Now for a selection of embroidery pattern books! While originality and creativity are the ultimate aims, if you are new to hand embroidery or just want a quick pattern for a gift, then it is great to have a few embroidery pattern books available and you can always vary the materials, threads, colour schemes and projects. Having said that, I often find projects of my own designs are easier, as there is total control over the whole process. When you are following a pattern, it is easy to lose your confidence and feel that it has to be exactly perfect to get the required result, resulting in a more stressful experience!!!
Beginner Embroidery Pattern Books
First up are two terrific books, which I used at the start of my embroidery journey:
Decorative Embroidery: Forty Projects and Designs For the Home by Mary Nordern 1997 and
Embroidery With Wool : 40 Decorative Designs For the Contemporary Home by Mary Nordern 1998.
I loved both these books and could make all of their designs and projects! Both books follow a similar format with patterns categorised into different subject headings, followed by techniques and stitches in the back.
In Decorative Embroidery, 15 elementary stitches are used in a range of different projects including : Laundry Bags; Curtains and Tie Backs; Chair Back Covers; Bed Linen, Blankets and Pillow Cases; Cushion Covers; Basket Cloths, Shelving Cloths and Tray Cloths; Tea Towels and Hand Towels; Table cloths and Serviettes; Tea Cosies; Buttons; Beaded Jug Cloths; and Cutlery Rolls.
The separate sections are:
Posies and Sprigs: Posies, Garlands; Scattered Leaves; Summer Sprigs Wildflower Sprays; and Abstract Stylised Flowers;
Nature’s Harvest: Cockerels; Wheat Sheaves; Strawberries and Cherries; Lemons; Carrots and Pea Pods;
Geometrics and Initials: Crosses; Swirls; Hearts; Snowflakes; and Initials and Monograms; and
Home and Hearth: Kitchen (Kettles, Jugs, Mugs and Irons); Curlicue Chairs; Bathtime (Brushes; Perfume Bottles; Hand Mirrors; Water Jug and Bowl); and Afternoon Tea (Tea Cup and Saucer).
Each project details materials and threads; stitches used and techniques to work the pattern and make up the project. The photo below is for a cushion cover based on her design for Contemporary Circles in her second book Embroidery With Wool.The final section at the back of the book includes notes on:
Fabrics and Threads;
Needles; Frames and Additional Equipment (Scissors; Tracing Paper; Dressmaker’s Carbon; Water-Soluble Marking Pen; Transfer Paper and Light Source);
Starting and Finishing Work;
Washing Embroidery; and
Stitches, with excellent diagrams of each stitch (Back Stitch; Blanket Stitch; Chain Stitch; Chevron Stitch; Couching Stitch; Fern Stitch; Fly Stitch ; French Knot Stitch; Lazy Daisy Stitch; Long and Short Stitch; Running Stitch; Satin Stitch; and Padded Satin Stitch; Stem Stitch; and Straight Stitch); and a
DMC/ Anchor Conversion Chart.Embroidery With Wool uses crewel wool (DMC or Appleton), 18 decorative stitches and 20 embroidery designs with 20 variations to decorate hats, gloves and slippers; pyjama cases; drawstring and shopping bags; bed linen and throw rugs; curtains and tiebacks; shelf borders; cushion covers and lampshades; hot water bottle covers; table cloths and table runners; buttons; gardener’s aprons; and hat bands and shoe bags.
Like her previous book, the designs are divided into four chapters:
Repeating Curls: Paisley Curls (photo below); Coral Lines; Crescent Moons; Reflecting Swirls; and Sea Waves;
Petals and Tendrils: Jacobean Blooms; Indian Sprigs; Autumn Leaves; Trailing Flowers; and Wispy Tendrils;
Graphic Lines: Spirals and Pin Wheels; Noughts and Crosses; Contemporary Circles; Stars and Stripes; and Mystic Symbols; and
Frippery: Hats; Slippers; Gloves; Handbags; Pyjamas; and Socks.The section on Techniques and Stitches is identical to her previous book, with the addition of sections titled :
Making Up Cushions;
Lampshades: Making a Pattern or Covering Existing Lampshades;
Extra stitches (Algerian Eye; Cable Chain Stitch; Double Cross Stitch; Eyelet Buttonhole Stitch; Guilloche Stitch; Laced Running Stitch; and Pekinese Stitch); and a
DMC/Appleton Conversion Chart for Crewel and Tapestry Wools.Heirloom Embroidery : Inspired Designer Projects With Beautiful Stitching Techniques by Jan Constantine 2008
Another great book, which is particularly good for beginner embroiderers, with seven basic stitches and more than 25 projects, including blankets and throw rugs; cushions; laundry and drawstring bags; table runners and napkins; aprons; shopping and beach bags; lavender sachets and hearts; tea cosies; scarves; pictures; and Christmas stockings and decorations.
