Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Historical Stitching

I am still helping my daughter who had a knee replaced 1 1/2 weeks ago.  I don't have my quilt with me, but I do have my computer so all is not lost.

This is a good time to look back in history at the sewing of a past era.  Women seem to have been driven to sew from the beginning of time.  Maybe it started with utilitarian purpose, but in time those who had spare moments in their lives stitched for pleasure and beauty.  Little girls were taught embroidery skills at a very young age.  I taught my daughters to sew when they were young, but in this day and age they don't have to unless they want to.  They didn't all take to it, but three of my girls are accomplished quilters.

I digress.  I gave one daughter a beautiful piece of embroidery that was done by an direct ancestress of mine named Helen (Boteler) Chernocke who lived from 1671-1741 in England.

Helen (Boteler) Chernocke
 There is a story about the portrait.  The child is probably named Pynsent after his father,  and he died young after playing with "lucifers" (matches).  He may have been the oldest son as some years later they named another son Pynsent.

The embroidery is so lovely and in such amazingly great condition, though there is some age-related damage.  It was originally a cushion cover that was not meant to be sat upon.  It may have been for a special chair - we can only speculate.  The motifs were outlined in coiled gold.  This was very thin, real gold wrapped around silk thread and couched to the background.  The gold is mostly gone now, but there are a few specks of it.  The thread around which it was coiled is red.

Helen's lovely embroidery.
We looked into repairing it, but the experts say not to try as today's threads are too strong and will damage the old fabric and stitching.  There are people who work on things like this, but we have not contacted them.  My daughter has it carefully covered with muslin and stores it flat.  I have one or two more pieces that are more damaged than this.

I thought you might like to see the kind of work that was done at that time by women who had time on their hands.  I get my interest in sewing honestly!

Sew a happy seam this week.  I hope you enjoy this week's diversion.


  1. Your embroidered heirloom is lovely. All the generations in your family must have treasured it for it to be in such good condition today.

  2. What a treasure! Perhaps you could have it professionally framed by someone who knows how to work with fabric pieces.

  3. Ah, visions of days gone by. Amazing how ladies had so much time for delicate hand work. Thanks for sharing this on Midweek Makers

  4. truly amazing - thanks for sharing

  5. That is an exquisite piece of work and I enjoyed hearing about your family history :)

  6. The work is indeed beautiful. If you need further advice on preserving it or repairing it, I would suggest you consult the Royal School of Needlework in England. :-)