Textiles, by their very nature, tend to be delicate objects, so that--when exposed to light and repeated washings, as well as general wear and tear--only a fraction survive for any extended length of time. Only through careful and loving preservation, do we have these fragile artifacts to view and study.
So it is with great excitement that the International Quilt Study Center & Museum, in Lincoln, NE, is featuring--for the first time ever--an exhibit of the white corded work known around the world as Broderie de Marseille. The exhibit runs from November 13, 2010 through May 8, 2011, and will include all manner of this unique whitework, including bedcoverings, wedding quilts, petticoats, corsets, and caps from the fashion conscious of the 17th century.
The signature three-dimensional effect of these coveted textiles was achieved by only the most skilled needleworkers. A pattern was marked on the top fabric, generally a finely woven cotton or linen. A more loosely woven fabric was placed behind, and then the two fabrics were stretched in a frame.The needleworker followed the pre-marked design with small running stitches to form narrow channels and openings. Once the entire design was stitched, the frame was turned over for next step in the process.
Once the piece was turned, the weave of the more loosely woven backing fabric would be manuevered to create holes for the insertion of a fine cotton cording. The cording would be pulled through the various channels, or pushed into the small openings to produce an elaborate, three-dimensional, raised effect. Folk legends, flowers, monograms, or sentimental messages were often the themes of these wildly popular textiles; however, due to the very nature of the work involved, only those with status and income could afford such a luxury item.
To learn more about the upcoming show, click here.