Like the previous books, the designs are also sorted into chapters of separate themes:
Country Garden: Apples; Daisies; Strawberries; Cottage Garden Border
Seaside: Lighthouse; Yachts; Anchors ; Fish and Shells;
Botanicals and Bugs: Lavender; Lilies; Roses; Bees; and Dragonflies; and
Celebrations: Snowflakes; Stars and Stripes; Berry Wreath; and Reindeer and Dove.
I particularly loved the Cottage Border Tea Cosy; the Stem Rose Cushion Pad; the Woollen Snowflake Hearts and the Christmas Dove Cushion.
Each project has design templates, illustrated stitch diagrams and notes on materials and equipment; stitches used; preparation and cutting out; tracing the design; working the embroidery; and making up and finishing the project. Even though each design details specific projects, obviously they can also be worked on different projects throughout the book.
In the back is a Stitch Glossary with excellent diagrams for seven basic embroidery stitches with variations (Blanket Stitch and Buttonhole Stitch; Straight Stitch and Running Stitch; Stem Stitch; Cross Stitch; French Knots and Bullion Knots; Basic/ Irregular/ and Padded Satin Stitch; Chain Stitch and Zigzag Chain Stitch), as well as general sewing stitches ( Slip Stitch, Loop Stitch and Overcast Stitch) and notes on Tools and Materials (Needles, Threads, Hoops and Frames, and Sewing Kits); Resizing designs; Cutting out; Transferring designs; Embroidering designs; Washing and pressing the finished embroidery; Using bonding web; Making up; Making bias strips for piping; and Pressing the finished item.Colourful Stitchery: 65 Hot Embroidery Projects to Personalize Your Home by Kristin Nicholas 2005
Kristin LOVES colour , which she explores in both knitting (discussed in: https://candeloblooms.com/2018/06/26/books-for-winter-knitting-part-two/) and embroidery. In her introductory chapter, she discusses :
Different Fabrics and Threads;
Tools (Pins and needles; scissors; hoops; rulers; masking tape; fabric glue; tracing paper; water-soluble markers; pencils and chalks; sewing machine and light source);
Centreing Patterns and Transferring Designs;
Beginnings and Endings;
Finding Inspiration; and
Working with Colour.
She covers a range of projects in the following chapters from pillows, aprons and tea towels, tea and coffee cosies, egg cosies, pot holders, table cloths and napkins, pillow cases, curtains, blankets and throws, teddy bears, hot water bottle covers, scissor cases, espadrilles, and boxes and cards. Each project specifies the fabric, threads, notions and stitches used in a coloured box and includes notes on cutting and preparation; stitching the design and making up and finishing the project, with templates in the back.
While a bit basic for me, it is an excellent book for beginners, as the designs are all very simple, bold and colourful.Stitch With Love: 11 Simple Stitches and Over 20 Easy-To-Throw Projects by Mandy Shaw 2011
This is also an excellent book for beginners, but all the designs are limited to and executed in red or white on cream, ecru (raw or unbleached) or red linens, cottons, wool and felts, which looks so effective. Like the books by Mary Nordern, I love the designs in this book and could easily embroider any one of the twenty projects, which range from cushions and blankets to wrist pin cushions and bracelets, sewing and gardening tidies, bags, aprons, book covers and shelf bunting, crib and Christmas decorations and wreaths and luggage and gift tags!I also really like the practical and logical presentation of this book, which starts with Fabrics, Buttons and Braids; and Needles and Threads; to Transferring the Motifs; Making the Projects; and Working the Stitches, with detailed diagrams of 10 basic embroidery stitches (Running Stitch and Whipped Running Stitch; Back Stitch; Stem Stitch; Chain Stitch; Lazy Daisy; Blanket Stitch; Herringbone Stitch; French Knots; Cross Stitch; and Satin Stitch) for both right-handers and left-handers.
