An eclectic blog about beads, beading and beyond

Monday, August 22, 2011

Beadwork in the Antique Pattern library - fascinating and free pattern downloads

Sometimes, I stumble across surprising and delightful finds on the web. Last week was a case in point. I was doing some online research on beadwork in the 1850s for my local beaders group (Bead Society of Victoria, Geelong branch) and found the Antique Pattern Library. Thanks to the hard work of several volunteers you can download free antique craft patterns from the site.

Imagine my delight when I discovered a special area of the library dedicated to beadwork. It was with great anticipation that I downloaded each of the 14 titles in this section of the library. What I found was a wonderful treasure trove of beadwork patterns that look very different to those we use today. Patterns for bead crochet, knitting and beaded embroidery in wonderful detail - some with images, some just words and most, but not all, in black and white. The Priscilla beadwork book: A collection of new and old beadwork with patterns and lessons for working (1912, USA, Ed. Belle Robinson) was one of my favourites. I have included some images from it here as a taster. 

From the New Bead Book
I also totally delighted in the Emma Post Barbour's New Bead Book (1924, The National Trading Company, Chicago). It is full of wonderful colour plates of her finished items, clear patterns and instructions for a range of beadwork techniques.  See an extract from her preface (left ) I learnt that apparently at the time Natrac quality beads are 'the highest grade made" and much much more. (Of course, I am now off to find out what happened to Natrac!)

Sherwoods, 'Impression Powder and Perforated Patterns for printing all kinds of designs for braiding, embroidery and beading' is testament to the creativity of those who bought it. Only the sketchiest of pattern guidance is included.

You can loose yourself in patterns from the 1700s onwards from France, Germany, UK and USA to explore and learn from.

All of the patterns in the library are free to anyone to use for "educational, personal, artistic and other creative uses". (

1 comment:

AsteropeBC said...

What a great find! Thanks for sharing! I'm off to explore...

Dax Designs - now on Artisan Co-op