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The House   | October 1902

The Macclesfield Embroidery School

The Pekin Toilet Sachet on white silk, or for cushion
image  the Pekin Toilet Sachet on white silk, or for cushion

For twenty years this school has been engaged in spreading a taste for really artistic needlework. It has given many beautiful and spirited designs to the public, and yet, for all the novelty that undoubtedly characterises its work, one cannot say that the laws governing the production of beautiful needlework have been transgressed. For materials the school has a very wide selection, but, naturally, the silks they weave for themselves and the dyeing carried out at Macclesfield are favourites with them.

It is essential in an enterprise of this kind that the designers should have the advantage of a close personal acquaintance with the various fields of art production, and in this respect the Macclesfield School is pre-eminently successful. Many of their recent designs have their origin in decorative features in Rome, Florence, Perugia, and Siena, and travel this year in Egypt and Greece, with sojourns in Constantinople, Budapest and Vienna have added fiom embroidered robe and carved tomb, from ancient temple and Byzantine palace and mosque, many suggestions which have been translated into forms well calculated to make the home beautiful. The further East, we notice, continues to prompt fresh adaptations, amongst our illustrations being examples of Chinese, Indian, Persian, and Japanese decorative art.

A handsome blotting book with beautiful needlework cover
image  a handsome blotting book with beautiful needlework cover

Among the goods we have had the pleasure of inspecting are a number of blotting books and handkerchief boxes. One of these bears the design called the "Shah" worked on coloured linen, and adapted from a rare specimen of Persian prayer-carpet. Another is from an old English design in soft blues and greens in crewel wools on a twilled linen, the latter specially made for the school.

Among the cushion squares may be noticed the "Delhi" an Indian design on parchment cloth, a material of which a speciality is made in the school.

Of tea-cloths and tea-serviettes there is a great variety. The "Japanese Water-lily" worked on Normandy linen open hemmed, is extremely pleasing, and serviettes with Chinese ornament on fine lawn linen, open drawn, are made in sets containing three designs. The "Lord Curzon," an Indian design in rich colours with gold thread introduced, is adapted both for a blotting book and a portière. We also inspected some beautiful dessert d'oyleys, the sets containing four different designs worked on fine lawn, open drawn.

Japanese water lily needlework tea cloth
image  Japanese water lily needlework tea cloth

The fashions of the day are kept thoroughly in view in the pieces of work made by the Macclesfield School. The chatelaine bag, which recently has become an institution, is made here in parchment cloth, in a very successful and beautiful form.

Photo boxes, trinket boxes, shaving cases, telegram cases, and engagement tablets are to be found in profusion. They bear handsomely embroidered designs on their covers of linen. In various materials we find a large variety of table covers.

The usefulness of the Macclesfield School is very greatly increased by the excellent method they adopt for assisting those who need their help. If, for instance, a lady would like to work for herself some design, but is a little uncertain as to how this is to be done and also as to what materials she should purchase, she has only to name the design about which she wishes to know, and she will receive the article—a table centre, serviette, d'oyley or what-not—with the design traced in its proper position, and one corner of it started in needlework. This gives an exact notion of how the rest is to be done, but the help rendered by the School does not stop here, for in addition there is to be found pinned on to the work a small envelope containing the silks necessary for earning it out, so that every possible assistance is given to the wouldbe embroideress. This very valuable system of helping is widely appreciated, as the success which attends this school amply testifies.

The Lord Curzon Portière needlework design detail
image  the "Lord Curzon" Portière needlework design detail

The illustrations give some notion of one or two of the School’s most recent designs. Unfortunately, the full effect is unobtainable, owing to the absence of the colouring which plavs so important a part in the success of needlework of all kinds.

Re-Editor's note: I am left to wonder. Did any of these student's have their work sold? May we ever see their work one day on Bargain Hunt? We have another article published in November. The article looks at reviving the lost industries on needlework. The Macclesfield School may well be one path to its revivial. Notes on needlework, by Miss Clive Bayley.

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