Laid Work is an old technique. A variation of it was used in the Bayeux Tapestry but it was widely used before then in the Medieval Days. The English Embroiderers were masters of their trade using gold and silk threads to create the most elaborate Copes that featured the difficult technique of Or Nué. The Syon Cope is an excellent example of the skill current at that time. This Cope was moved to France during the time of Henry VIII to prevent it from being melted down for the bullion contained in the stitching,
Laid Work minimizes the amount of thread used in embroidery. It is useful when the thread is expensive or in short supply. Think of the Deerfield Embroideries. Immigrants did not have access to their accustomed thread supplies and had to wait until the boat arrived from Europe. That could be a long time in the future. (Necessity is the spur to invention.) Another feature is that all the thread is visible on the front of the fabric. If the item is a piece of clothing this reduces the weight of the garment. If satin or long and short is used, there is as much thread on the back as on the front. Some threads are expensive. Even in this era, they are expensive. Laid Work will minimize the amount of thread you will use. You may only need three skeins rather than five which could be relevant for commissioned work. It is also fairly fast to work which is another posoitive expecially if you are working on a commission.
When silk threads are used for this technique the result is gorgeous. The long uninterrupted stitches and large areas covered with the thread gleam and show off off both the thread and the colour to advantage. Although any thread can be used for learning, DMC Floss and Perlé, for instance, and exploring this technique, silk thread, either flat or twisted is the best.
This piece was embroidered by Erica Wilson while she was a student at The Royal School of Needlework in the early 1950s. She used Pearsall’s Silk Thread. I remember her stitching this. It gleamed; it was dazzling and it shows off the thread and the technique most wonderfully. The design is the result of sketching in the Natural History Museum.