra's embroidery techniques  (Read 33927 times)

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Offline carkuczyn

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Alexandra's embroidery techniques
« on: July 19, 2011, 09:50:34 PM »
In every photo that I have seen of Alexandra (or her daughters) embroidering, I notice that it does not look like she used an embroidery hoop.  Was this the way everyone embroidered back then?  It seems like it would be difficult to maintain the proper tension of the stitches without using a hoop.  Then I thought maybe she just used a small hoop which you would not necessarily see in the photos......does anyone know about the embroidery techniques of her day and whether or not she used a hoop when she embroidered.  Also, I know that she was an avid knitter......I wonder if she ever crocheted?  I am curious about these things because I, too, am a person who loves to do needlework.  Thanks for any info anyone may have.

Offline Sarushka

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Re: Alexandra's embroidery techniques
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2011, 10:10:58 PM »
Also, I know that she was an avid knitter......I wonder if she ever crocheted?

I've never run across a reference to AOTMA crocheting, but AF's diary does mention that she and TN did do some tatting in exile.
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Offline Tony de Gandarillas

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Re: Alexandra's embroidery techniques
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2011, 10:18:17 PM »
In every photo that I have seen of Alexandra (or her daughters) embroidering, I notice that it does not look like she used an embroidery hoop.  Was this the way everyone embroidered back then?  It seems like it would be difficult to maintain the proper tension of the stitches without using a hoop.  Then I thought maybe she just used a small hoop which you would not necessarily see in the photos......does anyone know about the embroidery techniques of her day and whether or not she used a hoop when she embroidered.  Also, I know that she was an avid knitter......I wonder if she ever crocheted?  I am curious about these things because I, too, am a person who loves to do needlework.  Thanks for any info anyone may have.

At the time, there were many forms of embroidery that did need an embroidery hoop for equal tension of the fabric.  If you have a chance, please look at Therese de Dillmont's Encyclopedia of Needlework, available to read on line at http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/20776  or The Embroidery of Madeira by Carolyn Walker & Kathy Holman.  This beautiful embroidery also known as broderie anglaise is all done without a hoop.  I hope this helps.

kind regards,

Offline Kitt

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Re: Alexandra's embroidery techniques
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2011, 07:46:27 AM »
Forgive my ignorance please.  Over the decades there have been many sales of jewelry, dishes, and other personal effects of the Romanovs, but have there been any of the vast amount of decorative sewing done by royal ladies?  I did see one cushion cover done by Alexandra in pink and golds. It was exquisite.
All the best, Kitt

Offline Sarushka

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Re: Alexandra's embroidery techniques
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2011, 08:00:41 AM »
I know I've seen a small piece embroidered by Anastasia, but I can't find the photo now. I believe it might have been sold at one of the Crimean charity bazaars.
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Offline Tony de Gandarillas

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Re: Alexandra's embroidery techniques
« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2011, 12:45:30 PM »
Forgive my ignorance please.  Over the decades there have been many sales of jewelry, dishes, and other personal effects of the Romanovs, but have there been any of the vast amount of decorative sewing done by royal ladies?  I did see one cushion cover done by Alexandra in pink and golds. It was exquisite.
All the best, Kitt


I have not seen work done by the Romanov women, but there are Royal ladies that have done a great deal in the world of needlework.

Off the top of my head, the Royal ladies who have excelled in the art of needlework are:

Queen Matilda, William the Conqueror’s wife
Catherine of Aragon
Catherine de’ Medici
Mary, Queen of Scotts
Marie, Queen of Romania

Queen Matilda and her ladies-in-waiting are attributed the creation of the Bayeaux tapestry. Indeed, in France it is occasionally known as "La Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde" (Tapestry of Queen Matilda).

