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A Stitch Out of Time

Medieval Embroidery for the Modern Era

Pattern I: An Embroidered Pillow.

Place of origin:
Current location:
14th Century.
Unknown (Westphalia? See below).
Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Reference Collection, Dress and Textiles Department, Cat. # 1324A-1864.

Physical description:

This piece is notable in that it is the only piece I have seen so far where there are two existing examples. The remnant of a pillow in the Victoria and Albert Museum appears to be of the same pattern and similar colors to a more complete pillow in the collection of the Schloss Charlottenburg Kunstgewerbemuseum in Berlin, Germany (Catalog # 88.663).

The Berlin pillow dates from the 14th or 15th century, and comes from the Westphalia region[13]. It measures 11.5 inches by 16 inches approximately, and appears to be done in exactly the same pattern as the London example. As I have not yet had a chance to examine the Berlin pillow, I can not give a color chart for it.

The pillow in the Victoria and Albert Museum, measures 13 inches by 22 inches. Because of a moderate degree of fading, the following color chart is only for guidance, and does not indicate the original shades.


-Evenweave linen fabric, 28 threads per inch.
-Colored silk floss (White - DMC 746, Red - DMC 3721, Red - DMC 304, Green - DMC 320).

This is a scan of an example of the stitch.
Pattern Y004A
Y010A.JPG, 893k
Also available: Y010A.PDF, 158k
The embroidery pattern


[13] For pictures of the Berlin pillow see: Kay Staniland, Medieval Craftsmen: Embroiderers. (London: British Museum Press, 1991) p. 37, and Marie Schuette and Sigrid Muller-Christensen, The Art of Embroidery. trans. by Donald King. (London: Thames and Hudson, 1964). p. 111.