Deerfield Embroidery

Example of Deerfield embroidery. Example of Deerfield embroidery.

Deerfield embroidery is a form of blue-on-white work (free style) associated with the town of Deerfield in western Massachusetts, USA. It was promoted by Margaret Whiting and Ellen Miller, who in 1896 set up the Deerfield Society of Blue and White Needlework for the revival and production of monochrome, usually blue embroidery based on eighteenth century local examples of crewel embroidery (see Delft embroidery). 

The Deerfield Society of Blue and White Needlework was based on principles associated with the Arts and Crafts Movement and the Ruskin movement (Britain) and was seen as part of the revival of art needlework in general.

The Deerfield Society employed local out-workers, who were given stamped patterns on a linen ground, threads and a small working drawing. Some of the Deerfield designs were original, others came from outlets in Boston. Generally, however, the designs were based on eighteenth century Dutch tiles and Delftware, which often included floral motifs. The Deerfield examples were worked in linen rather than wool. The linen was initially locally sourced, but later imported Russian linen was used for the ground material and threads. The dyes used for the threads were produced from plants by Whiting and Miller in their own homes.

The patterns were worked in a variety of stitches, notably buttonhole stitch, chain stitch, cross stitch, feather stitch, herringbone stitch and outline stitch, with lattices of various types. The most important technique used was laidwork. When the embroidery was finished it was examined and if approved the logo of the Society, a small flax wheel enclosing a capital D, was stitched onto the piece. The Deerfield Society continued to function until 1926. It was disbanded following the adverse financial effects of the First World War (1914-1918), changes in artistic taste (movement towards Art Deco) and the failing health of both Whiting and Miller.

Source: HOWE, Sheldon J. (1964). 'Deerfield blue and white needlework,' Needle and Bobbin Club Bulletin, vol. 47, nos. 1,2, pp. 42-56.

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 30 June 2016).


Last modified on Tuesday, 24 January 2017 17:07
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