It was Catherine of Aragon’s love of lace and embroidery combined with keen fashion sense that appealed to the English people, even before she was Queen.  Catherine was educated in many disciplines including the "wifely arts."  She was an accomplished embroiderer and many people believe she herself embroidered some of the King Henry's tunics.  The sudden rise in popularity of the reversible scrolling designs on collars and cuffs was certainly due in part to her influence.  In the early 1500s, Blackwork had a distinctly Spanish feel, which explains why it was often referred to as Spanysshe Work.  The black and white scrolling designs had an obvious Moorish influence, hence the term "arabesque" is often employed in the description of such designs.  Since Catherine spent her formative years in Spain and was exposed to Moorish art, architecture and textiles, it is easy to see how the association between her and Blackwork would be made.  However, it is important to note that she merely helped create fascination with this style of embroidery; she did not invent it.  The Blackwork of this period, looked like lace and was reversible, since both sides would be subject to viewing if it adorned cuffs, coifs and collars.  Hans Holbein the Younger, court painter to Henry VIII, meticulously documented these embroideries.  Holbein was not only the royal portrait artist, he was the person responsible for designing the kings robes, buttons, linens and other household goods.  It was his attention to detail and the unfailing vanity of the nobility, that allows us a look back at this phenomenon and it is in his honor that the double running stitch is also called the Holbein Stitch.

Catherine de ' Medici is noted for bringing lace making from Italy to France where it became a national treasure.  There is also an embroidery stich named for her in Italy, punto madama. 

Mary, Queen of Scotts first experience with embroidery and needlework took place in France, when she was married to Francois II, the Dauphin. Her first mother-in-law, Catherine de Medici was very skilled in the art as were most women in those days of the Renaissance. When she returned to Scotland, she would embroider while participating in her Council’s meetings, but until her period of imprisonment in England, Mary had little time to devote to needlework.

In Lady Katherine Hoare's "The Art of Tatting" (1910), not an instruction book at all but rather a book of inspiration using photos of Lady Hoare's work and the tatting of Marie, Queen of Romania. Queen Marie's work in tatting used real gold and precious gems and pearls (mostly religious items) in the pieces.

Offline Alexander1917

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Re: Alexandra's embroidery techniques
« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2011, 05:41:40 PM »
Forgive my ignorance please.  Over the decades there have been many sales of jewelry, dishes, and other personal effects of the Romanovs, but have there been any of the vast amount of decorative sewing done by royal ladies?  I did see one cushion cover done by Alexandra in pink and golds. It was exquisite.
All the best, Kitt


I have not seen work done by the Romanov women, but there are Royal ladies that have done a great deal in the world of needlework.

Off the top of my head, the Royal ladies who have excelled in the art of needlework are:

Queen Matilda, William the Conqueror’s wife
Catherine of Aragon
Catherine de’ Medici
Mary, Queen of Scotts
Marie, Queen of Romania

Queen Matilda and her ladies-in-waiting are attributed the creation of the Bayeaux tapestry. Indeed, in France it is occasionally known as "La Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde" (Tapestry of Queen Matilda).

It was Catherine of Aragon’s love of lace and embroidery combined with keen fashion sense that appealed to the English people, even before she was Queen.  Catherine was educated in many disciplines including the "wifely arts."  She was an accomplished embroiderer and many people believe she herself embroidered some of the King Henry's tunics.  The sudden rise in popularity of the reversible scrolling designs on collars and cuffs was certainly due in part to her influence.  In the early 1500s, Blackwork had a distinctly Spanish feel, which explains why it was often referred to as Spanysshe Work.  The black and white scrolling designs had an obvious Moorish influence, hence the term "arabesque" is often employed in the description of such designs.  Since Catherine spent her formative years in Spain and was exposed to Moorish art, architecture and textiles, it is easy to see how the association between her and Blackwork would be made.  However, it is important to note that she merely helped create fascination with this style of embroidery; she did not invent it.  The Blackwork of this period, looked like lace and was reversible, since both sides would be subject to viewing if it adorned cuffs, coifs and collars.  Hans Holbein the Younger, court painter to Henry VIII, meticulously documented these embroideries.  Holbein was not only the royal portrait artist, he was the person responsible for designing the kings robes, buttons, linens and other household goods.  It was his attention to detail and the unfailing vanity of the nobility, that allows us a look back at this phenomenon and it is in his honor that the double running stitch is also called the Holbein Stitch.

Catherine de ' Medici is noted for bringing lace making from Italy to France where it became a national treasure.  There is also an embroidery stich named for her in Italy, punto madama.  

Mary, Queen of Scotts first experience with embroidery and needlework took place in France, when she was married to Francois II, the Dauphin. Her first mother-in-law, Catherine de Medici was very skilled in the art as were most women in those days of the Renaissance. When she returned to Scotland, she would embroider while participating in her Council’s meetings, but until her period of imprisonment in England, Mary had little time to devote to needlework.

