Wednesday, June 18, 2014

New Berlin Work Project-- A Flag Needlebook (Research Post)

First, from the New Hampshire Historical Society [1963.062.02] (c. 1861-1863)

Worked in tent stitch (the Lady's Self-Instructor in Millinery and Mantua-making... (1853), states that Berlin patterns are always given in tent stitch, but may be worked in cross stitch).

Stitching dimensions: 39 sts tall, approximately 46 sts wide, blue square is 21 x 23 sts.  According to the LS-I, Berlinwork should be done on either 18-count or 10-count canvas--which would give the total dimensions 3.9" x 4.6" when done in the latter, or about 2.2" x  2.6" in the former. The museum gives the case dimensions as 3" x 3.9", which indicates a canvas size of 12-13 stitches per inch.  Apparently, the LS-I isn't definitive for 19th century canvas sizes...

13 "stars" in a grid pattern 3/2/3/2/3, with solid blue border of 2 sts on the sides and 3 rows top & bottom; stars made up of 5 sts in a + shape.

Inside cover appears to be a white silk with woven design.  Red, white and blue 'pages' have a matte finish, and are likely (wool) flannel--the recommended material for needlebook pages in both The American Girl's Book and The Girl's Own Book.  The pages are different sizes and have pinked edges.  The museum gives the material as "textile, wool, silk".

Ribbons in red white and blue adorn the spine.  These will be silk; the upper white loops appear to be the same width as 6 stitched rows, making the ribbon about 1/2" wide (varies with canvas size); the red ribbon at the lower bow looks even narrower.  

The large leaf of blue flannel forms the the back cover, which would explain why it's larger than the other two leaves (same size as the front cover), and why there's a strip of blue along the left-hand edge in the top picture.  A red decoration (embroidery? applied trim?) follows the top and bottom edges of the back.

It is not clear whether the canvas in the front cover has a solid support underneath it.  Looking at the worn places, it seems like the white silk backing is visible through the canvas, though it could be a white paper/paste board in between the two.  From my reading, it seems more typical to make the covers of needlebooks out of pasteboard, with a decorative fabric covering rather than just using the fabric alone.  That being said, my berlinwork cardcase does very well with only silk-backed canvas.     

Second: 35-star needle book (c.1863-1865)

Total size: 26 sts x 50 sts; blue section 14 sts x 20 sts.  Possibly worked in tent or cross stitch (hard to tell).  Stars worked as single cross-stitches in five rows of seven (one-stitch blue boundary between stars; two rows/columns solid blue border).  Each stripe is two rows of stitching.  Dark blue ribbon on binding.  No view of pages or back cover (if present).


  1. Hi...I'm unable to find the one from the NH Historical Society in their you have a picture of it? Thanks!


  2. Ah, but went back through my own research files and found I had photos and catalog info from them that I had written for several years ago...thanks! And I've made a repro of that one as well!

  3. I'll try to fix that link--unsure if it got too old, or failed for other reasons. Glad you found what you were looking for! For future reference, the item number is "1963.062.02" and it's titled "Case, Needle" on the online collection at


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