Books on Dressmaking

In the past, I used to make all my own clothes, but these days, children’s clothing tends to take up more of my time. The ability to make your own clothing is such a valuable skill, both in terms of money, quality, creativity and style. Good clothing can be so expensive, and while there are many cheap clothes on the market, often the quality of craftsmanship, life expectancy or material used is poor.

Dressmaking is incredibly satisfying on so many levels! It is such a thrill, knowing that you have actually made your own clothing; it will be totally original and well constructed, and finally, it is ethically sound, as so much of today’s fashion is created by lowly paid Asian workers.

In this post are a selection of books about dressmaking, which I have found very useful in the past, starting with two general sewing guides to make your dressmaking journey easier!

Sewing and Knitting: A Reader’s Digest Step-by-Step Guide 1993

An excellent and comprehensive general guide to sewing and knitting techniques and very well-used during my sewing career with clear instructions, supported by colour photographs, illustrations, and inset boxes, tables and diagrams.

Part One: Sewing  covers everything from :

Sewing supplies: Measuring and marking tools; shears and scissors; threads, pins and needles; pressing equipment; zippers, studs and buttons; tapes and trimmings; elastics; sewing and overlocking machines; and sewing rooms;

Patterns, Fabrics and Cutting: Taking measurements and pattern selection, style and size; colour and texture; using commercial patterns; fabric fundamentals (characteristics, uses, types and care, structure and finish); fabrics A to Z; underlying fabrics (underlining, interfacing, interlining and lining); fabric preparation, pinning and cutting, including special considerations ( directional fabrics, plaids and stripes and designs with large motifs); and marking the cut pieces;

Pattern Alterations: Figure types; fitting; and basic and advanced pattern alterations;

Basic Construction Techniques: Hand sewing, tacking and hemming; seams and darts; tucks and pleats; gathering and ruffles; shirring and smocking; neckline finishes and collars; waistlines and belts; sleeves and cuffs; pockets; hems, bindings and finishing corners; zippers; and buttonholes and fabric closures (buttons, hooks and eyes, snap and tape fasteners;

Sewing for Men and Children; and

Sewing for the Home: Loose covers; cushions; bedspreads and bed covers; and curtains, drapery and blinds.BlogBksDressmaking30%IMG_5385The second section of the book, while smaller, is equally comprehensive, covering yarn selection and knitting needles and aids; casting on methods and basic stitch formation; casting off techniques and selvedges; knitting machines; knitting patterns and charts and following instructions; knitting terminology; tension and gauge; increasing and decreasing; circular knitting; correcting errors; knitting stitches; knitting garments; decorative finishes and embroidery; and a small section on crochet.

The Complete Sewing Machine Handbook by Karen Kunkel 1997

An even more detailed guide to the use of sewing machines, this book covers sewing machine types and selection; the main parts of the machine and accessories; sewing equipment and workspace; and needles, threads and threading before launching into the basic operations: stitch selection; straight and top stitching; twin needles; zigzag stitching; buttonholes; blind hemming; and decorative stitch options (appliqué; silk ribbon embroidery; scalloped edges; quilting and smocking; and lace insertion, pintucking and fagotting!)

There is a chapter on special presser feet and accessories, as well as computer technology, machine maintenance, and a trouble shooting guide and metric conversion chart. A very useful book for all sewers!BlogBksDressmaking30%IMG_5384Classic Clothes: A Practical Guide to Dressmaking by René Bergh 2000

A wonderful guide to wardrobe planning and dressmaking! In her first chapter, René discusses the classic ingredients of successful dressing: colour, cloth and cut, before a detailed examination of wardrobe planning, including modern and traditional classics, in the second chapter.

Fitting, figure analysis, measurement taking, flattering and unflattering choices and pattern adjustments for differing body types and proportions are the subject of the third large and crucial chapter, while Chapter Four describes basic construction techniques for different garments from T-shirts, golf shirts, sweatshirts and classic shirts to casual and tailored jackets; trousers; tracksuit pants; and lined skirts and dresses.

The last two chapters look at finishing touches and accessorizing with hosiery, shoes, belts, bags, jewellery and scarves, as well as clever combinations to make the best use of a basic wardrobe.

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Sewing the New Classics: Clothes With Easy Style by Carol Parks 1995

This book has some wonderful patterns for classic clothes, all still very wearable today. The brief introduction examines similar content to the first book in this post: tools and equipment; natural and synthetic fibres; linings and interfacings; and fabric preparation, before concentrating on the separate patterns, each with detailed notes on materials; cutting guides; construction and variations, with lovely colour photographs of all versions.

There are ten basic patterns, reduced to 25 per cent in the back of the book, with sizes from XXS to XL: a Shirt with a Convertible Collar; a Collarless Tunic; a T-shirt collection; a Straight Skirt; a Full Skirt; Leggings with an Elasticized Waist; Tailored Trousers; a Jacket; a Fitted Vest and a Large Vest.

Throughout the book are notes on sewing with knit fabrics; making pockets of different types; embellishments; creating a wardrobe; working with patterns; and sewing techniques.BlogBksDressmaking30%IMG_5383Once the basic skills have been mastered and a measure of confidence gained, most dressmakers are keen to try their hand at designing their own patterns, so a few books on drafting your own patterns from scratch can be very useful. Back in the day, I was always on the lookout for pattern drafting guides, so I own a few, though I am sure most of them have probably been superseded by the advent of CAD (computer-aided design). Still, the old guides are useful if you prefer designing with pen and paper, lack computer access or are overwhelmed by computer technology!

The next book is also an excellent introduction to basic drafting skills, though, like the previous book, it also contains basic pattern blocks in three sizes, based on standard body measurements and scaled to one-quarter scale in the back.

Make Your Own Patterns : An Easy Step-by-Step Guide To Making Over 60 Patterns by René Bergh 1995

This guide is so well-titled, as it does make the whole drafting process very easy to understand and execute, as well as delivering on the promise of a wealth of pattern variations. Tools and equipment, as well as the correct way to take body measurements, are discussed in the introductory chapters, including a chart of standardized sizes and body measurements.

The bulk of the book gives step-by-step instructions for drawing up patterns from scratch, using your own body measurements, including dress bodices, sleeves, jackets, blouses with or without darts and skirts and trousers. Variations and details for each body area (necklines, bodices; sleeves) and garment (blouses and tops; jackets; skirts; dresses; and trousers) are discussed in depth.BlogBksDressmaking30%IMG_5382Because everyone has a different style of learning and every teacher has a different approach and teaching style, I have included two other guides to manual drafting.

Creative Cutting: Easy Ways To Design and Make Stylish Clothes With Over 1000 Variations by Diana Hawkins 1986

Another excellent book, which promises even more variations to the basic patterns than the previous guide! It discusses making the basic pattern blocks (Bodice; Sleeve; Skirt; and Trouser), before giving plenty of ideas for variations.

Fabric selection; costing and pattern lays; pressing; interfacings; haberdashery; pattern cutting equipment and construction techniques, including the order of making, are discussed in detail, supported by plenty of photographs and illustrations.

It is a very comprehensive guide to the art of drafting!BlogBksDressmaking30%IMG_5379

Magic Drafting: An Easy Step-by-Step Guide To Making Any Pattern Fit You by Gabriella Kovac 1994

The main aim of this book is to make drafting fun, so the whole feel of this book is very conversational and personal and the instructions are simple and easy to understand. Step-by-step instructions are given for making pattern blocks for skirts, bodices, sleeves and collars; fitting and creating patterns from calico; pivoting darts; problem solving for longer backs and larger midriffs; and finally, the creation of a range of patterns, based on those blocks from gored or flared skirts to tops with a variety of sleeves or collars and shirt dresses. While the fashions are definitely outdated, it is still a good basic drafting course!

BlogBksDressmaking30%IMG_5380Fashions are constantly changing and every dressmaker’s library should have at least one book on the history of fashion!

Decades of Fashion by Harriet Worsley 2000

This book examines 20th century fashions from those of the Belle Epoque (1900-1914) and the years of the First World War (1914-1918), through successive decades to 2000. There are some wonderful old black-and-white photographs and is a fascinating historical record, not only of changes in fashions, but also daily life, work, pastimes and sporting activities and prevailing social attitudes!BlogBksDressmaking30%IMG_5375

I particularly love the fashions of the period between the late 1890s and 1920s, so adored the next book!

Pattern Designing For Dressmakers by Lyn Alexander 1989

In this book, Lyn explains that patterns can be created using three methods: Drafting using body measurements, as already discussed; Draping by moulding fabric to the body or dress form; and Flat Pattern, where basic patterns are manipulated to add design details.

This book employs the latter technique, in which the basic original master pattern is transferred to a interfaced muslin, which is then assembled into the required garment using basting and adjusted for fit and design details.

Pattern alterations; darts; gathers, tucks and pleats; closings, extensions and  facings; bodices, yolks, collars, sleeves and skirts are all discussed, particularly with reference to the fitting standards and fashions from 1860 to 1930, which are supported by illustrations from period fashion magazines of the time.

A particularly useful book for stage costume designers and antique doll dress makers!BlogBksDressmaking30%IMG_5376Another excellent source for vintage patterns is Folkwear (https://www.folkwear.com/),  which has an extensive collection with garments from the late 1700s/early 1800s, all the way up to the 1950s. There are some beautiful patterns for Gibson Girl blouses and Edwardian underthings; walking skirts and English smocks; vintage bathing costumes and beach pyjamas; Monte Carlo dresses; and Poiret Cocoon coats and Model T Dusters.

Folkwear is also a wonderful site for anyone interested in ethnic clothing. Collected over the past forty years, their collection includes patterns for historic and every-day folk garments from 32 countries in six continents, from Turkish coats and French cheesemaker’s smocks to Nepali blouses and Tibetan chupas; Austrian dirndls, Scottish kilts, Flamenco dresses and belly dancing outfits; and Hong Kong cheongsams and a range of Japanese clothing from kimonos, field clothing and hapi and haori to michiyuki, tabi, and hakama and kataginu. There are also patterns for men and children.

It was also the inspiration for the next book, which is based on the six most popular ethnic garments produced by Folkwear: the Seminole Skirt; the Polish Vest; the Moroccan Burnoose; the Syrian Dress; the Tibetan Coat; and the Japanese Kimono.

The Folkwear Book of Ethnic Clothing: Easy Ways to Sew and Embellish Fabulous Garments From Around the World by Mary S. Parker 2002

A beautiful and fascinating book with fabulous photos of traditional garments from around the world. In its overview of ethnic clothing in the first chapter, it examines the construction of typical ethnic garments: the unconstructed rectangle; the pullover cloak or tunic; the sleeved shift; the pull-on pant; the full skirt and apron; the front-opening coat; the short vest and the yoked shirt.

Chapter Two focuses on the embellishment of ethnic clothing: woven embellishment; braids and trims (plastrons and coat trims); surface design (mudcloth; stamping and stencilling; and appliqué (Seminole patchwork; molas; Hmong squares; and felt appliqué) and embroidery (hand and machine).

It is followed by a gallery of ethnic embellishment motifs from Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Jordan, Palestine, Turkey, Syria, Bahrain, Egypt and Poland. Throughout both these chapters are projects using each technique.

