March 27, 2007

Sources of Inspiration - Museums

Needleworkers are always looking for sources of inspiration. The advent of the Web has opened a whole new world to needleworkers when it comes to finding new and exciting examples of needlework to inspire future projects.

A great source of inspiration for new projects is to look to the past. There are fantastic textile and needlework collections held in museums around the world. Many of the big museums and an increasing number of the small ones, are making their collections available online. The quality of the online collections vary greatly, but even the smallest image can be an inspiration.

This pouch is based on an example in the Victoria and Albert Museum. It is from the 14th Century, from the Westphalia region of Germany and is made using silk thread on evenweave linen in brick stitch.

When searching online databases, finding something depend on the search term you use. There are two ways to do it, by broad category:
  • embroidery
  • embroidered
  • needlework
  • textile
  • fancy work
or by technique:
  • blackwork
  • redwork
  • cross-stitch
  • needlepoint
  • petit-point
  • sampler
  • klosterstitch
  • opus anglicanum
  • goldwork
Most museums and galleries have a separate section for their Collections. If it is possible to search in the Collections, rather than the whole site, do so, as you will generally get a better set of search results.

So here are some links to various online catalogues and databases associated with museums around the world:
And now since this is my first post, a little about me. My online name is Laren but I also use Jane which is my name in the SCA. The SCA is a historical recreation society. My main area of interest and activity in the SCA is historical embroidery, so I will be posting about that. This will include articles about historical embroidery techniques, history of popular embroidery stitches and techniques, examples of surviving historical embroidery and anything else that takes my fancy! I am slave to two kitties and live in Newcastle, NSW in Australia.

My main blog is The Needles Excellency, and a couple of websites In Prayse of the Needle, where I have project diaries, handouts with patterns etc and Historical Needlework Resources, which has lots of links to information about historical embroidery and examples of surviving historical embroidery. My Flickr site. My current project is based on a 14th Century German klosterstitch wallhanging which will probably take me about 400 hours to complete.


  1. Love this post and will visit all your links.

    I know of a very nice museum ion Germany with a beautiful collection of vintage embroidery, mainly sampler etc.:
    The site is in German but just click on the links and enjoy the pictures...

  2. Just found your blog via flickr. LOVE IT.

  3. What an interesting new blog! I'm looking forward to reading your "historical" tuesday posts and seeing new embroidery styles the rest of the week :-)