You already know I’m an old needlework book junkie, don’t you? Old books can be expensive – but, with a bit of luck, you can stumble upon them for practically nothing at used book shops (takes some digging, I’ll admit), library book sales, online sources, and even garage sales.
I’ll never forget the happy day I found one lonely copy of Lucy Mackrille’s Church Embroidery and Church Vestments through a used book seller. I had been searching for a copy of it for years. At the time, there was one source selling photocopies of it, but it was very hard to find an original volume. This was before “virtual” libraries and collections became popular online, too. Well, I finally landed a copy – at $110 – and I bought it! I grimaced at the price but it’s an investment I’ve never regretted.
One part of that story – the ironic part – is this: within a year of buying the book, I found another copy of it in pristine condition (some of the pages hadn’t even been cut!), at a library book sale.
So, see – it’s always worth looking, digging, burrowing, foraging about for old books, because you never know what treasures you’ll find – and if you find them at a bargain price, it’s like your birthday and Christmas all rolled into one!
Today, I’d like to share a pattern with you from a book in my collection. It’s a stylized rose, somewhat Morris-esque in design, and drawn from an altar frontal that is discussed in detail in the book.
You can see by the clean lines and boldness of the design that it would be suitable for all kinds of needlework approaches. It can be worked in silk and gold, as it was originally done, or you could appliqué it (I’m thinking appliqué on a quilt and the like). You can work it in whitework, in blackwork – there’s lots of scope for a simple embroidery design like this.
The original description of the embroidered piece the design comes from reads:
A conventionalized rose is given… to be used in the bordering of a super-frontal. It is edged with gold cord and worked in two shades of pale pink floss, long embroidery-stitch [i.e. long and short stitch].
The center ring is of bright green silk, the diamonds it encloses gold-color couched on a pale green ground; the rays, deep rose-color, in long stitches. The outer lines are long, loose stitches in gold thread.
The leaves are in two shades of olive green floss in long embroidery-stitch [long and short stitch]; the stem, scroll, and finish are in two shades of olive brown, edge with gold thread. This part may be done in couching.
The design comes from the book Artistic Embroidery by Ella Rodman Church.
Even the cover of the book is artistic.
The book’s full title: Artistic Embroidery: Containing Practical Instructions in the Ornamental Branches of Needlework, with nearly two hundred illustrations and explanatory diagrams. I have a slightly different edition from the one you can find online, to download, but the contents are the same. Here’s the download link from Internet Archive:
The book covers much more than church embroidery. Here are the chapters:
Worsted Embroidery (crewel work)
Simple Ideas of Colors
Designing and Transferring Designs
Articles in Silk Embroidery
Silk Embroidery with Gold
Embroidered Books and Other Articles
Applied with with Embroidery
Embroidery in Chenille
Silk Embroidery on Linen
Church Embroidery, Parts I & II
Linen Lace Work
So you can see it covers many embroidery-related topics. There’s much good information in the book – definitely worthwhile to find your own copy, or to download it from Internet Archive!
My version of the design is a little cleaner and easier to print than the one you’ll find in the online version of the book. Here’s a PDF of the Rose pattern:
Stylized Rose on Stem (PDF)
I hope you enjoy the pattern, the book, and your weekend!
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