Guimarães Embroidery, which heralds from Northern Portugal, is a decorative form of needlework with a dimensional quality to it. It is known in Portugal as Bordado de Guimarães and there are historical references to the embroidery of this region dating back to as early as the 10th Century AD.
Traditionally, embroidery was a female occupation and girls would learn from older women in their families how to embroider. Not only were practical skills passed on, but also lessons were learned whilst sitting working with a needle and thread. The young girls worked on the trousseaus and lovingly embroidered a special shirt to be worn by her groom on their wedding day.
Guimarães Embroidery has evolved into a variety of styles and forms since the late 1700’s. Some of the styles are:
- Colour embroidery, mostly using black, red, white and blue individually or any combination of these colours.
- All-white embroidery, also known as Guimarães
Guimarães Embroidery is a rich treasure of embroidery stitches some of which are:
- Bullion Stitch
- Back Stitch
- Lazy Daisy Stitch and some of its variations
- Satin Stitch and some of its variations
- Feather Stitch
- French Knots
- Chain Stitch
- Blanket Stitch eyelets
- Bouclé Stitch
- Whipped Stem Stitch
- Straight Stitch
The Bullion Stitch seems to be the favoured stitch in many articles of Guimarães Embroidery.
The embroidery is most commonly done on an even weave linen fabric, but other fabrics are also decorated in this style of embroidery.
As with Cross Stitch, Guimarães Embroidery can be done with the counted thread method. Another way is a more freestyle type of embroidery, which would generally be used for embroidering flowers.
Guimarães Embroidery was a very lucrative business for women in Portugal for many years. At the beginning of the 1800’s it became a very popular embroidery style for decorating the fabric of the empire style dresses of Europe which were fashionable in Europe at the time.
Guimarães Embroidery is still used for decorating clothing in Portugal as well as decorative designs on soft furnishings in the home.
In 2010, Guimarães Embroidery was given a protected status in Portugal which requires individuals to attend courses and receive certification to be able to advertise their embroidery as true Guimarães Embroidery.