April 24, 2007

Sources of Inspiration - Modelbuchs

Modelbuchs or modelbooks are the name given to the early printed patterns books that became widespread in the mid-16th Century. Most are divided into two or three sections, in no particular order.

The first type resembles modern cross-stitch patterns. They are worked on a grid in black and white. They could be used for any number of counted-work techniques, such as long-armed cross stitch to produced Voided or Assisi work or needlepoint.

This is what my interpretation of the above pattern looks like:

Reversa Table Runner Detail

The second type is designed for making needlelace, a forerunner of modern bobbin-based laces. An example from Paganino:

The third is free form patterns, which could be used for a variety of things, including use on chemises or shirts or for goldwork on outwear such as bodices, doublets or capes. From Shorleyker:

Here are some examples of what you can do with the spot motifs. I made these small scent pouches filled with lavendar to give away to people at events.

Largesse - Elizabethan Motifs

So, if you are interested in some free patterns (and I know you are!!), why not try some of these online modelbuchs below and don't forget to post images of the finished product in our Flickr Embroidery group!

Online modelbuchs:

Printed Modelbuchs - Modern Reprints:
  • Bassee, Nicolas. "German Renaissance Patterns for Embroidery: A Facsimile Copy of Nicolas Bassee's New Modelbuch of 1568, with an introduction by Kathleen Epstein". Austin: Curious Works Press. ISBN 0-9633331-4-3.
  • Gesner, Konrad. "Curious Woodcuts of Fanciful and Real Beasts: A selection of 190 sixteenth-century woodcuts from Gesner's and Topsell's natural histories". New York: Dover Publications, Inc. ISBN: 0-486-22701-4
  • Hofer, Hans. "Ain new Formbuech'len der weyssen Arbeyt". Nieuwkoop, Netherlands: Miland Publishers, 1968. (Facsimile of the 1545 edition published in Augsburg)
  • Nourry, Claude and Saincte Louie[sic], Pierre de. "Patterns: Embroidery - Early 16th Century". Berkeley, CA: Lacis, 1999. ISBN 1-891656-16-3.
  • 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.
  • Sibmacher, Johan. "Baroque Charted Designs for Needlework". New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1975. "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. . ." ISBN 0-486-23186-0.
  • 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
  • Newell, Kathryn. "Needlework Patterns from Renaissance Germany: Designs recharted by Kathryn Newell from Johan Sibmacher's Sch?n Neues Modelbuch, 1597". Boulder, CO: Costume & Dressmaker Press, 1999.


  1. Thanks for the great links!!
    Greetings from Germany.

  2. Thanks for the great links I have shared your site with these on my blog.