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Textiles (S) - Encylopedia Of Antiques

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SAMPLERS: The earliest mention of samplers in England is 1502, and in the first stages they are purely a record of stitching patterns. The earliest samplers were long and narrow because the loom on which the foundation material was woven was narrow. Numberless examples of English samplers are in existence dating from the middle of the 17th century to the middle of the 19th century. Linen, bleached or unbleached, always hand-woven, is the foundation material of all early samplers. The stitches were usually in linen thread. Another variety is the lace sampler, belonging chiefly to the 17th century. Only three authentic examples of the 17th century samplers of this country are known. One is by Anne Gower of Salem, one by Loretta Standish at Pilgrim Hall in Plymouth, and one, dated 1654, bearing the names of Miles and Abigail Fleetwood.

In Colonial days every well-broughtup girl made a sampler on homespun linen. As a rule the earliest were without name or date but many of those made in the 18th century bearing both name and date are still in existence, particularly in New England, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Borders appeared about 1726. The alphabet and figures are commonly seen on them and subjects chosen vary from Biblical scenes to pictures taken from nature and geometric designs. The later English sampler was often the product of a mature young lady who was filling her wedding chest, while the American sampler was wrought laboriously by the child as a part of her education. The great numbers of samplers in existence warrant a lengthy study of the subject.

SARCENET, SARSENET: Name for a very fine and soft silken fabric said to have been first made by the Saracens. It was a material for luxurious hangings and coverings in England in the 17th century.

SATEEN: A cotton or woolen fabric made to resemble satin.

SATIN: A silk fabric in which so much of the weft is brought uppermost in the weaving as to give a more lustrous and unbroken surface to the cloth than is seen when the warp and weft cross each other more frequently.

SATINETTE: An imitation of satin woven in silk or silk and cotton.

SAVONNERIE: A woven fabric hand-knotted like a heavy wool velvet, called Turkey-work, made at a factory in Paris, where it was established early in the 17th century. It was finally absorbed by the Gobelin factory. The stitch used had its origin in the East, and although the product was given the name of tapestry it more nearly resembles a carpet surface.

SAY: A cloth of fine texture, resembling serge, made of wool and in use in England in the 17th century.

SERGE: A woolen twilled stuff made on a loom and frequently used in England for the linings of curtains and for the covers of furniture in the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

SHAGREEN: A textile used in England in the 18th century for hangings and linings.

SHALLOON: A closely woven woolen cloth first made in Chalons, France, and utilized for linings.

SHAWLS: The cashmere shawls are made at Kashmir, a native state of India, where they form the principal industry, from the hair of the Kashmir goat, which is long, fine and silky. Paisley shawls were made at Paisley, Scotland, in the first half of the 19th century, at which time they were very popular. Their double shawl was made to imitate the pattern and appearance of the cashmere shawls. Others, called "broche," had woven stripes of various colors, the alternate stripes being patterned. Another kind was the half shawl, so worn that one half of each side showed the face of the pattern, the other half, the reverse of it. This was folded across the middle when worn, so that the exposed part displayed the face of the pattern.

SHODDY: The wool of old woolen fabrics, torn to pieces and remade with an admixture of fresh wool into new cloth.

SILESIA: A linen cloth that took its name from Silesia, where it was first made. Sometimes it is referred to as "sleazy. "

SILK: Silk is made from the fiber derived from the cocoon of the silkworm. It was known to the ancient nations of the East, presumably having its origin inChina, where the mulberry tree was cultivated for feeding the silkworms, long before the Christian era. Silk culture in Europe is now practiced in Italy, Spain, Portugal and France, and in this country the first attempt was made in Virginia in the 17th century. In 1759, silk from Georgia sold in London at three shillings a pound higher than that from any other part of the world. Silk was also being produced in South Carolina, Connecticut and several other states during the last half of the 18th century. In England the first silk mill was at Derby, where it was started in 1719 by Thomas Lombe, and in this country the first mill was started in 1810. During the 19th century silk mills were started in various parts of the country and some of them were very successful. The center of this industry in this country is Paterson, New Jersey. At the present time all the silks used for manufacturing in the United States are imported, and Japan is the leading silkproducing country.

SPINNING: Spinning is the art of drawing, twisting and combining animal and/or vegetable fibers, so that they are formed into continuous threads for the further operations of weaving, knitting or sewing. The principal textile fibers are silk, wool, flax, cotton, jute and rayon. The earliest spinning apparatus was the spindle with the distaff. During the last half of the 18th century, three inventions were made which completely revolutionized the art of spinning: Hargreaves' spinning jenny (1764), which spun several threads at one time, Arkwright's roll-drawing spinning machine (1769), by means of which cotton produced a thread so strong that it could be used for the warp instead of linen, which was before required, and Crompton's mule spinner (1779). This machine spun threads so fine that muslins could then be made in England. All of these machines were made much more effective by the invention of the power loom by Cartwright in 1785. During the 19th century many important improvements were made but the general principles of earlier machines remain.

SPINNING JENNY: A mechanism invented by James Hargreaves (q.v. PART 6) in 1764, by means of which several threads were spun at one time. The name "Jenny" was that of the inventor's daughter. See MULE SPINNER.


SQUAB CUSHION: Movable cushions for chairs and settees, frequently mentioned in 18thcentury inventories. They were one of the features of every room in the Jacobean period in England.

STENCILING: In stenciling on textiles the colors are applied with a brush through the pattern, and the process is nearer painting than printing. The Japanese are especially skillful in the use of stencils.

STITCHES: Almost hopeless confusion exists as to the proper nomenclature of stitches. It is hardly too much to say that nearly every stitch has something like half-a' dozen different names. The stitches are described under the names by which they are most commonly known or which seem to describe them most clearly. The tent-stitch is the first half of the familiar cross-stitch. All the rows of stitches slope the same way as a rule. It is taken over a single thread only. The tapestry or Gobelin-stitch resembles a tent-stitch, save that it is two threads in height, but only one in breadth. The Florentine and Hungary-stitches are upright, which, arranged in. a score of different ways, have been called at times by as many different names. The satinstitch is long and flat and is seen on Japanese embroideries of all periods. The laid-stitch is of long thread laid on the foundation and held down by short couching-stitches, placed at intervals. These are to be seen on Italian and Spanish embroideries. Knot-stitches, also called looped-stitches, were used to represent the hair of the human figure or the coats of animals, etc., seen in stump-work pictures. Plush-stitch, known as velvet- and rug- and raisedstitch, is a series of loops, secured to the foundation by tent- or cross-stitch, after which the loops are cut as in raised Berlin-work. The needlepoint lacestitches are as a rule of a close and rather heavy type. Cross-stitch taken over two threads was much used on samplers. Bird's-eye stitches are short, even stitches surrounding the eyelet. Names of stitches also include cable, stem, reticella, briar, the chain-stitch, buttonhole, feather, herringbone, cat-stitch and French-knots, and the list is far from complete.

STUMP WORK: An embroidery in which some parts of the pattern appear in high relief, raised by a foundation of wool or cotton wool, with knot-stitch, a method almost exclusively of the Restoration period. It is likely that stump-work was purely an amateur or home art.

S WANSKIN: A fine, thick flannel, so-called on account of its extraordinary whiteness, 17th century.

SWEDISH TEXTILES: In Sweden, the textile art is not only one of the oldest of Sweden's industries, it is also most highly developed. Early in the 16th century Flemish weavers were brought to Sweden, bringing with them the skill in design and color of their native land. Weaving of rugs and tapestries became firmly established as a home industry. The earlier textiles resembled the Oriental in design and the coloring materials were from native sources.