Two websites that offer great embroidery resources for patterns and techniques were brought to my attention by a reader this week.
The first is the Online Digital Archives of Weaving and Related Topics, hosted by the University of Arizona. I had previously mentioned this particular site, as it makes available all kinds of resources related to textiles, but for the embroiderer especially, there are quite a few gems. My favorite “find” on this site is Ladies’ Guide to Needlework, which is a book full of embroidery patterns and techniques. That link will take you to an index page – scroll down until you find the Ladies’ Guide to Needlework, which is downloadable in three separate PDF files.
The book begins with an inscription from a poem by William Cowper, called “The Winter Evening.”
But here the needle plies its busy task,
The pattern grows, the well-depicted flow’r,
Wrought patiently into the snowy lawn,
Unfolds its bosom; buds, and leaves, and sprigs,
And curling tendrils, gracefully dispos’d,
Follow the nimble finger of the fair;
A wreath that cannot fade, or flow’rs that blow
With most success when all besides decay.
The whole poem is beautiful, but I always thought it would be fun to design an embroidery pattern around these lines. So when I found it in the front of the first section of the Ladies’ Guide to Needlework, I fell in love with the book!
You can literally spend hours browsing the resources on the Digital Archive. And the embroiderer will find all kinds of old books in full, with plenty of technique and design for inspiration.
The second recommended website is the Antique Pattern Library. I’ve mentioned individual finds on this one before, too, but haven’t added them to my list of free embroidery patterns online, either. (But I will now!) Strictly, these aren’t those quick pages you can jump to when looking for an embroidery pattern – you have to do a bit of browsing to find what you want – but oh! the browsing! You’ll find heaps of great stuff on this site, too.
You’ll want to go straight to the Antique Pattern Library “Card Catalog” since that’s where you’ll find a listing and description of the books available. Generous folk have done all the scanning work and made these wonderful resources available to the public.
There are all kinds of great needlework books there, from lace-making to crochet to cross stitch to general embroidery. Browse through the books, and you’ll find yourself inspired to pick up your needle ‘n thread and get stitching!
Thanks to Sytske for the prompting to add these to the list!