Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Historical Embroidery: Book Bindings


Amazon Books

Book covers make great embroidery projects. I had fun working with children this past summer on book covers embroidered on wool felt. It isn’t a new idea by any means to embellish the cover of a book with embroidery. If you want to see some fantastic pieces of embroidered art, you need to check out the British Library’s Database of Bookbindings.

If you visit the British Library’s Database of Bookbindings and search for “embroidered,” you will find a whole gallery of gorgeous old embroidered book covers. You’ll want to do a “keywork” search for “embroidered,” and select “gallery” for the display method. Then you can spend hours (or at least a good many minutes!) browsing these beautiful little pieces of history.

In the gallery view, you’ll get an overall view of the embroidered bookbindings. There are lots of them! You can browse through examples from different centuries and different countries.

You get a fairly good full shot of each image when you click on it, with all the pertinent details of size, workmanship, and so forth.

You can click on the photo for a close up, which allows you to see all the embroidered detail on the piece. Some of them are really opulent, like this cover in velvet worked over with gold.

This is a fantastic gallery, and excellent for browsing through when you just want to relax and search for inspiration. You’ll get a good sense of the techniques of particular historical eras, and you’ll marvel at the artistry of these pieces.

Thanks to Megan of Elmsley Rose for the link!


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(8) Comments

  1. I’m glad you all like this resource! I really enjoy browsing the book covers. I think my favorite is the one with the two ships on it, with the little seamonster in the front.

  2. I have just died and gone to heaven. This website is the best thing since sliced bread – William Morris + book binding/embroidery + explanations i can actually UNDERSTAND = hours of countless sewing pleasure ahead.

    I can’t sleep I’m so excited! Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou Mary!

  3. Hi Mary,

    Another great resource of beautiful work and inspirational piece of art. Thank you for sharing.

    Jennifer G.

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