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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English Embroidery – Online Book


Amazon Books

If you like historical embroidery, you may find A. F. Kendrick’s book, English Embroidery, interesting and informative. Keep in mind, though – it’s not a how-to. I’ll tell you a bit about it…

English Embroidery by A. F. Kendrick can be found online in PDF format through the American Libraries Internet Archive. The book is one of those photographed PDFs, so you really get the sense of its age!

You’ll find in the book a sort-of history of English embroidery. What the author sets out to do is to describe the trends in embroidery over the ages that mark works of embroidery as “English embroidery.”

Again, keep in mind it’s not a how-to book. You won’t find information on stitching or assembly or anything like that – nothing about how to go about doing the types of embroidery discussed! Instead, Kendrick’s intention is to define a type of embroidery (“English embroidery”) by showing the reader, with pictures and descriptions, what exemplifies this type of embroidery.

The book spans the early Middle Ages through the 18th century, and treats each era in a brief way, slotting typical existing pieces into the era in which they belong. He describes some pieces in fairly good detail. The first half of the book is dedicated primarily to ecclesiastical embroidery. You’ll be able to see photos of different pieces, mostly in black and white – although there are several color plates throughout the book.

From English Embroidery by A. F. Kendrick

About half way through the 125-page book, you’ll arrive at secular embroidery of the 16th and 17th century. You’ll find some plates displaying embroidered bags, as well as several plates on embroidered clothing. The book ends with the 18th century.

From English Embroidery by A. F. Kendrick

This plate, and the discussion of embroidered jackets, reminds me of the work going on at Plymoth Plantation on the 17th century embroidered jacket!

The book also has an extensive reference list and a good index.

Not long ago, I had the opportunity to explore A. G. Christie’s book, English Medieval Embroidery, in the rare books section at a city library. Kendrick’s book is a lot like it, but on a much (much!) smaller scale, covering a broader period of time. So if you’ve been interested to see what Christie’s book is like, but haven’t had the opportunity to visit a library to see it, you could take a look at this book to get a sense of it.

If you want to peruse the book at your leisure, download the PDF of English Embroidery by A. F. Kendrick, and enjoy!


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(2) Comments

  1. Mary: Thanks for the link to this site. I did a search for “needlework” and came up with the most wonderful list of books. One in particular, needlework designs by Liberty Co. is a fantastic source for many art deco designs. It looks like they will be easy to copy once I enlarge the designs. There are also some church designs and I know lots of people are looking for those.
    Kris in Michigan

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