The Great Lady’s Magazine Stitch Off goes to Chawton House Library

If you have been following the project Twitter feed (@ladysmagproject) or recently set-up Facebook page you’ll have seen some of the recent updates we’ve been getting from project followers about their progress in the Lady’s Magazine Stitch Off.


© Sue Jones (2016).


We were absolutely delighted a little over a week ago to receive images of this beautiful worked-up sprig detail from one of our patterns from Sue Jones. Sue (who blogs over at Tortoise Loft ) completed this fine shadow work in filament silk (from Devere Yarns) on some silk habotai fabric. The colours and delicate finish really bring this pattern to life and have been much admired by the project’s followers.



Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 20.54.04


Sue learned of the Stitch Off from Rachel Wright of Virtuosew Adventures, which has to be one of my favourite blog titles ever. Rachel has also embarked on her Stitch Off project in the past week: a caramel-coloured pashmina. Rachel has written a really interesting post on her blog about her first experiments on this unamenable fabric, which we hope you’ll all pop over and visit here. It’s a shame she is going to unpick them to complete the finished article, but at least she has photos of her work so far, as well as earning ‘a newfound respect for any lady of the period who embroidered her muslin dresses, or her silk gauzes’.


It’s so lovely to hear and see how you are all getting on and, in particular, to learn what you are finding out about the challenges of this kind of work. If we haven’t yet posted pictures of your current projects we promise we will soon. But until then, we have another way to repay your efforts.

You may have seen some hints on our social media pages that we have an announcement to make about the Stitch Off. Well here it is.

Drumroll, please…

We have been approached by Chawton House Library to exhibit some of the results of the Stitch Off at their forthcoming exhibition to mark the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s Emma.

The Lady’s Magazine project has strong connections with Chawton House Library, a centre for the study of women’s writing from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries housed in the Elizabethan manor house that belonged to Jane Austen’s brother, Edward Austen Knight. I was lucky enough to have my first full-time academic job at Chawton and still feel very much linked to the Library and all the great work it supports; Jenny has been a Chawton House Library Visiting Fellow on two occasions in the past few years; and the two of us and Koenraad were delighted to be invited to talk about our project at Chawton in May of last year.

Full details of the ‘Emma at 200’ exhibition can be found here. As you’ll see, it really is going to be something else. The riches of the Chawton collection are being mined to illuminate the world and reception of Austen’s novel in Britain and Europe, and several other items are being loaned from other major research collections in the UK and beyond.

An entire room of the exhibition is going to be devoted to the topic of female accomplishments – music, painting and, of course, needlework – which readers of the novel will know loom large in this, as in all, Austen’s novels. And that’s where we come in.

I will be loaning my copy of the Lady’s Magazine that has the Stitch Off patterns in it and will be making copies available to exhibition goers. But what Chawton House Library would really like (really, really like) are modern-day worked-up examples of the patterns for visitors to see and handle.

So, if you have been waiting for an excuse to start the Stitch Off, maybe this is it. If you would like your working-ups of any of our patterns featured in the exhibition, all you need to do is get in touch via the comments box below or on Twitter or Facebook. We would love to have you involved. You would need to send your work to us by the middle of March (the exhibition runs from 21 March to 25 September 2016) and must not mind your work being handled as it will be displayed on a table in the exhibition room rather than behind glass. We will endeavour to return all work to you after the exhibition closes in September.

Completed (or partially completed) work for display at the exhibition should be sent to:

Sarah Parry, Learning and Visitor Manager, Chawton House Library, Chawton, Alton, Hampshire, GU34 1SJ.

We have already approached a few of our stitchers who have enthusiastically agreed to take part. We hope you might be able to join them!

Dr Jennie Batchelor

School of English

University of Kent


11 thoughts on “The Great Lady’s Magazine Stitch Off goes to Chawton House Library

  1. ladys-magazine Post author

    Hi Elizabeth. You most certainly can embellish and freestyle, machine stitch or interpret however you like. Have you seen or FAQs blog post? I’ll drop you an email a little later in case you need more info. Best wishes Jennie

  2. elizabeth emmens-wilson

    I would love to take part in this stitch off! can you embellish the designs? ( only a bit) or do you want them just as in the original designs? I do machine embroidery can I incorporate this into my effort?

  3. ladys-magazine Post author

    Hi Sarah. Thanks for reading and commenting. The triangular pattern for the gentleman’s handkerchief was published in 1796. Of course, it may have been a recycled pattern from earlier in the century (we don’t know how the magazine sourced its patterns yet), but that was when the Lady’s Magazine published it. I have seen a few other triangular kerchief patterns from the period, although I absolutely see what you mean about them making great stomacher patterns.

  4. Sarah Cowan

    Hello, thank you for the wonderful post! I am wondering about the dating of the patterns. Perhaps the triangular shape (I assume for a stomacher) is earlier than noted. Perhaps the description of which items belong in the earlier or later date has been confused.

  5. ladys-magazine Post author

    Hi Sue. Thanks for the prompt. Silly of me to overlook this. The address has been added to the post above.

  6. Hannah Greig (York)

    This is such a great idea. I can’t wait to see all the results of the Lady’s Mag Stitch Off & all the other glorious things at Chawton for Emma at 200

  7. Gillian Dow

    I love it when a plan comes together! So delighted that you are getting involved with such a brilliant project. I should say that as long as we have some beautiful things to display from the 21st, we can add more. So please don’t let a tight deadline constrain your creativity.
    Best wishes – and thanks!
    Gillian Dow, exhibition curator, and director, Chawton House library

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