Since the new projects I’m working on aren’t quite ready to be revealed, I thought it might be fun to do a book review this week.
Background: I decided to do my first embroidery project in September 2012. I found a pattern I liked and completed it as the first square of my sampler quilt. I did stem stitch for the entire thing since instructions came with the pattern, and I used all 6 strands of my embroidery floss. Since then, I’ve been poking around on Pinterest and finding many new projects that would require enhanced skills. (Check out my Embroidery board on Pinterest!) I’ve read about different techniques and how most embroidery experts use fewer strands of floss. When I found The Stitch Bible by Kate Haxell, I was really excited. I admired it online for months before deciding to buy myself a copy. A major reason for the hesitation was that, due to copyrights, the only photos I could find were of the cover; I wasn’t sure what to expect inside. I didn’t see it at my local stores, although I have to admit I didn’t look especially hard.
Pros: There were some things this book did really well. First, it had really detailed stitching tips. The stitches themselves appeared in the usual A-B-C format graphically, but there was plenty of supporting commentary. Not only did the book cover each stitch extensively, but it also included a wide range of stitches. Finally, the book did a good job of laying out the more basic aspects of embroidery, such as selecting the correct fabric, which needles to use, how the different threads/yarns compare, history of each type of embroidery, etc. Some of the tips were things I’d already read, but many were new.
Neutral: I thought this book would cover many filling stitches for traditional embroidery. Instead, the book split its time among freestyle, hardanger, blackwork, crewelwork, goldwork, pulled thread, canvaswork, and drawn thread–in addition to the basic overviews I’ve already described. I personally would have preferred less of the canvaswork, for example, and more of the blackwork section (featured on the cover). But I do understand this is a matter of personal preference.
Cons: The book covered a limited number of projects: one for each topic. Each project might incorporate a few of the different stitches in that genre, but the photos were so pretty and the stitches so well-described that I found myself wishing for more project ideas. (Internal dialogue: Now that I know how to do the stitching, where would I use this technique?) The other disappointment for me was the lack of photos. Most of the book was comprised of stitch diagrams with just a few photos to show the technique. The photo on the front is a good example. It shows various filling stitches and a fade-out effect and represents almost the entire blackwork section. The photos were so pretty, and I really would have loved to see a photo of each stitch next to the diagram. (Once I have followed the directions, I want to know: Did I do it right?!)
Conclusion: This is the only sewing, craft, or embroidery-related book I have purchased, and I don’t regret my purchase. I find that, combined with the internet, it will be very useful. The book names the stitches and diagrams how to create them. I can supplement with the internet to see what the finished products might look like and how the stitches have been used in other projects.
February 19, 2013 at 8:26 am
Your Aunt Carol has the Royal School of Needlework Essential Stitch Guide/ Blackwork. If you ask very nicely, she might send it to you. [Too many hobbies! Too many projects!]