Broderie anglaise

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Boy's frock, white plain weave cotton with broderie anglaise, probably English, c. 1855, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Broderie anglaise cuff, detail from Broken Vows by Philip Hermogenes Calderon

Broderie anglaise (French, "English embroidery", pronounced [bʁɔdʁi ɑ̃ɡlɛz]) is a whitework needlework technique incorporating features of embroidery, cutwork and needle lace that became associated with England, due to its popularity there in the 19th century.

History and technique[edit]

Broderie anglaise is characterized by patterns composed of round or oval holes, called eyelets, which are cut out of the fabric, then bound with overcast or buttonhole stitches.[1] The patterns, often depicting flowers, leaves, vines, or stems, are further delineated by simple embroidery stitches made on the surrounding material. Later broderie anglaise also featured small patterns worked in satin stitch.[2]

The technique originated in 16th century eastern Europe—probably in what is now the Czech Republic—but remains associated with England because of its popularity there during the 19th century. In the Victorian era, broderie anglaise typically had open areas in many sizes. Transfers were used first to lay out the design on the material. In some cases, the holes were punched out with an embroidery stiletto before finishing the edge; in other cases, the fabric was embroidered first, and the hole was cut afterwards, with scissors. Beginning in the 1870s, the designs and techniques of broderie anglaise could be copied by the Swiss hand-embroidery and schiffli embroidery machines. Today, most broderie anglaise is created by machine.[2]

Madeira work is a popular form of broderie anglaise associated with artisans on Madeira, a group of Portuguese islands off the coast of Africa.[2]

Fashion and popular culture[edit]

Broderie anglaise was extremely popular in England between 1840 and 1880 for women's underclothing and children's wear. The 1950s saw a resurgence in popularity, when it was frequently used to trim dresses and underwear. In 1959, Brigitte Bardot wore a dress of gingham and broderie anglaise for her wedding to Jacques Charrier.[3]

In contemporary western fashion, it has been featured on a wide variety of modern garments such as shorts and even t-shirts. It has been characterized as "lace, but scaled-up" making it more robust and suited to daytime wear, and less associated with the fine, lacy look of lingerie.[4]


  • S.F.A. Caulfield and B.C. Saward, The Dictionary of Needlework, 1885.


  1. ^ "broderie anglaise". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  2. ^ a b c Catherine Amoroso Leslie (1 January 2007). Needlework Through History: An Encyclopedia. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 34, 226, 58. ISBN 978-0-313-33548-8. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  3. ^ "Broderie Anglaise". Embroidery Types. The Embroiderers' Guild of Western Australia. Archived from the original on 20 October 2013. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  4. ^ Cartner-Morley, Jess (March 30, 2012). "How to dress: broderie anglaise". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 September 2013.

External links[edit]