ExhibitionsPatterns from the Past

Museum Exhibition 1998

Today many embroiderers enjoy creating their own designs. Those who do not can choose their designs from the plethora of embroidery books and magazines.

Where did the patterns come from kin the past?

Embroiderers have always drawn inspiration from their surroundings, finding decorative elements in both nature and man-made objects. Other designs evolved simply from the materials and techniques used. For example, working to the counted thread imposes its own disciplines. Often traditional patterns were peculiar community or even to one family group.

Early samplers were used to record patterns and served rather as private notebooks of patterns which could be copied, shared with friends and passed on from mother to daughter.

The invention of printing at the end of the fifteenth century led to the printing of patterns for embroiderers – firstly as separate sheets and then as bound books, the earliest printed pattern book being produced in Augsburg about 1524.

This exhibition gives a glimpse of patterns used by embroiderers over the past 150 years.