A Bibliography of Pattern Books in the 16th Century

by Mathilde Eschenbach


A. Reprints of 16th century pattern books:
  • Bassée, Nicolas. German Renaissance Patterns for Embroidery: A Facsimile Copy of Nicolas Bassée's New Modelbuch of 1568, with an introduction by Kathleen Epstein. Austin: Curious Works Press.
    ISBN 0-9633331-4-3.
    This book is highly recommended as a place to start. The patterns are very typical of the time (in fact, many of the woodcuts were purchased from earlier publishers, including Hans Hofer, below), and there is an excellent introduction, with pictures of some of the possible uses for the patterns.

  • Hofer, Hans. Ain new Formbuech'len der weyssen Arbeyt. Nieuwkoop, Netherlands: Miland Publishers, 1968. (Facsimile of the 1545 edition published in Augsburg)
    Similar to Bassée.

  • Levey, Santina M. and Payne, Patricia C. Le Pompe, 1559: Patterns for Venetian bobbin lace. Carlton Bedford, England: Ruth Bean, 1983.
    ISBN 0-903585-16-2.
    One of two surviving pattern-books devoted to bobbin lace, with an excellent introduction, and modern directions for working the patterns.

  • Mitch, Carol (now C. Kathryn Newell) and Cain, Elizabeth A. (as Kathryn Goodwyn and Elspeth of Morven). Flowers of the Needle. Boston: private publication, 1985.
    Photocopies of seven 16th century Italian pattern books, with translations. More elaborate variations on the types of patterns found in other books, plus there are types not found elsewhere until the 17th century, such as cutwork.

  • Nourry, Claude and Saincte Louie[sic], Pierre de. Patterns: Embroidery: Early 16th Century. Berkeley, CA: Lacis, 1999.
    ISBN 1-891656-16-3.
    Many of the patterns can be found in other sources, but there are some nice ones I haven't seen elsewhere.

  • Schartzenberger, Johan. Patterns: Book of Embroidery: 1534. Berkeley, CA: Lacis, 2005(?).
    ISBN 1-891656-49-X.
    Patterns for couching and appliqué.

  • Shorleyker, Richard. A Schole-House for the Needle: Produced from the original book printed in 1632 and now in the private collection of John and Elizabeth Mason. Much Wenlock, Shropshire: RJL Smith & Associates, 1998.
    ISBN 1-872665-72-1.
    Facsimile of a copy significantly more complete than what had been available previously.

  • Sibmacher, Johan. Baroque Charted Designs for Needlework. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1975.
    Described as "This Dover edition, first published in 1975, is an unabridged republication of the 1880 edition of Newes Modelbuch . . . . Inn Druck verfertigt, a work originally published in Nuremberg in 1604. The 1880 edition was published by Ernst Wasmuth in Berlin in 1880 under the title Kreuzstich-Muster, 36 Tafeln der Ausgabe v. 1604 ("Cross-stitch Patterns, 36 Plates of the 1604 Edition.") This edition contains new translations of the original 1604 title page and dedication."
    ISBN 0-486-23186-0.
    Sibmacher's books were quite popular and continued to be reprinted throughout the next century. The charted designs seem to be intended for darned net embroidery (lacis or buratto), although they can be, and were, used for cross-stitch and other types of needlework. In addition, the book includes patterns for cutwork.

  • Vinciolo, Federico. Renaissance Patterns for Lace, Embroidery and Needlepoint (An unabridged facsimile of the "Singuliers et nouveaux pourtraicts" of 1587). New York: Dover Publications, Inc. 1971.
    ISBN 0-486-22438-4
    Actually, patterns for punto-in-aria lace and lacis (darned net). But the latter are graphs that can just as well be used for other types of embroidery.


B. Pattern books available on the web:
Note that many of these are found at the On-Line Digital Archive of Documents on Weaving and Related Topics. Some are listed as embroidery books and some as lace. There is a huge amount of interesting material to be found there, including many old books and journal articles on embroidery. Also, my thanks to Jane Stockton for pointing out that two of the below, which I thought were no longer available, were in fact archived at the "Wayback Machine" site.

