M17976.1-2 | Slippers

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About 1860, 19th century
6 x 8.5 x 27.5 cm
Gift of Miss Mabel Molson
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Slippers (14)
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Keys to History

The most popular form of Victorian domestic embroidery was berlin work. Using a single stitch, and following a colourful paper pattern, women could quickly fill a canvas with woollen yarn. The ability to do fine embroidery was not a requirement. The limitless range of patterns and colourful yarns made berlin work wildly popular in Canada. Because berlin work was hard-wearing, it was used on chairs, footstools, sofas, valances and even men's suspenders and slippers. Suddenly there was a mass market for needlework. Women found they had a voice in commercial production and design. Manufacturers and technology had become part of a woman's world.

  • What

    Berlin-work slippers were a popular gift for men. Wearing these slippers signified that a man was at home and that someone cared for his comfort.

  • Where

    These were made in Quebec. Similar patterns were available in ladies' journals that were sent to subscribers throughout Canada.

  • When

    The bright colours were the result of the first aniline, or synthetic, dyes. Thus the slippers were made after 1856.

  • Who

    Regardless of the amount of work and time a woman spent on her fashionable domestic embroidery, it is very seldom signed.