Finally, there are the key patterns themselves with their history, pattern layouts and detailed sewing instructions. I would love to try making the Seminole skirt one day and the Japanese kimono is also quite appealing!!BlogBksDressmaking30%IMG_5373

For dressmakers interested in more contemporary Japanese clothing, there are also some cute Japanese pattern books currently on the market, one of which is:

Stylish Dress Book: Simple Smocks, Dresses and Tops  by Yoshiko Tsukiori 2013

There are some sweet little tops and dresses in this book. In the back are four full scale pattern sheets in four sizes XS, S, M and L and they can be made up into 26 different garments. Each page has a pattern layouts, material requirements, and  instructions and illustrated notes, all in English.BlogBksDressmaking30%IMG_5374The same author has also written: Sweet Dress Book: 23 Dresses of Pattern Arrangement 2013; Happy Home Make: Sew Chic: 20 Simple Everyday Designs 2013; and Stylish Wraps 2017.

And finally, two wonderful books on sewing clothing for children.

Classic Clothes For Children Ages 0-12 by Lynne Sanders 1991

After a brief introduction to sewing and drafting requirements; fabric choice and preparation; pattern cutting; understanding and making pattern blocks (a fold-out master sheet is in the back); and sewing techniques, including sewing scallops and peaks; couching and embroidery, the author describes the construction of 33 patterns, including design notes; materials; pattern layouts and drafting and sewing instructions.

They range from Summer hats and embroidered vests to shirts and windcheaters; overalls, shorts and trousers; pyjamas, tracksuits and all-in-ones; dressing gowns and oil-skin coats; dresses; and even christening gowns. They are indeed beautiful classic clothes, which have stood the test of time.BlogBksDressmaking30%IMG_5377

Little Girls, Big Style: Sew a Boutique Wardrobe From 4 Easy Patterns by Mary Abreu 2010

My final book is a more recent purchase (and publication) with some very cute and colourful patterns, which I adore! Based on the huge selection of fabrics and notions available today, there are 23 patterns in sizes 2 to 6 (with full size patterns in the back), featuring lots of layers, frills and flounces in harmonious colour combinations.

There are four project chapters with lots of ideas for variations, which are interchangeable between patterns:

Basic Bodice: Basic Top/Dress; Knotty Apron; Sunshine Halter; Side-Tied Smock; Perfect Party Dress; Pocket Pinafore; and Ruffled Peek-a-Boo Jumper;

Peasant Top/Dress PTD: Classic PTD; Ruffled Empire PTD; Tiered Twirly PD;  Flutter-Sleeved PT; and Ruffled Neck PT;

Pants: Essential Pants/Capris; Ruffled Pants with two options; Racing Stripe Pants; Lace-Edged Gauchos; and Tiered Pants;  and

Skirts: No-Hem Skirt; Treasure Skirt; On-the-Border Skirt; Apron Skirt; Double-Layered Twirl Skirt; and Twirly-Girly Skirt, always a great favourite!

All these garments can be worn in different combinations, as shown by the very cute models in the photographs. I look forward to using this book more in the future!BlogBksDressmaking30%IMG_5378

In November, I am delving further into the world of childhood with some books on teaching kids to sew, as well as making toys, but before that, there will be a post on miscellaneous craft books, encompassing a wide range of crafts from basketry to kite making, homemade tiles and mosaics and much more! Happy dressmaking!

 

Books on Patchwork, Quilting and Appliqué

Patchwork,  and quilting are all highly inter-related crafts and are a wonderful way for sewers to use up all those extra remnant fabrics from other projects, though in reality, a whole industry has developed, supplying fabulous fat quarters for these sewing techniques. I am constantly amazed that despite my huge stash of fabric, fat quarters and fabric scraps, I still need to occasionally buy that special pattern or colour combination to match up, complement or contrast the other fabrics chosen. Choosing the right fabrics for quilting projects is a real skill and is not as easy as you would think!

Patchwork, appliqué and quilting have come such a long way since their original and traditional  function of making bed covers, table runners and hanging pictorial quilts out of recycled fabrics and there are some amazingly talented artists these days. Here are some of my favourite books in my craft library, both practical and inspirational, which cover these techniques!

Patchwork Primer: Step-by-Step Techniques and Beautiful Projects by Dorothy Wood 2000

This patchwork primer covers a multitude of techniques and information, including:

Materials and equipment and quilt terminology;

Choosing fabrics, wadding or batting and colour;

Planning a quilt design: Composition; sashing and borders; quilt backing; binding; quilt sizes and a conversion chart (metric, imperial and decimal);

Calculating fabric quantities;

Making and using templates;

Marking fabric;

Using a rotary cutting set and scissors;

Hand-piecing with or without papers;

Speed-piecing;

Joining patchwork by machine;

Pressing seams;

Working with right-angled triangles

Piecing star designs;

Specialised patchwork techniques: Piecing Log Cabin blocks; English crazy patchwork; and seminole patchwork;

Joining curved seams;

Hand embroidery stitches;

Raw-edged, traditional and machine appliqué;

Special appliqué techniques: Broderie Perse; Shadow; Hawaiian; Stained Glass; and Reverse Appliqué

Joining blocks and making a quilt sandwich;

Transferring a quilt design : Prick and pounce; Dressmaker’s carbon; Quilting templates; and Quilter’s tape;

Quilting: Hand and Machine Quilting techniques: In-the-Ditch; Selective; Outline; Echo; Parallel lines; Shell-filling and Diamond-filling; Trapunto; Italian or corded; Sashiko; and Tied;

Binding a quilt;

Sewing Machines: Type; Features; Threading; Filling a bobbin; Choosing a needle; Machine feet; Stitch tension; and Maintenance and trouble shooting; and

Templates and designs.

My friend made me this beautiful patchwork cushion for my birthday!BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5177Throughout the book are patterns and instructions for:

American Block Quilts:

Four Patch: Double Pinwheel; Windmill; Road to Heaven; Flower Basket; Flock of Geese; Crockett Cabin; Crosses and Losses;  and Spool and Bobbin;

Nine Patch: Contrary Wife; Churn Dash; Jacob’s Ladder; Puss in the Corner; Darting Birds; Steps to the Altar; Eccentric Star; Shoo Fly; and Cat’s Cradle;

as well as less common designs for Five Patch and Seven Patch (Bear’s Paw) quilts;

Star Quilts: 54/40 or Fight Star; and Le Moyne Star;

Curved Seams: Drunkard’s Path;

Log Cabin Designs: Light and Dark; Barn Raising; Straight Furrow; Pineapple Log Cabin; Courthouse Steps; and Off-Centre Log Cabin; and

Baltimore Quilts;

It is an excellent book for covering all the basics!BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5163

Creative Patchwork with Appliqué  and Quilting The Australian Women’s Weekly Craft Library 1998

Once you have mastered the basic techniques, it is great to be able to practice them on a few projects and this book has some very attractive and well-explained patterns for:

Bedroom Quilts: Lemoyne Star*; Dresden Plate; Double Irish Chain; and Antique;

Hanging Quilts: Naïve Doll; Birds in the Fountain; Country Vase with Flowers; Cabin Flannel; and Child’s Button Quilt*;

Minis and Lap Quilts: Crazy Patchwork; Garden Sampler*; Foundation Mini Bowtie; and Cot Quilt*;

Home Decorating: Floral tablecloth; Heart table runner; and Flowerpot*; Stitcher’s and Quilted Cushions;

Quilting Accessories: Heart Sewing Box; Log Cabin Pincushions*; and Quilter’s Carry Bag*.

My favourite projects are followed by a *.

There is a short section in the back reiterating all the basic techniques already described.BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5164

The next two books cover specific patchwork techniques: English crazy patchwork and the Seminole patchwork of North American indigenous tribes in Florida.

Crazy Patchwork by Meryl Potter 1997

Crazy patchwork was very popular at the end of the 19th Century in America, England and Australia and enjoyed a brief revival in the 1990s. Odd-shaped fabric scraps are stitched to a foundation fabric, then the seams are decorated with embroidery stitches. It is great fun as there are no rules and all sorts of fancy fabric with different textures like silks, lace and brocades, velvets and embroidered fabrics can be used, as well as ribbons and braids.

Basic techniques, colour and fabric choice and the basic toolkit, including window templates are discussed briefly in the first chapter titled ‘Getting Started’ with a more detailed examination of techniques and technicalities in the back of the book, including notes on embellishments (embroidered or appliquéd motifs; lace; ribbon embroidery; and beads and charms); threads (stranded cottons; perle threads; soft cottons like Wildflowers by Caron or Danish Flower Threads; stranded silks; perle silks; synthetic threads; fancy threads like bouclé and chenille; and metallic threads); ribbon embroidery; beads, buttons and charms; pins and needles; twisted cords and piping; and mitred corners, as well as a bibliography and list of suppliers.

Here is a photo of a UFO (unfinished object for the uninitiated!), which I WILL finish one day (!), using crazy patchwork and appliqué, to make a bag or a table runner!BlogBks PAQ25%IMG_5179However, the majority of the book is devoted to the projects, including materials; method; stitch notes; and finishing:

Peaches and Cream: Victorian Bag and a Fabric-covered Box;

Country Christmas: Decorations and Table Runner;

Victorian Tiles: Throw;

The Deep Blue Sea: Scissor case; Pincushion; Needlecase; and Bag: my favourite project in rich ocean colours of green, turquoise, blues and purples! See front cover of the book;

Out of This World: Bag; Spectacles case and Purse;

Precious Jewels: Brooches in varying shapes;

The Realms of Gold: Cushion and sachets;

Gentle Hearts: Wall Hanging.

This book fosters creativity and imagination, the projects merely a starting point for pursuing your own personal crazy journey!!!BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5165

The Seminole Patchwork Book by Cheryl Greider Bradkin 1980

I have always been fascinated with the Seminole patchwork process! Strips of material are cut and sewn together along their long horizontal edge by machine. The strip patch is then cut vertically and the new strips are sewn together in an offset position with the long edges of the new band finished off with fabric strips.

An unlimited number of patterns, 61 of which are displayed in the Glossary of Patterns at the front and back of the book, can be created by varying the number and width of strips and the angles, widths and offsets of the pieces. The other advantage of this technique is that nothing is ever wrong or discarded as any ‘mistakes’ are not only learning experiences, but also usable in different future projects!

The book includes a discussion of the tools and materials required; step-by-step instructions for construction; notes on using the patterns, mirror image designs and graphed motifs; and suggestions for the use of Seminole to decorate clothing (ties, belts, hems, cuffs and borders, and yokes); linen (towels); and homeware (chair covers and cushions; and wall hangings; placemats and wine totes; tote bags and fabric boxes; and spectacle cases, book covers and photo frames), supported by colourful photographs.

While the format and projects look a little dated these days, it is still a really interesting technique, worthy of experimentation and exploration!BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5166

Now for some specific books on appliqué !

The Appliqué  Book by Rose Verney 1990

A good introduction to the history of this art form and general techniques:

Choosing and preparing fabrics;

Cutting out: Enlarging pattern pieces; Positioning pieces; Cutting bias strips;

Transferring embroidery details: Fabric marking pencils and pens and Dressmaker’s carbon;

Stitching: Tacking; Slipstitching turned-under edges; Points, corners, circles and curves; and Embroidery stitches;

Pressing and Finishing: Mitred corners; and Joining bias strips; and finally,

Basic instructions for the construction of cushions and curtains.

