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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Embroiderer’s Book of Design – Nice Pattern Resource!


Amazon Books

Well, my friends, this week did not start the way I planned!

By today, I should have been working in my new “digs” – the space I’ve rented to host all things Needle ‘n Thread. Yesterday, I had planned to show you around a bit. But due to unforeseen technical difficulties, a tour and a chat will have to wait.

In the meantime, I’m writing from an iPad, which leaves a lot to be desired. I’m optimistic, though! I’m sure the glitches will be sorted this week and the studio should be operational soon. Not attractive, mind you. Just operational. That’s all I’m striving for at this point. I’m dying to get some stitching done and to share with you some design work and doodling I’ve been dabbling with.

Speaking of designing and doodling, today, I’d like to share with you a free online source called The Embroiderer’s Book of Design: Contains Initials, Emblems, Cyphers, Monograms, &c. It’s a neat book and it has a lot to recommend it. It might take a little bit of work to get the designs transfer-ready, but the book itself is a terrific source for ideas!

Embroiderers Book of Design - Ideas for hand embroidery, monograms, and more

The Embroiderers Book of Design promises a lot, and back in the day when it was published (1891), it surely lived up to its promise.

Today, we tend to look for a more streamlined approach to embroidery designs. But this particular book can certainly be used as a springboard for inspiration!

Embroiderers Book of Design - Ideas for hand embroidery, monograms, and more

Throughout the book, as promised on the cover, you’ll find monograms and cyphers, initials, emblems, small embroidery motifs.

If you’ve ever wondered about the difference between initials, monograms, and cyphers, I’ve written about the subject here. It’s a pet subject, if you hadn’t guessed. I love decorative lettering in any form!

Embroiderers Book of Design - Ideas for hand embroidery, monograms, and more

Some of the alphabets in this particular book offer quite a bit of scope for the embroiderer’s imagination. With minor adjustments, the alphabet above could be quite pretty! I think there’s a bit too much weight in some of the lines for clarity, but adjusting those to finer lines or outlines rather than filled areas could achieve interesting results.

Embroiderers Book of Design - Ideas for hand embroidery, monograms, and more

This is another alphabet in the book that has some potential, but the more I look at it, the less inclined I am to like it. It’s a bit too wonky and swooshy? What do you think?

Embroiderers Book of Design - Ideas for hand embroidery, monograms, and more

This, however, is an A after my own heart! I love this rendering!

But I find myself viciously muttering against Mr. F. Delamotte, the engraver behind this particular collection, who was stingy with the rest of this alphabet. Alas, we only get the A.

Embroiderers Book of Design - Ideas for hand embroidery, monograms, and more

For those still consumed by Royal Wedding Fever, the full page of designs representative of Britain, including an abundant thistle, lots of clover, some roses, some initials, and other flora and emblematic elements, may be of interest.

At the end of the book, there’s also a spread of ecclesiastical designs and sacred monograms. And of course, throughout the collection, you’ll find single elements that would work well for embroidered accents, borders, and motifs.

Where to Find It

You can find The Embroiderer’s Book of Design free for download right here on the Internet Archive.

It’s definitely worth saving to your computer!

When I get this whole studio nonsense squared away, this book has at least one design in it that I’m planning for adaptation.

But first, I am determined to get back to this project and these projects!

Wishing you a happy and productive week!


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(15) Comments

  1. Good morning, Mary. I enjoyed your article on the Embroiders Book of Design. I opened it online and do not see an option for downloading it to my computer. Please let me know how to do this. I enjoy old embroidery books and this one has a lot of designs I want to embroider.
    Thank you!

    Linda Hayes-Trent

    1. There’s a small button at the top of the screen with a box and download arrow in it that says PDF / ePub. Clicking on that will give you a pop up to select the format you want to download.

  2. If you need something to do, there are an additional 9 books of alphabets by this same author on archive.org. Seems that Mr. Delamotte was just a little obsessed. I’ve only looked at ‘Ornamental Alphabets, Ancient and Medieaval’ which has some great looking examples in it. Wonder if I can get away with spending the day on the internet?

  3. Just an FYI for folks – If you use Pinterest, you can “save” pages in the book instead of downloading. I changed to the single page view, then click on my Pinterest icon.

    Hope that helps with your pattern “collecting” !

  4. Hi Mary – – I wait with anticipation to see the new studio area – – – mainly because I think that once you’re settled we’re going to see all sorts of lovely progress photos and notes! Thank you for sharing this book – – I loved the ‘A’ as well – – why on earth didn’t he give us a ‘W’ as well! – but there are lovely ideas for all sorts of things. Makes one want to go off and do some serious monogram classes!

    1. And I can’t wait to show it, Wendy – as long as everyone isn’t expecting some kind of “Pinterest Perfect” art studio or something! LOL! Yes, once I’m settled in, you’ll see all kinds of new stuff creep out – including some new videos, now that I’ve got a permanent place to do them. Yay! I can’t wait to get the grunt work finished!

    2. Thanks for linking to this fabulous resource, Mary! A lot of time lettering exemplars are lacking a “W” and/or a lowercase “n” or “u.” If you turn the capital “M” upside down, you usually have the capital “W”, the lowercase “m” contains the first half of the lowercase “n”, and the first half of the lowercase “w” contains the “u.” A “Q” is just an “O” with a wiggly tail. If a certain letter is missing in the exemplar, look for it in the letters that ARE included, and you will usually find it.

      Also, feel free to change it up to suit your own tastes. Make it skinnier, taller, wider, shorter, more/less flourishes, whatever works for your project. 🙂

  5. Thanks Mary for another wonderful old book. They are fabulous aren’t they?

    BTW I believe I saw a ‘W’ similar to the ‘A’ you liked further on in the book but alas that was all.

  6. I actually have this one saved to my laptop, and had managed to keep it out of my mind until now.

    You’re a terrible influence, Mary!

    I am ridiculously behind on every single project going, and now I want to play with monograms!

    Tsk tsk! *Scowls in your general direction, but with love*

  7. Looking forward to photos of your new studio. As long as you don’t say ugh! every time you go near it, a workspace doesn’t have to be beautiful, just functional. I’m sure beautiful things will come out of it in due course.

    On beautiful things, some time ago you reviewed ‘Lefkara Lace Embroidery’ by Androula Hadjiyiasemi. A little while ago I found it secondhand online at an affordable price, and it’s just arrived – every bit as lovely as you’d said. Thank you for alerting me to its existence.

    1. Oh yay, Elaine! You’ll love the book!

      You’re very right about the studio space. I love it, even if it isn’t picture perfect. All the little pieces are coming together, thanks to…well, Craigslist and the like. 🙂

  8. What a wonderful idea! I wonder if, were you to hang them in something like chronological order from oldest to newest, it might be interesting and inspiring to see – and possibly share – how your skills and focus have changed over the years.

  9. Mary, what a great source. Another one I just learnt of for embroidery inspiration is the Worshipful Company of Glovers’ of London (http://glovecollectioncatalogue.org/). This trust owns a collection of historic and modern gloves and includes a collection of 17th century gloves as well as original coronation gloves worn by English monarchs.

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