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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For History Buffs: Lady’s Magazine Stitch Off


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For all you history buffs out there who like to combine embroidery with historical interests, there’s something fun going on over in the UK!

And, since it’s Monday, and Monday’s a great day to start thinking of new projects (because you really need another new project, right?!), I thought I’d point you to the Lady’s Magazine Stitch Off, in case you haven’t already seen it.

I think it’s a neat idea, and it would be great fun to participate!

Lady's Magazine Stitch Off - historical embroidery patterns

You can find the information behind the Stitch Off idea here, and you can find the patterns from the magazines here.

The idea is to use the patterns in modern interpretations, however you wish. Most of them are perfect for tambour embroidery, but they would work up well in many other types of surface stitching, too. I could easily see any rendition of the five patterns incorporated into crazy quilting, and they definitely all suit for whitework.

The challenge is to use your imagination to see how the patterns can still be relevant for today’s embroiderer.

Even if you’re not up to taking on a new project right now, it’ll be fun to follow along and see what other stitchers from around the world come up with! And, of course, you can always save the patterns for a later date!

I hope you enjoy reading about the project! Is it something you’d join in on? Do you have any scathingly brilliant ideas on how to incorporate these historical patterns into modern embroidery? If you’d like to chat about it with other embroiderers, feel free to use the comment section below!

Enjoy your Monday!


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(29) Comments

  1. Mary, I know this is off the topic, but I don’t know how else to ask my question. I have been trying to sign up for Ask and Share since the summer. Will there be an opening for new accounts in the near future? I am a retired grandmother who is getting back to embroidery and I am looking for a place to ask my questions.

    Thank you for Needle n Thread. I have learned so much from it and there is much more for me to learn.

    1. Hi, Carol – you might try Stitchin Fingers. There’s a forum on there where you can ask questions. The Ask & Share section here is frozen at the moment, and, although the topics will be available for reading, the forum itself is not going to be re-opened any time soon. Thanks for asking!

  2. Hello Mary,
    I want to thank you again – once in a while (and this is today) for your wonderful and inspiring posts. Just now I am interested in Gingham cross stitch Christmas trees and it is so good to jump (on the iPad) to your blog and find it without problems in several “chapters”.
    I wish you a happy holiday season and the best for your health.
    With love

  3. Dear Mary

    The Stitch Off is a great idea especially if you are looking for new project ideas and you like Tambour embroidery, it allows you to follow other stitchers embroidering the same patterns and you can share your ideas with each other and combine history with embroidery how lovely. I like them all but especially the Winter Shawl and the pattern for a Gown which are lovely. Thanks for sharing the Stitch Off with us and for the links to the University of Kent and free 18 Century patterns.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  4. Mary, thanks for bringing this up. I’m still knotting my way through a snowflake. I think the Gentleman’s handkerchief would make an excellent scarf in white chiffon with spring green embroidery. I agree that the gown (small allovers) would be wonderful in whitework on a natural linen summer peasant blouse.

    Once I untangle myself from my knotty snowflake, I may have a go at one of these.

    This week I finished up my lavender honey. It’s a lovely pattern. Very well described and the directions were easy to follow.

  5. Carol, I have just discovered all the tutorials on you tube. It’s amazing. And, of course, Mary’s video tutorials are the best! I found some on you tube that are a little different. And there is also http://www.pintangle.com. I have a wonderful stitching group here in AZ, Creative Stitchers in Sun City West. You may find some stitchers nearby for questions. Good luck!

  6. Mary, I have the same problem as you. My surgery was Christmas 2013. I am on my third round of chemo. You will feel wonderful for a while then terrible for a week after the chemo. My first round was chemo every week for 18 weeks. This was when I lost my hair and started wearing a baseball cap. Then for 5 months I was doing great then my CA125 went back up so more chemo. I am now ready (tomorrow) for my 4 treatment. I will remember you in my prayers and if you need to ask about anything please write to me. Sisters in stitching and health. Barb Kaylor, Venice, FL.

    1. Keeping you in my thoughts for a full recovery, Barbara. I remember the hat and scarf headgear wardrobe…I also took full advantage of the hair loss and dressed as Gru from “Despicable Me” for Halloween that year. My grandson thought it was the greatest thing.

      Hopefully, this will be your last course of chemo.

