Vintage & Fashion news, pretty vintage items and of course wee bit personal life style ramblings of an eleven year on line vintage clothing seller, avid fashion, antique and vintage lover

Monday, June 21, 2010

Eyelet & Embroidery ~ did you know?

Have you seen that ridiculous commercial for Bing ~ the one that shows information overload? well, that's where i am right now.

i miss the good old days when you went to the library, pulled a ton of books from a specific section, took them home and gleaned the information you needed.

but now? nooooooooo.. Why drive all the way to a library (if your's is still open).. when you can just google it.. get information overload. Unfortunately. I couldn't even get what i was looking for.

what was i searching? eyelet. Crisp, beautiful, embellished embroidered eyelet. I listed a few items last week in eyelet.. one of my ultimate favorite treatments on clothing.

To get to the history of eyelet, i had to weed through embroidery first.. but it was really interesting.

One version credits embroidery to the Egyptians. . The earliest surviving embroidered cloth is Egyptian, preserved by the dry desert climate from the 6th century. Ancient Egyptians also created embroidery with white threads on a white canvas that was so sophisticated that even today's modern technologies can't exactly duplicate it.( getting closer to white eyelet?? nooo)

In the 16th Century, the Chinese were creating two sided embroidery with silk threads on silk fabric.

We also have Greece, Italian workshops, Czech and German ecclesiastical embroideries of the 10th and 11th centuries, which were mainly created in monasteries and convents.

The earliest embroidery to survive in England (from 906) is a stole and maniple (church vestments) from the tomb of St. Cuthbert at Durham.

Yet another source credits the year 1639 and the Monarchy in England. . England was also credited "Elizabethian Embroidery" in the 16th centrury as raised embroidery, which we call "crewel" today.

We cant forget Ireland, who is also famous for it fabulous Irish linens and gorgeous cutwork, both ancient products.

Much like Mexican embroidery, different regions offered different styles and techniques. All were being developed simultaneously by any country that practiced sewing; each area unique, despite being a common skill.

Evidently, embroidery began as a male thing. Yep.. men invented it, then some time through the years, women enjoyed it as well. Victorian embroidery was considered an important part of a girl’s education and for part of her trousseau. Poor girls could use their needle skills to find paying work. Girls living in their Little houses on the Prairie did samplers.. Pieces of embroidery with sayings, the alphabet or just a "sample" of all their skills with various needle stitches.

But.. i still couldn't find my eyelet information. Also referred to as openwork, white works, pulled-thread, and Ayrshire Needlework, which originated in Scotland in the late 1700s.

Then i researched Broderie Anglaise - (English Embroidery), with its large eyelets and simple cutwork, was used to embellish clothing and linens. Sometimes referred to as Eyelet, Madeira, monochromatic embroidery or Swiss Work.

So i had even more names to research.. see what i mean about "information overload"??

Closest to what we currently in America refer to as Eyelet Lace is by the technical name of "Cutwork." Areas are finished with closely placed buttonhole stitches and then the inner fabric is cut away. Satin stitch is used, and for the more ornate varieties, buttonhole bars are used to fill the spaces between the remaining fabric. The result is a lace-like effect., except i thought the buttonhole bar style was called faggotting. i know horrible name, but i didn't invent it.

Then we have "Specific styles of cutwork" ~ Renaissance, Richelieu, and Venetian.

Geeze! all i wanted to know was who invented embroidered eyelet lace?? From all this, i narrowed down to "Whitework" and discovered Redwork, (first became popular in the 1880s) then bluework ~
outline embroidery almost identical redwork embroidery except stitched with blue thread instead of red.

Then i discovered eyelet was extremely difficult and most likely conceived in the 1700's. I pretty much guessed the difficult part~ stitching with white thread on white? exact, precise perfect stitches? Excellent eyesight would be a requirement, I am sure. And i did discover that early eyelet was embroidered first.. the holes cut after.

Sadly, our little local library is closed, due to county budget cuts.. so i had no alternative to google overload. And after all this research, I thought i'd pare it down to basics and share it ~ it was fascinating, i hated to waste and honest... all i wanted was a little blip about the history of eyelet to share with you, and three of the new eyelet pretties i have on


  1. It is hard to find info on eyelet online! That's how I found you. Wondering if I could use this simple vintage black eyelet I have stashed that was passed down to me in a Tropical 1795ish mourning dress, semi-historically accurate. I think I might do it.

    Thanks for sharing your info online. Helpful even 2+ years later.

  2. Thank you for reading my blog and taking the time to comment Darcie. Would LOVE to see the black eyelet, I can only imagine how fabulous it is, and amazing that you have it all these years later.. what a treasure! yvonne

  3. Thank you for your research. I am using eyelet on a Regency era sleeveless pelisse.

  4. I agree! I'm trying to find out when eyelet fabric was first available? Hopefully WWII-ish for a slip I want to make? Well, I don't know...