The majority of the book is devoted to twenty projects, including: Tea, coffee and egg cosies; tablecloths; cushions and curtains; quilts; wall hangings and friezes; and bags and jackets.

I particularly liked the designs: Brilliant Blooms (cushion); Animal Parade and Fun With Numbers (nursery friezes); Fleur-de-Lys Variations (cushions); Beautiful Balloons (curtains) and Birds in the Trees (quilt).

This is a good basic guide to traditional appliqué  techniques in the pre-Vliesofix days! One of the projects in the book was a Stained Glass cushion using the reverse appliqué  technique, another fascinating and fun technique, as well as producing very attractive results!

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Reverse Appliqué with No Brakez by Jan Mullen 2003

I loved this book! It is so inspiring with great explanations and bright colourful designs!

It is based on the premise of the crayon resist, where designs are scratched through a black paint overlay to reveal the colourful crayon colours underneath. In its most basic form, reverse appliqué  involves the layering of two fabrics, then cutting through the top layer to reveal the hidden layer underneath, the cut edges held down with stitches.

Eg the Molas of the Kuna women of Panama in South America (see: http://www.molasfrompanama.com) and Hmong textiles (see: http://www.hmongembroidery.org/reverseapplique3.html and http://www.hmongembroidery.org/reverseapplique.html).

Jan has gone one step further, sewing rough-cut fabric pieces with tapered edges together for the secret under-layer, enhancing the mystery and creativity and originality of the process! She guides you through the process, examining each layer in depth and providing plenty of suggestions for variations and further exploration. Here is a photo of my efforts using this book!BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5176Chapter One describes the toolkit, while Chapter Two examines the basic processes of:

Reversing with No Brakez;

Reverse appliqué with edges turned under: Cutting through the top layer; Corners and points; and Clipping and notching curves;

Reverse appliqué  with raw edges using vliesofix (fusible web); and

Quilting: Quilt-as-you-go; Floating borders or sashing; Machine quilting; and Binding.

Chapter Three is all about design: Project and design size; Theme; Adapting traditional appliqué  designs; Text; Drawing and transferring the design; and Border design.

The secret layer is the crux of the whole process and is described in detail in Chapter Four: the fabrics (cotton, silk, satin, synthetics, taffetas, wools, flannels and sheers); multiple layers for even greater versatility and creativity; piecing layers, varying the size and direction of the strips, and different techniques like tapering, colourwash and stack-slice-switching; and stitching directly onto batting.

The top layer is also important for contrast and is discussed in Chapter Five. Black and bold plain colours contrast well, while dots, stripes tone-on-tones, repeat patterns and different textures add visual interest and may complement the secret layer. Different fabric types and different piecing options for the top layer (distinct design areas; squares; irregular pieces; tapered layered bands; and pieced blocks) are also covered.

Having assembles the sandwich layers: the backing; batting; one or multiple secret layers made of stitched strips; and the top layer, it’s time for the fun bit! When you cut through the top layer to reveal the secret layer, it is so exciting, satisfying, surprising and exhilarating! You never know exactly what you are going to get, unless you are the world’s most expert planner!

Chapter Six examines Reversing by Hand (traditional appliqué  with turned-under edges and invisible slip-stitching; and raw edge appliqué  with fusible webbing, the cut edges secured by buttonhole stitch; stab stitch; cross stitch or feather and Cretan stitch); Threads (colour, type and thickness); Reversing by Machine (Freehand and straight; scribbly and decorative stitches); and the technique of Stitching, then cutting.

Quilting and Finishing are discussed in Chapter Seven: Thread choice; hand quilting (echo stitching, textured stitching and tying); machine quilting; adding text; embellishment (beads and buttons or appliqué  on the top layer); mock trapunto; and finishing the edge with binding.

The remainder of the book features six colourful projects, reinforcing skills and techniques learnt, as well as a gallery of inspiring ideas. I highly recommend this book, as well as visiting her website on: http://www.janmullen.com.au/!

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The remaining five books in this post, while still including practical instruction and projects, serve to inspire the reader by showcasing the work of a wide variety of appliqué  and quilting experts, as well as a few particular favourites of mine!

Appliqué  Style: The Best of Contemporary Design-Plus Stylish Projects To Make At Home by Juliet Bawden 1997

An interesting and inspiring book, which examines the origins and history of appliqué; sources of inspiration and design; the work of 21 contemporary designers, showing a wide range of styles and techniques; the techniques themselves (tools and materials; preparing fabrics and paper templates; scaling and transferring the design; cutting out appliqué pieces; using backing pieces; corners, curves and circles; making bias binding; hand-stitched appliqué basics; bonding or fused appliqué; stump work; shadow appliqué; reverse appliqué; machine appliqué; and inlay work); and includes 15 projects designed by 11 of the artists featured from clothing (vest, hat, scarf), jewellery (brooches and buttons) and bags (laundry bag and carry bags) to bedding (blankets and pillowcases) and homeware (cushions, lampshade and book cover).

While I loved all the artwork, I was particularly drawn to the work of Belinda Downes, Rachael Howard, Madelaine Millington, Nancy Nicholson and Lisa Vaughan.BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5169

The Passionate Quilter: Ideas and Techniques From Leading Quilters by Michele Walker 1990

A similar book to the last, but specifically devoted to quilting and featuring both traditional quiltmakers (Northumbrian; traditional; and Welsh) and contemporary artists and their work (folded patterns; pieced pictures; batik texture; pattern and tone; appliqué pictures; mosaic patchwork; stencilled images; fabric collage; machine appliqué; stitched collage; reverse appliqué; painting with fabric; hand-sewn patchwork and strip piecing), as well as describing a variety of techniques (hand and machine sewn patchwork, appliqué and quilting).

My favourite artworks were the sumptuous and richly-coloured  reverse appliqué quilts of Gillian Horn; the tonal patchwork quilts of Deidre Amsden and Sashiko-stitched vintage patchwork of Setsuko Obi; and the pictorial quilts of Jean Sheers and Janet Bolton, whose books are featured later in this post.BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5170The Quilter’s Guide To Pictorial Quilts by Maggi McCormick Gordon 2000

Given my preference for pictorial quilts, this book is an excellent addition to my craft library! It covers :

History of pictorial quilts (album or freedom quilts; story and scenic quilts; and folk art quilts) with photos of some beautiful old quilts from the 1800s;

Designing pictorial quilts: Source material; Resizing images; Composition and format; Perspective; Colour; Fabric choice; Creating texture with quilting; and Embellishments (manipulated fabric, string and cord, embroidery and beads and sequins);

Techniques: Materials and equipment; Preparation (making templates; cutting out with scissors or rotary cutter and bias strips); Piecing ( straight piecing by hand, four-piece seams by hand, English piecing, using a machine to join pieced units and stitch curved seams); Hand appliqué (cut and sew, turning edges, plain paper or freezer paper backings, reverse appliqué, shadow appliqué, stained glass, machine appliqué, points and troughs, and broderie perse) and decorative stitches and embellishments);BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5171

And finally,

Pictorial Themes:

Land and Sea: African landscape; Lateral Links; Textured Towers; Remains of the Day; Places of Refuge; Anchors Aweigh; Down to the Sea; and Mountain Range;

Flowers and Foliage: In the Garden; a Receding View; Floral Shapes; Abundant Texture; Seasonal Colour and Garden Glory;

Animals: Simple Animal Shapes; a Colourful Menagerie; Birds of a Feather; Fish Tales; Bold Effects (the front cover of the book in the photo above); Zebra and Tiger; and Natural Representations;

Figures: Movie stars and famous figures; Faces; Symbolic Figures; and Abstract Realism;

Places: Architectural Masterpieces; Traveller’s Tales; a Celebration of Home; Interiors and Firework Celebration.

This book is full of inspiring and creative artworks, which support the text wonderfully. Some of my favourites were:

Cloudcuckooland by C. June Barnes with colourful patches of birdlife from around the world (http://www.cjunebarnes.co.uk/Textiles/5_Cloudcuckooland.html);

There’s No Place Like Home by Marta Amundson with its very clever abstract patterned patches of red and white repetitive reverse appliqué  symbols of Australian fauna (https://www.amazon.com/Quilted-Animals-Continuous-Line-Patterns/dp/1574327976); and

Going Places by Jane E Petty, based on a vintage travel poster.BlogBks PAQ25%IMG_5175

My final three books feature specific artists: Janet Bolton and Carol Armstrong, two of my favourites!

Janet Bolton has a very distinctive and attractive almost-naïve folk art style and I own two of her books. Here is her website: https://www.janetbolton.com/.

Patchwork Folk Art: Using Appliqué  and Quilting Techniques by Janet Bolton 1995

In this practical guide, she discusses her inspirations; fabric choices and sources; preparing the background foundation; design and cutting templates; cutting and arranging the compositional shapes (fabric appliqué pieces); turning under appliqué edges; decorative embroidery stitches; embellishment with found objects and framing pictures, all referenced with examples of her own work and supplemented with workshop activities in each chapter like Making a Seed Box and fabric panels: the Blue Bird In The Morning and Four Flowers, which I really enjoyed making.BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5178 She finishes with a gallery of her work and templates for the patterns. I love her simplified and rustic depictions of childhood, domestic and farmyard scenes and her use of earthy colours and natural fabrics.BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5172

Mrs Noah’s Patchwork Quilt: A Journal of the Voyage with a Pocketful of Patchwork Pieces by Janet Bolton 1995

Totally different presentation-wise to the previous book, but still showcasing Janet’s unique style, this delightful book resembles a children’s picture book and tells the story of Mrs Noah’s patchwork quilt and all the animals on the ark.

Illustrated throughout with Janet’s textile pictures, including reference to their position on a quilt, which progressively develops through successive pages to the completed quilt on the back of the last page.

The back envelope contains 10 pre-marked quilt foundation patches to which you stitch material scraps of your choice, decorating with neutral thread, then assembling into the featured quilt. It is such a great concept and I love her naïve folk style.BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5173Butterflies and Blooms: Designs For Appliqué  and Quilting by Carol Armstrong 2002

Finally, my favourite book of all, as it is based on the garden – its beautiful flowers and plants and all its inhabitants: ants and bumblebees; butterflies and moths; grasshoppers and praying mantis; crickets and cicadas; dragonflies, fireflies, mayflies and lacewings; ladybirds and beetles; and snails, frogs and turtles. I love her use of colour, the patterns created by her quilting stitches on a cream muslin background and her style. Her designs are just so pretty!!!

After detailing her tools and materials and fabric choice and preparation in the introductory chapter, she describes her design process, lightbox appliqué, which eliminates the need for templates. She discusses the order of appliqué; preappliqué techniques or appliquéd appliqué to make positioning easier; the appliqué stitch and how to handle points, curves and circles; embroidery; and bias strips in Chapter Two, while the third chapter focuses on marking; borders; basting layers and quilting; and finally binding the finished quilt.

