Throughout the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and into the modern world, needle arts were primarily the domain of women.For lower class women the work was more mundane: mending and making lingerie and household items for her family. For upper class women, it was an opportunity for virtuoso expressions of creativity. The needlework a woman did was worn on garments for herself, her husband and children, decorated her home with hangingstable rugs, and cushions, and was given as gifts. For women of the artisanal class it could be a trade, and embroidery guilds were among the few that admitted women. The following are some useful links.

Mary Stuart's Embroidery

Queen Elizabeth's seal purse

The Bradford Table Rug

Man's day cap, 1600

16th Century Samplers

Fine embroidery at the V&A

Embroidered work at the Bath Museum

Embroidery & Needle Lace at the V&A

Elizabethan mittens

Blackwork Gallery

Bronwen's Blackwork

Blackwork Designs from Period Sources


Bobbin Lace

Lace Patterns

History of Lace Making