The designs are then grouped into themes: Hearts and Buttons; Sewing Paraphernalia; Cooking themes; Bunnies and Daisies; Garden themes; Travel designs and Christmas.
In the back are notes on techniques, including using a sewing machines; working with fusible webbing; edging with ric-rac braid; custom-made binding; bias binding; covered buttons; and design motifs.Intermediate Embroiderers
Secret Garden Embroidery: 15 Projects for your Stitching Pleasure presented by What Delilah Did 2015
What Delilah Did (http://whatdelilahdid.bigcartel.com/product/secret-garden-embroidery) is the brain child of designer Sophie Simpson. This book is a whimsical collection of 15 botanically-inspired needlework projects based on counted stitch techniques including straight stitch, back stitch, cross stitch, herringbone stitch, Smyrna stitch, daisy stitch and French Knots.
These stitches are described in the first chapter, along with materials (counted thread fabrics: linen, evenweave cotton, Aida and waste canvas; and felt); threads (stranded cotton; tapestry wool; and metallic braids); needles; hoops and frames and other equipment (scissors, rotary cutters and shears; measuring tapes; pins; tailor’s chalk and water-erasable pens; tracing paper; and haemostats and point turners); and the basics of counted embroidery: reading counted embroidery charts; starting to stitch; preparing the thread and starting and finishing a thread.
Themes include buds and blossoms; birds, bees, bugs and butterflies; and rabbits and vegetable gardens) and I love the quirky tales about Miss Miranda Merriweather at the beginning of each chapter. Design templates are found in the back of the book, while the counted charts have their own special envelope. There is even a handwritten recipe for Miranda Merriweather’s Rose Petal Jam!
The designs are used to decorate 15 different projects from bracelets, lockets and jewellery rolls to purses, clutch bags and sash belts; sachets, pin cushions, cushions and bunting; spectacle cases and book bands; and triptychs, pictures and magnets.
I am very tempted to try making the cute bug magnets; the butterfly cross stitch hoop pictures; and the honey bee pin cushion.Little Stitches: 100 + Sweet Embroidery Designs. 12 Projects by Aneela Hoey 2012
Very appropriately titled, it is indeed a sweet little book with lots of cute everyday designs for toys and balloons; houses and streetscapes; boats and cars; leaves and flowers; animals (snails, birds, mice, dogs, cats, squirrels and foxes); children and leisure activities (scooters and bicycles, swings, hobby horses, hoops, kites and rowing); fish bowls and snow globes; and sewing, knitting and washing lines.
Projects include: Pin cushions, needle cases, jar cozies and zip pouches; two cushion covers, baby quilts and Christmas Stockings; Coasters, hoop pictures, tissue box covers and hot water bottle covers.
It divides embroidery stitches into outline and filling stitches and discusses variations (number of floss strands and combining stitches); alternative embroidery patterns for each project; and quilt making and binding techniques.Embroidery Pour Le Jardinier: 100 French Designs For the Gardener by Sylvie Blondeau 2010/2013
This small paperback is even better with some wonderful line designs for everything garden-related: Trees and flowers; cats and dogs; houses, sheds, streets and cars; outdoor furniture, watering cans, scarecrows, garden tools and wheel barrows; strawberries and cherries; tomatoes and pumpkins; dog kennels and bird houses; birds and owls, squirrels and hedgehogs; insects and fish; pot plants and fruit baskets; and dog walking and cooking.
Each double page design segment is illustrated with a colour photograph of the design, followed by a line drawing specifying stitches and DMC threads and photographs of suggested projects. These include: Tote bags and purses; cushion covers; badges, bracelets and hat bands; jam jar covers, thermos carriers, place mats and coasters; notebooks, boxes and gift tags; and even, bindle sticks.
In the back is a Collection of Stitches (outline/ filling/ borders and edgings); instructions for making all the projects and a recipe for Red Fruit Jam with a Tea Infusion!Scandinavian Stitches: 21 Playful Projects with Seasonal Flair by Kajsa Wikman 2010
Another delightful book with some lovely projects from quilts and quilted baskets and bowls to wall hangings, pillows, pin cushions, coasters, scarves, pouches, ornaments, dolls and gardening angels. Techniques include quilting, appliqué and machine and hand embroidery. I love the quirky designs, especially the Gardening Angels, Fairy Angel Dolls and Tomte Stuffy and the Merry Mouse Zippered Pouch, which I made for my youngest daughter.