In Chapter Four, pattern design is discussed briefly before concentrating on patterns and instructions on appliqué and embroidery for each wildflower, including line drawings and colour photographs of the finished design. Wild animal friends are the subject of Chapter Five, then all these newly acquired skills can be put to use in nine different projects in Chapter Six from tiny Bug Bites panels, which could later be used singly as an oven mitt  or coaster or incorporated together in a quilt or cushion; a Wetlands Triptych, which would also look good as table mats; and a Moth Garden door or bed hanging, which I would love to make, to other larger panels titled: May Day Cricket; Bee In a Box; Vine Wreath; Butterfly Bouquet (book cover); Golden Garden and Dragonflies’ Pond. In total, there are 42 hand appliquéd designs, of which there are 24 wildflower patterns and 18 animal patterns – all delightful! Another book, which I would highly recommend to fellow garden-lovers!BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5174

 

 

 

Books on Hand Embroidery Part Four: Hand Embroidery Patterns

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.BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1840The 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);

Transferring Patterns;

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.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-41Embroidery 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.BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1896The section on Techniques and Stitches is identical to her previous book, with the addition of sections titled :

Drawing Guidelines;

Making Up Cushions;

Piping;

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.BlogEmbBooks3018-07-13 07.56.04Heirloom 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:

Hearts;

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.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-48Colourful 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;

Mastering Stitches;

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.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-42Stitch 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!BlogFeltBooks2015-05-06 17.03.49I 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.BlogEmbBooks3018-07-13 07.55.56Intermediate 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.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-51Little 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.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-47Embroidery 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!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-46Scandinavian 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.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-52 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.BlogCreativity140%Reszddec 2010 074

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.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-55

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!BlogEmbBooks2015-09-01 08.56.44 - CopyHer 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.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-54

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.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-57

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!BlogEmbBooks3018-07-13 07.55.49

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.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-59

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.

BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-56

I loved cross-stitching my heart with two doves!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-61 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.BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1843I 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!!!BlogEmbBooks3018-07-13 07.55.36

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.BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1881 The right-hand page has a colour plate of the design with a black-and-white cross-stitch chart on the left-hand page.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-45

I love all the designs in this book, particularly the seasonal birds (photo below), Spring bulbs and rose wreaths!BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1845Cross-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.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-44

I have also used a number of pattern sheets over the years, like this wonderful pig cushion in the photo below:

BlogEmbBooks2518-06-04 12.28.29

which was stitched from the Never Eat More design in Oink, a Jeanette Crews pattern booklet by Mary Ellen Yanich,BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1860 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.

BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1855

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;BlogEmbBooks2016-01-01 01.00.00-71Book 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;BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-69

Book No. 94 Barnyard Christmas Yet to Do; and

Prairie Fairies from 1994 (Blackbird); 1995 (Swallow); 1996 (Snail) and 1997 (Hare).BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1864And 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.BlogEmbBooks25%DSCN1835And 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!BlogCreativity2 30%Reszd2015-10-13 15.31.01

 

Books on Hand Embroidery Part Three: Traditional and Contemporary Embroidery

Embroidery has been practised by traditional peoples from all over the world for thousands of years to decorate their clothing and homeware. I find its enormous variation, its history, its use of symbolism and its close ties to culture endlessly fascinating and hence, own a number of books on the subject. One of my earliest reference books was:

Embroidery: Traditional Designs, Techniques and Patterns From All Over the World by Mary Gostelow 1977

Mary Gostelow (1959-) is a great authority on the subject and I was really interested to read about her background on: https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1979/07/08/mary-gostelow-a-model-embroideress/37013fe4-8415-4730-af40-03a6ce3d8002/?utm_term=.8645b401ae26.

I loved the description in the article of embroidery as ‘the magic carpet that has flown Gostelow around the world and then some’. She has certainly had an interesting life pursuing her interest in embroidery and has written a large number of books on embroidery. See: https://biblio.com.au/mary-gostelow/author/72018 for a list.

She has shared her knowledge in this interesting book with individual chapters on thirteen different regions of the world, with subheadings for individual countries within those regions: Latin America; North America; Scandinavia; Western Europe; Eastern Europe and the Balkans; The Soviet Union; Eastern Mediterranean; Sub-Saharan Africa; North Africa; Western Asia; India; China; and East and South-East Asia. I think the only area missing, apart from Antarctica, is Australia !!!

In each chapter, she describes the religious, geographical and cultural factors that have shaped their embroidery. She discusses the characteristics of local designs, styles and techniques; traditional uses of fabric, yarn and dyes; and universal themes like the tree-of-life, which are interpreted in different ways by the different cultures. The text is supported by beautiful photographs, drawings, charts and diagrams, as well as adaptations of traditional designs for projects with full instructions. It is a very comprehensive book and even though it is now over forty years old, it is still worth owning!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-26Ethnic Embroidery: An Introduction With Special Reference to the Embroidery of China, India, Palestine and Yugoslavia by Margaret Ohms 1989

A slightly more specialised book with a narrower focus on these four areas famed for their embroidery. After defining embroidery and discussing the characteristics of ethnic embroidery, she looks at the embroidery styles and techniques of each area before discussing universal motifs, which appear in all areas: the rose or rosette; the carnation; the Tree of Life; cypress trees; peacocks; and pomegranates.

The rest of the book has a practical emphasis with chapters on stitches and techniques, including: Graphs and line drawings; borders; counted work; spot motifs and embroidered bags. For anyone interested in ethnic embroidery, especially that of China, India, Palestine and Yugoslavia, this book is fascinating.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-28

World Embroidery: 25 Original Projects From Traditional Designs by Caroline Crabtree 1993

Another book on ethnic embroidery, which has a very practical approach. Caroline  presents a variety of projects based on original designs, patterns and motifs with a brief history of cultural influences and detailed patterns and instructions for eight different areas: Australia; North America; Central and South America; West Africa; North Africa and the Middle East; Central Asia; India and Bangladesh; and Thailand.

Projects include: Clothing, bags, curtains, cushions, rugs, footstools, pictures, bed and table linen and box lids.

She explores a large number of different techniques, including cross stitch, appliqué, needlepoint, mirrorwork and surface embroidery. It is an excellent book for showcasing the wide range of different embroidery styles, as well as introducing the reader to more obscure terms like ‘namdha’, ‘bandhani’ and ‘kantha’. You will have to read the book to find out what they are!!!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-27

Embroidered Textiles: A World Guide to Traditional Patterns by Sheila Paine 1990/ 2008

The ultimate reference guide to traditional embroidery!

Sheila Paine (1930-) is another embroidery expert, who has led an amazing life through her research. See: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/expat/4191764/A-life-richly-woven-with-discovery-and-design.html.

She is a world expert on ethnic textiles and tribal societies, especially the lives of tribal women, and has written a number of books on embroidery. See: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/155813.Sheila_Paine.

I love this book! It is so comprehensive and has wonderful photographs! It is divided into four sections titled:

Guide to Identification: Embroidery origins can be identified by regional characteristics: the items embroidered, their cut and fabric; and their decorative materials, stitching, motifs and styles. Sheila examines the embroidery of the Far East (China, Korea, Japan, Indo-China and Oceania); the Indian sub-continent (India and Pakistan); Central Asia (Uzbekistan, Kirghizstan, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan); the Middle East (Iran, Gulf States, Yemen, Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Turkey); West, Central and East Africa (Nigeria, Cameroon, Mali, Liberia, Chad, Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan and South Africa); North Africa (Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco); South East Europe (Greece and Greek Islands, Cyprus, the Balkans and  Albania); Eastern Europe (Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Russia and Caucasus); the Baltic States (Poland, Lithuania and Latvia); Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Finland,Denmark and Iceland); Central Europe (Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic); Western Europe (Germany, Switzerland, Austria, The Netherlands, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal); North America (Native American tribes); Central America (Mexico, Guatemala and Panama); and finally, South America (Bolivia and Peru).

The Decorative Power of Cult: Universal designs and motifs and their differing depiction in different cultures. They include: the Great Goddess and her acolytes and associated symbols; Other symbols of fertility; the Tree of Life; the Tree of Knowledge; the Hunt, including notes on horned and antlered animals and shamanism; Birds; and the Sun.

Religion and Its Patterns: Embroideries from cultures practising Taoism, Buddhism; Hinduism, Islam, Zoroastrianism and Christianity.

The Magical Source of Protection: Discusses the use of embroidery to protect against evil spirits and includes headwear, breastplates and stomachers, shoulders and sleeves, and the sexual region, as well as edgings, seams, pockets, the neck and the hem. Protective patterns include the triangle, zigzag and rhomb; circles and their derivations, numbers and  the hand and fish and are particularly powerful when repeated or positioned strategically or by adding additional protective materials like tassels, beads, sequins, coins, mirrors and shells. Colour symbolism and the power of red is discussed, as well as key times, when ritual and embroidery play a major part: birth, marriage, burial, funerals, mourning, headhunting, festivities and holy places.

In the back is a dictionary of stitches, a glossary of terms, a bibliography for further reading and a list of museums and embroidery collections, as well as notes on collecting embroidery. This is a fabulous book and essential for serious students of embroidery history and ethnology.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-31Embroidery From Palestine by Shelagh Weir 2006

A much smaller and more specific book, focusing on the beautiful embroidery, appliqué and patchwork practised by rural Arab women in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Its origins and influences, cultural context, main types of ornamentation, materials used, different styles and techniques from Galilee, Southern Palestine and Bethlehem, and changes over time are discussed before a detailed appraisal with full colour photographs (general and detailed closeups) of twenty embroidered items, including coats, dresses, jackets and veils. Palestinian embroidery is just so beautiful!BlogEmbBooks3018-07-12 16.57.58Embroidery of the Greek Islands and Epirus Region: Harpies, Mermaids and Tulips by Sumru Belger Krody 2006

Written by the Associate Curator of the Eastern Hemisphere Collection of The Textile Museum to accompany a major exhibition (with the same name in March 2006) of embroidered textiles of the Aegean and Ionian islands and the Epirus region of Greece from the early 17th century to the early 19th century. See: https://museum.gwu.edu/harpies-mermaids-and-tulips-embroidery-greek-islands-and-epirus-region.

The Textile Museum, Washington DC, is a specialised museum focusing on traditional embroidery and was founded by George Hewitt Myer in 1925. This amazing collection contains more than 20 000 textiles and related objects, representing 5000 years and 5 continents, including the cultures of the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Indigenous America. It is well worth visiting its website at: https://museum.gwu.edu/textile-museum.

This book catalogues and describes the huge diversity of embroidery from this relatively small area and the uses, distinguishing characteristics and method of production of embroidery styles in each area, as well as examining its political, economic, social/ cultural and foreign influences (Greece, Venice and the Ottoman world).

The book is divided into the different areas: Crete, Cyclades and Northern Dodecanese, Rhodes and the Southern Dodecanese, Skyros  and the Northern Sporades, Epirus, the Ionian islands, and Argyrokastron (Southern Albania) and Chios. Chapters are divided into sections: Function and Form; Method and Motif; and History and Influence.

This is a very comprehensive and beautiful book with fabulous full colour photographs of seventy items produced for the bridal trousseau and used in domestic life: Traditional dresses, skirts, blouses, bedspreads, valances, pillow cases and bed tent curtain panels, complete with detailed close-ups of embroidery stitches and techniques.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-29Bright Flowers: Textiles and Ceramics of Central Asia by Christine Sumner and Guy Petherbridge 2004

Another catalogue, which accompanied a fabulous international loan exhibition of the same name of colourful urban embroideries and glazed ceramics from the state museum collections of Central Asia, which we attended at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney in 2004. See: https://maas.museum/event/bright-flowers-textiles-and-ceramics-of-central-asia/ and https://www.smh.com.au/news/Review/Bright-Flowers-Textiles-and-Ceramics-of-Central-Asia/2005/02/03/1107409979750.html.

