Origins of Crewel


In and out of style for centuries, crewel is back in favor with our favorite designers—and we couldn’t be more thrilled. The sophisticated embroidered embellishment of crewel can be seen in traditional and contemporary patterns on everything from pillows to drapery and even wall coverings.
With the introduction of our fabulous new Belle Vigne Collection, we wanted to get the skinny on the centuries-old art form.

In a nutshell, crewelwork is wool embroidery that is typically stitched on a coarse cotton or linen fabric. This decorative form, known as free embroidery, employs a variety of stitches to produce a richly textured design. And unlike silk or cotton embroidery threads, crewel wool is thicker so it creates that raised, dimensional look and feel we love so much.

Crewel became very popular during the time of Elizabeth I. Utilitarian crewel wall hangings and bed spreads brought welcome warmth to drafty stone castles and wood structures. But it wasn’t until the reign of James I in the first quarter of the 17th century that much of the traditional decorative designs we know today—stylized floral and animal motifs featuring flowing vines and leaves—were created and refined. Known as Jacobean embroidery, the first designs are believed to have been painted or printed by the East India Company and sent to England.

Today, popular motifs are often screen printed onto fabric, and an embroidery machine follows the outline of the design. Our collection, however, is crafted by hand in the age-old tradition of skilled craftsmen in the valley of Kashmir. In India, crewel embroidery is a timeless art, and masterful crewel workers are known for their uniform and consistent stitching using fine thread knots. As a result, the serene Jacobean floral motif of our Belle Vigne Collection boasts an exceptionally textured depth that simply can’t be achieved by machine.
Whether you add fresh romance with floral embroidered bedding or gain graphic color from a decorative pillow, crewel has a knack for making centuries-old style like new again. You could say we’re crazy for crewel!

Shop our Belle Vigne Collection.

How to Decorate Team

We enjoy spending days interacting with How to Decorate readers. From answering Design Dilemmas to writing How To articles and working with guest designers, our passion is to provide informative and accurate resources to help people solve their design problems.


  1. Reply


    January 22, 2017

    I am so fortunate to own this duvet set. It is so beautiful. I need to know care instructions usually it is dry cleaned.