How about a free hand embroidery pattern for today? This is a variation on a design – meant for cutwork or Battenburg lace – from an old Herrschner’s catalog. I have a collection of four of these old catalogs – one from the early 1920′s, one from the early 1940′s, a “supplement” from the 1940′s, and the better-known edition from 1907, which is also available online at Antique Pattern Library.
These catalogs are gems. Much like the Thomas Brown & Son catalog from the turn of last century which features embroidery patterns for ecclesiastical needlework, the catalogs have small line drawings that provide a wealth of inspiration from the past for embroidery in the present.
Take, for example, this design:
The original design in the Herrschner’s catalog is for a Battenburg lace doily. If you print four of the above corners and turn them, you end up with this:
If you’re not into cutwork or Battenburg lace, you can reasonably look at this design as a suitable for all kinds of other embroidery applications.
When I look at this particular design, for example, I can see using the techniques explored in Estense Embroidery as a possible way of interpreting the design. It would also make a very pretty design, simply stitched in outline stitches, either in colors or in white, or in ecru on white or white on ecru. For texture, various filling stitches or patterns could be worked in the more open areas of the scrolls and so forth. Any other ideas on how the design could be interpreted in embroidery?
I like this design, and since I was in the market for an “inside” embroidery piece (one that I’d work inside on the sofa rather than outside in the workroom), I decided to transfer this design onto a piece of linen, to work it in one approach or another – haven’t decided which yet! A 14″ x 14″ piece of linen will give you about two inches around the outside edge of the design, all the way around. If you want a wider edge (more white space) around the design, cut your linen larger. And don’t forget to pre-shrink the linen before measuring and cutting, because it does make a difference in the finished size. This article on fabric for surface embroidery and tips on linen preparation has information at the end of it about pre-shrinking your linen.
Finally, here’s the PDF for the corner, which can be duplicated to make a whole doily: