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Antique Needle Arts Patterns

Search the Antique Pattern Library,, for books by Technique.
Books are categorized under general techniques such as sewing, beading, and embroidery ...
... and books are categorized under more specific techniques, such as embroidered net, filet, and tatting.
Search the Antique Pattern Library,, for books by Technique.

Search the Antique Pattern Library,, for books by Technique.

Photo: New Media Arts, Inc.

I recently happened across a treasure trove--that is, if you love looking through, and even using, antique patterns for sewing and the needle arts. I wasn't at a flea market, antique shop, or estate sale, but browsing online. The non-profit New Media Arts Inc. is developing an online archive of publications and guides on the fine and practical arts, and one of its projects is the Antique Pattern Library. The Antique Pattern Library is an online archive of needlework, sewing, and other craft books from the past 200 years whose copyrights have expired and now exist in the public domain.

Owners of extant copies have donated scans of their publication to the library to be archived. Before they are made available as PDF files for download, the scans are digitally cleaned up to improve their readability. Once the books are published to the Antique Pattern Library, some of them as old as the 1820s, visitors to the website can download the PDFs--free--for personal, educational, and artistic uses.

Many of the books contain patterns for beading, lace, embroidery, and crochet-some in arts that are little practiced today and therefore difficult to find modern tutorials in the techniques. It's fascinating to flip through the digital pages, and I've downloaded several of the books for future reference.

Visit, click on "Catalog" and you can search the published titles alphabetically, by original publisher, by date, and by technique. You'll find books on net embroidery, filet, point lace, beading, tatting, crochet, ribbonwork, dressmaking, sewing, and many more needle arts. Check the Works in Progress page to see just how much content is currently in development and being prepared for upload. Visit the News page to see a list of the publications that have been recently uploaded, updated or corrected. Some of the books are in German, French, Dutch, or Swedish, but many are written in English.

If you own an antique pattern book, consider scanning its pages and donating them to the Antique Pattern Library so it can be preserved in a digital form and made available to the public. Learn more by visiting the Donation Guidelines page:

Do you like to use antique patterns in your modern sewing and needlework?


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