If you have a chance this weekend, you’ll definitely want to take some time to browse through Antique Pattern Library.
If you’re not familiar with Antique Pattern Library, it’s a real bonanza when it comes to needlework books in the public domain.
The folks behind Antique Pattern Library do a fantastic job scanning and cataloging a whole variety of needlework books, and many of them are excellent old embroidery books.
Today, I’ll sum up a list of recent delectable finds and old favorites that are worth downloading. I’ll also share my “shortcuts” for browsing Antique Pattern Library. In case I didn’t mention it, there are a lot of books there. Browsing can be a bit like falling into the Black Hole of Oblivion, only to emerge to a day half-gone.
All the books are free for downloading, although you can support APL by donating, if you wish – there are buttons on the site.
Getting Around Antique Pattern Library
When you visit Antique Pattern Library, start at the home page, not the catalog page, unless you’re looking for a specific title that you already know or you just want to browse through the whole catalog.
On the home page, you’ll find a menu of categories under the main picture. Click on the category you want, and you’ll be provided with a list of books that somehow fit into that category.
So, if you’re looking for books on “embroidery,” click on the embroidery category. The list is quite long, and if you don’t have a lot of browsing time, you might want to cut to the chase. Perhaps you’re looking for “embroidery patterns” specifically. If you use the “find” function on your computer (Command+F on a Mac or Control+F on a PC), you’ll get a small search box at the top of your browser that can search for keywords on that page. Type in “patterns” and all the listings on that page that include the word “patterns” in the title or description will be highlighted.
At that point, you can move through them all by clicking the “next” arrow on your browser’s search box.
APL has a search function, but I find that my computer’s find function on the open browser works faster and narrows things down more efficiently.
If you know the title of a book you’re looking for, head to the catalog page, and you can find the title alphabetically there.
Viewing & downloading the books on Antique Pattern Library
The books are in PDF format, which means you should have the latest version of Adobe Reader on your computer to successfully download and view the books.
Even though my software is always up to date, I still have trouble now and then viewing some of the PDFs on APL to see if I want to download them. This is especially the case if I’m using Safari as a browser.
Try a different browser
Your best bet – the easiest way – to view the PDFs successfully every time is to use Chrome. I’ve tried Firefox, Safari, Explorer (virtually), and Chrome, and the latter is the only browser I never have a problem with when browsing through APL. On the others, I’ve had PDFs that don’t allow viewing (although they can still be dowloaded and then opened without a problem), or, in some cases, a PDF that requires a password. You might consider installing Chrome to use as an alternative browser when visiting APL, if you plan to visit there often.
The links below will take you directly to the PDFs on Antique Pattern Library, so if you have difficulties opening them, check your software and your browser.
Some Favorite Books on Antique Pattern Library
Lately, I’ve discovered some new delights on Antique Pattern Library, and in case you’ve never been there, I’ll direct you to some favorites, too, for your own browsing pleasure.
Die Kunst Der Goldstickerei – (PDF) – yes, it’s in German. But if you like goldwork, it’s a keeper! Lots of good pictures on the inside – they’re old black & whites, but you can learn a lot from them.
Le Dessinateur de Broderies – (PDF) – This one, in French, is mostly a lace-related book (lots of lace designs for embroidered laces), the designs and drawings can be used or manipulated for surface embroidery as well. If you don’t read French, that’s ok. The book is mostly design.
Portfolio of Designs for Embroidery by Joan Drew – (PDF) – This is exactly what the title implies, a collection of embroidery designs. Many of them would make a great springboard for further design ideas.
Godey’s Needlework Patterns – (PDF) – This particular PDF is perhaps not as clear as some of the others, but there are some gems in here as far as designs go, plus it’s fun to read!
A Book of Fancy Designs for Ornamenting Oriental Work – (PDF) – This is essentially a collection of interesting stitch patterns for crazy quilting.
Anand’s Embroidery Book: Hand Drawn Designs to Use in Machine Embroidery – (PDF) – Don’t be put off by the title, even if you aren’t into machine embroidery. The designs in this book are perfectly suited to hand embroidery. Some are quite charming and would adapt well into redwork and other surface techniques.
Therese Dillmont – (catalog list) – Any of her books are worth browsing! This is a direct link to the D’s in the Antique Pattern Library catalog.
I hope this little list provides you with some stitching inspiration, or at least with a pleasant weekend diversion.
If you get lost in the Black Hole of Oblivion, give a holler!
Enjoy the weekend!