Embroidery (12)

My reviews are listed below, but you can also click on these links to buy & find reviews of more general Embroidery Books

(Titles are listed A-Z by author. Check side bar for links to book reviews covering different stitch techniques.  Please feel free to add comments if you agree or disagee with me!)

BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO DRAWN THREAD EMBROIDERY by PATRICIA BAGE

THE ART OF EMBROIDERED FLOWERS by GILDA BARON

This book is awesome. It is both inspirational and aspirational at the same time as being a very practical guide. The book includes helpful information with regard to dyeing threads and fabric that can be utilised even if freestyle embroidery isn’t your thing. However, the concise instructions alongside clear step-by-step photos will lure you into trying it, even if you’ve never thought about doing so before! It’s easy enough for a beginner to follow (but in no way condescending or simplistic), but also provides wonderful starting off points for the more experienced embroiderer. A beautiful book that demonstrates exactly what a craft/needlecraft book can and should be!

I also want to mention that it is a far more all-encompassing book subject-wise than JUST embroidered flowers, and will be of interest to anyone interested in embroidery in general, as well as in hand-dyeing their own materials.  The ‘Art’ part stands correct.

BLACKWORK by KAREN R. BUELL

LINEN EMBROIDERY by ETTA CAMPBELL

JOAN FISHER’S GUIDE TO EMBROIDERY

EMBROIDERY IDEAS FROM BLACKWORK by PAT LANGFORD

EMBROIDERY TECHNIQUES USING SPACE-DYED THREADS by VIA LAURIE

This is a beautifully presented book, packed with beautiful projects, using beautiful colours, beautiful threads!  The author, from South Africa, hand-dyes her own threads which are used in the projects throughout.  I managed to locate a UK stockist here.  Alternatives are not suggested, but a little initiative could find replacements for most shades produced by other brand names, if you have trouble geting hold of them.  They are very subtly coloured, though, and worth seeking out.

An introduction explains  the qualities and uses of different threads, and how best to take care of them, followed by different effects that can be achieved using different techniques.  Additional tips are included throughout the book, and the personal tone of voice makes reading the instructions more interesting than the usual practical project book.

The book includes a wide range of small to medium-sized embroidery projects in various techniques, including blackwork, canvaswork, casalguidi, freestyle, hardanger, crewel, stumpwork, and more, with a brief introduction to each.  Although step-by-step instructions and clear charts, diagrams and photos are provided for each project, they are not aimed at the beginner, rather a stitcher who already has some experience, and is perhaps looking to learn or experiment with some different techniques.  In that sense, it is a great introduction and actually covers a bit of a gap in the market.

As an intermediate to advanced project book it can’t be faulted and is full of high quality designs and photography.  It is a good sampler for any stitcher who enjoys trying out something a little bit different, in terms of technique.  However, I was hoping for something slightly different (/more?) from this book, probably something a little less project-based.  The projects do showcase the space-dyed threads used to wonderful effect, but it is not a comprehensive guide to using them in general (although an introduction is of course better than nothing!), nor is it a reference guide to the stitch techniques covered, explaining only as much as you need to know to stitch the projects.

Still, (as already mentioned) it is beautiful, and wonderful value for a project book.  Perhaps the author will follow it up with something a little more experimental, showing how many more possibilities space-dyed threads can offer…?

EXPLORING CROSS STITCH: A NOTEBOOK by AUDREY ORMROD

I have filed this book under embroidery rather than cross stitch, quite simply because that is what the book is about.  If you want a book about cross stitch, there are plenty around, but this one is about exploration and diversification, about breaking free of all the traditional constrictions imposed by the form of cross stitch.  Read this when you want to feel truly inspired!

This is not a project book.  If you are looking for a book that will lay out patterns for you to reproduce, look elsewhere.  The title says it is a notebook, and it genuinely is.  All of the author’s ideas and inspiration are represented visually and in her own words she exlains how her thought processes worked, and ideas progressed.  She covers different way of designing, using different fabrics, working with colour, extending the stitch itself.

I could list the enormous plethora of ideas between the  covers, but the book is about taking a personal journey, discovery, experimentation, not lists.  Find a copy of this book and be inspired; don’t just take my word for it.

