Just like precious gems, needlework has qualities that allow those of us in the industry to rate pieces for quality, rarity, age, and value. Because Pillow Talk has for over 30 years specialized in rather expensive pillows assembled from antique weavings and needlework, we can share what makes the inventory so rare.
The most noticeable is the stitching. Wool and silk yarns are pulled through a canvas with varying sizes of mesh which guides the craftsperson’s selection of stitch. Gros point is the stitch that most of us call needlepoint. Petit point is far smaller and requires an expert needle worker. Both sizes of stitch are shown in the close-up photo here. When combined in the same piece of needlework, it becomes especially difficult to do well. Remember, the canvas has just one size of mesh. Needlework with petit point is more valuable and rare.
How the stitches are rendered tell a quality story. Are they perfectly even? Is the entire canvas square and not pulled diagonally? That takes very careful consideration of thread pressure. The finer, the more valuable the textile.
The age of the canvas and overall color of the wool or silk tells the age. The older the more expensive our pillow will be. Most of our historical pillows are one of a kind and never to be replicated as the craftspeople who did them don't exist today.