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Fall Into Love With Crewel

My next fall fabric is crewel. I am fascinated by it; maybe because I did a lot of crewel work when I was a kid. Some of my family and friends still have my work.

A friend of mine recently told me she didn’t even know she liked crewel until she saw an idea book I shared with her, which got me to wondering how many other people were unaware of this amazing fabric.

What is crewel? It is a type of hand-embroidery that has been around for about a thousand years with its origins dating back to India, Greece and Mongolia. It had its heyday in Great Britain during the 17th Century, although it has enjoyed a resurgence several times over since then (check out this month’s Pier One catalog to see how to do crewel in the 21st century). Crewel uses different stitches to create highly stylized designs; the threads are usually worsted wool and, historically, the background fabric is linen. Today, there may be silk or rayon yarns used for the embroidery on any sturdy fabric, including velvet.

Crewel stitches have so many variations, they create highs and lows on the fabric. This makes the fabric textural. Although most of the designs are floral based, the story crewel tells could use any picture. And when used in decorating, it can be really dramatic; probably another reason I love it!

For fall, I would look for a table runner in browns, golds and oranges to place over a linen tablecloth. I have beautiful teakwood candlesticks I would team with a carved tray full of gourds or pumpkins as the centerpiece on the dining room table.

While some might consider crewel old fashioned, I am not one of them. I love the luxury and drama of it. Crewel can have a vintage look especially if the colors are non-traditional or a little funky, proving even traditional designs can look modern. Historically, crewel designs are intricate but some designs are simple for those who believe less is more.

Crewel designs are limitless as are the applications in the home. Looking to bring drama to a large window; try crewel fabric draperies. Have a sitting area that is dominated by neutral fabrics; add crewel to an area rug.

On my wish list is a side chair covered in crewel. That, of course, would be a luxury so I would settled for some great oversized crewel pillows for my sofa to create real drama in my living room for fall.

Just a word of caution about crewel; don’t let the options overwhelm you. As long as you are true to your design style, your choices will be beautiful in your home. Don’t forget to share pictures below and tell me what you like about crewel. Or if you have a question, that is fine, too.

One last note, for you do-it-yourselfers, click here to check out a great resource.

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