St. Gallen Embroidery

Embroiderers depicted on a 500 franc Swiss banknote of 1911. Embroiderers depicted on a 500 franc Swiss banknote of 1911.

St. Gallen embroidery is the common name for (machine) embroidery, often a form of whitework, which is produced in St. Gallen, Switzerland. By the early twentieth century, embroidery production was the largest export product of the country. The First World War led to a steep decline. Nowadays, St. Gallen Spitzen, as it is called in German, is a highly prized product, especially with the famous haute couture houses in Paris.

Although hand embroidery was already a major industry in the region by the eighteenth century, the development of the embroidery production in St. Gallen was stimulated by the invention of the hand embroidery machine by Joshua Heilmann of Mulhouse in 1828 and the setting up of embroidery machine factories in and around St. Gallen. Nowadays, there are some nine large companies producing computer-driven machine embroidery imitating hand embroidery, while there are some smaller companies left that still operate in the traditional manner with hand embroidery machines.

St. Gallen embroidery is also known as Swiss whitework or simply Swiss embroidery.

See also the TRC Needles entry on the Textile Museum, St. Gallen.

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 10th May 2017).

WV

 

Last modified on Wednesday, 10 May 2017 15:44