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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Your Weekend Rabbit Hole: Therese de Dillmont’s Embroidery Books


Amazon Books

Alas, this week I fell down the Proverbial Rabbit Hole again, exploring several of my old Therese de Dillmont embroidery books.

I really felt totally justified – I was, after all, organizing and trying to situate a few things in my studio.

But when you start to leaf through a favorite needlework book – and then another favorite needlework book – and then, well, why not? Another one…and another…and another – it isn’t hard to find a good portion of the day gone before you even realize what you’ve been about! That was me, yesterday. By evening, I was kicking myself. My To-Do list had one half of a tick on it.

There’s a saying that misery loves company, but in cases like this, I prefer to think of it as spreading the joy! Not only did the hours I spent sorting through some books provide me a heck of a lot of enjoyment, but they served as a pretty nice inspirational springboard. So many ideas! So many notes taken! So many pages marked! So many projects planned or questions answered!

Therese de Dillmont Embroidery Books

The thing about the old (and prolific!) Therese de Dillmont books is that, though they are certainly dated, the content in them has withstood the test of time fantastically.

One of my favorite collections is the DMC Library “motifs” series, that explores all kinds of motifs for hand stitchery.

Therese de Dillmont Embroidery Books

The first in this series, for example, is full of classic stitchery. Are you looking for counted cross stitch filling patterns?

Therese de Dillmont Embroidery Books

How about some patterns for needlepoint?

Therese de Dillmont Embroidery Books

Or is surface embroidery your thing?

The color plates in the book explore all kinds of needlework – and in the back of the book, you get more! Needle lace examples and a smattering of other stitchery stuff.

Therese de Dillmont Embroidery Books

And – if you’re the surface embroidery type – you’ll be happy to know that the line drawings for the patterns are all there, too!

What more could you ask for?

And while the style of design may be particular to a certain era or a certain region of the world (as in the Dillmont books on different regional embroidery, like stitching from Yugoslavia and so forth), they are all very classic designs that speak to any age, really.

I’m a sucker for Dillmont’s books, and I could spend ages exploring them.

And So Can You!

Fortunately, you don’t have to be collector of old books to explore Dillmont’s extensive instructional and inspirational volumes. Many of them, you can find online for free, to download right to your computer!

The book above – the first in the series of “Motifs” books – for example is available right here on Internet Archive. If you want to download the PDF, you’ll find it right here.

While on the book page at Internet Archive, just click on the author’s name below the title of the book (Therese de Dillmont) and the link will take you to other works by that author, available on Internet Archive.

A better resource, though, is Antique Pattern Library, where you can go to the “D” section and browse through a really nice collection of downloadable PDFs of Dillmont’s books.

Talk about a Rabbit Hole – Antique Pattern Library is a fantastic resource for old needlework books! I’ve written about them for years, so many of you are probably already familiar with them, but if you’re not, you should be!

Antique Pattern Library is a non-profit that runs on donations, so if you make extensive use of their vast collection of public domain needlework books, consider donating even just a small sum for the maintenance and expansion of their collection.

More Dillmont – Free Patterns

If you’re interested in Dillmont patterns for surface embroidery, I have a few free ones here available on Needle ‘n Thread. I cleaned them up and turned them into download PDF printables, so that they’re squared up and ready to transfer.

Here’s a list:

Dillmont Rose

Dillmont Rose #2

Tulips & Blooms adaptation

Coming Up!

I was actually supposed to be searching for 40 count and 56 count silk gauze when I started in on the books, so I’ll be returning to that hunt later today. I know I have silk gauze! And I know I put it somewhere “safe.” Please tell me you can relate!

If I find the silk gauze, I will be showing you something about it relatively soon! If I don’t find it, I’ll be showing you something else – and both have to do with a beautiful new collection coming on the market soon for embroiderers who like to stitch (and finish) little things. More on that coming up!

I’m also plugging away on Floral Corners and will have that for you soon!

Busy weekend ahead here in Kansas – I hope yours is a quiet, safe weekend, with time to spend with your needle and thread!

Definitely keeping all of those battling the hurricane in my thoughts! (Nancy, I hope you’re in the mountains!)

Take care!