  7. Dear Mary,
    I am fascinated with the patterns. The repeated motifs for the gown and apron pattern, e.g. those on the second diagonal, are not the same although the differences are sometimes subtle. Similarly those on the winter shawl do not repeat; they are not related by reflection either.

    The motifs on the gown pattern are individual.

    Somehow these patterns of the 5 are sticking in my mind like a burr. I may need to use them for something.

    Best wishes,

    1. Presumably the subtle variations are because the patterns were all hand-drawn.

      I think we are so accustomed these days to having motifs printed and repeated ‘perfectly’ that it’s easy to forget the charm and individuality inherent in a hand-drawn pattern.

    2. Perhaps I used “subtle” wrongly. These are not the differences between attempts to draw the same motif but differences such as which way a bottom leaf is pointing, a top leaf that is curled versus one that isn’t. They are essentially different patterns. If one were to extend a corner pattern to a border of an entire apron or gown, one would have great freedom in how to proceed.

      What fascinated me is that these are, if you like, sketches for ideas of motifs.

  8. I absolutely LOVE this idea! The designs are gorgeous and the idea of so many different people working them up in different ways is such fun.

  9. Mary, thank you for sharing links to these scans. CQJP2016 begins soon & I saved the scans in the event that I need a spot motif for a patch or if I need to remodel/unify a block. Small sprigs can easily be used individually rather than using a “pattern” in its entirety. One can never have too many resources like this!

  10. Hi Mary, Thanks for the historical posting. I love the combo of “traditional” and embroidery!
    The designs are really dainty looking. Hope you are recovering well.

  11. Hi Mary—glad to see you are up and running enough to make such a great post for us. I went and got the patterns, and read the post about the book from which they came…..wow! All of it very heartwarming to think about.
    Love the idea of a stitch off and am seriously thinking about giving this a try! Thanks TO YOU!

  12. Thank you for sharing this, Mary!

    I’m intrigued by the shape of the “Gentleman’s Handkerchief” pattern, which seems to imply something very different from a modern handkerchief. Any ideas?

  13. Hi Mary, since September
    I’ve been working on a similiar project, starting with sampler etc re-interpretation (and now clothing) for aRegency focussed exhibition. It’s a great era for mining inspirations and I’m excited to hear of lots more sources. Maybe we can start a revival! Thanks, and hope all goes well with you. Wellwishing you like crazy!

  14. Hello, Mary. It’s Jennie from over at the Lady’s Magazine Project. We are delighted and extremely grateful that you have shared details of our Stitch Off with your extensive and expert readers. We hope many will be able to take part and look forward to learning from their experiences. As we indicate in our blog post, we would love readers to share experiences, thoughts and results on our blog, if they are willing. If anyone would like to contact me directly about it they can on my Kent email address: j[dot]e[dot]batchelor[at]kent[dot]ac[dot]uk. Please excuse the anti-spamming formatting of that. We also have a Twitter feed (@ladysmagproject) for those of your followers who want to chat there. I would love to reply to some of your commenters below and hope to do so in the next few days. In the meantime, though, heartfelt thanks from the other side of the pond!

    Best wishes


  15. Thanks for letting us know about this! It will be fun to follow. Thinking of you & sending you positive thoughts & good wishes for a smooth recovery & a happy Christmas!

  16. Hi Mary, read Mondays post and immediately went to the web site. My daughter is studying “women’s studies” and this site would be great for her. But it also reminded me of several Modern Priscilla magazines my mother-in-law gave me from Pre-WWI. Every now and then I sit and go through them amazed at the articles and projects they had printed. Not unlike the Lady’s Magazine… as to the patterns themselves from the website… Yup I immediately downloaded and archived them. Thank You so much for all the posting and articles you do…
    Sincerely Michele Z.

    1. I was actually going to visit the site today to see who’s done what with the designs! I’m hoping to get started on mine soon…been a bit bogged down with other life happenings…

  17. Just discovered your site… now that I am again doing some embroidery… partly to encourage a 9 yr old great grand daughter . this is a lovely site, Mary…easy on the eyes… and you are in Kansas? Yes.. we have had some cold, cold weather… I am in Wichita… . Glad to have found your blog… Cheers for a good NY ..

  18. Mary..I am newbie to embroidery and Needle n Thread. I just read your Thanksgiving & Christmas letter. I am also dealing with cancer and you are right – its how you look at the days that will get you thru. I wish you many blessings and you have my prayers. Carolyn Voris

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