Swiss Embroidery

Swiss Embroidery is the same as is known as Broderie Anglaise, Irish Work, and Madeira Work. It consists of working upon fine linen or thin muslin patterns in Satin Stitch and other Embroidery Stitches with white Embroidery cotton. During the first half of the 19th century the peasants of Switzerland were celebrated for the beauty and delicacy of the work they produced, but since White Embroidery has been made by machinery, the work has died out as a trade manufacture.

Swiss or Broderie Anglaise embroidery in Painting

The painting, Broken Vows, painted by Philip Calderon in 1857 provides a wonderful likeness of Broderie Anglaise and how it was used in clothing at that time. The close-up of the cuff shows the great detail that makes this a truly beautiful type of embroidery.

For a description of the work, see Broderie Anglaise.



The information above was found in The Dictionary of Needlework: An Encyclopedia of Artistic, Plain and Fancy Needlework, 1887, by S.F.A. Caulfeild and Blanche c. Saward, edited for use on this site.

This embroidery is a series of various size holes arranged in floral or geometrical patterns. Outlines of the circles are run around with thread and then the centers pierced with a piercing tool or cut with small and very sharp scissors.

Buttonhole, or over-cast stich, are often the stitches of choice to use with this embroidery. The holes are sometimes graduated, to form scallops, leaves and flowers instead of the often seen patterns made up of identical circles. To obtain this type of look, each sttich is taken longer or shorter than the one preceding it.

The edges are then turned under and sewn with very close and even stitches. Since a thread was run around the holes, once the sewing is commenced, a raised outline in formed.

The precision of the holes being regular and even is what makes this embroidery so beautiful.

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