Historical Embroidery Designs

Historical embroidery designs - 18th c. pockets.

Historical embroidery designs fire the imagination of many historical costumers. We see stunning period embroidery on garments in museums and in portraits, but few of us have the time or skill to recreate such details in our own projects. I am willing to save up for beautiful fabrics and spend hours on intricate trims, careful tailoring, and other touches. However,  when it comes to embroidery, I’m all thumbs.

When you’re bitten by the historical accuracy bug, it opens up a whole new world of research, skills, and frustration. There is so much to learn! One of the first things I learned was how difficult it can be to source and recreate items that were once commonplace. Historical embroidery designs are just one example of this. 

Machine embroidery offers intriguing possibilities for speeding up the process, but the reality is often disappointing. Many machine embroidery designs are too modern or look obviously machine made. How often have you been lured in by a pretty design, only to discover they lacked essential pieces needed to recreate actual garments? That gorgeous border may be based on an 18th c. waistcoat, but you need more than a border to recreate one – you need corners, collars, curves, buttons, and so much more.


Historical embroidery designs - handkerchiefs and fichus

Bringing Historical Embroidery Designs to Life

I soon realized that if I was struggling to find appropriate designs, others were too. I launched the Romantic Recollections line of historical embroidery designs to help fill that gap and bring period embroidery within reach of more historic costumers. That was a great first step, but the cost of embroidery machines is a significant hurdle for many. In 2015 I expanded my range to include hand embroidery patterns. These historically-inspired designs range across time periods and include pieces suitable for both men and women.

You can use my historical embroidery designs with confidence, knowing that they are period correct for the era you are recreating. Each design is carefully researched and is based on extant garments or period publications and paintings. I strive to remain faithful to the original design. This means I sometimes choose to leave in small imperfections that help a piece feel balanced and natural. In other designs I thoughtfully correct errors in the original piece to make sure the final product lines up precisely as intended.


Romantic Recollections Historical Embroidery Designs

My historical embroidery designs mimic period hand embroidery techniques. My designs include longer, softer stitches than you often see in machine embroidery.  I take the extra time to digitize both halves of a design rather than mirroring it perfectly. Those slight differences help create the illusion of embroidery by hand rather than machine. My designs are optimized to work with specialty threads like wool blends and silk, to help further an authentic period look.

Every historical embroidery design includes a detailed PDF containing historical notes, images of the inspiration piece, tips for transferring your hand embroidery pattern or for matching your machine embroidery design, the design itself, and an extensive resources section.  I want you to have all the resources you need to easily recreate these garments at home.

Our camisole design contains a full tutorial on using it with the Wearing History 1910s camisole pattern or other patterns. Some designs, like our 18th c. pocket, also contain an e-pattern for sewing the pocket. My blog contains tutorials about the camisole eyelets, or lining up pocket designs so you can be successful with every project.

What People Are Saying

November 13

Floral Rounded

Wow!!!! I am SO IMPRESSED!!! [The PDF] is beautifully written, thorough but not intimidating. Very clear, understandable instructions, tons of advice and support, like having a smart instructor right next to you. ~ Mary

November 13


As someone who has an embroidery machine and who loves historical costuming, your designs are PERFECT for my needs! You have no idea how excited I am to come across your page!!  ~ Nicole

March 27


This pattern is awesome and so easy to piece together! I can’t wait to make more in different colors! Thanks so much for a great design!!  ~ Connie


Ready to get started?

1) Download this FREE 18th century Button sample

Historical embroidery designs - 18th c. buttons and waistcoats

Try one of my designs for free. This button is based on a c. 1780 court suit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. You’ll get to test out both hand embroidery and machine embroidery formats. It’s a quick and easy way to dip your toes into the world of embroidery.

Get this 18th c. button design for free when you subscribe to our newsletter.  You’ll get a link to the file once your subscription has been confirmed, as well as ongoing updates about new products, sales, and giveaways.


2) Browse our ready-to-download designs

Visit the Romantic Recollections Shop to view the historical embroidery designs currently available. All of my designs are available in both hand and machine embroidery formats. A few select designs may also be available as custom orders or unique samples. New pieces are continually being added, so check back often.

3) Sign up for a class

Take a class on historical embroidery designs, machine embroidery, and digitizing. Whether you are new to machine embroidery, an experienced user, or simply love history, I have a class for you. When you sign up for one of my classes, you also have access to an exclusive Facebook group where you can ask questions or get support from your fellow students.

4) Come sew with us

Come join my ongoing sew-along group on Facebook. We have quarterly embroidery projects ranging from Regency gowns to simple accessories, as well as encourage members to post anything they are currently working on. If you need a little inspiration or someone to cheer you along on a project, we are there to help.

5) Make a suggestion

If you don’t see something you like, or your favorite historical era isn’t represented, please drop me a line or vote in one of my Facebook polls about new designs.

6) Commission your own designs

If you would like to commission a custom order using either a Romantic Recollections stock pattern or a design of your own choosing, please send me an email to discuss how we can make your vision a reality.


I look forward to working with you, wherever you are on your embroidery journey.