Elizabethan Embroidered Gloves

A set of embroidered cuffs for a pair of gloves, made in Elizabethan style.

These were made as a royal gift for Yolande, who planned to make her own gloves on which to mount the cuffs. I initially designed the embroidery for others to work, but ultimately worked most of it myself.

Silk, linen, silk thread, gold twist, synthetic gold lace, silver-gilt spangles

Research and Design

Ornate polychrome gloves were a feature of late Elizabethan clothing, to be worn and given as gifts (Digby, 1963). Many examples of this particularly English style embroidery survive in museums. Most of these are made of fine leather, with an embroidered cuff worked in silk and metallic threads on a silk ground.

The inspiration for these gloves came from several pairs held in the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, which all display tabbed cuffs. One example has 8 tabs, each with leaf motif in metallic thread, topped with flowers. I combined this with the design from another pair of tabbed gloves, with single flowers on each tab.

With this as the basic structure, I used flowers that were important to Yolande – borage, fleur-de-lys and rose. Since the plan was for someone else to do the embroidery, I put a lot more detail into the design than usual.

I transferred the design to heavy cream silk satin in pencil, then sewed string around the edge for strength, and sent it off, together with the silks, gold thread, silver-gilt spangles and beads. Sadly, the people who had hoped to do the embroidery made a start, but were not able to get much done, so the panels came back to me to complete.

I stretched the silk in my frame, and completed the silk work, then couched the gold twist around and sewed on the spangles. I removed it from the frame, then repeated it all for the second cuff.

Embroidery taken off the frame

I ran a line of wax around the edges of the piece along the seam lines to reduce fraying, then turned and basted the fine hems. I sewed fine gold braid around the outline of each tab and sides, which also secured the hems. I lined the cuffs in silk, slip-stitching this in carefully.


This was an enjoyable project to plan and design, and although I had not planned to do the work, it was satisfying and I was pleased with the result.

As far as I know, they are still waiting for a pair of gloves…. I’d love to see them finished some day!