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Applique is a technique that combines normal sewing with embroidery. It has been used throughout history to create various household decorations such as hangings or bed clothes and also for clothing.

Materials Used

Stitches and Techniques

Applique usually involves cutting out a design in one fabric and then applying it, using normal handsewing techniques, to another piece of fabric. When wool was used there was no fraying because of the partial felting that occurs during fulling. More fragile fabrics such as silk brocades or velvets, used candle wax or glues on the edges to prevent fraying during the application process.

Extant Pieces

  • Wall hangings: Tristan hanging (Staniland); Hardwick Virtues (Levey)
  • Canopies: Baldaquin or canopy from 15th century Sweden (Schuette, fig. 190 and Staniland, fig. 35 (in color)). This can also be seen on-line at (2nd piece in 2nd row, I think 3rd in 1st row is also applique)
  • 16th century Italian, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Cavallo, #91)
  • Bed curtains: Scottish, 16th or 17th century, velvet on wool (Swain, plate 6a and 6b)
  • Funeral palls: "Totenteppich" Funeral Pall, 2nd half of the 15th century (Schuette, fig. 304 and Clabburn, fig. 52)
  • Pillows: Hardwick (Levey), V&A (King & Levey, plates 21-24)
  • Heraldic bag (Staniland)
  • Mameluke cover and heraldic pieces (Ellis)
  • Schuette flower panel
  • Clothing in Patterns of Fashion
  • Gloves in Cleveland painting
  • Canvaswork slips

Sources for Further Study

  • Arthur, Liz. "Embroidery 1600-1700 at the Burrell Collection". London: John Murray (Publishers) Ltd, 1995.
  • Cavallo, Adolph S. "Textiles: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum". Boston: Trustees, 1986.
  • Clabburn, Pamela. "Masterpieces of Embroidery". Oxford: Phaidon Press Limited, 1981.
  • Ellis, Marianne. "Embroideries and Samplers from Islamic Egypt". Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2001.
  • King, Donald and Levey, Santina. "The Victoria & Albert Museum's Textile Collection: Embroidery in Britain from 1200 to 1750". New York: Canopy Books, 1993.
  • Levey, Santina. "Elizabethan Treasures: The Hardwick Hall Textiles". New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1998.
  • Schuette, Marie and Mueller-Christensen, Sigrid. "A Pictorial History of Embroidery". New York: Praeger, 1964.
  • Staniland, Kay. "Medieval Craftsmen: Embroiderers". British Museum Press and University of Toronto Press, 1991.
  • Swain, Margaret H. "Historical Needlework: A Study of Influences in Scotland and Northern England". New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1970.