Patchwork patterns were as popular during the Victorian era as they are today. Most people think of quilts when speaking about patchwork, but during the Victorian era, it was very popular to make tidies, mats, sofa pillows, afghans, bedspreads, etc., of small pieces of silk and satin using this type of needlework.
It was recommended to Victorian ladies to use what was called “waste” embroidery silk which was pieces of silk thread too short for most sewing or embroidery projects. A lady could use her own pieces but could easily and inexpensively purchased it. It was sold as mixed colors in short lengths. By doing so, it was the best and most economical use of embroidery silk.
Below is from The Dictionary of Needlework: An Encyclopedia of Artistic, Plain and Fancy Needlework. 1887, by S.F.A. Caulfeild and Blanche C. Saward 1887. It has been edited for use on this site.
Please note, if you care to use any of these patterns and instructions found here on Victorian Embroidery and Crafts, you may find you have to substitute items that are no longer available for purchase.
Patchwork Patterns can be made from geometrical figures, and are chiefly copied from old Mosaic or Parqueterie designs; however, the designs can be made as elaborate as the worker likes, and they have been carried to the extent of working coats of arms in their natural colours, and pictures contain large-sized figures.
One of these works of art was exhibited lately, and was remarkable, both for the patience and skill displayed in its execution, and the beauty of the colours employed. The following patterns are amongst the best, and can be enlarged or decreased in size, as required.
Appliqué | Block Pattern | Box | Canadian | Check | Cloth | Crazy |
Diamond | Embroidered | Hexagon Variations #1, #2, and #3 |
Honeycomb Variations #1, #2, and #3 | Jewel Patchwork | Kid |
Leather | Loghouse Patchwork | Lozenge |
Mosaic Variations #1, #2, #3, #4 | Pointed Oblong | Puzzle |
Raised | Right Angles | Tinted |Twist |