Friday, July 31, 2015

Vintage Embroidery Pattern Resources

After my last post about my little Happy Bluebird, which I stitched from a vintage iron-on transfer "tester" design, I'd thought I'd share some of my favourite places online to find free vintage embroidery patterns! The photo above was my very first attempt at embroidery, my Bluebirds of Happiness, and it is also a vintage design :)

If you're interested in vintage embroidery patterns at all, this is the place to start! Although you do have to create an account to access the group, it's free and easy to set up and once you do you can search the giant collection of over 8,000 images!

The group is the gift of many members dedicated to scanning and sharing digital images of mostly iron-on transfer sheets - from as early as the late 1800s to about the 1970s - and most photos have been digitally cleaned up into line drawings that are ready to print and use! Here's a quick overview of how to search the Pool:

When you sign in and go to the Hoop Love Group Page and then to the Photos tab, you get this screen that shows the most recent image additions at the top:

To search within the images, use the search box directly across from the blue "Add Photos" button, next to "Contributors". If you use the search box at the top of the page, it will search all of Flickr! I searched for "bluebird" and here are my results:

From this page, there are several ways to narrow your search, including by colour or pattern, but these don't apply since the majority of results are all B&W designs.

I selected the first pattern, which takes me to the page for that photo. From here, you can Download the image by selecting the icon of a down arrow over a line at the far right hand corner of the screen, which brings up a drop-down menu where you can select the size of the photo and save the file to your computer. And that's it!

To edit or re-size the photo, I suggest using an imaging program on your computer, such as Microsoft Paint or a free online program like Pixlr Express.

Some of the contributors to Hoop Love also host patterns on their own sites/blogs.

This is a wonderful site that, while unfortunately no longer updated, has some of the cutest patterns out there! Including the Alice Brooks pattern "Bluebirds on a Branch" that was the basis for my Bluebirds of Happiness :) And there are two other designs in the same set: "Bluebird and Birdhouse" and Bluebird and Fountain".

It's searchable by keyword and also has themed categories you can browse.

This is a blog dedicated to sharing public domain craft patterns, including crochet, knitting, quilting and sewing. But the majority of the content is embroidery related. It has a post search box, and also a very detailed list of categories that make for happy browsing :) The Flowers section is large, and includes this pretty posy.

There is also a helpful Embroidery Stitch Guide that uses vintage stitch illustrations!

Although all of the over 300 patterns she has shared are on Flickr in her Vintage Embroidery Transfers Album, this is the personal blog of Gina, a graphic designer, Etsy seller and fervent thrifter. She includes vintage patterns in some of her posts, so the best way to find them is to browse her Embroidery blog tag, which also brings up all kinds of contemporary embroidery inspiration, her own work and fun posts.

It's well worth spending some time looking through her blog because Gina has shared some of the most unusual and interesting vintage transfers out there!

This amazing button hoop is one of my very favourite projects of all time, and has been high near the top of my To Be Stitched (TBS) List forever and a day :) Although it has a lovely vintage feel, with the pretty flowers, it's a new design of her own.

Floresita, who is also on Flickr and blogs for Feeling Stitchy, has compiled her vintage patterns in this easy-to-use blog format. It features category tabs across the top which are a quick way to browse. She specializes in the cute - like this pretty little kitty - and quirky, and has scanned several Days of the Week dishtowel sets.

Tipnut was a free weekly newsletter filled with household tips and projects that started in 2006 but stopped updating a few years ago. This section of the site shares whole sets of scanned vintage patterns, including several for stamped cross-stitch. Most are for dishtowels, including Days of the Week sets like these cute Busy Bees.

Martha makes beautiful quilts, many with hand-embroidered squares, and has some great vintage transfers on her blog, including an unusual trio of picture frame designs and this glorious peacock!

The Antique Pattern Library is a fabulous resource for all things vintage and crafty, and although I've spent lots of time on the site in the last few years, I know I've only just scratched the tip of the iceberg. The sheer amount of information can be a little overwhelming, especially since the Embroidery category includes counted thread work (like cross-stitch and Berlin Woolwork) and specialty techniques.

The major problem is that all the listings are for books - many of which concern multiple techniques - and not for the individual patterns themselves. And most of these patterns are really old, in a very different style, but even if they're not to your taste or suitable for following exactly, they can serve as stitchy inspiration :)

Mary Corbet of Needle n' Thread recently wrote a great post about her favourite books on APL for embroidery, and has some good tips for navigating the site. She also has an interesting post about her process for digitizing old embroidery patterns.

Finally, for an intriguing look at how the vintage paper transfer sheets actually are before being scanned and digitized, see this post, and this concise history of iron-on transfers and the companies that made them, along with a free pattern!

I hope you enjoy these resources and find them helpful. And if you have any other sites to suggest I'd love to hear them :) Happy Vintage Embroidery Pattern Hunting!


Karen said...

Excellent overview! It's a long weekend here this weekend, so maybe I'll get a chance to try this out. :)

Aurelia Eglantine said...

Thanks so much Karen - I know we can't be the only two people out there who love vintage embroidery patterns :) Hope you had a wonderful weekend, and some stitching time!

rosey175 said...

eyup, totally expanded the bookmark folder. Only one I had was the Tipnut site. Many a happy hour spent wishing I had many more hours haha. APL in particular is amazing although I ran into a few broken links ("how to scan" off the top of my head). I'd love to contribute if I ran into some random stuff that isn't there!

This was such a great writeup! Thanks a lot~ :D

Aurelia Eglantine said...

I's so happy that you found some new sites to enjoy Rosey! APL does have some technical problems though. It's run by two volunteers, and they very nearly didn't make enough funding last year, so most of their efforts are focused on donations. There is a free newsletter on Yahoo! Groups where they provide site updates and you can report broken links - it seems to be a constant battle to keep everything working :)

I'm interested in donating scans myself, of the old crochet books I recently thrifted that I told you about, so when if I can find some more information, I'll definitely let you know!