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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Free Hand Embroidery Pattern: Art Nouveau & Variations


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I’m calling this free hand embroidery pattern Art Nouveau, although it doesn’t quite have all the qualities of an Art Nouveau design. I think the reason Art Nouveau came to mind was because this is a pattern from an old catalog from the early 1900’s.

This was originally a cushion pattern, and the full embroidery design could certainly be used in the same way. But what I like about this particular design is that it can be taken apart fairly easily and reconstructed into different design schemes. It can be rendered in embroidery in many different ways.

Free Hand Embroidery Pattern: Art Nouveau

This is the original pattern, more or less. There were some elements in the design that were not clear due to damage in my copy of the catalog, so I reconstructed it after drawing the clearly visible elements.

It’s obviously a pattern of repeats, so if you look at each element individually, you can see how it could be broken down into a variety of different designs all along the same theme.

Free Hand Embroidery Pattern: Art Nouveau

For example, this is one of the corner designs. Taken individually, it can stand on its own, right?

Free Hand Embroidery Pattern: Art Nouveau

Then we have the center design element, which could also work on its own.

Free Hand Embroidery Pattern: Art Nouveau

And then we can start playing with the center design element and some of the side design elements, and mix things up a bit.

It’s just a matter of playing around, sketching, tracing, seeing what works.

The embroidery design itself is suitable for practically any kind of technique, from surface embroidery with regular embroidery floss, to silk shading (those swashy things would look great in gradual shaded tones), to whitework (eyelets for the dots?), to goldwork (spangles for the dots? chip work?).

Well, I’ll leave the interpretation up to you! Here are the designs in downloadable PDFs:

Art Nouveau 1 – the original embroidery pattern (PDF)
Art Nouveau 2 – the corner (PDF)
Art Nouveau 3 – the central design element (PDF)
Art Nouveau 4 – various elements mixed up (PDF)

Hope you enjoy them! If you ever make anything with them, I’d love to see it – send photos!

If you’re hankering to start a hand embroidery project but don’t have a pattern to work with, feel free to browse my collection of free hand embroidery patterns here on Needle ‘n Thread!

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(10) Comments

  1. Thanks Mary…this is lovely and would be great on a table runner or tablecloth. I love the mix of Victorian and Nouveau elements. It reminds me of things in the old Brainerd Embroidery booklets.

  2. Dear Mary

    Thanks for the pattern and for reconstructing the pattern for us, I do like art Nouveau and you could do so much with this pattern the possibilities are endless so thanks for this Mary.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  3. As soon as I saw this design (and it is a nice one!!) it reminded me of some finished pieces I have seen categorized as “Wallachian embroidery” — My personal description is an Arts & Crafts Pattern such as this done all with closed buttonhole. (I have seen both all white or all another single color.)

  4. hola Mary linda no pude bajar el diseño en PDF lo veo como bordarlo simple por el tiempo…aqui estoy en invierno
    abrazos y gracias

  5. Hello Mary ,
    I love to do embroidery . I m thinking to do fashion designing . Ur’s beautiful ideas n design is really helping me I don’t thing I could fine better than u . A big big sooooooobig thanx 4 heling ……….

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