Last week I wrote a post about Victorian love tokens, which led me to the rather delightful discovery of embroidered watch papers.
I found many things that served as tokens of affection during the period; Welsh spoons are a regional example, an enduring tradition to this day (I have my Welsh birth spoon up on my wall!), personalised carved busks for corsets and, of course, love tokens. But the things that really captured my imagination were the watch papers.
These were round circles of fabric, placed between the pocket watch and watch case to protect the glass. But, in our typical forebearers fashion, everything that could be embroidered, was embroidered; cigar cases, pincushions, garters, glasses cases, bookmarks and… tada! Watch papers!
The tradition originated a little before the Victorian era, a page spread in the ‘Lady’s Magazine’ in 1780 providing patterns for embroidered watch papers. They were largely embroidered by wives for their husbands.
In the 19th century, printed watch papers became more common. The designs are just as beautiful, but not as personalised any more as many of them were advertisements or cut out of mass-produced images. Thus, we lost the art of embroidered watch papers.
Making my own Watch Papers
Extant examples tend to be about 5cm in diameter, which gives you an idea of the size of pocket watches during the period. These little rounds of fabric were embroidered, then placed on card and the edges finished to stop them from fraying. Scalloped edges seemed to be quite common, perhaps to show off the women’s skilled workmanship.
Mine measure a little smaller than 5cm, after embroidery which puckers the fabric a little. I didn’t mount them on card, but I imagine it would actually make it easier to finish the edges when the design is stiffened by the card.
What would you do without me
This one is inspired by a lovely quote I found on Pinterest:
I also added an embroidered ivy border to symbolise constancy (yes, I used the language of flowers knowledge I learnt from the love tokens post last week!).
This one has my parents initials and the year that they were married.
I was quite worried about doing cross-stitch without aïda fabric, but it’s actually easier than it looks, and quite forgiving really. I used the templates from my Victorian lettering sample book, which I shared in a post a few weeks ago.
Welcome Little Stranger
This one is double sided, with the quote on the front and date on the back. The quote I got from an extant (pin?)cushion I found on Pinterest:
I just adore this quote for a new baby!
I need to work on the placement of the lettering really, but I just really wanted to get this design out of my head and into the world, so it’s a little imperfect for now!
Don’t Die Before I Do
I really rather like this one: the skull is actually worked in my own hair, the same as this extant example I found:
I might cut down the fringing a little bit, but other than that I’m really happy with how it turned out!
So that’s how my embroidered watch papers turned out! Do you want to try your hand at making your own? Or perhaps *wink* *wink* *nudge* *nudge* want to commission one from me? The ones that aren’t too personalised will be going into my summer collection, which will premier on June 21st, the first day of summer. Set your watches!
I have lots more ideas for embroidered watch papers (as you can see!) so I will keep you updated with any more I make!
Until next time,