In Lady Katherine Hoare's "The Art of Tatting" (1910), not an instruction book at all but rather a book of inspiration using photos of Lady Hoare's work and the tatting of Marie, Queen of Romania. Queen Marie's work in tatting used real gold and precious gems and pearls (mostly religious items) in the pieces.




not to forget Queen Mary her larged piece, done during her first years of widowhood could be seen her http://www.gallery.ca/en/see/collections/artwork.php?mkey=3562

Offline amelia

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Re: Alexandra's embroidery techniques
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2011, 10:27:00 AM »
Downstairs in the Feodorovsky Sobor, inside a glass case, there is a cushion embroidered in crewel work by Alexandra. i was told that she made it while in Tobolsk.  It is very well embroidered and the interesting thing is that crewel work was the favorite stitch of Queen Victoria.

Amelia

Offline Speedycat

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Re: Alexandra's embroidery techniques
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2011, 08:07:33 PM »
Needlwork (of all sorts) is one of my favorite pass-times.  I would love to see examples of the work of Alexandra and her daughters.  I have seen a photo of Alexandra working on a very large piece of needlework....she is seated in a wheelchair in the photo.  She is not using a hopp there and I believe that is because she is working on canvas rather then linen or cotton.  In my experience I use a hoop for cross-stitch done on softer woven fabrics and do not use a hoop when working on needlepoint using a stiff canvas.

Offline Talya

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Re: Alexandra's embroidery techniques
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2011, 01:50:52 AM »
I know of one kind of embroidery that doesn't need a hoop; I can't seem to remember it though! *scowl*  I know the photo your talking about, taken during house arrest in 1917 at the AP Park @ Tsarskoe Selo. The embroidery is so nice! Anyone have any photos of the embroidery today?
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Offline Tony de Gandarillas

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Re: Alexandra's embroidery techniques
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2011, 08:59:38 PM »
I know of one kind of embroidery that doesn't need a hoop; I can't seem to remember it though! *scowl*  I know the photo your talking about, taken during house arrest in 1917 at the AP Park @ Tsarskoe Selo. The embroidery is so nice! Anyone have any photos of the embroidery today?

Hardanger is also done without an embroidery hoop.  Is this the type you were thing of?

Offline Talya

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Re: Alexandra's embroidery techniques
« Reply #11 on: August 02, 2011, 02:24:48 AM »
Maybe... Hmmm...
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Offline zlata nikolaevna

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Re: Alexandra's embroidery techniques
« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2011, 06:12:28 AM »
Not everyone uses a hoop, even today, for a small scale embroidery of every kind. My grandmother was amazing and she never used it, although she owned a couple. I still have them-brand new and never used!

Here is a link of needlework books online, of the Romanovs' era. Surely some of those patterns are similar to the ones embroidered by Alexandra and her daughters.

http://www.antiquepatternlibrary.org/html/warm/embroidery.htm

Hopefully linking is permited?

Offline TheMauveRoom

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Re: Alexandra's embroidery techniques
« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2012, 06:21:59 PM »
I recently found a picture of Alexandra crocheting on her couch in the Mauve Room. Of course, now that I am looking for it in my collection I can't seem to find it. If their mother knew how to crochet, at the very least Tatiana (the best needlewoman of the girls) must have known how as well. I do know that crocheting was never even remotely popular until the Victorian age and even then knitting was much more widespread. I have seen a few pictures of Alexandra and the girls doing needlework as well as a photo of Alexandra's 1918 diary worked by Tatiana and a pillow case allegedly done by Alexandra. It would be wonderful to see some more extant pieces that are attributed to the Grand Duchesses (if there are any, that is.) In the meantime, I will try to find that pesky picture of Alexandra crocheting.
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Offline TheMauveRoom

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Re: Alexandra's embroidery techniques
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2012, 06:38:22 PM »
Here is a picture of Olga crocheting, c. 1910. In the close up, you can see that she is holding a single hook, not two needles. The fabric Alexei is holding appears to be done in double crochet.

http://i1261.photobucket.com/albums/ii593/TheMauveRoom/Pre-1894/1905-1910/a9a272d9.png

http://i1261.photobucket.com/albums/ii593/TheMauveRoom/Pre-1894/1905-1910/c2ddc598.jpg
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