More Advanced Embroidery Patterns
Firstly, two very beautiful books by Japanese embroiderers, followed by four very stylish French books! Sashiko is a beautiful traditional form of Japanese embroidery, as can be seen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fc6fA2Gdzvg. I would love to do more, but unfortunately, do not own any books on this topic, though there are many You Tube tutorials online! I do however own the following books:
Artfully Embroidered: Motifs and Patterns For Bags and More by Naoko Shimoda 2012
Naoko uses embroidery and appliqué techniques and raffia, ribbon, beads and sequins to create 25 different designs fror use on handbags, totes, clutches, wallets and coin purses; handkerchiefs and brooches; and clothing and linen. I particularly loved her black on white Japanese Garden Bag, as seen on the front cover of the book. Absolutely stunning! Her coin purses, handkerchiefs and Ribbon Flower Evening Bag are also very pretty and appealing!
Each design is showcased on double page spreads in the front of the book, followed by General Notes on: Tools and Embroidery Supplies; Interfacing; Appliqué; Using soluble canvas; Embroidery with raffia, ribbons and beads; and of course, the embroidery stitches themselves, before addressing the patterns in detail: their materials and tools; cutting instructions; embroidery techniques; construction steps and finishing the project. Patterns are included in an envelope in the back.
120 Original Embroidery Designs by Yoko Saito 2013
This is a lovely book, which uses patches of embroidery and simple outline stitches in 120 different patterns to make 20 different projects, including wall hangings, bags and pouches, coin purses and pencil cases, baskets and keepsake boxes, and even book covers. Using patches is a great idea, as they can be embroidered in limited time and space and also allows for a huge degree of flexibility and versatility in their application. For example, I used her nine dog and cat patches without all the quilting on a patchwork cushion rather than her designated wall hanging!Her patterns are organised into different sections titled: Animals and Living Creatures; Daily Necessities; Trees; Appliqué and Embroidery; Piecing and Embroidery; Numbers From 0 to 9; The Alphabet; Borders and Repeatable Patterns; and Buildings and Trees. There are ant farms and fishing boats; honeybees and jives; Scandinavian flowers and vases; houses and churches; planes and bicycles; tennis racquets, shoes, bags and Nantucket baskets; trees and flowers; and geometric shapes and lines.
Projects are displayed throughout the book, with their patterns at the back (Materials; finished measurements; instructions and tips; and lots of diagrams and template patterns), along with notes on embroidering patterns; using embroidery floss and basic embroidery stitches. I love her muted colour range and will definitely be using more of her designs on future projects!
And while on the subject of Japanese embroiderers, while I don’t own any of her books, it is well worth checking out the exquisite work of Yumiko Huguchi at: http://yumikohiguchi.com/.
The next four books, while written by different authors, are all a similar size and shape, all belonging to the Made In France range of books produced by Murdoch Books. I am very tempted by the title of the other embroidery book: Sweet Treats in Cross-stitch by Tinou Le Joly Senoville and there is also a knitting and a patchwork book in the range. I am discussing them in order of publication date.
Linen and Thread: Creating Homewares Embellished with Embroidery and Ribbon by Monique Lyonnet 2007/2009
The use of cross-stitch and counted thread techniques and a very limited thread colour palette of red, white and blue, with the occasional black, on cream/ ivory, ecru (natural), red, slate blue and grey even weave linen, in common with the other books in the series, produces a very stylish, elegant, understated, organic and timeless look to the projects, which include: Cushions, bolsters and footstools; Throw rugs and baby blankets; Bed linen and pillow cases; Pocket Tidies and nappy stackers; Table cloths, runners, place mats and napkins; Aprons and tea towels; Shelf edging; Linen pots and surprise bags; Advent calendars and notepads; Bracelets; Reversible pockets; Toiletry and laundry bags; and even phone pockets.
Each project includes a colour photo of the project, a sidebar detailing dimensions, materials, embroidery threads and stitches used; Instructions and cross-stitch charts.
