Stitching through Time Part I: Embroidering a Lady’s Magazine Pattern

The patterns in the Lady’s Magazine have been a subject of ongoing interest to those of us who work on the periodical. Often missing and eluding our searches they are one of the non-textual aspects of the magazine (such as the song sheets and engravings) that can bring to life the way the magazine was read and used by its eighteenth-century readership. When missing, the patterns point to their own popularity – cut out and removed for use, we can only guess at their content by their inclusion on the monthly title page. 

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My own copy of the Lady’s Magazine included an engraving of three different patterns for watch cases not present in the online edition.

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It had been quite a while since I had embroidered anything, but I still had all the supplies (embroidery hoop, fabric, needles, thread)

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In fact, once I got into the swing of stitching, I found the project absorbing. Having changed my mind about the black running stitch border, I pulled out that first attempt in favor of a white chain stitch.

The end result, which is my first attempt at embroidering in years, is far from as polished or precise as I would like. But it gives a sense of the material culture that was so much a part of the magazine for its eighteenth-century readers. This physical, material object, created from a pattern printed in 1775, helps me to see and feel the non-textual afterlife of the magazine in a tangible way. This kind of experience — stitching the patterns of the past — brings history into the present in a way that I find extremely exciting.


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Jenny DiPlacidi

University of Kent

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