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Workbag, crewel embroidery

1675 (dated)
Origin: Europe, Great Britain, England
27 x 18 1/4 inches (selvage to selvage)
Twill-woven linen warp-cotton weft in ground; crewel wool embroidery; linen sewing threads; cotton repair threads
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 2009-12
Rectangular drawstring bag of natural-color textile embroidered on each side with green wool. The ground textile is twill woven with linen warp and cotton weft, napped after weaving, so-called "fustian." The bag is embroidered on both sides with green crewel wool threads in design that includes insects, a squirrel, leopard, lion, elephant, unicorn, parrot, rabbits, tulip, rose, lilies, and other stylized flowers. Drawstring at top consists of two-color cord laced through worked eyelets (OH: 3/4" - 7/8") in the bag. Tassel trims the ends of the drawstring cords and the bottom corners and center hem of the bag. One side of the bag is marked with the initials EL, and the reverse with the date 1675.

Stitches: buttonhole, cable, closed herringbone, coral, cross, fly, French knots, lazy daisy, outline, running, satin, seed
Label:Women used workbags to carry their knitting, sewing, and knotting supplies in the home or when they went out visiting. Crewel wool embroidery in one color was fashionable from about 1650 to 1700. Unlike multicolor embroidered textiles, single-colored designs were outlined and filled in with veining or dots instead of shading. Although this example is English, Americans embroidered in this style: Samuel Sewall of Boston ordered fustian (a cotton and linen textile similar to this workbag) and green wool for an embroidery project for his daughters in 1687.