Guimarães Embroidery

Various motifs of Guimarães embroidery. Various motifs of Guimarães embroidery.

Guimarães embroidery is a form of decorative needlework that derives from Guimarães in northern Portugal. It is known locally as Bordado de Guimarães. There are written references to the production of embroidery in this region dating back to the tenth century.

Since the late eighteenth century this form of embroidery has come in various forms, including a coloured version (generally using red, blue, black and white) or an all-white version (Guimarães whitework). It is based on a combination of various stitches, including back stitch, blanket stitch eyelets, bouclé stitch, bullion knot, chain stitch, double lazy daisy stitch, feather stitch, fern stitch, French knots, lazy daisy stitch, overcast eyelets, padded satin stitch, satin stitch, seed stitch, stem stitch, straight stitch and whipped stem stitch, often (but not always) in combination with drawn thread work. This type of embroidery was often worked on an even weave, linen ground, but other materials such as jute, straw, tulle and even leather were also decorated in this manner.

There are two basic forms of designs, namely a counted thread version (usually with geometric patterns) and a free style version (generally stylised flowers and geometric patterns). Sometimes beads and sequins are added to give a more raised effect.

For several hundreds of years it was regarded as an important cottage industry in the region, which employed a large number of women. It was especially popular in the beginning of the nineteenth century, when white Empire style (Jane Austin style) dresses were popular. These garments were often decorated with small sprigs of embroidery that were suitable for working in the Guimarães style.

This form was and is still used for men and women’s clothing (such as the woman’s waistcoat called a rabos), liturgical vestments, as well as household items such as covers, curtains, table cloths and towels. In 2010 this form of embroidery was given protected status by the creation of an official certificate of authenticity, which involves the embroiderer attending courses, and so forth. Considerable information about this type of embroidery is available in a pdf publication.

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 29 May 2016)



Last modified on Wednesday, 19 October 2016 09:53