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(14) Comments

  1. Hi Mary, so enjoyed your rabbit hole adventures. And thank you for all the resources that I did not know about. I have been keeping patterns and ideas in notebooks and file folders, besides whole books, for many years and once in a while spend an afternoon going through them. Funny how you see some things and go, why was I interested in that?; then others remind you of experiences with family members and just take you back to lovely memories. I seem to be a collector of things that appeal, then choose what to work on from coming across those at just the right moment. The creative process is so complex and wonderful. Thank you for the way you share so much with us all. So thankful for the internet…what a world of creative information so at our fingertips. Have a wonderful Kansas weekend!!

  2. I hear you loud & clear Mary. The story of my life.
    When you mentioned that Gauze it really hit home.
    I will look for mine today & will be waiting for your input.
    As for the books, I can’t part with mine and am so bloody
    addicted to them. Hope you are keeping well. Cheers. x

    1. Oh, Larraine, I am soooo therle with you! LOL. I have a library here, I could just spend days on end reading, reading. Managed about half of The Embroiderer’s Story on our latest trip to MN while hubby drove! I love road trips- non-guilt for spending time reading my stitching and painting books! LOL. And heaven forbid I should part with one when I’ve gone thru it (may need to read again!)

  3. Oh, I do hope you find it. I have been looking at it myself, thinking I would like to try some designing on it! X-ing my fingers you’ll find it! Hope you’re right as rain and feeling great again by now. Carol

  4. It is such a pleasure to read your blog. Yes, I can relate to knowing you’ve got that fabric somewhere! May you have a blessed weekend.

  5. How appropriate! I have just arranged an Assisi sampler, which I’m going to embroider these days, with motifs from Dillmonts Assisi embroidery books. 🙂 I’ve downloaded a couple of her books from the Internet Archive, and I like them very much. They are full of inspiration and some technical stuff as well.

    ::: And I know I put it somewhere “safe.” Please tell me you can relate! :::
    You bet! And when we finally find the Golden Fleece (silk gauze, keys, ID card, tax declaration, wedding ring …), it’s every single time: “Of course it was here, where else could it be! After all, I’ve put it in the safest possible place.”

    Angela from the Ore Mountains

  6. Somewhere safe! I can definitely relate. While in my teens I was left alone for a week while my family vacationed and given ALL the keys to the house and cars, including spares, with the instruction to put them somewhere safe. Cost me a several hundred to replace them all when I couldn’t recall where the safe place was: the vehicle keys had to be ordered from the manufacturer and the house locks changed. I found the keys safely tucked away in my wardrobe while moving out of home several years later.

    Good luck finding your gauze, I hope it’s not too safe!

  7. Mary, I hope your recovery is coming along well…

    You sure know how to stop a train . I left home Tuesday morning to go to a daughter’s house for a few days, and got back just a few minutes ago, and found that over 300 emails had come in during that time. BUT, as soon as I saw the title of your comment I quit with the “trash” removal from my email box to stop and read your excellent article.

    In addition to Mme. de Dillmont’s books on Antique Pattern Library, they have hundreds of other needlework books, and I think that most can easily be done with embroidery in addition to other types of needlework. Those who prefer counted cross stitch will want to look at the books for Filet Crochet. Nearly all of the filet patterns are equally useful for cross stitch. And it is rather easy to convert the filet patterns to cross stitch. To change from black and white to a variety of colors just print out a copy of the pattern, then grab some colored pencils and see what you can come up with in the way of a new pattern. If anyone is like I am then you can print out more copies to do in different color combinations.

    So far I have 513 pdf “needlework books”, by 109 different authors. Nearly all of them came from the Antique Pattern Library collection. And those 513 are just the “embroidery” books. My full “needlework” catalog has more than 12,600 files from a variety of sources.

    Thank you for also suggesting the Internet Archive website too. I have downloaded many of their history books, but for some reason I never thought to check them for needlework books. I think I remember reading your suggestion about the archive, probably more than once, but for some reason other tasks got in the way. That will have to be taken care of this afternoon!

  8. Dillmont’s books created the modern embroidery book. I have lots of books on my shelves, but if I’m starting in on a new technique, her encyclopedia is still one of the first to turn to. It may not be exhaustive, the way single topic books can be, but there’s always good information that has stood the test of time.

  9. thank you for your continuing education for those of us who did not grow up learning from mothers or grandmothers. my learning comes from the internet and people like you who are unselfish in sharing your gifts with others

  10. I can totally relate on both counts. I loose myself in books and as for finding things well, you put them safe and where it seems logical that is until you want them.
    Best wishes.

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