Book Review:
Waverly Honor
A Workbook of Embroidery Design

Lynn Schoeffler  © 2008

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Title: Waverly Honor, A Workbook of Embroidery Design
Authors: Martha Ann Hart and Hester Neblett
Soft cover spiral bound: 242 pages
Publisher: Embroidery Research Press, Inc., Roswell, GA
ISBN 0-929339-02-9

Two notebooks, dated 1858, were found in an old trunk in an attic—what a treasure! Fortunately, this collection of beautiful designs lovingly collected by Miss Virginia Baskervill at her home, Waverly Honor Plantation, survived long enough to be compiled into a workbook and appendix of whitework embroidery instruction by her descendants.

It is fascinating to read the brief introduction and history of Waverly Honor Plantation, though not much is there about Miss Baskervill personally. A family story is told that Virginia Baskervill loved a young man in the Confederate army who never returned from the Civil War; possibly the work of keeping the plantation provided with linens and clothing, along with other seamstresses, helped occupy her time. There are a few photos of exquisite whitework that was executed by Miss Baskervill.

Martha Hart and Hester Neblett carefully organized the workbook into several types of designs, including floral units, borders, birds and butterflies and designs for clothing and lace to name a few. There are multiple designs on each page; although some are reminiscent of Jacobean design, many are free flowing and elegant, reflecting the antebellum south.

The appendix includes instructions for a few commonly used whitework stitches, but also for many stitches that have fallen out of general use, such as the Parma Stitch and Trailing—a tiny linear stitch used for monograms.

All of the designs are adaptable to colored thread embroidery and infinite designs can be put together by combining patterns. Unfortunately, I was unable to contact the publisher for permission to print a few of the patterns, so I worked the one below in Buttonhole Stitch for the cabbage roses, Straight Stitch for the leaves, and Overhand Stem Stitch for the buds.

This particular pattern was not by any means as intricate as some of them in the book. Can you imagine the untold hours it would have taken to embroider the linens for a large household?

Thanks to Sharon Griffin for her enthusiastic recommendation!

Copies of the workbook are available from many online sources including Amazon and eBay.

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