Thursday, March 10, 2011

Whitework swaddling band at the V&A

Wandering on through the British Galleries at the V&A recently, and after seeing the poignant embroideries of Mary Queen of Scots that I mentioned in my last post, I came across a beautiful whitework and cutwork edged swaddling band. With my little grandson Jake just a few days old, it made me a little regretful that we no longer have the time nor the need to make such special items.

The long rectangular swaddling band I saw at the V&A was made around 1600-1625 in Italy. I would guess that it could have been a couple of metres in length. Although not the whole of the length was embroidered, it must have been a major undertaking to embroider. It is edged with a 4 cm wide linen band of embroidery in satin stitch, eyelets and cutwork, with a picot edge.  The embroidered edge would show as a spiral as it wrapped around the baby.  When you follow the link to see the photos of the work, do click on the 'More Information' tab for details about the embroidery too.

In contrast to this finely embroidered swaddling cloth, one of the receiving blankets that I had taken over to London for my daughter was brushed cotton; and one that I had used over 30 years ago to swaddle her! Not quite an heirloom, but it did have special meaning for all of us.

I hope you are having a good week wherever you may be.



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