I love to come across old needlework books available online. There are several good sources for public domain embroidery books that are digitally archived, thanks to the effort of many institutions and individuals.
For your weekend reading, inspiration, leisure, perusal, browsing, curiosity, or for downloading for later, I thought I’d highlight a few online books from my own lists.
While I have physical copies of a couple of these, they’re not in the best shape! So when I want to glean a tidbit of information, or maybe find some inspiration for designs or projects, I prefer to look at them digitally.
You’ll also find some tips below on how to view and download.
I hope you enjoy these!
There are five books that I’ll highlight today. They’re all available on Internet Archive.
When you go to the link on Internet Archive, the book will most likely open in the full screen, two pages up – that is, showing a two-page spread.
If you go to the bottom right corner of the screen, you should see a little row of icons or “tool buttons,” and the one on the far right should look like a little inverted four-corners cross. If you click on that, it will reduce the size of the book so that you can see all the bibliographical information.
On the right side of the bibliographical information, you’ll see a list of formats for download. Click on the one that says “PDF,” and the book will open as a PDF and you can view it easier that way, and also save it by going to “File” in your main menu of that window and scrolling down to “Save As.” Or right click on “PDF” and choose “Download Linked File” to download the PDF to your computer, and then open the PDF directly on your computer.
There are other formats – you can save it to Kindle, for example. Just peruse the list of download links to see what format you’d prefer.
Ladies’ World Embroidery Book
The Ladies’ World Embroidery Book by Helen Purdy is more of a pamphlet, created to sell stamped designs. You’ll find examples of how the designs were used in clothing, household accessories, and so forth.
There are some delicate little designs in there, plus a section of stitching instructions.
1883 Manual of Needlework
The 1883 Manual of Needlework from Patten Publishing Company was 50 cents back then – about the equivalent of $13.50 today. So it was a decent sized and scoped needlework book for the day.
Perusing the book is an interesting way to discover what was trending in needlework in the early 1880’s. The book covers embroidery, knitting, crochet, tatting, rug making, and popular lacing, like macrame, darned netting, some point lace, and Honiton.
Each technique is more of an overview. Don’t expect the same level of detail in visual instruction that you see in books today. Many of the techniques are described verbally, without visuals. But there are plenty of illustrations, too.
Alphabet für die Stickerin
In Alphabet für die Stickerin (Alphabet for the Embroiderer), you’ll find a lot of alphabets for the embroiderer – plus monograms and accent designs.
The book begins with cross stitch alphabets and then works into embroidered alphabets and monograms.
The Ladies’ Guide to Needlework and Embroidery
The Ladies’ Guide to Needlework by Sarah Annie Frost Shields was published in 1877.
It’s an overview of all kinds of needlework and embroidery techniques popular in the era, full of all kinds of detail. It’s fun! There’s a project in there that captured my imagination years ago – I have yet to re-create it. Some day! (Maybe?)
The Ladies’ Hand Book of Needlework
The Ladies’ Hand Book of Needlework published in 1879 is not a handbook as we think of it.
It’s funny – whenever I see the cover of this book, I think it says “The Ladies’ Hard Book of Needlework.” If you actually wanted to sell the book, I couldn’t think of a worse title.
But anyway, like I said, it’s not a handbook as we think of it. It’s a collection of charted designs. They’re sweet! You could work them in color or monochrome – in cross stitch, needlepoint, Assisi work – they’re all possible.
There are lots of animals and florals.
I do hope you find something interesting, exciting, useful, inspirational … and all of the above … in these lovely old resources!
Coming Up on Needle ‘n Thread
Next week, I’ll share some project updates with you. I might – I just might – sneak peek some color choices for the next How to Embroider (Blank) project with you, to see if you can guess what we’re going to embroider together. (I love the color scheme! I’m very excited about it!)
I’ve got a simple but really run new project underway for summer. This one has been in the works for a while. The designs have been hiding in my notebook, pining for the light of day. Well, they saw it earlier this week. The colors have been selected, the prototypes made for the finished item, the design transferred, and the first stitches have gone in. It’s just a simple, fun thing, but it says “summer” to me.
I can’t wait to share these with you! Enjoy your weekend!