Wednesday 13 April 2016

Vintage embroidery book love!

To love vintage & release
new life into old
makes my day happy & makes me smile !

It makes so much sense to me to buy antique/vintage embroidery books.  Most of the stitches used today are hundreds of years old and therefore explained somehow in an easy and non complicated way.  I love the way instructions were written and it makes my day to read these great books.

I am collecting such books and have a small library of them ( around 10 ) and I am always on the look out for others.  This is my latest acquisition and it is in black and white only but there are some beautiful diagrams and instructions in between the pages. It is by Elsie Mochrie and published by The Dryad Press.

I opened the first page and was so happy to see that the book was first published in 1923 and I had bought the 6th edition of 1932.

I have to show you the first page and just quote a little from the opening lines......

Simple stitches such as running, herringbone, button - hole and chain stitch, etc, with which most of us are familiar, and well chosen materials, are all that are necessary to make really attractive embroideries.
Elaborate fine work is not necessary, and the design, which usually suggests such difficulties to the beginner, is a perfectly simple matter with a knowledge of theses stitches and their possibilities, as they themselves practically make the design, only a little planning and spacing being necessary.
It is only from ignorance that so many people rely on transfer designs supplied by needlework shops. Where is the fun in working someone else's ideas ?

The above opening lines in this fabulous book really did make me chuckle !!  They were so forthright back then.  I do not fully agree with them because everyone who wishes to, has to learn somehow.

I of course love designing but others may like to have more structured guidelines, especially when learning.

There are sections on Flower sprays, borders, stitches, planning of decoration and floral and geometrical medallions ... Then I thought well is that not you want from others .. to copy your work? but at all times they say it is for suggestions and encourage you to have a go on your own.   Indeed they are merely suggesting and showing how.

There are hanker chief cases, table runners and babies bonnets along with cushion covers and tray clothes,  this really is a most beautiful find and a treasure in my collection.

I have ideas, for when we move, to do and share from these wonderful vintage pieces of history and craft and so I eagerly collect them when I see ones I like.  So of course they are always on my list of  'look out' for at vintage fairs and jumbles.

Well I am off now to my work and also a little meet up today with a lovely vintage friend (no not old just one of my vintage buddies!!)  she has a little shop now and I want to go and see it and have a catch up coffee so my working day is a little shorter than usual, but sometimes other things matter more, and seeing her achievements is one of them.  I will, with her permission take some photo's for you.

So take care and enjoy your day and as always .... Happy Stitching!


  1. My favourite books I use all the time is Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches by Mary Thomas. Have you ever seen it, it has little cartoons representing the stitches. There are a set written by her. Another book called Embroidery Book and two knitting books, but the dictionary one is my favourite. I also collect those little leaflet type books that just give a few stitches, published by Anchor.

    A few years back my friend Jan Eaton re-wrote the book for the publishers

    Have a lovely time with your friend.
    Julie xxxxx

    1. Hi Julie

      I have not seen the Dictionary of Embroidery stitches! Sounds wonderful.. Yes I collect some of the pamphlet types too.

      I love the vintage books there is something magical about them.

      Your friend re-writing a book .. Now that must have been a very interesting job. How lovely to be asked.

      Have a great day yourself.

      Sarah xxx

  2. These are so rare. Like, my mother has an issue of Elsie Mochrie’s book too and seeing her carve designs through that source is unique. Even one of my college outlines that get essay writers reviews to ensure no mistake has occurred, was about embroidery!