16th c. Black German Honeycomb Smocked Apron – Abandoned

Adding to my earlier work, the 16th Century German Style White Apron, I am working on a black linen apron with honeycomb smocking and drawn-work hemstitch. Pleated and embroidered aprons were fashionable for functionality and adornment for women of the tross (aka. Trossfrau) (examples in woodcuts and drawings below and “Landsknecht Woodcuts: Kriegsvolker im Zeitalter der Landsknechte”). The tross / train followed mercenary Landsknecht Soldiers during their campaigns in the late 15th through 16th centuries (Richards, 2002, p. 25-27).

Many aprons of the early 16th c. from Germany and neighboring regions appear to be white or off white in paintings. However, other colors such as black are documented in clothing lists from the 16th c. (Zander-Seidel, 1990) and appear in some artwork (e.g., The Hours of Charles d’Angoulême. (BNF Latin 1173, fol. 1), De mulieribus claris (BNF Fr. 599) Amie Sparrow – 16th C. German Costuming, 15th-16th centuries: Pamphile of Kos (fol. 40), Thamyris (fol. 50), Paulina (fol. 77v), and Epicharis (fol. 79v) Medieval and Renaissance Material Culture, these images and more are shown below).

I am going to further experiment with drawn-work hem-stitch embroidery. As discussed in my previous research of the white apron it was present on the German-style aprons of the 16th century. Drawn-work hem-stitch, also known as single openwork or Italian punto trato, is a type of embroidery where threads are removed from the weft or warp of fabric, and the remaining are sewn together to create a pattern (The Complete Encycopedia Of NeedleworkDe Dillmont, 1886, Single and Cut Openwork). Wiess arbeit (white work) is a technique of white embroidery on white linen with elements like drawn-work. The German pattern books, such as Schönsperger, 1529, have patterns that appear to have drawn work elements (German Modelbücher 1524-1556 – A Compilation of Eight German Needlework and Weaving Pattern Book, McNealy 2018). There are several extant examples of shirts with drawn work from the 1560s in Patterns of Fashion 4: The cut and construction of linen shirts, smocks, neckwear, headwear and accessories for men and women C. 1540-1660.

I have abandoned this project, which is rare for me. However, I’ve just had it with it. Also, I don’t think a black apron works well for me. The dye is too expensive for the 16th century for anything lower than an upper-class lady. I’m not very excited about aprons in general.

black apron pleat running stitches
Running stitch to create pleats 1 cm, row 3.
black apron running stitches
5 rows down, 2 to go.
Black apron pleats
Final 1 cm tight pleats.
Black apron drawn work
Start of the drawn-work hem stitch.
Black apron drawn-work
Almost done with the drawn-work side, then on to the hemd section of the incredibly wide apron.
black apron drawn-work
Close up of the double drawn-work hem stitch.

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