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70+ year old embroidered shawl

Posted by macilrae (My Page) on
Sat, Mar 2, 13 at 10:07

I would like to identify an embroidered shawl, said to be a Spanish Mantillia, that is at least 70 years old and was given to my Mother by an old aunt and recently discovered while clearing an attic in England.

My Mother, now 96, remembers it well.

The shawl is of a pink and presumably natural material and is heavily fringed - it is in near-mint condition.

I would like to know if the embroidery was done by hand or by machine (and, if that isn't immediately obvious from the photo; how can I tell?) - for me the intriguing thing is that there are four distinct embroidered floral groupings, each one mirrored exactly and beautifully on the reverse side.

I would like to know what the material is (raw silk?) and, could somebody please suggest the best way to wash and iron such an item safely - it is not fragile but the fringes are fine and delicate.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: 70+ year old embroidered shawl

That is most likely a piano shawl, not a mantilla. Is it a large square with fringe on all sides?

The best way to clean it is to take it to a professional! If it is silk -- and even if not -- the colors might run and the fabric might be damaged if it gets anywhere near water.

My gut instinct is that this is machine embroidery, although extremely well done, but I'm no expert in textiles. Could you show us a picture of the back of the embroidery?


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RE: 70+ year old embroidered shawl

Can you post a picture of the fringes?

And what size is it?

The piano shawl theory is a good one ... check the link.

Although they were called "Spanish", they are mostly Chinese work.

Here is a link that might be useful: Reversible Spanish Piano Shawl


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RE: 70+ year old embroidered shawl

Thanks to Chibimimi and lazygardens for your responses which are most helpful and interesting.

Chibimimi, the back figures are identical to the front - it looks as if after laying down a thread on one face the needle was passed through the cloth and made to mirror that action on the reverse side. Unless you are telling me there are tell-tale nuances which a very close view of thread and counter thread would then reveal - if so I'll gladly post a detail and its exact reverse.

Lazygardens I am posting a detail of the fringe and the size of the piece, excluding the fringe, is about one metre square (say 38"). The embroidery only occupies one half of the piece - or rather one corner, which suggests it is meant to be folded diagonally before wearing - exposing just the ornamented half.

Thank you for the link


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RE: 70+ year old embroidered shawl

I think it's rayon, not silk, but can't be sure from a photo.
And machine embroidered. Whatever it is, the safest thing is to have it dry cleaned.


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