This beautiful book introduces the reader to the Silk Road countries of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan, its different peoples and cultures, influences and history, its ancient craft traditions, the role of embroidery and daily lives of women, the symbols and materials used, and the different style and techniques of embroidery and their changes over time.

There are many fabulous colourful photographs of brightly embroidered or ikat-dyed clothing in bold designs (boots, hats, coats, dresses, robes, headdresses and veils), elaborate tribal jewellery and stunning bed linen, prayer mats, mirror bags, fans, horse blankets  and embroidered wall hangings named suzanis after the Farsi word for needle. The latter are chainstitched  with a tambour in handspun, natural dyed silk thread on background handwoven cotton in symbolic designs including the fertility symbols of pomegranates, flowers and moons and jagged points to protect the owner from evil. They are absolutely gorgeous!

There is also a large section on ceramics, the flowers of the kiln – its history, glazing styles, potters and wonderful pots dating from the 9th century. It is certainly a very interesting book!

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Books about Contemporary Embroidery Artists

There are some amazingly talented contemporary embroiderers and the following books showcase their inspiring work .

Annemieke Mein (1944-)

I am starting with a book about an Australian artist, Annemieke Mein (1944-), whose work I have loved for a very long time and which we have seen exhibited in the Gippsland Art Gallery in her hometown of  Sale, Victoria.

The Art of Annemieke Mein: Wildlife Artist in Textiles by Annemieke Mein 1992

A keen environmentalist and lover of nature, Annemieke embroiders beautiful artwork based on her local flora and fauna: Coastal banksia, eucalypts, wattles and pittosporum and birds (white-faced heron, gulls, silvereyes, fantails, blue wrens and fledglings in nests), frogs, reptiles (Eastern water dragon), marine creatures (sea urchins, barnacles, mussels and kelp) and a wide variety of insects (dragonflies, grasshoppers, lacewings, beetles, wasps, mayflies, sawflies, butterflies and moths, and caterpillars and cocoons).

Her work is naturalistic, three-dimensional and highly textural and she uses fabric painting and dyeing; appliqué, quilting and trapunto; pleating, moulding and sculpting, felting, spinning and weaving; plying, stiffening and wiring; and machine and hand embroidery in limitless combinations on silk, wool, fur, cotton and synthetics to create her distinctive sculptures, wall hangings and wearable art.

These works are showcased in the book, along with notes about the flora and fauna depicted, her thoughts on its design, the techniques and materials used, the development of the piece from initial sketch and fabric swatches to the completed artwork and the history of the piece.

I love the way she often mimics natural history illustrations with the inclusion of pencil sketches and outlines in the background; her setting of the creature in its natural environment and the liveliness of the composition and sense of movement; and the 3-D nature of the work, as well as all her different textures, which make you want to touch her work, and her muted natural colour palette. She is an incredibly talented artist, who also produces bas-relief bronze sculptures as well!

BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-38

You can see more of her work on her website at: http://www.annemiekemein.net.au/contents.htm. In particular, check out her slideshow on: http://www.annemiekemein.net.au/Video.htm. Click on the purple highlighted link for Superb Blue Wrens.

Jane Hall    http://clothofnature.com/

Jane is the British equivalent of Annemieke Mein, both in her natural subject matter (British flora and fauna) and the three-dimensionality of her work.

The Art and Embroidery of Jane Hall: Reflections of Nature 2007

This is a beautiful and very inspiring book. Jane loves to work with silk in its natural undyed state, then mixes and merges dyes, which she paints onto the fabric in a loose painterly style, often crumpling the fabric as she works.

In her first chapter, she discusses the materials she uses: the fabrics, needles and threads, wires , frames, found objects like beach combings, semi-precious stones, seeds, dried flowers, lichens, insects and feathers, which she keeps in old printers’ trays; and artistic tools used in fieldwork (camera, sketching pencils and sketchpad) and her studio (drawing boards, water colour pencils). She also discusses her main subjects: Butterflies; Insects (Dragonflies, Lacewings, Bumble Bees, Ladybirds and Spiders); Flowers and Leaves; and Figures and Fish, with brief notes on their depiction and construction.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-34

However, the majority of the book is devoted to a detailed discussion of her artworks: their inspiration and conception and their articulation and development, with closeup photographs of particular techniques or points of interest in the particular work. These artworks include:

Cloth of Bark: Bark, Lichen, Nests and Moths;

Snowdrop Illumination: Snowdrops, Borders; Lacewings, Beetles and Butterflies;

Clematis Reflection: Bine and Butterflies;

Sea Pink: Background; Flowers; and  Frame;

Falling Leaves: Leaves and Butterflies;

Sunshine: Butterflies and Background;

Leaf Fall: Leaves and Fish;

Hope: Angel; Feathers; Lacewings; and Background;

Asrai: Mermaid and Background;

Autumn Reflection: Umbels and Leaves; Background;  and Butterflies;

Through the Seasons: Umbels and Leaves; Foliage; Beetles; Moths; Lacewings; Cranefly and Cobwebs;

Daisies: Daisies; Butterflies; and Daisy Chain;

Winter Reflections: Background; Frame; and Angel;

Dragonfly Dance: Stream, Dragonfly; Forget-me-nots; and Moths;

Sunlight: Aconites and Butterflies;

Day Spring: Anemones; Stitchwort; Red Campion; Herb Robert; Speedwell and Butterflies.

Her work is so detailed and exquisite and is a celebration of nature and a wonderful source of inspiration, rather than a detailed instruction guide.

Helen M  Stevens (1956-)     http://www.helenmstevens.info/

Helen is another very well-known British embroiderer, who has written many books and does beautiful work, though it is more two-dimensional and in this respect, more traditional than the previous two contemporary embroiderers.

The Embroiderer’s Countryside 1992

This book, and consequently her artwork, is divided into the different aspects of the countryside: Spring Hedgerow; the Woodland Floor; Summer Meadows; the River Bank; Autumn Leaves; The Vanishing Heath; and Winter Evenings. In each section, she discusses their main features, with colour plates of her artworks and notes to illustrate her rendering of each feature.

She imparts her knowledge generously in a chatty conversational style and gives the reader plenty of food for thought. The appendix covers the practicalities: Lighting; Frames and Hoops; Materials and Threads; Transferring Designs; and Mounting and Framing the Finished Work.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-36

Her love of the British countryside and all its inhabitants is obvious in her lovely depictions of trees and flowers; churches and houses; birds and insects and very cute field mice, hedgehogs, squirrels, rabbits and weasels. I particularly liked the dramatic contrast of the bright silk and metallic threads against a black plain background.

Helen M Steven’s World of Embroidery 2002/2007

This next book is presented in a similar format, but with a larger scope with chapters titled: Sea Fever; Europa; The Sands of Time; New Worlds; City Lights; The High Country; and Xanadu. Like the previous book, inspiration comes from Nature, but also  travel, history, literature and mythology, and the imagination. It has allowed her to explore all her passions and show the limitless font of inspiration for embroiderers and artists.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-35Again, the appendices include:

Basic Techniques: Shadow Lining and Voiding; Featherwork; Embroidery Stitches; Floating Embroidery; Etching; Dotting and Dashing; Miniaturizing; and

The Practicalities: Identical to the previous book, but with extra notes on Twisting Floss Silk; Using Blending Filaments; and Working Large Canvases.

Ellen Anne Eddy  http://ellenanneeddy.blogspot.com.au/

Ellen hails from the United States and also loves her natural world, but she uses the sewing machine to produce her embroidered artworks. Her style is quite bold and modern and very colourful.

Thread Magic: The Enchanted World of Ellen Anne Eddy  1997/2005

While the previous artists used their artwork to illustrate particular techniques or points of interest, Ellen presents her artworks straight up at the beginning of the book, followed by technical information on:

Materials: Cottons; Sheers; Stabilizers and Battings;

Threads: Embroidery threads; Metallic threads; Thick threads; Novelty Yarns; and Utility Threads;

Tools: Sewing Machines; Maintenance; Needles; Darning Feet; and Basting Guns;

Designing in Colour: Colour Theory; and Hand-Dyeing Fabric;

Background Fabric: Pieced Backgrounds; Thread Effects; Stippling; Outlines and Contrast; and Shading Appliqués;

Drawing and Design: Design Plan; and Copyright Laws;

Machine Embroidery: Threads; Stitches; Controlling Distortion; Embroidered Appliqués; Three-Dimensional Appliqués and Machine-made Lace;

Making Sheer Magic: Cutaway Appliqué; Fused Appliqué; and Encased Edges;

Applying Embroidered Appliqués;

Stitching in Free-Motion: Contour Drawing; Stippling; and Signatures;

Embellishing the Quilt Top: Stitched Details; and Machine Beading;

Building the Perfect Quilt Sandwich and Quilting with Free-Motion Techniques; and Rehabilitating Troubled Quilts: Steaming; Blocking; Getting Even; Fixing Wavy Quilts; Gathering into the Binding; Rebacking; and Adding Rod Pockets.

There is so much information in this book and I like its organized presentation. It is a terrific book, especially if like me, you are new to machine embroidery!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-37

In my final post on embroidery books next week, I am featuring some terrific pattern books, which I have used many times in my hand embroidery journey!

Books on Hand Embroidery Part Two: Stitch Dictionaries and Specialised Guides

Every  embroiderer needs one or two books, specifically on embroidery stitches, though most of them also discuss materials and other techniques. Here are some suggestions:

Stitches For Embroidery by Heather Joynes 1991

Stitch samplers are a great way to practice technique and the colourful sampler at the beginning of this book showcases the twenty embroidery stitches taught. Here is a photo of one of my children’s beginner samplers.BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1897 The use of these stitches and their differing visual effects, according to application and the use of different threads, is then illustrated in portraying lines; different textures (including the depiction of feathers and  resin); the filling of shapes and a variety of subject matter from leaves and foliage; stems, trunks and branches; flowers, trees, sky and clouds, water and architecture. The photo below shows a variety of effects using the same stitch (seed or running stitch), but with different thread combinations and colours.BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1883 Stitch combinations and patterns are also discussed in detail, along with hints about getting it all together in a finished design. The photo below also shows the variations in the same pattern, which can be produced with the application of different combinations of thread colour. BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1887 An excellent book for beginner embroiderers.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-12

A-Z of Embroidery Stitches Country Bumpkin Publications 1997

A comprehensive guide to over 66 stitches and their variations, as well as a number of different embroidery techniques including wool and ribbon embroidery, cutwork, shadow work, Bokhara and Roumanian couching , making eyelets, faggotting, laidwork, and needle weaving. There are lots of hints throughout the book on transferring designs; materials and needles; threading needles; threads and hoops; finishing and framing; thread painting and even, left-handed stitching. I liked this book for its presentation, each stitch with its own page of photographed step-by-step diagrams, variations and suggestions for use.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-16Readers’ Digest Complete Guide to Embroidery Stitches: Photographs, Diagrams and Instructions For Over 260 Stitches by Jennifer Campbell and Ann-Marie Bakewell 2006

An even more comprehensive coverage in a neat simple compact format. The book is divided into five sections:

