A staple of a well-appointed Victorian home included decorative antimacassars on the backs of chairs, like the “Cosy Antimacassar” pictured here and featured in PieceWork’s Weldon’s Practical Knitter Eleventh Series eBook. An antimacassar is cloth placed on the backs and arms of chairs and sofas to protect the furniture from soil and wear.
Cosy Antimacassar featured in Weldon’s Practical Knitter eleventh series eBook
Antimacassar: A Necessity
One of the key offenders for soiling Victorian chair and sofa backs was Macassar oil. This hair oil was particularly popular with Victorian men and made their hair shiny and lay flat—as was the style of the day. London barber Alexander Rowland (1747–1823) is credited with starting this slick hair trend. Macassar oil is a combination of oils plus a touch of fragrance for that special something; different formulas can still be found online. If you dare to mix up a batch of Macassar oil to keep your own unruly mane in check, be sure to knit up one of these protective antimacassars for your home—both stylish and practical. Those weird Victorians!
Originally published November 2, 2017; updated September 5, 2022.