Designs include: Written messages; numbers; abstract patterns; feathers; birds (swans and seagulls); and simple stylised trees.
In the back is a glossary of haberdashery terms; a few diagrams on mitred-corner hems; and a few tips between friends.
Made in France: Cross Stitch and Embroidery in Red, White and Blue by Agn è s Delage-Calvet, Anne Sohier-Fournel, Muriel Brunet and Françoise Ritz 2009
I loved the cross-stitch and embroidery designs in this book, again executed in red, white and blue threads on white and cream, ecru and natural, and navy blue and red cotton and linen fabrics. There is perhaps a little more instruction on basic embroidery techniques than the last book, with introductory notes on getting started and centreing designs; transferring motifs; and a limited stitch library: cross-stitch; stem stitch; back stitch; straight stitch; French knots and detached chain stitch.
The majority of the book and all the projects are divided into three main sections based on colour: Red; White and Blue, though obviously the designs in each section could be embroidered in different colours and on different projects from the other sections.
Projects include: Cushions and lampshades; Bed linen, towels, throw rugs and pillow cases; Bags; Aprons and tea towels; Table cloths, runners and napkins; Clothing from vests and shoes to scarves, dresses, smocks and jackets; Pictures and samplers; and handkerchiefs, jam jar covers, markers, book covers and Christmas decorations.
There is a wealth of design ideas from flowers, fruits, animals (insects, snails, birds, fish, shells, marine life, tortoises, mice, sheep and cats), feathers, bows, stars, hearts and snowflakes to fairies and angels; Matryoshka dolls, toys and childhood games; figures and leisure activities; silhouettes; the built environment (houses, windmills and lighthouses); teapots and teacups; sewing tools; nautical and seasonal themes; and Christmas, Easter and Good Luck symbols. So many wonderful designs to choose and a great resource for embroiderers!
Cross-Stitch and Embroidery For Babies, Toddlers and Children by Isabelle Leloup 2010/2011
This book contains some lovely designs for children’s clothing and rooms and uses a bit more colour, with the inclusion of pinks, greens and aquas. There are cot canopies, cot bumpers and curtains; bed linen; basket cloths and change mats; sleeping bags and; bags and purses; cushions; and book covers, samplers and pictures and a wide variety of clothing from bibs, bathrobes and slippers to vests and tops; pyjamas; jumpsuits and dresses. Designs are classical, traditional and timeless include: Hearts, fruit, leaves and flowers; trees and grasses; feathers, birds and angel wings; suns, moons and stars; hot air balloons and rockets; and chooks, sheep, butterflies and fish.
Cross- Stitch Samplers: Elegant and Timeless Needlecraft Designs in Red and Blue by Marjorie Massey 2012
My final book in this range and perhaps my favourite in the series, even though it focuses solely on cross-stitched samplers with no other projects in mind! Designs include a variety of alphabets and abstract motifs; flowers and roses; fruit; snails, insects and birds (including a magnificent French cockerel); cats, sheep, donkeys, foxes, rabbits and deer; houses and human figures; and wreaths, garlands and bows. The monochrome designs look so effective in just red or blue, though some include different shades of blue.
I loved cross-stitching my heart with two doves! This book is also an ideal lead in to my final section:
Other Cross-Stitch Patterns.
Storybook Favourites in Cross-Stitch by Gillian Souter 1995
Another great book for embroiderers with kids in their lives! The introduction includes notes on types of fabrics (evenweave linen and Aida); estimating fabric size; preparing the fabric; embroidery threads; needles and thread holders; reading charts; basic techniques (cross-stitch, back stitch and half-stitch); useful tips; and teaching cross-stitch to children.
In the Nursery, Peter Rabbit and other Beatrix Potter favourites adorn birth samplers, pincushions and lidded boxes; Blinky Bill features on cards and framed pictures; and Babar and his family are embroidered on toys, growth charts and bath wraps.
