Saturday, April 8, 2023

Crazy Embroidery 4: Kursheedt's Embroidery

Examples of Kursheedt's machine embroidery?
Fancy Silk Pillow made with a machine-embroidered water lily on silk available for purchase
from Kursheedt's embroidery factory.

Kursheedt's was probably the largest US manufacturer of machine embroidery 
designed to be incorporated into sewing projects.

The Kursheedt building in New York today,
minus a few upper stories.

Kursheedt's was a family business, run by men descended from New Yorker Gershom Mendes Seixas (1745–1816).

Silhouette about 1840 by well-known artist Auguste Edouart.

Kursheedt's was often mentioned in the press of the mid 1880s.

"If ladies have no time to embroider...they will find the Kursheedt's embroidered color silk appliques most convenient."
Ladies' Home Journal, 1895 
"Satisfactory results with but little personal exertion" and
Kursheedt's Standard silk embroidered lilac spray.

An inspector concerned with child factory labor counted 184 employees
at the embroidery business, the majority women working on embroidery machines.
(about which more tomorrow.)

The Kursheedts manufactured all sorts of dress trim in their New York city factories, mostly in the cast iron district: SoHo. 

University of Pennsylvania Libraries

Lace was probably their biggest seller but embroidered appliques were certainly a large market. What to call them? Probably the best technical term is slip. Slips are embroidery stitched to a canvas or other surface. The embroidery can be trimmed and slipped onto a larger textile.

The Victoria & Albert Museum has quite a collection
of 17th-century slips.

"Motives for applied work"
Today they are called "patches." Embroidered patches remain a big business.

Often with a fusible backing, attachable with an iron.

Quilt dated 1888
In the crazy quilt era you stitched them to a fabric for your design.

One way to tell a slip is the small stitches securing the image to
the background.

And as they noticed at the International Quilt Museum some were better
than others at attaching them.

Louise Tiemann has found two pages of Kursheedt's catalog of embroidered appliques as ads.

The company published a quarterly magazine, a catalog with "copious illustrations of [our] Manufactures." But she's found only two or three copies of this ephemera (efemina, as I saw it misspelled once---Nothing more ephemeral that publications for females.) 

The publication had something to do with Butterick. Kursheedt's may have taken over an older Butterick magazine.

Louise's collection
Cover to Volume 7 1892.
There have got to be more copies out there. 

Kursheedt's was certainly not the only company selling embroidered slips and silks.
But this is very ephemeral information.

We see evidence of other companies in their catalogs.
The information is not as clear as Kursheedt's.
Strawbridge & Clothier's department store in Philadelphia advertised these "Corsages."

Are they 3-d fake flowers or embroidered flatwork to add to clothing and needlework?
And if they were the latter, did Strawbridge & Clothier manufacture them or buy them from a factory like Kursheedt's?

Tomorrow: Machine Embroidery

See posts I've done on applique slips---not embroidered---here:

Collection of Judith Shanks
This album quilt made for Rebecca Solomons has several blocks dated 1852-1853 made by Kursheedt cousins, descendants of the Seixas family who located in Charleston, South Carolina.

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