C. Re-graphing of 16th century patterns:
  • Newall, Kathryn. Needlework Patterns from Renaissance Germany: Designs recharted by Kathryn Newall from Johan Sibmacher's Schön Neues Modelbuch, 1597. Boulder, CO: Costume & Dressmaker Press, 1999.
    The original includes patterns for both counted work and cutwork. These designs are unique, although they are in the same style as the ones in the 1604 Sibmacher reprinted by Dover. All of the counted-work patterns have been recharted for ease of use and published as 26 plates in this book.

  • Salazar, Kim Brody (as Ianthe d'Averoigne). The New Carolingian Modelbook: Counted Embroidery Patterns from before 1600. Albuquerque, New Mexico: The Outlaw Press, 1995.
    ISBN 0-9642082-2-9.
    Beautifully charted patterns from a variety of sources, including pattern books.


D. Books and articles with information about pattern books and how they were used:
  • Abegg, Margaret. Apropos Patterns for Embroidery, Lace and Woven Textiles. Bern: Stampfi, 1978.
    ISBN 3-905014-13-0
    A huge, well-illustrated volume that investigates the sources of embroidery patterns. Much of the book is devoted to SCA period, although the few color plates are mostly of 18th century pieces.

  • Browne, Clare and Wearden, Jennifer. Samplers from the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: V&A Publications, 1999.
    ISBN 185177-309-6
    An early 16th century German sampler with examples of designs from pattern books.

  • Cavallo, Adolph S. Textiles: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Boston: Trustees, 1986.
    ISBN 0-914660-09-8 (hardbound) ISBN 0-914660-10-1 (softbound)
    More examples: cross stitch from Sibmacher and darned net from Vinciolo.

  • Digby, George Wingfield. Elizabethan Embroidery. London: Faber and Faber, 1963.
    Section on sources for patterns, focusing on printed sources other than embroidery pattern books.

  • Lotz, Arthur. Bibliographie der Modelbücher. Leipzig: Ver Lag Karl W. Hiersemann, 1933.
    A bibliography of all the pattern books known at the time. Plates of title pages and one or two pages of patterns for many of the books make this a valuable resource even if you don't read German.

  • Nevinson, J. L. "The Embroidery Patterns of Thomas Trevelyon," Walpole Society, Vol. 41, 1966/68, pp. 1-38.
    This article reproduces the embroidery patterns from Thomas Trevelyon's Miscellany, a diverse collection of drawings from someone who was most likely a professional draftsman. These patterns provide a window into non-printed sources for designs, and are of especial interest because of the surviving Elizabethan embroideries based on the designs. The Folger Library had a recent exhibit about this Miscellany.

  • Nevinson, J. L. "Peter Stent and John Overton, Publishers of Embroidery Designs," Apollo, XXIV, November 1936, pp. 279-283.
    Article about 17th century embroidery design sources.

  • Paludan, Charlotte and de Hemmer Egeberg, Lone. 98 Pattern Books for Embroidery, Lace, and Knitting. (98 Mønsterbøger til Broderi, Knipling og Strikning). Denmark, 1991.
    ISBN 8787075768
    Basically, an inventory of books owned by the library of a Danish museum. Some of the books are the original editions, and some are facsimiles, mostly published in the 19th century. There is a description of each book, bibliographic data, and for most of them there is also a plate or two from the book. There are also a some photos of surviving pieces worked from the patterns. The books range from the 1520's when pattern books were first published on through the early 19th century, although the bulk of them are from the 16th century. The book is in both Danish and English, although the English translations aren't always complete.

  • Staniland, Kay. Medieval Craftsmen: Embroiderers. British Museum Press and University of Toronto Press, 1991.
    ISBN 0-8020-6915-0


  • Swain, Margaret. The Needlework of Mary Queen of Scots. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1973.
    ISBN 0-442-29962-1
    Some discussion of printed sources for the designs worked by Mary.



Last updated 18 August 2007

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