Loretta and I often share things from women's magazines of the past. One of the earliest and most important ones was the Lady's Magazine, first published in 1770. Like women's magazines today, the contents of the Georgian Lady's Magazine included fashion tips, entertaining fiction, society gossip, and music. It also included patterns for embroidery, an important feature in an era when a lady's accomplishments usually included skilled needlework.
But while many issues of the Lady's Magazine are available online and through libraries and other collections, those needlework patterns are often missing. This makes sense - any needleworker who wished to replicate the designs would have pulled them from the magazine and tucked them into her workbag - but it's frustrating for modern readers.
One of our-blog friends, Dr. Jennie Batchelor, is leading a two-year project funded by the Leverhulme Trust and based at the University of Kent. Titled The Lady's Magazine (1770-1818): Understanding the Emergence of a Genre, the project will be studying the importance of the Lady's Magazine, and aims to shed new light on its role as one of the longest-running women's magazines of all time. Recently Dr. Batchelor was given a copy of the July half-year issue for 1796 (you can read her account of that acquisition here). Miraculously, the issue included the needlework patterns.
Now here's the challenge. Dr. Batchelor and her team generously scanned these patterns, and are making them available for free as actual-size jpgs here. In return, they'd like to see how the patterns inspire modern craftspeople. While those of you who are re-enactors or who enjoy replicating historic dress might copy the patterns literally - of course your Significant Other needs that New Pattern for a Gentleman's Cravat! - but don't feel you must be limited to traditional embroidery. Perhaps you see the patterns as inspiration for a hooked pillow cover, a quilting motif, or beading on the sleeve of a jean jacket. Dr. Batchelor would love to see your work, and will share the best along with your stories on the project blog.
Be creative, and follow in the footsteps of your needleworking sisters from the Georgian era!
Top: "A New Pattern for a Winter Shawl, engraved for the Lady's Magazine", 1796.
Bottom: Emma Cross stitching in the Margaret Hunter Shop, Colonial Williamsburg. Photograph © Susan Holloway Scott.