Make your own: Mexican-inspired embroidery

These free, downloadable embroidery patterns have been inspired by a group of beautiful 19th-century samplers in our collection, originating from Mexico.

Follow the instructions to make an embroidered bag, big enough for a wallet, keys and mobile phone or use the designs to decorate your own creations.

You'll find the designs, stitch guide and full instructions in the pdf below – download and print the designs at home on an A4 printer.

Embroidery design by Xinyi Li, MA Fashion Curation, London College of Fashion University of the Arts London

Embroidery design by Xinyi Li, MA Fashion Curation, London College of Fashion University of the Arts London. Photograph © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Embroidery has a long history in Mexico. In the 19th century, decorative stitches were used to create colourful animal, bird and plant motifs in silk, cotton or linen threads. Samplers were a popular way to practise needlework skills and adapt different designs. The motifs could be applied to a range of textiles, from household linen to traditional clothing.

(Left) Sampler, unknown, 1770 – 1799, Mexico. Museum no. T.91-1954. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London. (Right) Sampler, Virginia Samtibañes, 1870, Mexico. Bequeathed by Alfred Percival Maudslay. Museum no. T.288-1928. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
(Left) Huipil (woman's tunic), unknown, 1800s, Oaxaca state, Mexico. Museum no. T.75-1922. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London. (Right) Huipil (woman's tunic), unknown, 1850 – 1907, Oaxaca state, Mexico. Museum no. T.264-1928. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

See more examples of Mexican embroidery in our collections.

Background image: Embroidery design by Xinyi Li. Photograph © Victoria and Albert Museum, London