ANNE WANNER'S Textiles in History / Vocabulary Project

  The second edition of the
Vocabulary Project is published

available at Textilmuseum St.Gallen
CHF 33 + postage
information about sales conditions

Embroidery Stitches
Points de broderie
Punti di ricamo
...........................Anne Wanner-JeanRichard
...........................St.Gallen 2014

The 4 booklets of the first edition are now unified to 1 book of 100 pages,
a description of Cross Stitch in the Canton of Graubünden, Switzerland is added,
in the annex there is a list of illustrations and the index of embroidery stitches in 4 languages
together with keywords and captions also in 4 languages.
Finally a selected bibliography is also published.

V O R S T I C H , Schrägstich, Winkelstich, Steppstich, Stielstich
R U N N I N G . S T I T C H , Slanting Stitch, Paris Stitch, Back Stitch, Stem Stitch
P O I N T . A V A N T , point diagonal, point de Paris, point arrière, point de tige
P U N T O . F I L Z A , punto diagonale, punto Parigi, punto indietro, punto erba

P L A T T S T I C H , Flachstich, Spannstich , Klosterstich
S A T I N S T I T C H , Surface Satin Stitch, Self Couching
P A S S É . P L A T , point de plumetis, point de Boulogne
P U N T O . P I A T T O , punto pieno, punto lanciato, punto posato

S C H L I N G S T I C H , Festonstich, Federstich, Kettenstich, Knötchenstich
L O O P E D . S T I T C H , Blanket Stitch, Feather Stitch, Chain Stitch, Knotted Stitch
P O I N T . D E . F E S T O N , point d’épine, point de chaînette, point de nœud
P U N T O . . C A P P I O , punto festone, punto corallo, punto piuma, punto catenella, punto nodo

K R E U Z S T I C H und gekreuzte Stiche
C R O S S S T I T C H and Crossed Stitches
P O I N T . D E . C R O I X et points croisés
P U N T O . C R O C E e punti incrociati


Detail photos of historic embroideries of the Iklé collection, St.Gallen, Switzerland.


The project of a glossary of embroidery stitches arose among the members of the „Embroidery Group“, one of the specialized groups under the banner of the CIETA (Centre International d’Etude des Textiles Anciens, based in Lyon).
This publication presents a section of the glossary, which presents an illustrated collection of embroidery stitches with descriptions in 4 languages. It aims to serve as reference to those experts who study and catalogue historic textiles.
It is hoped that the illustration of the embroidery stitches both from the front and the reverse side will allow new insights in terms of dating and provenance.

The scope of the glossary is to help preserve knowledge about an ornamental craft which has been practised for centuries, but is today threatened with oblivion, especially since handicrafts aren’t taught in the basic school curriculum any more.

108 coloured photos of historic embroideries,
126 diagramms and samples of Stitches.

  Book of 100 pages, in 4 languages (German, English, French and Italian)
Many samplers and diagrams of embroidery stitches in colour. Detail photos of historic embroideries of the Iklé collection, St.Gallen.

Author: Anne Wanner-JeanRichard, Rheinfelden.
Diagrams: Margarete Müller-Schulten.
Layout, photos, scans, embroidered stitches: Anne Wanner-JeanRichard.
Translation: Elizabeth Fischer (English and French), Thessy Schoenholzer (Italian).
Consulting: Ute Bargmann (Conway, MA, USA), Mary Schoefer (Lyon, F), Uta-Christiane Bergemann (Bochum, D), Marianne Flügel (Köln, D).

Editor: Textilmuseum St.Gallen, Schweiz.
© Textilmuseum St.Gallen,
Anne Wanner-JeanRichard.
ISBN  978-3-033-04016-8
Photonachweis Textilmuseum St.Gallen
Cover: Büro Sequenz, St.Gallen, Jürg Waidelich,
Druck: Firmengruppe APPL, Wemding,
2nd edition 2014

My gratitude goes to the Iklé-Frischknecht Foundation for its financial support of the project. The textile examples from the Iklé-Jacoby collection were made available thanks to Michaela Reichel, director of the St. Gallen Textile Museum, Ursula Karbacher, curator and Janina Hauser, textile conservator. I am indebted to my husband Rene Wanner for expert advice and technical assistance on digital presentation. Thanks are also due to all CIETA colleagues who encouraged this endeavour through our many discussions during conferences and meetings.

