For your weekend reading, you might enjoy an old book, published in 1911, about Art Embroidery. But it’s an old book with a twist.
I think it’s an interesting twist, and I think you might find it interesting, too!
Just glancing at the photo above, I’m reminded of Society Silk embroidery – or “Silk Art Embroidery” – from the early part of the 20th century. This is the type of embroidery that contributed in part to the boom of silk thread mills in the US, mills like Beldings, Hemminway, Corticelli, and the like, all of which ended up, in one way or another, combining forces and then eventually petering out.
Society Silk petered out, too.
If you want to read a little bit more about Society Silk, you can visit this article, which focuses on a very nice online resource for Society Silk photos, as well as this article on Society Silk, where Donna Cardwell, author of the book Silk Art Embroidery, answers some questions about Society Silk.
Back to the book, though!
I was enjoying a squizz around Internet Archive, meandering through embroidery-related books, when I came across this book titled Singer Instructions for Art Embroidery.
It was published in 1911. And sure enough, those strawberries up there are machine embroidered. According to the photo caption in the book, they were embroidered with a standard Singer home sewing machine without special attachments. Pretty impressive, for 1911.
The book features many types of embroidery. In fact, if you’re familiar with the old Hemminway or Belding books on art embroidery (done by hand) and the like, this booklet will look a lot like those published by the silk thread industry.
You’ll find information in there on drawn thread work, on many types of lace making, on shaded embroidery, including shaded embroidery on velvet like that pictured above.
*Sigh* If only Singer had met Elvis…just imagine!
The Singer company was masterful at marketing. The whole early sewing machine industry being fraught with patent disputes and the like, it was the Singer company that eventually brought it all together and got the sewing machine out into people’s homes.
Their marketing ploys had to appeal to the women who were doing handwork, and with Society Silk all the rage, it stands to reason that the Singer company would trade a bit on what the silk industry was doing with their instructional booklets. This particular booklet is a good example of that.
Singer Instructions for Art Embroidery is interesting for the hand embroiderer, too. There’s a lot of information in there that applies more to hand embroidery than to machine embroidery and plenty that can be adapted back to hand embroidery, from when it came, anyway.
You can find the book in flip format here:
Singer Instructions for Art Embroidery on Internet Archives
The images in the book are clearer if you can view them in the flip format online. You can also download a PDF (in color or black and white), but the images are decidedly less clear.
And if you want to get lost for a few hours of exploration this weekend, you might enjoy browsing through their ebook and text collections, with the search results for embroidery. Careful, though! You might not resurface until Monday!
Hope you enjoy it! Have a swell weekend!