Smocks were made of linen and usually undecorated, so that they could be washed. A wealthy woman would own several dozens of smocks and wear a clean one each day.
Materials & Making
The smock is embroidered with deep carnation pink (now faded) silk thread in stem stitch. The seams were hand-sewn with a very fine needle and equally fine linen thread; the resulting stitches are almost invisible. Around the neck, these seams have been embellished with cross stitch to incorporate them with the rest of the embroidery. The smock is made from a single length of fine linen. All of the pieces, sleeves, collars, cuffs, gussets, are cut in rectangular or square shapes. The gores (the long triangular inserts) are made from rectangles cut in half diagonally. By constructing the smock this way, not a single scrap of linen was wasted.
Designs & Designing
The embroidery features a repeating pattern of flowers, insects and animals, including both real and fantastic creatures. Four motifs were copied from a book called A Schole-House for the Needle by Richard Schorleyker. This was a very popular design book for both embroidery and lacemaking, first published in 1624 and reprinted in 1632.