Wednesday 3 September 2008 by Annette Gaykema. 5 comments
Collection, First World War, Ephemera, How To...

Embroidered silk postcards were first made in 1900 with popularity peaking during the First World War. Cards were generally embroidered on strips of silk mesh by French women. They were then cut and mounted on postcards.

Since the completion of a project to get the silk postcard images (all 700+) onto the database, I have been interested in seeing how well the process could be replicated. Having some experience in cross-stitch, I decided to have a go at creating a pattern from the database image, embroidering it and mounting it. First step was deciding on a design (feeling quite patriotic after the Olympics I chose one of the Australian ones):


Materials that were needed to make this project:

  • 1 needle
  • various embroidery threads
  • scrap piece of calico
  • copy of silk postcard image
  • cardboard for backing and mount


I chose the following thread colours to match the original design: 


1) Sketch image onto calico (this could be traced and would eliminate some of the errors that I made in regards to perspective):

2) Learn how to do the correct stitch:

3) Continue stitching with the various colours.......

...... until the pattern is complete.

4) Iron flat and then mount between cardboard:

Doing this little project has given me an immense appreciation for these particular souvenirs because I now understand how time-consuming they were to make (took me a weekend to complete) and just how intricate and detailed some of the patterns are.

Designs and inspiration can be found via the finding aid which now links to the all the scanned silk postcard images.



Wow!! The end result looks fabulous! The silk postacrds are such interesting items. Thank you for such an interesting post.


Great work! It is amazing to think that the original cards still retain the colour of the threads.


Exciting! I was eBaying for some vintage silk postcards and wanted to know more about them (want to use some in a crazy quilt) ... thank you for you made me smarter!


Wow !! you have done a great job, Ive always loved these cards, but never knew where to start, I cant wait to try this myself !


Hi I've been collecting silk postcard for about 4 years, and think hte one you made looks great I wish I could make one but I'm no good at sewing. Will you be doing any more?