Encyclopedia of Needlework

It was by pure luck that I acquired an amazing book: Encyclopedia of Needlework by Therese de Dillmont. I rarely buy things on ebay, but last week I was looking for a loom, but instead I found this treasure. In a few days the parcel arrived. To my great surprise it was a very small pocket-size volume (9 x 14 cm).

Later I discovered that there are many available on the internet, both modern reprints and antique examples (not in the best condition, though hardly surprising for a 100 year old book). Happily, mine is still in its original cardboard box and therefore it looks like new! I think this edition is from about 1930.

Encyclopedia of Needlework by Therese de Dillmont – cute and handy

This richly illustrated book was translated in many languages and continued to be reprinted even into 21st century. First published in 1886 by DMC in France, the book quickly became very popular. I can easily understand why: beautiful drawings and clear instructions, a vast amount of different needlework including embroidery, sewing, mending, knitting, crocheting, tatting, macrame, irish lace and more. The perfect book for craft people.

Encyclopedia of Needlework by Therese de Dillmont – a few pages

I have already found an interesting crochet stitch to try and some lace techniques. I also learned something new about book design: I was puzzled that gilt was only applied to the top edges of the pages. Why?

From biblio.com: “Top edge gilt refers to the practice of applying gold or a gold-like finish to the top of the text block (the edges the pages that are visible when looking directly down at the top of a closed book). This may be done using actual gold leaf, an alloy with other metals, a gold dust, or a synthetic material made to appear like gold leaf. This is done for obvious aesthetic reasons, but also for surprisingly practical reasons, as the gold finish serves to protect the edges of the book (with the top edge being clearly most vulnerable) from conditions such as moisture or dust. Gilt edges always appear on books where the textblock has been trimmed to create a smooth application surface.”

Encyclopedia of Needlework by Therese de Dillmont – gilded top edge