Monday, January 11, 2010
February Inspiration -- Part 2, or "How to land a man"
Look closely at the needlework on the near left. If you're like most people you probably think, "Hmm...some kind of embroidery. Nice colors." If you're part of the 1% who still do needlework, you just clapped your hand to your forehead and said, "Mein Gott! That's the smallest chain stitch I've ever seen! Some poor woman went blind doing this."
I am in the forehead-clapping group. After I received this vintage trim as a gift from my mom, I had to do some research. (Okay, gift is too strong a word. I had to wrestle it out of her hands. More about Mom and her issues with fabric trim at another time.)
What stumped me was this looked exactly like embroidery chain stitch, but it was too perfect and there was too much of it. I finally found the answer in a book called Plain & Fancy, American Women and their Needlework. What I had was called tambour work, and it's actually done on muslin with a poker that looks like a teeny weeny crochet hook.
This particular trim is circa 1920 - 1940, and so it was done by machine. But up until the 1860's tambour work -- and all needlework -- was part of a woman's man-trapping arsenal. It was considered "one of the feminine charms," (right along with what was squeezed up above her corset.)
Just study the image of the painting above, with that sultry Miss Vick working the tambour stitch. Oh, sure, her innocent cousin Miss Foster blithely holds the pattern, but that hussy Miss Vick looks out at us, knowing the power of her "beguiling poses." In the 1850s, a potential suitor was led through the house -- before he ever received tea or sherry -- and forced to examine the needlework of the young lady of the home. By the time he reached the ultimate, her Sampler, he was in a fever and couldn't take it any more.
"That's the Queen's Stitch -- you hot babe! Marry me and recover my footstool, I beg you!"
And we, the sisters of La Boutique, dare to bring such a potent piece of needlework into your doll's life. For February, we'll be offering an optional tote made of this wonderful vintage trim. All your girl has to do is swing her tote as she saunters along the beach, and every 1850s male doll will be slavering after her. He'll never know it was machine made (men are so easily fooled.)
Whoops! Did I say 'beach'?