The origins of Madeira Embroidery dates back to the early days of colonization of the Madeira Islands.
It’s common belief that it began to be made by noble women immediately, due to the need of ornamental home items, as well as clothing, and still under the influence of convent tasks.
However, it was only after the second half of the 19th century that this product was acknowledged not only on regional and national basis, but also internationally, since some English traders established in Funchal exporting embroidered pieces to England.
With the new dynamic that the business acquired, new embroidery factories opened with a growing interest by foreigners, especially by British, German and Americans, which contributed to a radical change in the productive sector, with an evolution of the craft process to industrial.
The specialized exporters deliver the printed fabric work (done by designers) to the embroiderers, which capable hands work the fabric before it returns to the factory, in order to be verified, cut, washed and ironed in a succession of verifications that end with the placing of the seal by IVBAM (Madeira Wine, Embroidery and Handicrafts Institute). This seal ensures Madeira Embrodery quality and authenticity.
The fabrics used in the manufacture of Madeira embroidery are: linen, natural silk, organdie and cotton.
Given the various influences of England, Milan and Bruges laceworks, it is believed that those have been an inspiration to the several stitches applied in the execution of Madeira Embroidery, namely the Richelieu, “ Caseado” ( buttonhole stitch), “ Arrendado” (lace stitch), “Ponto de Corda” (rope stitch), “Ponto Francês” (French stich), or “ Garanito”, etc.
Madeira Embroidery offers a wide range of articles, which includes pieces Table linen, Bed linen, Bath linen, Children's Clothing among other pieces.
With about 150 years of history, Madeira’s Embroidery production process continues with the same authenticity since its beginning and it is estimated that about 30 companies currently exist in the region manufacturing Madeira Embroidery, as well as, around 3000 Embroiderers who dedicate themselves to the art of embroidery on a daily basis.