Embroidery pattern book

Traditional Embroidery has been used as decoration for fabrics in China for centuries. European style embroidery was imported in China by foreigners and must have gained popularity in Old Shanghai. The below book is an embroidery pattern book combining western cross-stitch technique with Chinese style design, found in an antique market a few year ago. This must have been a popular publication as this particular one is N 19.

Old Shanghai embroidery pattern book

This book was clearly not an import, but a Shanghai creation. Spinning was one of the major industry in Shanghai, creating embroidery books helped sell their products. (All names are written from right to left, as it as written at the time).


The Mandarin Duck speach character combination is a traditional Chinese way to wish harmony in the couple.

Good Chance embroidery pattern

Although some English text was used in the booklet, it was not designed for foreigners. It even includes an explanation in Chinese of the meaning of “Good Chance”, which is actually not proper English as the expression actually means “high probability” as opposed to “good luck” as implied in the pattern.

Bonzai cross-stitch pattern

Finaly the last illustration is of Bonzai, another traditionnal motifs in Chinese culture.

I did find embroidery thread in an antique market, but they were imported ones from France. Locally made sewing thread was locally manufactured, as shown in post “Made in Shanghai“.

Old Shanghai was a fascinating place were traditionnal Chinese culture (in particular South West China) tradition was mixing with Western Culture. The specific style of the period was known as Haipai ( 海派) style, the Shanghai style. Another exemple of Haipai style object can be found in post “The Haipai Ruler“, or in cigarette advertising like the one for “Russian-China Tobacco Ltd“.