Jon Crispin's Notebook

Willard Suitcases / Margaret D / Update

Posted in crochet, embroidery, History, Mental Health, needle work, tatting by joncrispin on 29/04/2015

One of the loveliest aspects of my work on the suitcases is connecting with wonderful, smart, and knowledgable people.  After this morning’s post, I received a comment from Dhyan about the photograph.  You can read her comment here. (Scroll down to see it.)  She seemed to know so much about the subject that I emailed her a full resolution image of this wider shot.  Here is her response.  I am sure she won’t mind me reprinting it.

Jon, Thanks!!!

I enlarged the picture to 500% and took a really close look at it. Here are some other things I notice.

Top Right: I believe that band was probably done as “draw work” Some of the threads are selectively pulled out and the rest are used to make the patterns using an embroidery thread to hold them in place.

Did you notice how beautifully woven the folded fabric on the right is? You don’t see THAT any more. My grandmothers had some table cloths that looked like that. How they could ever bring themselves to put them on the table with grandkids around is a mystery to me! I do believe they were heavier handed with Clorox in those days!

I noticed at the bottom there is a line that says “Royal Society No 5….” That probably means that she bought this piece of fabric from an embroidery fabric company. Probably the zig zag line was already on the fabric when she bought it but the pattern she would have filled in is above it and probably on other parts of the fabric as well.

The blue edging is crochet. Because the pattern is penciled in or stamped on, I wonder if that was already on the piece when she bought it but maybe not. Still I think I would have done the pattern first and the edging last so maybe it was on there already. She may have been bringing pieces of uncompleted work to do at the asylum.

One more thing. The piece between the blue edging and the left edge piece, that looks like a lace border, maybe the top of a camisole, is tatting. I have actually never seen tatting done but I know you have a kind of spindle that looks a bit like a guitar pick and by going over and under and around the through you make those edgings. Look at the VERY edge that is not crochet which is why I think it is tatting.

The only thing that is a bit bothersome if the green embroidery with the colored flowers. That is not up to the quality of the rest of her work. Wonder what the story is with that?

Anyway, thank you so much for showing it to me. I loved looking at it. People don’t know much about embroidery these days. I once had the opportunity to look at a very, several-hundreds-of-years old embroidered Chinese jacket and spend about an hour pointing out details to the owners. It was silk, Jon, with tinier stitches than I had ever seen.

Anyway, thank you again for a lovely half hour of procrastination! J


Dhyan, I am not sure if you were aware of her history, but Margaret was Scottish by birth and didn’t come to the States until she was a young adult.  I would guess that she acquired her skills with the needle before arriving here.

It is a good time for me to thank all of you who are following this project. I really do feel close to those of you who comment, and pay so much attention to this unique collection.  Cheers, Jon

3 Responses

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  1. zoe said, on 29/04/2015 at 1:48 pm

    Wow, wonderful to learn all this. Thanks both!

  2. notewords said, on 29/04/2015 at 4:24 pm

    Beautiful! I’m a tatter myself and would love a closer look. Is there any chance of a close-up of the tatted section?

  3. Kim Campbell said, on 29/04/2015 at 8:44 pm

    These are beautiful! I love Dyan’s review of the pieces as I collect vintage linens. Now I must gather mine for a closer look.

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