It might surprise you to know that Marie Antoinette was a crafter. She could hardly help it as well-bred ladies were expected to know the feminine arts, of which embroidery was one (eyelash fluttering another). Her embroidery was incorporated into many a custom chair or furniture piece she commissioned. She always kept her hands busy with embroidery and the work provided her much solace when imprisoned at the Tower with her family and later the Conciergerie, where she was locked up alone.
Of course, any type of craft, feminine or not, develops a girl’s problem solving abilities and resourcefulness. They prove, at least in one small realm, that a crafter reigns supreme. Independent thinking was not the intention of embroidery, but remains an unintended consequence for any honed skill. Marie mended her own garments in prison and used those needles to pin-prick a message to a would-be rescuer. When her needles were finally taken away she insisted on weaving make-shift garters for her son, proving that she would create and care for her children regardless of her tools, the obstacles, or her jailers’ politics.
If you’re looking to develop your own 18th century rebel mind, you might consider Anna Griffin’s ribbon embroidery kits and supplies, sold at Michael’s a few years ago and still available online. Your humble blog mistress bought the “Antoinette” pattern book for inspiration (but not dictation as your mistress is hopeless at patterns) and quite enjoyed it. My attempts (as well as some project photos from the book) are available in the slideshow below.
Anna Griffin Silk Ribbon and Embroidery Kits, available online at Anita’s Arts, $6.99-$25.95.