Whitework Embroidery

Whitework, also known as muslin work, traditionally consisted of applying white thread onto a fabric of the same shade to produce a textured, monochromatic effect. This category of needlework is comprised of a great variety of techniques, each differing in terms of fineness and scale. The Mountmellick technique was ideal for beginners as it does not contain cutwork and instead relies on applying threads of varying thicknesses to create dimension. Finer, more complicated forms of whitework include Broderie Anglaise and Ayrshire work, each of which utilizes satin stitches and eyelets to achieve lace-like effects.

Removable collars and other forms of neckwear were worn for modesty to accommodate the fashionable low-cut necklines in women’s dress, particularly in the early part of the nineteenth century. Women’s neckwear was oftentimes worn both indoors and outdoors instead of a coat or cloak. Made of sheer white linen or cotton, these pieces demonstrate the intricacy and elaborate variations that are possible with muslin work.