French fashion Doll wardrobes contain many beautifully made hats, bonnets, dresses, outerwear and shoes. Among the shoes was more than likely one pair of Berlin wool work slippers. You might be asking yourself “What is berlin wool work?”, I have an answer for you from Mr. Wikipedia( he is so smart except when he is not). Berlin wool work is explained as follows:
“Berlin wool work is a style of embroidery similar to today’s needlepoint. It was typically executed with wool yarn on canvas. It is usually worked in a single stitch, such as cross stitch or tent stitch although Beeton’s book of Needlework (1870) describes 15 different stitches for use in Berlin work. It was traditionally stitched in many colors and hues, producing intricate three-dimensional looks by careful shading. The design of such embroidery was made possible by the great progresses made in dyeing in the 1830s, especially by the discovery of aniline dyes which produced bright colors.
This kind of work created very durable and long-lived pieces of embroidery that could be used as furniture covers, cushions, bags, or even on clothing.”
You can find many different patterns for Berlin work in the fashion magazines of the 19th century. I have seen bags (of all sorts), suspenders, chair covers, foot stool covers and slippers. Slippers and bags are my favorite type of berlin wool work! Now if you want a basis of comparison with another needle art, Berlin wool work is similar to needlepoint. Now take a lesson from me and don’t ask your local needlework store for Berlin Wool work supplies. They will look at you funny; like you have three heads. Just ask for Needlepoint supplies.
The next few images are From the period of 1859-1865. These are a few of the variety of slipper patterns that were published. They put out some crazy patterns and some simple ones are well.
My personal favorite out of those is the green with a white bow. Simple yet elegant. Obviously you can see how gaudy these designs could get.
These next few images are going to be of original DOLL sized Berlin wool work slippers.
This next pair is a professionally put together pair of slippers. You can see the attention to detail in the piping around the sole and how perfectly the sole is attached to the slipper upper.
While searching out examples to show you I found this latter pair of Berlin work slippers. These were made around 1890 probably for a Bebe style doll. Look at the floral detail on the toes!
I wish they put something in the photo for scale because they look like full size slippers! I assure you they are not.
Stay tuned for my next post on reproducing these tiny treasures!