Starting To Embroider: the Basics:  Fabrics, threads, needles and hoops and frames; Blocking; Using designs and charts; and basic stitching techniques (fabric preparation, threading a needle, beginning and ending a thread and working comfortably);

Embroidery on Fabric: Surface embroidery (crewel work, cutwork, shadow work, candlewick, metallic threads, quilting and appliqué; raised work and creating a design);  Counted thread work (cross stitch, Assisi work, Blackwork,  drawn thread work, pulled fabric work, and Hardanger embroidery); Beadwork and all the basic embroidery stitches, divided into line, chain, crossed, blanket, feather, isolated, couching, satin, woven, woven filling, insertion, drawn-thread and pulled stitches;

Smocking: Techniques and stitches;

Embroidery on Canvas: Materials, techniques (Florentine work or Bargello, Berlin woolwork,  and Long stitch); and all the basic canvas stitches, again divided into categories: Diagonal stitches, Cross stitches, Star stitches, Straight stitches, Fan stitches, Square stitches, Braid and Knot stitches and Loop stitches; and

Finished Embroidery: Caring (Cleaning, ironing and storing) and display (mounting, framing, lining and hanging).BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1898All stitches are well explained with annotated diagrams and coloured photographs. An excellent dictionary of embroidery stitches for both the beginner and more advanced embroiderer. It is so much fun playing with all the different stitches and colours!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-14

And for the more serious embroidery student:

Encyclopaedia of Embroidery Stitches Including Crewel by Marion Nichols 1974

There are ten basic families of stitches in this book: Straight, Back, Chain, Buttonhole or Blanket, Fly or Feather, Cross, Knots, Composite, Couched or Laid, and Woven. The stitches in each family are further divided into six categories of progressive difficulty, starting with the basic stitch and developing increasingly sophisticated variations. These stages are as follows: Isolated (Basic stitch), Line, Angled, Stacked, Grouped and Combined.

A sampler chart and a summary of the progression of stitches is included at the beginning of each family chapter, followed by individual pages for each stitch and its variations, with  illustrations and step-by-step instructions and notes on rhythm, uses and helpful remarks. A very logical and comprehensive guide!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-18

The Stitches of Creative Embroidery by Jacqueline Enthoven 1987 Revised and Enlarged Edition 1996

A mix between an embroidery guide and a dictionary of stitches, I quite liked the more personal chatty style of this book with its all lovely stitch samplers, historical photographs and gallery of applications. Jacqueline divides her stitches into five groupings: Flat, Looped, Chained, Knotted and Couching and Laid Work. She also has notes on finishing and using embroidery samplers; creating borders; working with geometric designs; working on plain and printed fabrics; embroidering flower shapes; joining and edgings; and suggestions for the use of embroidery on clothes, wall hangings and space dividers, and table cloths and runners and cushions.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-17

More Specialised Embroidery Guides

Mark Making in Textile Art by Helen Parrott

The basic premise behind this book is that embroidery is basically mark making or drawing with a needle and thread instead of a pencil. It covers the journey from inspiration and ideas to marks on paper and in stitch and finally, the completed artwork.

The first few chapters focus on marks- their characteristics (shape and direction, scale,  location and placement, colour, texture and form, origin and purpose, relationship to time, number and variability, and repetition and density); and observation, recording (sketching and photography), collection and storage.

Next, mark making on a range of different papers with pens, pencils and crayons; using resists; monoprinting with finger patterns, textured surfaces and blocks; and framing and presenting works. Below is a photo of my unconventional stitch sampler portraying Blanket and Chain stitches, including Detached Chain and Lazy Daisy stitches.BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1889Stitch marks follow with notes on needle and thread selection, hand-stitched marks (running stitch, including radiant and spiral stitch patterns; loop stitch; knots and ties including reef knots and French knots); machine-stitched marks (free-machined marks,single marks, massed stitch marks, all-over stitch marks, continuous lines, dots webs and tufts, layered stitch marks, and working with single or mixed and contrasting colours). My creativity really went wild with my next piece of experimentation!BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1893The final chapters cover sources of inspiration, using a sketchbook, choosing a focus, materials and equipment, threads and fabrics, sampling, building a reference collection,  and finishing work; strategies for living a creative life, including  time and work spaces, health and safety, motivation and breaks, membership of groups and resolving creator’s block; and lists of resources ( materials and equipment), suppliers, organisations and inspiring places to visit in the United Kingdom. BlogFeltBooks2515-06-16 14.41.37

With lots of practical exercises, this book is all about experimentation and exploration and developing your own creative voice and potential. The cushion above is another form of stitch sampler in both the vase and the different flowers!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-19Embroidered Purses: Design and Techniques by Linda Tudor 2004

Embroidery has been a perfect medium to decorate bags and purses for millennia. In fact, as far back as 2400 BC, Assyrians carried medicine in special bags called ‘naruqqu’, one of the facts I learned from reading this interesting book. It starts with an examination of the history of purses, as well as different purses from around the world. Did you know that 17th century sweet purses contained perfumed powders to counteract bad odours and were hung from the belt and secreted in the folds of the skirt, while Chinese men and women also wore incense purses around the neck or waist, no doubt for a similar reason.

The next chapter discusses the role of the purse as a container and the process of purse design- its shape, sources of inspiration, equipment, material, pattern making, colour, decoration and finishing. I loved Emily Jo Gibb’s horse-chestnut purse, Conker, found in the Victoria and Albert Museum. (https://www.emilyjogibbs.co.uk/archive/ and https://www.textileartist.org/emily-jo-gibbs-interview-immediacy-of-textiles/). She too is a member of the 62 Group of Textile Artists and teaches regularly at West Dean College, United Kingdom.  Quite inspiring, as I have always wanted to design a purse based on the seedpods of Native Frangipani!

The book goes on to examine different types of purses: simple two-sided purses, folded purses, reverse-appliqued silk clutch purses, gusseted purses, drawstring purses and box purses, including patterns and variations and a gallery of photographs.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-20

Finishing techniques, including making bias strips, rouleaux and borders; bound edges; using bondaweb and cutting bonded fabrics; English and Seminole patchwork; lace making; canvaswork; cords, handles and tassels; embellishments with embroidery stitches and beads; and fastenings are all discussed. Finally, there is a list of purse collections around the world, including The Victoria and Albert Museum, UK  (www.vam.ac.uk) and the Museum of Bags and Purses, Tassen, The Netherlands: https://tassenmuseum.nl/en/collection-exhibitions/collection/.

The Art of the Handbag: Crazy Beautiful Bags by Clare Anthony 2013 is a similar book, which I would love to read one day!

Embroidered Garden Flowers 1991 and Embroidery From the Garden 1997 by Diana Lampe

Perfect for craftspeople with a shared love of the garden AND embroidery! Diana Lampe has written six books, however I only own the first and the third. See: http://dianalampe.com.au/ for a list of her embroidery books. She is one of Australia’s most successful non-fiction writers having sold more than 120, 000 copies of her books worldwide. She is also a passionate food writer with some delicious recipes on her website as well! But back to my two books!

Both books follow a similar format and can stand alone on their own merit and be used separately. After initial chapters on materials and equipment, design and proportion, finishing and framing and sewing notes, Diana describes various designs and projects, accompanied by colour photographs and keyed diagrams.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-21Her first book Embroidered Garden Flowers 1991  contains designs for a Traditional Cottage Garden, a Spring Garden, a Spring Garland, embroidered initials, flower samplers and some gift suggestions (lavender sachets, towels, coat hangers, Spring baskets, pin cushions,brooches, jumpers, cushions and handkerchiefs), while Embroidery From the Garden 1997 focuses on South African flowers with designs for a Strelitzia Garden, a Protea Garden, a Garland of South African Flowers, another flower sampler and more projects (table linen, brooch, coat hanger, spectacle case, cushion, pincushion, needle case and mirror).BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-22A large section of her books is devoted to a Flower Glossary, detailing threads, number of strands and stitches and method, with explanatory diagrams on each page. Not only plants are featured. There are also embroidery instructions for gardener’s friends (pussy cat, butterfly, spider and web) and pests (snail), as well as built features in the garden like flagstones, pergolas and terracotta pots.

The flower glossary is followed by a Stitch Glossary, with instructions and diagrams for each type of embroidery stitch. The appendix includes a list of flowers in each garden design, as well as the DMC threads used; and detailed notes on framing.

Finally, three books on 3-D embroidery!

Stumpwork Embroidery: A Collection of Fruits, Flowers and Insects for Contemporary Raised Embroidery by Jane Nicholas 1995

Stumpwork is a style of heavily padded and raised embroidery, practiced from 1650 to 1700 in England, where it was called known raised or embossed work, but now given new life and exposure by Jane Nicholas. She certainly does beautiful work and has made an extensive study of the subject in response to the dearth of comprehensive instruction at the time .

In this definitive guide, she discusses:

Materials and Equipment: Fabric, threads (cotton, silk, synthetic and metallic), needles, hoops and frames, beads and sequins, wire and miscellaneous treasures;

General Instructions: Raised applied fabric or needlepoint shapes; padded needle lace or embroidered shapes; raised detached fabric, needle lace or wire shapes; methods for working leaves and stems; attaching wire to the main background; padding with felt; using paper-backed fusible web; transferring designs to fabric (tracing paper and pencil, carbon paper, basting); and finishing techniques (framing and mounting inside a box lid, in a paperweight, or on a brooch); and

Individual Elements: Making acorns;different types of flowers, leaves, vegetables and fruit/berries; insects: bees, butterflies, crickets, dragonflies, ladybirds, hoverflies and spiders; hedgehogs, owls and snails;

With ideas and detailed instructions for embroidering different designs for a variety of projects from brooches to pictures and mirror frames, as well as a Stitch Glossary of all the embroidery stitches used in the back of the book.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-23

Embroidered Flora and Fauna: Three-Dimensional Textural Embroidery by Lesley Turpin-Dleport and Nikki Delport-Wepener 2008

This lovely book develops 3-D embroidery even further with the depiction of flora and fauna. I really like their style, which I feel is more informal than the previous book. It’s a wonderful book for texture, using lots of different types of threads (stranded cotton, perle cotton, soft or tapestry cotton, flower thread, tapestry wool, crewel wool, crazy wools, yarn, chenille, boucle, round rayon cord, flat knitted rayon ribbon, space-dyed and variegated threads, quilting threads, silk, viscose, linen and metallic) and ribbons (silk, organza, rayon and satin) and techniques (Trapunto, Casal Guidi and corded quilting from the Italian Renaissance; goldwork and stumpwork from the Elizabethan Era; Jacobean crewel work; Victorian ribbon work and tucks and pleats; tassels, fringing and ribbon roses from the 1920s and contemporary hand and machine embroidery, ribbon work and smocking).

Tools and materials are listed in The Sewing Basket, followed by a large section on basic techniques, including photo transfers, fabric preparation, scale and shading, working with textured threads, appliqué, wire work, stumpwork, trapunto quilting, ribbon work, beading, machine stitching and working with felt, net and metallic threads.

