The 19th Century Parlorcraft Circle

The 19th Century Parlorcraft CircleWe use the term “parlorcraft” to refer to 19th-century handwork by people of all social classes. Parlorcraft is not limited to needlework, although all 19th-century women, and many boys, and nearly all sailors, would have been skilled at sewing and mending. For the working classes, sewing and mending clothing for the entire family was a necessity, but they also took in piece-work, dipped matches, fashioned paper flowers, and made other small items to be sold on the streets. For the middle- and some of the upper-classes, home sewing was still a necessity.

The TailorEven a family affluent enough to afford the services of a dress-maker or tailor would still need to sew and mend underclothing, diapers, handkerchiefs, petticoats, and other garments. Young women were expected to sew and embroider items for their trosseau, to have table linens, lingerie, and night-gowns for their married life. For upper-class women who did not need to sew their family’s clothing, needle skills were the hallmark of an educated lady, as well as a leisure activity. Scrap-booking, painting china and glass, basket-weaving, watercoloring, lace-making, paper quilling, decoupage, hair-work, weaving and many other hand-crafts helped pass the time and create beautiful and useful objects. Nineteeenth-century men also engaged in hand crafts, such as leatherwork, whittling, and yes, knitting. Sailors had their own particular crafts, such as scrimshaw, cabinetry, rope-work, shell-work, and embroidery.

The Parlorcraft Circle was launched by Society founders Eva and Zoh, and is currently hosted by Morgana Toglia and Rachel Klingberg. It meets approximately once a month depending on meeting space availability. The events are free and materials, instruction, and refreshments are generally provided by the hosts.

Past Parlorcraft Circles: