Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Embroidered sleeve ruffles

I’ve been reading a beautiful book by Heather Toomer called ‘Embroidered with white’ which describes the eighteenth century fashion for Dresden lace and whitework in general. It is lavishly illustrated with photographs of lace and also includes drawings and patterns by Elspeth Reed, in the same style as those used in Janet Arnold’s books. Heather explains that sleeve ruffles in this period were made separately from the chemise and gathered onto a tape. They would have been sewn onto the band at the end of the chemise sleeve for wear, but would have been removed for laundering as they required special care. Rather than being circular many of them had a wider section that fell below the elbow such as the one in the image. They were often made in sets with perhaps a matching apron and cap. Although the ruffle in the picture only has one layer they were often made with several layers and some were embellished with the addition of a lace edging. They are beautiful items and with the current fashion for ruffled sleeves perhaps they’ll make a come back?

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