The beginnings of embroidery on the island seem to date back to the early 19th century, due to English influence.
The first public presentation of Madeira’s embroidery happened in June 1850 at the Exhibition of Madeira Industries. One year later, it was presented abroad.
This rich, fine work, full of colour and imagination, takes its inspiration from English lace as well as from that of Milan, Burano and Bruges. There is also an influence from renaissance, richelieu and venetian lace.
It is the work of embroiderers who work from home according to the designs and patterns created by embroidery factories.
Fabrics used are linen, cotton, natural silk, organdie and synthetic fibers. Before being handed over to embroiderers (together with colour identification and the indication of which stitches are to be embroidered), the fabric is given to the 'estampadores', who rub a sponge soaked in blue or black ink onto the wax paper (with the design pattern and perforated) to mark the areas that are to be embroidered.
When the embroidery is complete, it goes back to the factory to be checked, trimmed, washed and ironed. One last check occurs when the IVBM guarantee stamp is attached to it to ensure quality and authenticity.