Straw Embroidery

Straw Embroidery? Who would have thought such a thing? Victorian women, of course. It isn’t used any more (at least to my knowledge) but it is interesting to see how ingenious Victorian ladies were when it came to decorating items for the home as well as clothing.

The only reference to Straw Embroidery I have found is dated in the early to mid-1880’s. I have not found any other reference to this type of embroidery after 1887.

This work was originally used for ball dress trimmings, or to ornament an entire net dress. It consisted in tacking upon black Brussels silk net, or yellow colored net, leaves, flowers, corn, butterflies, etc., that were stamped out of straw, and connecting these with thick lines made of yellow filoselle.

Victorian ladies were known to adapt needlework to other handicrafts so it is quite possible that Straw Embroidery was also used on household items such as decorative boxes, scrapbags or other items that required little or no cleaning.

Straw Embroidery
Click on picture to see more detail.

The leaves were stamped in eight different shapes, of which three are shown above. These leaves, as well as flowers and butterflies could be found in different sizes. All were available for purchase at most establishments that sold sewing and embroidery goods.

To work: Trace out upon white linen a running pattern of leaves, flowers, etc., back this with brown paper, and tack on to it a strip of black or colored net. Take some filoselle, matching the straw leaves in color, divide it in half, and run with it, or work in Rope Stitch, all the stems and tendrils in the pattern. Then slightly gum the straw leaves and flowers to their places, and afterwards stitch them into their positions with a few stitches down their centers, made with fine silk.


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