Examples of Stitches and Samples    

Examples of
Running Stitches
Running Stitch

  Back Stitch

  Stem Stitch

Examples of
Flat Stitches

Satin Stitch



  Surface Satin Stitch



  Self Couching

Examples of
Looped Stitches

Buttonhole Stitch,
Blanket Stitch



  Chain Stitch

  Feather Stitch

Examples of
Cross Stitches

Cross Stitch

  Cross Stitch

  Herringbone Stitch

  Herringbone Stitch Laced


  Examples of Historic Embroideries    
Linen Embroidery
in Switzerland
Some 400 pieces of embroidery made in this technique are preserved in Swiss and foreign collections. It flourished mainly at the end of the 16th and beginning of the 17th century. Thanks to the coats of arms embroidered on them, they can be attributed to the German parts of Switzerland. No French or Italian emblem or inscription is to be found among them. Most probably, but this remains to be proven, the main linen production centres also became the main centres of this handicraft. Such was the case of Sankt Gallen and the region of Lake Konstanz. The regions bordering Northern Switzerland – Alsace, the Black Forest and Southern Germany – are to be included in this area of distribution.
One of the finest particularities of these embroideries produced between the 15th and the 17th century lies in the vitality and freshness of their narrative evocations, be it on the tablecloths and seat covers for domestic daily
  use or on the altar cloth linens.
Christian themes dominate, both in biblical scenes or symbolic representations. The materials used and the embroidery techniques are consistant in the group: the ground fabric is linen, in some cases a linen warp with cotton weft. The fabric doesn’t merely serve as the ground, but always remains visible, without challenging the dominating white embroidery thread. Sometimes brown and blue embroidery threads would also be used, and in certain cases coloured silk threads, as well as metallic or wool threads. The reasons for the decline of whitework embroidery during the 17th and 18th century are not known: was it due to the Thirty Years’ War, which brought devastation mostly to Germany? Or must it be attributed to changes in the arrangement of domestic interiors and the evolution of costume? At any rate, lace-work henceforward captured popular favour.


Detail of Annunciation of the Virgin, 1585,
St. Gallen Textilmuseum Inv. 40071


Detail of Annunciation of the Virgin, 1585,
St. Gallen Textilmuseum Inv. 40071

"Stumpwork" - English relief embroidery In England, after the Reformation, embroidery was often seen as a sign of devotion in women. For the Puritan mind, a schoolgirl’s sampler symbolised her virtue and piety. The padded embroidery techniques, which were traditionally taught to young girls as early as 1630 and up to the end of the 17th century, seem to have been particular favourites. The scenes illustrated were taken from the Old Testament and classical mythology, such as Adam and Eve, the sacrifice of Isaac, the judgement of Paris or Ovid’s metamorphoses. Depictions of King Charles the First and his wife Queen Henrietta Maria were very popular, as they were a way for the embroiderer to represent herself and her beloved.
These minutely stitched pieces of handiwork have come down to us as pictures, frames, book covers and motifs embossing jewellery boxes or beauty cases.  
They are stuffed with cotton, flax, tow or wood chips. Hands and faces are sometimes modelled out of
  wax and bone. The embroideries are also decorated with pearls, gold thread, bits of glass, or even real hair, and may include crocheted or knitted pieces. The scenes and characters are lovingly set in lavish bowers filled with exotic flowers and surrounded by playful pets and wild animals.
The name „Stumpwork“ was given to this style of embroidery in the 19th century. Its origin is unclear and subject to various interpretations. Maybe it refers to the meaning of “clumsy“ that the term “stump” implies. After all, in 1913, this technique was disparaged as a hideous travesty of relief sculpture.
Today, these works strike us by their unique naiveté, charm and sincerity. They seem to still echo the hopes and dreams about love and life, harboured by the young girls who worked on them with such skill and patience.
(Text by Ursula Karbacher
, Curator Textilmuseum St.Gallen)

Detail of stumpwork embroidery, England, middle of 17th c., St. Gallen Textilmuseum Inv. 32235


Detail of stumpwork embroidery, England, middle of 17th c., St. Gallen Textilmuseum Inv. 32235


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