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Needlecrafts from a Victorian Workbasket

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The desire to create something beautiful -- whether for oneself, one's home, as a gift, or as an act of worship -- is timeless. The Victorian period was no exception! If a lady from Victorian times could walk into a Michael's or a Hobby Lobby today, she'd probably think she'd gone to heaven - and she'd certainly head straight to the needlecrafts section and fill up her shopping basket.

For the Victorian lady, beautifying the home was a never-ending DIY project. Victorian magazines abounded with embroidery projects ranging from curtains to sofa pillows to piano covers. They offered patterns for baskets, picture frames, knick-knacks, pen-wipers, purses, slippers, clothing - and much, much more.

One of the most beautifully illustrated series on needlecrafts was the column "My Workbasket" in The Girl's Own Paper. It ran regularly from 1880 to 1883, and appeared sporadically thereafter. Generally it wasn't bylined, but sometimes it bore the initials "M.L." (probably Mary Laybourne), and sometimes it was written by artist and designer Fred Miller. It was so popular that it was widely copied by other magazines, such as Peterson's.

Today, perhaps, you may not want to knit an egg-basket or embroider a pen-wiper. But the patterns in these columns are just as gorgeous and workable today as they were more than 100 years ago - and can be applied to any number of modern projects. If you delight in crafting things of beauty, grab your needle or knitting needles or crochet hook, and settle in for an afternoon of creativity!

But don't take my word for it - let the images speak for themselves! These are just a small sampling; download a larger excerpt that includes a complete index.

Copyright © 2017 by
Moira Allen.
All rights reserved.

Magazine Abbreviations:
CFM = Cassell's Family Magazine GOP = Girl's Own Paper ILA = Illustrated London Almanack S = The Strand
AM = Atlantic Monthly C = Century Magazine D = Demorest's Monthly Magazine G = Godey's Lady's Book H = Harper's Monthly
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