In this visually stunning book, Gail Marsh has delved into the archives to research the personalities, varied and unusual techniques and tools that hand-embroiders used in the period 1900–1939, before the outbreak of World War II. All the examples are from the RBKS Collection at Gawthorpe Hall, where Gail is Curator. Much of the material is previously unpublished and comes from her personal observation of the actual pieces of work and her careful examination of the stitches and techniques used. A unique and fascinating feature is the concentration on the embroiderers and their involvement in the teaching, promotion, writing and practice of stitching in this period. These include the unknown but intriguing experts in the craft, as well as the famous and well-known, including such luminaries as Jessie Newbury, Ann Macbeth, Margaret Swanson, Mrs. Foster, Louisa Peel, Grace Christie, Lewis F. Day, Rebecca Crompton, Kathleen Mann, Rachel Kay Shuttleworth, Prof. Letharby and Joan Drew. Each chapter follows the format of a short biography, design influences, materials and working practice and then the actual embroidery and how it was worked.
Gail’s in-depth research is presented in a highly readable manner, with contemporary quotes and social comment and the final chapter, ‘Connecting the threads’, connects all of the embroiders together. This delightful book is essential reference for any student studying embroidery, fashion and textiles; craftspersons interested in historical embroidery techniques; collectors of textiles and indeed any needlework enthusiast wanting to extend their knowledge.