BLACKWORK EMBROIDERY: Design and Technique by MARGARET PASCOE

READER’S DIGEST GUIDE TO NEEDLECRAFT: EMBROIDERY

If you are looking for a general embroidery and counted thread reference guide, you could do a lot worse than this one!  The general embroidery section is a fairly comprehensive stitch dictionary, with clear diagrams as well as written instructions.  There is just a 10 page section on blackwork, but it’s a really good 10 pages and I do refer back to it, despite owning far more comprehensive guides.   The blackwork section is more than just a pattern directory, and explains how best to work the patterns, how to graduate them, how to create your own patterns, and how to use them within a pictorial design.  As a beginner’s (progressive) guide to the technique, it’s actually one of the best I’ve seen.

There are 4 pages on pattern darning, 4 on pulled thread, 4 on hardanger, then a fairly comprehensive 8 pages of drawn thread/hemstitching patterns. Cutwork, smocking and machine embroidery are also skimmed over.  Everything is presented clearly and concisely, no fuss, just the information and diagrams you need, and genuinely easy to follow.   If you are just looking for a basic reference, this book makes a great overview of different techniques.

THE NEW CREWEL: Exquisite Designs in Contemporary Embroidery by KATHERINE SHAUGNESSY

I felt so decadent and guilty buying this book! Not that it’s expensive – in fact, it’s very reasonably priced – but it is one of those books that it isn’t possible to say that I need. I just wanted it.


It gives all the basic information necessary to begin crewel embroidery, laid out very clearly over a number of pages. This is followed by a gallery of projects, each with a full page, full colour pic and instructions. Patterns to trace are at the back.


The cover picture is very representative of the style inside, so use this as a guide to whether it will suit your tastes! Really, you are only going to want this book if, like me, you love the very contemporary, funky retro-inspired patterns: incredibly simple, yet original and inspiring all at the same time. This is one of those books that it is just nice to have.


If you prefer something a little more traditional, this will not be your cup of tea. However, for me, it’s such a refreshing change to see designs that challenge perceptions of the norm. Kyuuto! Woolly Embroidery is not quite as good overall, but if you are looking for some crewel designs in a more contemporary style, there are some similarly funky-retro patterns included (as well as some more traditional ones).

THREE DIMENSIONAL EMBROIDERY STITCHES by PAT TROTT

The first half of this book includes a very practical stitch guide with clear step-by-step photos for each stitch, as well as tips on fabric painting techniques (etc). The second half of the book is project-based, with full-colour pictures, line drawings to trace, and full instructions. If you want to learn how to add texture to your embroidery, this book is a great starting point. It’s a shame the cover is not shown here, as it really does give a good idea of what to expect from the contents.

My main thoughts on this book are really only minor quibbles. I thought that although the stitch reference guide was very practical, it perhaps showed fewer stitches in greater detail than strictly necessary, at the expense of instead including a wider variety of stitches to choose from. Also, although the projects in the latter half are attractive, they didn’t really excite me greatly (obviously, this is purely a matter of personal taste). Having said that, there are various elements of the projects that did appeal to me, and I can imagine adapting them within my own work. I also thought the instructions were very comprehensive and well-written, so perfect for anyone who did want to follow the projects exactly as presented.

The stitches and projects in this book are intended for free embroidery, but I think actually most aspects could be successfully adapted for counted thread embroidery, so creative counted embroiderers should not dismiss this book as irrelevant. At first glance, I didn’t think this book quite lived up to my hopes for it, but after consideration, the way it is presented does actually offer a lot of versatility, and I think I will be able to use the contents in a very practical way, especially as departure points for linked ideas.

Although I would have preferred greater quantity in terms of stitch reference, this is still a lovely book to add to my collection, and sits well alongside Gilda Baron’s ‘The Art of Embroidered Flowers’.

Links to some more book that I haven’t read yet, but look quite cool:

THE EMBROIDERY STITCH BIBLE (STITCHCRAFT)


COMPLETE GUIDE TO CREATIVE EMBROIDERY by JAN BEANEY

PAINTING WITH STITCHES by SUE DOVE

THE STITCHES OF CREATIVE EMBROIDERY by JAQUELINE ENTHOVEN


CREATIVE CREWEL EMBROIDERY: Traditions and Innovations by JUDY JEROY


KYUUTO! JAPANESE CRAFTS! WOOLLY EMBROIDERY


ROYAL SCHOOL OF NEEDLEWORK EMBROIDERY TECHNIQUES by SALLY SAUNDERS

THE EMBROIDERER’S & QUILTER’S SOURCEBOOK: 1000 Textile Images by ANGELA THOMPSON


CHARLES RENNIE MACKINTOSH IN EMBROIDERY: Design, Embroidery & Quilting by DOROTHY WOODS

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