Capacious work bags were an important domestic accessory in the eighteenth century, and their decoration and scale reflected changing fashions in needlework, although their form, two pieces of fabric seamed at the base and sides and closing with a simple drawstring, remained plain. Work bags tended to be large so as to contain the substantial hanks of coloured worsted wool used for crewelwork, and made of linen or cotton. Many were embroidered with crewelwork, typically with twisting Tree of Life patterns, complete with foliage and birds.

The embroidery of this work bag depicts on one side a central two-handled vase containing meandering stems and flowers, with exotic birds. The other side shows a similar floral design. The bag is initialled ER and dated 1701 on one side, and 1702 on the other side.


  • Title: Workbag
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1701/1702
  • Location: England
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 61 cm, Width: 45 cm, Length: 24 in, Width: 17.75 in
  • Medium: Embroidered in crewel wool on a linen and cotton ground

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