White Cotton Nightwear, cool for Warm Summer Nights
To keep cool on warm summer nights, Damask have introduced a new style to their range of white cotton ladies nightwear – Clarissa, a pretty white nightie with delicate 1cm wide shoulder straps and 18cm long pintucks on front & back, white on white embroidery between the pintucks.
As embroidery has always been an important feature of our nightwear, we often look to antique pieces for our design inspiration. With this in mind I have chosen a selection of some of the finest antique embroidered pieces from the V & A archives below:
Baby’s long gown (detail). White muslin, embroidered and finished with a scalloped hem. circa 1850. The intricate embroidery suggests it may have been Indian in origin.
White work embroidery refers to any embroidery technique in which the stitching is the same colour as the base fabric (traditionally white cotton, muslin or linen). White work embroidery was one of the heirloom techniques used for sewing nightwear, chemises, christening gowns and baby bonnets.
Muslin collar with white work embroidery. circa 1830-1869. This collar has been finely embroidered with patterns of sprig motifs, diamonda, stars, leaves, berries and flowers. It is said to have been worn by Queen Victoria as a girl.
Muslin collar with Chikan embroidery. Possibly from India, 19th century. This collar for a chemisette is finely embroidered with birds and elephants, probably for the European market.
Chikan is a traditional embroidery style from Lucknow in India. Literally translated, the word means embroidery. Believed to have been introduced by Nur Jehan, the wife of Mugal emperor Jahangir, it is one of Lucknow’s best known textile decoration styles. The market for local chikan is mainly in Chowk, Lucknow, although the technique is also used nowadays by missonary nuns in that area to produce delicately embroidered tablelinen as well as garments. Chikan began as a type of white-on-white (or white work) embroidery.
The technique of chikan work is known as chikankari. Chikan is a delicate and artfully done hand embroidery on a variety of textile fabric like muslin, silk, chiffon, organza, net, etc. The fabric cannot be too thick or hard, or else the embroidery needle won’t pierce it. White thread is embroidered on cool, pastel shades of light muslin and cotton garments. Nowadays chikan embroidery is also done with coloured and silk threads in colours to meet the fashion trends and keep chikankari up-to-date. Lucknow is the heart of the chikankari industry today and the variety is known as Lucknawi chikan.
Apron detail. White cotton work on muslin. Circa 1725-1750. the motif incorporates an Indian style buti (flower) embroidery motif.
White on white Aari style embroidery is the inspiration for Una from our nightwear collection. www.damask.co.uk
Aari embroidery is practiced in various regions such as in Kashmir and Gujarat. Embroidery in India includes dozens of regional embroidery styles that vary by region. Designs in Indian embroidery are formed on the basis of the texture and the design of the fabric and the stitch technique.
Copyright belongs to the V & A on all archive images. www.vam.ac.uk