What is Embroidery?
The 'Larousse' dictionary states that it is the art of decorating a piece of material with a needle according to a specific design.
The use of embroidery started very early in history. For a long time, embroidery was reserved for high religious figures and affluent people, with the use of gold threads and silk materials. Eventually, embroidery was made more affordable, as different techniques developed and the choice and availability of fabrics increased. Today, traditional embroidery is part of our national cultural heritage.
Modern embroidery is also an art with contemporary creations such as embroidery sculptures...
The practice of any embroidery is relaxing and anti-stress.
A little bit about Touraine embroidery
Hand embroidery can be done using numerous different styles. One of the most refined techniques is white embroidery. This is what I specialise in.
Since its early stages, this style is defined by the use of white threads on white fabrics. Pulled threads, raised stitches..., are characteristics of this art and give it its beauty. Within white embroidery, different techniques have got different names: 'Vosges', 'anglaise', 'Richelieu', 'Renaissance', 'Touraine'... embroidery are the most famous. Whatever the technique, the craftswomen often used a metier and a magnifying glass to work in order to guarantee the finest result.
'Touraine' embroidery appears in the Loire Valley around 1870s.
Women used to wear round white embroidered hats, called bonnets. The embroidery on these bonnets varied according to the status, age, wealth or work of the person and religious celebrations. The embroidery used was very fine, with pulled threads and needlework. It required a lot of time and skill and was therefore very expensive to make.
Then a new technique was invented, which saved time and brought the cost down, making embroidery more affordable to more people. Instead of pulled threads and needlework done by hand, a piece of 'Valenciennes' lace was inserted in the embroidery, along with raised satin stitch and seed stitch. It was the beginning of 'Touraine' embroidery.
This 'quick' technique allowed, for example, the wifes of Vouvray and Rochecorbon winemakers to earn extra income during the outbreak of philoxera desease, which wiped out all the vines.
Touraine embroidery quickly became very popular and its use spread beyond the Touraine area.