|ANNE WANNER'S Textiles in History / cotton industry in Switzerland|
|Cotton fabrics in the
eastern part of Switzerland in the 18th century.
Article dedicated to Krishna Riboud, in: CIETA-Bulletin No 80, 2003, page 68 - 74, by Anne Wanner-JeanRichard
|page 4 of 5
back - next
|The use of the tambour frame
on cotton fabrics can only be found as from the second
half of 18th century. In Switzerland since 1750, in
Germany since 1775, and in Scotland since 1782. In
St.Gallen some merchants first saw textiles embroidered
using the tambour frame from Lyons. It is said that these
merchants brought Turkish girls to St.Gallen and in about
1750 they taught the women there how to do tambour frame
work. In 1753 the St.Gallen trading house of Gonzenbach
placed an order to have East Indian Muslin embroidered in
Vorarlberg. We noted that Swiss merchants had no problem
buying Indian muslin and it seems, that Indian fabric was
more suitable for embroidery than native fabric.
Some examples of embroidered textiles from the Textilmuseum in St. Gallen present different kind of cotton fabric. A fragment from the 2nd half of the 18th century worked in running stitch and chain stitch does not show evidence of tambour frame work. The rather coarse fabric points to a European and not to Indian production. In the museum however no documents referring to its origin have been found. It is hoped that a technical analysis will be possible one day, to get better results.
A coverlet from the end of the18th century shows
|tambour frame work. The very
fine ground fabric suggests to East Indian muslin which
was possibly embroidered in Europe. And finally the shawl
of Trogen , from beginning of the 19th century, today in
the library of Trogen, was produced in Eastern
Switzerland and was a gift to Napoleon I, as a result of
which the Swiss merchants hoped to receive some customs
privileges. But the delegacy sent to Paris in 1805 was
not sucessful, therefore they brought the embroidery back
home again. A letter explaining these events by Georg
Zellweger, son of Jacob, has been preserved. The ground
fabric could be made from english machine-spun yarn.
Very probably most of the cotton fabrics used in embroidery in the 18th century were imported from India, and this only ended, when mechanical weaving in Europe progressed. In Europe, after initial attempts to copy Indian woven patterns - the jamdanis - it seemed more appropriate to decorate the fabrics with embroidery. Requiring no loom embroidery was often a cheaper copy of a woven decoration.
Fibre analyses could possibly provide new and better results about the origin of the fabrics and the embroidery.
of embroidered fabric,
chainstitch, running stitch, pulled threadwork, embroidery eastern part of Switzerland, 2nd part of 18th c.,
Warp and weft about 3 threads per mm, fabric probably linen, probably eastern Switzerland.
Textilmuseum St. Gallen, Inv.Nr. 21331
|content||Last revised July 29, 2004|