The Art of Petit Point

The Arts and Crafts Era from the late 1860’s to the early 1900’s resulted in high-quality creations that relished traditional craftsmanship. Most of these were simple items like furniture; the difference was that they were made through handmade methods instead of being manufactured in a factory.

In the mid 19th century, a group of friends at the University of Oxford dreamed up the movement in response to developing industrialism. The group instead favored Romanticism and the Pre-Raphaelites.

Vintage compact from the Arts and Crafts Era.

Vintage compact from the Arts and Crafts Era.

This vintage compact, created in the Arts and Crafts Era, used the process of needlepoint called “petit point”. Petit point was the kind of method that members of the Arts and Crafts movement probably loved for its close craftsmanship. This method is similar to regular needlepoint, but is actually smaller and finer, though the two terms are often used interchangeably. It’s a small stitch done diagonally on a canvas with a higher mesh count. So when you think about it, the method’s name makes sense: in French “petit point” means “small point”.


Closer detail of the compact.

Petit point is used for the smaller, more detailed work. A good example is the use of petit point on needlepoint rugs for dollhouses. What else would be able to do such fine detail?

You can also find petit point on many fine vintage purses. These usually feature floral designs, animals, or scenes of people in the countryside.

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