Sunday, August 8, 2010


I crocheted this edge on the bottom of these drawers to dress them up and to maybe mimic whitework.  Since the original post where I was wondering what whitework really was, Liz Clark gave me the primer (rhymes with swimmer).  My edging is NOT whitework.  See her comment below.  Liz also provided some links to pictures (below). 

Real whitework looks like this:

Holy moley, isn't it gorgeous!  Don't think I'll be attempting that one anytime soon.

Another one:

(Confession:  I crocheted on the wrong side of my second leg!  I noticed after I was a couple inches into it, but still, didn't want to take it out.  Oh well.  From a distance you can't tell!)

1 comment:

Liz C said...

Oh, whitework is a particular favorite of mine! If you hit the SA forum, there's a big fat lot of discussion on it, with pictures and all, and links to places to buy the better modern equivalents (which are *not* as nice as the original stuff!)

Basically, whitework at mid-century is white thread embroidery on white fabric. There are multiple styles, including English or Broderie Anglaise, which is is a design worked in eyelets, multiple French iterations, and lots of Scottish versions, too, including Ayrshire work, which is a small obsession for me.

Whitework could be done at home--it's not terribly complex in most form, using satin stitch, padded satin stitch, and worked eyelets, plus buttonholed edging--or it could be purchased. By the mid-1850s, embroidering machines in factories produced *very* high quality whitework that could be sold cheaply, too... this stuff is so much nicer than even the best of the modern white embroidered edgings and insertions from Switzerland and France!

Waxing long, but here are two images to give you an idea about mid-century whitework:

Here's a baby dress; it's not a christening gown, actually, just a whiteworked everyday infant dress for, perhaps, a professional-class family. Keep in mind that every portion of the gown could be purchased--so a person could combine a purchased central panel with their own handwork for the little bretelles or edgings:

This baby cap is whitework, in a simplified Ayrshire style. The listing has one aspect incorrect: the open netting mesh areas are not handworked. They are machined cotton net bits, embroidered into the cap by hand. In the older, more complex Ayrshier, the open spaces would be handworked needle-lace designs instead.

Hope that helps a tad! The closest equivalent we have today are the better Swiss white embroidered edgings and insertions... the Dressmaker's Guide has instructions on using them, if that's needed.

Cheers (and welcome to the obsession)!


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