Toddlers enjoy bibs, towels, art folders, satchels and book bags, decorated with Spot, while Miffy, Pussy Nell and Snuffy decorate napkin rings, gift sacks, pyjamas and finger puppets and Stephen Cartwright’s Duck is stitched onto wash bags and cloth books. My youngest daughter loved Paddington Bear, who features on skivvies, place mats, shopping bags and aprons, while her older sister loved Rupert, who features in the next section: Growing Up.I started making a Rupert Christmas stocking, though unfortunately, never finished it, though perhaps it is waiting for her child! It is also used for a patch, a pillowcase and a photo frame, while Peter Pan’s projects include a pyjama case and an album cover and Angelina, the ballerina, dances her way across ballet shoe bags, pictures, doorplates and cards.
I loved the Apple Tree Farm Alphabet sampler. Roll on, grandkids!!! I strongly suspect that I will be using this book extensively!!!
The next two books are old favourites from the Danish Handcraft Guild (https://www.danish-handcraft-guild-uk.com/) and written by Gerda Bengtsson (1900-1995), an internationally famous Danish embroiderer:
Flower Designs in Cross-Stitch by Gerda Bengtsson and Elsie Thordur-Hansen 1973
Birds, flowers, trees, garlands and wreaths are cross-stitched in Danish Flower Threads on small mats, runners, table cloths, tray cloths, cushions and wall hangings, made of coarse or fine open weave linen. The right-hand page has a colour plate of the design with a black-and-white cross-stitch chart on the left-hand page.
I love all the designs in this book, particularly the seasonal birds (photo below), Spring bulbs and rose wreaths!Cross-Stitch Patterns in Color by Gerda Bengtsson 1974
This book follows a similar presentation and features more beautiful rose patterns; seasonal countryside and town scenes; and house plants in pots in window frames, which can be used to decorate doilies, table cloths, bell pulls, pillows and wall pictures.
I have also used a number of pattern sheets over the years, like this wonderful pig cushion in the photo below:
which was stitched from the Never Eat More design in Oink, a Jeanette Crews pattern booklet by Mary Ellen Yanich, but was particularly drawn to patterns by The Prairie Schooler (http://www.prairieschooler.com/), which started in 1984, but has unfortunately now closed. Their old patterns can be seen at: http://www.prairieschooler.com/inventory.htm and https://www.thesilverneedle.com/prairieschooler.html.
Some of their patterns, which I own and have worked include:
Book No. 10 A Prairie Christmas Jen’s camel needle case;
Book No. 32 Christmas Ark Yet to do;
Book No. 35 A Prairie Garden;
Book No. 49 Garden Verses Yet to do;
Book No. 54 Garden Beasties Snail, frog etc;Book No. 61 Garden Alphabet Yet to Do;
Book No. 63 Christmas Samplers Donkey, camel and cow;
The Prairie Schooler: Book No. 75: A Prairie Garden II; Flowers;
Book No. 94 Barnyard Christmas Yet to Do; and
Prairie Fairies from 1994 (Blackbird); 1995 (Swallow); 1996 (Snail) and 1997 (Hare).And finally, for those of you who would like to design your own cross-stitch, there is this last book:
Design Your Own Cross-Stitch To Complement Your Home by Shirley Watts 1997
Really, it’s very easy! It’s all about playing with pattern. Grab that grid paper and your coloured pencils and off you go!! However, if you need some inspiration or ideas for projects, then this book should help!
Two of her first projects (a bell pull and a book cover), which are both very appealing and attractive, use simple geometric flower motifs in a range of four shades of the same colour, the selection made easier by the use of manufacturers shade cards. Shirley uses six-stranded DMC and single-stranded Danish Flower Threads on 14-count and 18-count Aida and 28-count Jobelan.
She is also inspired by Turkish kilims; folk art motifs; foliage and fruit; sea creatures and single-colour themes like blue and white Dutch windmills. Shirley gives lots of practical advice on cross-stitch design and choice and preparation of of fabrics, as well as instructions for over 20 projects from trinket boxes, pendants, luggage tags and key rings to tablecloths, bath mats, guest towels, aprons, desk sets, framed pictures, footstools and mobiles.And finally, do not forget that wonderful tool, the computer, for converting your favourite photos and images to cross-stitch patterns. There are numerous sites, including: https://www.pixel-stitch.net/; http://www.myphotostitch.com/; http://www.picturecraftwork.com/en; and https://www.stitchfiddle.com/en.
Applique, patchwork and quilting often go hand in and with embroidery, so next month, I am introducing you to some of my favourite books in these areas! In the meantime, Happy Stitching!