A few days ago I published a blog about TC (Technically Correct) embroidery, and I have just come across a fascinating example from the 17th century of something Non-Technically Correct. It is the initialled handkerchief of King Charles I (reign: 1625-1649) of England, who was executed on the 30th January 1649.
The handkerchief and other items such as his silk shirt, pair of gloves (also embroidered) and part of his black cloak are now in the Museum of London, They will shortly go on display in an exhibition at the Museum about executions in the city. All of the items mentioned above were worn by King Charles when he went to his own execution.
Embroidery chart for the initials of Charles I, used for his handkerchief associated with his execution on 30th January 1649. To the right the TC version, to the left the actual, non-TC version.
On a much lighter note, the handkerchief bears the initials C.R. (Carolus Rex) under a royal crown. The crown is worked in back stitch using a black silk thread, while the initials are in cross stitch. The original cross stitches are of varying sizes, in order to create the appearance of regularity. They were worked over various numbers of warp and weft threads. If an actual version of the initials is produced based on the number of stitches then the letters are of different sizes (to the left in the chart). If a 'correct' version is produced (to the right), then more stitches would be required than actually was the case!
Is this an example of quick work that looked okay from a distance due to the circumstances of when it was required? Or something else? We will probably never know.
Gillian Vogelsang, 1 February 2020