18th Century Embroidery Techniques

Gail Marsh

Gail’s love for the 18th century embroidery/fashions are shown throughout her book. Like most books, she first takes us to introductions. But, this has a different twist. After Gail teaches us tools and equipment that was used in the 1700’s, she gives us a short history of the working life of “highest-paid trade for women” and the common wives, sisters and daughters of the times.”   On page 32, Mrs. Marsh states, “Embroiderers always rolled the rollers on top of the stretched fabric, so that the already worked embroidery was rolled inside and protected.” This is a great hint for all stitchers past and present.


Throughout the book, we learn about metal, silk and novelty threads along with different techniques such as quilting, whitework, tambour, crewel and Hollie Point. Each section explains various types of clothing such as stomachers, men’s coats, aprons, baby’s caps, petticoats and vest. Gail doesn’t just talk about these but explains how they were worked and the types of threads, techniques and little known facts. You can see her love for textiles and embroidery as you read through the pages.


Gail states, Hollie Point “is no longer practiced today.”   Her instructions are so exact that I, for one, will be adding Hollie Point to my next embroidery project.


I especially enjoyed Gail’s quote, “I hope that when you have read this book you will be inspired to take up a needle to stitch your own version of an 18th-century embroidered piece…” Although embroidering an entire piece of clothing is a little daunting, learning the history and techniques along with lovely pictures and illustrations, this book is a great read for anyone who enjoys textiles, embroidery or clothing construction.