There are also some beautiful embroidery designs for application to:

Kitchen and Dining Room: Tablecloths and tray cloths, serviettes and place mats, tea towels and aprons, oven mitts and pot holders, tea cosy and mesh food cover;

Bedroom: Sheet sets and pillow cases, quilts and duvet covers, hangers and tissue box covers;

Bathroom: Bath sheets and towels, laundry and cosmetic bags;

Living Areas: Lampshades and curtains, cushions and throws, pictures and picture frames, and embroidered boxes,book covers,  flower arrangements and fire screens; and

Clothing: Pyjamas, beach gear, jeans and children’s clothes.

They are divided into 12 colour groupings: Oyster, yellow, salmon, pink, red, burgundy, brown, lilac and lavender, blue, indigo, and grey, black and white. Materials, instructions and colour photographs are provided for each embroidery design, with a stitch glossary and design patterns in the back of the book. I particularly loved the Gerberas, the Light Sussex Rooster and the Barred Owlets! It is a really beautiful book!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-24

Three-Dimensional Embroidery: Methods of Construction For the Third Dimension by Janet Edmonds 2005

In this original and specialised book, Janet explores a wide range of construction methods, including coiling with wrapped cords, building with flat pieces, fabric manipulation with tucks and gathers and using heat-reactive or dissolvable fabric to create 3-D forms, including boxes, bags and advanced geometric shapes and freeform embroidery pieces.

After initial chapters on the design brief, research, mulling time, the design process and a wide variety of materials, tools and equipment, different construction methods are discussed, including practice exercises and projects:

Constructing with Flat Pieces: Geometrics; squares and rectangles; gift boxes; triangles; cylinders; and strips and slices and freeform.

Continuous Lengths: Coiling with wrapped cores; and freeform building;

Manipulated Methods:

Fabrics: Gathering, tucks and pleats, darts, stuffed shapes; heated acrylic felt or Tyvek; and knitting and weaving;

Paper and Wire techniques;

Beads;

Soft: Stuffed fabric tubes; and wrapped or rolled fabric;

Hard: Tyvek; clay; plastics; wood; wire; and commercial beads;

Finishing Techniques: Edges and rims; wire armature; wood or card base; wire support; feet; and lids.

Like the first book in this post, it has an experimental bias and is all about exploring new boundaries!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-25

Next week, I will be featuring books about some wonderfully creative and talented contemporary embroiderers, as well as informative books about ethnic embroidery around the world.

Books on Embroidery Part One: General Guides

After years of experimenting with different arts and crafts, I have settled on embroidery as my favoured form of artistic expression, specifically hand embroidery. It is basically a form of drawing with thread and allows for much creative freedom in interpretation of subject matter, as well as a degree of three-dimensionality if desired.BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1878 As can be expected, I own many wonderful books on the subject, which I have divided into four groups (and hence posts) from basic embroidery (this post) to more specialised how-to guides and stitch dictionaries (next week); beautiful volumes showcasing the work of other talented embroiderers, as well as those from the past and different cultures (third post on embroidery books); and a plethora of pattern books and designs (last post). Here is another simple example of drawing with thread:BlogEmbBooks2518-07-12 13.26.20 Please note that while some of these books may briefly mention machine embroidery, it is not really my thing, so there are very few books on this subject in this post.

How-To Guides For Hand Embroidery

The Essential Guide To Embroidery Murdoch Books 2002

Written by a number of contributors, this is a good basic introductory guide to the wide range of embroidery techniques and styles from counted techniques (cross stitch, blackwork and canvas work) and openwork (pulled and drawn work, Hardanger and cutwork) to surface stitchery (whitework, shadow work, silk shading, crewel work, free embroidery and machine embroidery) and embellishing the surface (stumpwork, ribbon embroidery, goldwork and beadwork). Here is a photo of my cool colour palette threads.BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1868There is also a good introduction with information on needles; sewing machines; embroidery frames; tools; fabrics; threads; embellishments; basic techniques; working from charts and diagrams; making up; sources of inspiration; developing design ideas; exploring colour palettes; and painting fabrics. Below is a photo of more tools of the trade: Pins and needles, scissors, ruler and embroidery hoops of varying sizes.BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1872 Each section on the different techniques includes its history, characteristics and different forms; stitches and techniques, including sources of inspiration and helpful hints; and projects based on the specific technique. This is an excellent book for beginners, as well as showing the wide diversity of embroidery styles and applications.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-3Anchor Complete Embroidery Course by Christine Marsh 1998

A very useful practical guide for beginners, starting with a discussion of materials and equipment (needles, fabrics, threads, frames and other equipment); preparing and transferring designs (soluble pen, transfer pencil, dressmaker’s carbon or tacking); working with patterns, charts, and embroidery hoops and frames; starting and finishing; and mounting work, before providing a teaching course of increasing complexity.BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1874 Beginning with Just Five Stitches (backstitch, French knot, lazy-daisy stitch, satin stitch and blanket stitch), it progresses from chapters on stems and outlines, knots and dots, and chains and loops through to solid and open fillings, borders and bands; and mix and match (combining techniques, adapting designs and changing materials and colour schemes). This sampler shows the use of chain and running stitch.BlogEmbBooks2518-07-12 13.25.18

Each stitch is well-described with three clear and easy-to-understand  step-by-step diagrams and explanatory text and is complemented by attractive practice projects with creative options. This is an excellent book for the beginner embroiderer!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-4

While there are a huge number of embroidery books written by some very talented artists, these are a few that I have found particularly useful.

Winsome Douglass (1919-2016)

Winsome was a very talented artist and a wonderful teacher, who wrote three books on embroidery and toymaking in the late 1950s, which have all since been reprinted.

Discovering Embroidery  1956/ 2010

This is my embroidery bible ! Not only does she describe and teach all the stitches (basic, more complicated and filling stitches) well, but she has delightful designs and patterns for projects from pincushions, tea cosies, wall pockets, cushions, boxes and cloth trays to bags, belts, caps, and toys like my felt embroidered balls, shown in the photo below.BlogFeltBooks2016-01-01 01.00.00-112 She has notes on colour schemes and design, designing with cut paper, appliqué and shadow work, needle weaving, quilting and smocking, and finishing (hems, edges, cords, tassels, fringes, handles, fastenings).

BlogEmbBooks2518-07-12 12.08.52

This book is so inspiring, as is her other book in my craft library: Toys for Your Delight 1957/ 1973. I would also love to buy her book: Decorative Stuffed Toys for the Needleworker 1984.

Barbara Snook (1913-1976)

Another favourite embroidery teacher, who wrote a large number of books on embroidery; soft toys and puppets; fancy dress costumes and masks; and children’s clothes and stitching in the 1960s and 1970s through to the 1980s. I own two of her books:

The Creative Art of Embroidery 1972

After an excellent introduction to the history; the different national styles of embroidery (Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Portugal, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Hungary, Roumania and Yugoslavia); tools and equipment, especially threads and fabrics; and a library of basic free embroidery stitches, Barbara discusses lettering, alphabets and monograms; beads and sequins; and designs and finishing touches, as well as other techniques like cutwork, counted thread work, drawn thread work and machine embroidery. Throughout the book are designs and patterns for projects including Christmas decorations , tablecloths and mats, sheet and towel sets, aprons, pictures, bags, spectacle cases and children’s clothing.

BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-5

Learning to Sew 1962, 1985

Aimed at 9 to 12 year-olds, this is a terrific book for teaching children to sew. Part One covers the basic equipment, material and stitches, as well as making seams, hems and bias binding, while Part Two examines pattern and colour, sources of inspiration, and  the development of basic designs. The majority of the book is devoted to Part Three and the provision of working diagrams for a number of projects from aprons and bibs, table cloths and tray mats, tea cosies and oven cloths, towels and cushion covers to cases, pin cushions, bags, toys and children’s clothes. Text is minimal with the tuition provided by wonderful simple sketches and fun designs, which make it a very attractive book for the beginner embroiderer as well!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-6

Like Winsome, she also wrote books on soft toy making, which I would dearly love to own one day:  Bird Beasts and Insects 1974  and  Creative Soft Toys 1985.

Another excellent book for teaching children to embroider is :

Simple Embroidery by Marilyn Green 2003

This spiral-bound book, complete with threads, needles and an embroidery hoop, teaches 11 basic embroidery stitches: Straight stitch; couching stitch; whip stitch; cross stitch; satin stitch; stem stitch; back stitch; split stitch; chain stitch; lazy daisy stitch; and French knots. It provides instructions on materials and tools; getting started; and transferring designs, as well as including iron-on transfers and lots of inspiring ideas and examples of work using these stitches. It is colourful and fun and very child-centred!BlogEmbBooks25%DSCN1851Jan Messent (1936-)

Jan is a very talented embroidery artist and textile teacher and also writes historical romances under the pseudonym, Juliet Landon. I love her style and own three of her books, the others being listed on her website: https://www.janmessent.co.uk/janmessent.

The Embroiderer’s Workshop 1988

When this book was first published, it was not always possible to attend embroidery courses due to distance or time constraints, though today’s internet has come a long way in rectifying this problem. This useful book acts as an embroidery primer, as well as encouraging lots of experimentation through a series of practical exercises. It examines pattern, colour, drawing,  the development of design and themes in great detail, as well as discussing fabrics, stitches, and display and presentation.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-8

Embroidery and Animals 1982

This book features one of my favourite subject matters: animals and nature. Chapters look at the historical depiction of animals in embroidery; sources of design (nature, books, museums and natural history museums) and collecting materials; types of design (realistic or naturalistic, stylised or decorative, symbolic, abstract); pattern and colour; and ways of presenting a design, before focusing in on the animals (and their associations) themselves:

Fantastic beasts, heraldry and Christian symbolism;

Tiny creatures (butterflies and moths, bees and wasps, beetles, worms and snails);

Underwater life (microscopic organisms, sea anemones and sea urchins, jellyfish, starfish, shells and fish );

Amphibians and reptiles (frogs and toads; lizards, geckos and chameleons, snakes, crocodiles and turtles, tortoises and terrapins);

Birds (waterbirds, tall birds, domestic fowl, owls and parrots); and

Mammals (wild animals, domestic animals, ceremonial animals, African animals, circus animals).

Each chapter includes wonderful illustrations for design, cross stitch interpretations and examples of other artists’ work, as well as suggestions for  the development of themes and the use of the design in projects. A very inspiring book!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-9

I would also love to own her books titled: Design Sources For Symbolism; Design Sources for Pattern; and finally, Jan Messent’s World of Embroidery 1996.

Thanks to all the previous artists, embroidery is now considered to be a very valid contemporary art form. The next two books are written by contemporary embroidery artists and teachers to help embroidery students achieve their creative potential.

The Art of Embroidery by Julia Barton 1990

After a brief introduction to the history of embroidery, materials and equipment are examined in great detail: papers, pencils, conté and pastels, paints and brushes, fabric paints and dyes, fabrics, threads, needles, fabric markers and frames. Design sources (nature and museum studies) and approaches are examined next with discussions on landscapes, enlarging designs, textures and colour, followed by chapters on drawing and painting and transferring the design to fabric (fabric paints and markers; transfer paints and crayons; and design transfer methods (prick and pounce; and tacking through tissue).BlogEmbBooks2016-01-01 01.00.00-67

Stitchery forms a major part of the book with exercises and projects based on linear, textural, and pattern stitches. Other techniques are also examined: Cut paper designs, quilting, appliqué, machine embroidery and the use of embroidery for jewellery and ornamentation. In the back is practical information on using a embroidery frame or hoop; damp-stretching; mounting and framing; and making a cushion cover.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-10

Jan Beaney (1938-) and Jean Littlejohn

A very creative, productive and influential partnership, known as Double Trouble (formed 1997)  (http://doubletrouble-ent.com/), both women are highly respected and internationally known textile artists and teachers, who have been members of the 62 Group of Textile Artists for many years (Jean since 1963).

See: http://www.62group.org.uk/artist/jan-beaney/  and http://www.62group.org.uk/artist/jean-littlejohn/.

Between them, they have produced  over 27 books and 7 DVDs. See a taster at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGY_FjMoQEM  (In Action) and https://vimeo.com/49293912 ( In Stitches).

It is also worth watching: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZdfqRXBkZY and visiting https://www.textileartist.org/jan-beaney-and-jean-littlejohn-interview/.

The Art of the Needle: Designing in Fabric and Thread by Jan Beaney 1988

A very comprehensive guide to developing a design from its initial inception (observation, drawing, repeat patterns and border designs, circular patterns, scale and proportion, designing within shapes or out of context, themes, texture and colour) through to its completion with chapters on fabric paints (silk paints and gutta, permanent fabric paints, masking techniques and  transfer fabric paints) and embroidery techniques (transferring design to fabric, applique, darning, machine embroidery, openwork on water-soluble fabrics, patchwork, quilting and making an embroidered panel) and stitches. It again is a very inspiring book with beautiful colourful photographs showing the huge potential of the medium.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-11

Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn have also written a book on Constance Howard, an embroiderer born in 1910, whose work I also love and who also taught and who wrote a number of books on embroidery (Conversations with Constance Howard 2000).

Another old book I would love to read is: Contemporary Embroidery Design by Joan Nicholson 1954/ 2011.  Joan was a leading figure in the revival of stitch crafts from the 1950s to the 1970s, inspiring many future embroiderers, including her daughter Nancy, a contemporary embroidery artist  and teacher with a strong online presence (https://nancynicholson.co.uk/), who has written her own book Modern Folk Embroidery 2016. I recently bought a tin decorated in Nancy’s distinctive style!BlogEmbBooks3018-07-12 12.08.59For more about the book, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEuMKlK1fXc   and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZxsJcvJOuQ.

And to see more of Nancy’s work, it is also well worth visiting: https://fishinkblog.com/2014/04/18/nancy-nicholson-embroidering-nature/.

The internet is a great source for embroidery tutorials and inspiration, including Pinterest, the websites of embroidery guilds, courses and other embroidery artists, as well as being able to access very old needlework books on sites like:  https://archive.org ;  http://openlibrary.org ; https://library.si.edu/ and http://www.gutenberg.org.

Some old books worth chasing up are:

Album de Broderies au Point de Croix by Therese de Dillmont 1890 (https://archive.org/details/albumdebroderies01dill or https://library.si.edu/digital-library/book/albumdebroderies02dill

An Embroidery Pattern Book by Mary E Waring 1917 (https://archive.org/details/embroiderypatter00wari or https://openlibrary.org/books/OL25215987M/An_embroidery_pattern_book) and

Art in Needlework: A Book about Embroidery by Lewis F. Day and

Mary Buckle 1900. Reprinted 2018 (http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/28269)

Next week, I will be discussing a selection of stitch dictionaries, as well as some more specialised embroidery guides.

 

Fabulous Felting Books

I adore felt, not just for its tactile and visual appeal, but also its versatility, its organic nature and its history and romance. In fact, when I was studying a Diploma of Textile Art at Box Hill TAFE, I based my main exhibition piece (postcard format) on the reverse appliqué technique of the Kyrgyz shyrdaks of Central Asia, learning so much about felt and its history in the process!  Here are two photos of my work from that exhibition: BlogFeltBooks50%nov 2010 295BlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-10-24 07.41.25I first saw these beautiful appliquéd felt rugs, which are traditionally used to furnish nomadic yurts, at Ada’s Place in Millthorpe, New South Wales, and fell in love with their bright bold colours and symbolism. Here is a photo of Ada (taller) and her sister Kathleen in front of one of their shyrdaks.BlogFeltBooks50%midmay 299Unfortunately, the gallery closed in 2013: https://www.centralwesterndaily.com.au/story/1804338/ada-closes-iconic-millthorpe-gallery/.

You can see more examples of this beautiful craft at:

http://www.feltrugs.co.uk/

and   http://kyrgyzfelt.blogspot.com.au/.

Felt can also be used to make clothing, hats, bags, cushions, flowers and toys and you will see some of my felt creations throughout this post. I have also attended a number of workshops, which I will also describe along the way, but first the books!

 

History

Nomadic Felts by Stephanie Bunn 2010

https://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/dept-seminar-power-felted-cloth-through-time-and-space

I came across anthropologist Stephanie Bunn’s name a number of times during my internet research for my exhibition piece, so this book was a must! In it, she describes the ancient history of felt, its traditional production and use throughout the world and the cultural beliefs and symbolism behind the patterns.

Felt has existed for thousands of years and felt fragments have been found in grave chambers in Çatal Höyük, dated 6500 BC; felted hoods and socks on the Urumchi mummies of the Tarim Basin, China, dated 2000 BC; and appliquéd felt wall hangings, coffin linings, clothing, saddle cloths, blankets and bridles and swan pillows stuffed with deer hair, found in the grave chambers of the Pazyryk Kurgans of the Altai Highlands, Siberia, and dated from 600 to 200 BC.

It has played a central role in the lives of nomads from Central Asia, Mongolia and parts of the Middle East, the lightweight, portable and highly insulating wool being used for tent walls (yurts), floor coverings, decorations, bags and clothing.

After the Medieval period, felt became a well-established tradition in Europe with felt boat caulking and other felt objects from the 9th to 13th Century found at Haithabu on the German-Danish border; British felt hats from the 15th Century; and Scandinavian gloves and socks and Russian valenki (felt boots) from the early 20th Century.

Traditional feltmaking is still practiced by Central Asian and Mongolian nomads, as well as practitioners in Turkey and Iran, while experimentation by contemporary artists is producing some wonderful garments and toys.

This fascinating book looks at its extensive history, the science behind felt and the wide variety of feltmaking techniques and traditions. She particularly focuses on the Turkic and Mongolian feltmakers of Krygyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekitan, Turkmenistan and Xinjiang, as well as Mongolia, Tibet, Bhutan and South-East Asia, and the closely related styles from Afghanistan and the Caucasus: their influences and their belief systems and symbolism. With fabulous photos and illustrations supporting the text, it is such an interesting book, not only for feltmakers and textile enthusiasts, but anyone interested in archaeology and history, anthropology, different cultures and the Silk Road!BlogFeltBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-57

Production

If you only have room for one felting book in your library, the following book is an excellent reference guide.

Uniquely Felt: Dozens of Techniques From Fulling and Shaping to Nuno and Cobweb. Includes 46 Creative Projects by Christine White 2007

This highly comprehensive book covers all aspects of felt making.

The introduction defines the different kinds of felt (fulled knitting, wet felting, needle felting, nuno felting, cobweb felting, carved felt and yarn felt); history; suitable fibres; the chemistry behind felting; and the whole process from fleece to felt. It also includes instructions for a simple needle felted ball and a Featured Artist page, an inspiring inclusion, which is found at the end of successive chapters.

The next chapter covers tools: wool; soap; screens; rolling mats; plastic resists; scales; water; templates; and felting machines, as well as notes on designing a studio and  working posture.

Chapter Three introduces beginner projects like making cords (photo below) and spikes; loops and beads; jellyroll trivets; buttons and balls.

Chapter Four: Learning the Basics covers working with roving; making prefelts; wet felting; calculating shrinkage and a Frequently Asked Questions page, as well as projects like place mats and table runners, blankets and cushions.BlogFeltBooks2016-01-01 01.00.00-92Chapter Five really examines the raw material, wool: where to find it, how to test its feasibility and materiality; making felting samples and the types of fibres and sheep wool, including a swatch gallery. Projects include math mats, place mats, carved coasters, upholstery yardage and a boot tray.BlogFeltBooks2016-01-01 01.00.00-85After mastering simple 2-D items, developing felters will be keen to try out making 3-D seamless felt, which is the main topic of Chapter Six. Two flat halves are separated by a resist, the fibres at the side being joined in a seam during the felting process. The different types of resists (open/closed) and materials used, seam considerations and shrinkage rate and template size are discussed in detail.

Pillow covers, book covers, slippers and boots, vessels, sculptural objects (like the photo above and below made using an old butter cooler as a resist) and a myriad of creative bags can be produced in this way, not to mention hats, the subject of Chapter Seven, from berets and head-hugging cloches to hoods, wide-brimmed hats, fedoras and some very artistic and creative examples. Hat sizes; making hat templates; using hat blocks, and stiffeners and embellishments are all discussed. Anita Larkin is a sculptor, who uses felt to create some amazing 3-D vessels and objects. https://timelesstextiles.com.au/artist/anita-larkin-2/.

late sept 047Felt can also be very light and airy with the inclusion of silk (Chapter Eight: Nuno Felting) and holes (Chapter Nine: Cobweb Felting). Both chapters include definitions and detailed notes on techniques, as well as projects like scarves and shawls, vests, hats, cushions  and curtains.

My first experience with felting was helping a friend make a raw sheep wool floor rug, using an old bamboo blind as a roller and Chapter Ten on larger projects would have been very useful, though the emphasis of this chapter is really more on making felt garments: tops and vests, tunics and dresses, and skirts, as well as including  notes on garment patterns and templates. Jorie Johnson (http://www.joirae.com/)  makes some beautiful contemporary clothing and is the featured artist in this chapter. Another wonderful felt garment designer is Norwegian artist, May Jacobsen Hvistendahl, whose work can be seen at:  http://www.filtmaker.no/eng/index.html.

It is really fun making felt with others, as it can be a time-consuming process and it’s a great way to bond not only the fibres, but also community and friendship ties, as discussed in the final Chapter Eleven, along with teaching feltmaking, community projects like rugs, felting weird and wonderful creations for theatre, and framing and finishing felt. There is an extensive glossary and list of artists, resources and relevant websites in the back. An excellent book!BlogFeltBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-60

It is also well worth joining a felting group like Victorian Feltmakers http://www.vicfelt.org/ or the Feltmakers of WA: http://www.feltwest.org.au and attending a few workshops to master the practical aspects. I belonged to the Victorian Feltmakers and some of the memorable workshops I attended were:

Phyllis Hoffman: Felting a Scarf July 2010 / Felting a Hat August 2010.

BlogFeltBooks50%midjune 051Great fun, as I did these workshops with some of my fellow students from my textile course at Box Hill TAFE. BlogFeltBooks50%late july 2010 029 I was so impressed with my friend Heather’s hat!BlogFeltBooks50%july also 002 Phyllis is a great teacher too! You can find out more about her at: https://www.stonehousegallery.com/phyllis-hoffman.html.

Elizabeth Armstrong: Felt Art Dolls August 2010

Like me, Elizabeth LOVES colour (see her fabrics below) and I absolutely adored this inspirational workshop!BlogFeltBooks50lt 014BlogFeltBooks50lt 017She is so enthusiastic and fun! Here she is behind our workshop dolls. The grey bird dolls are samples of her work.

 

On the first day, we made our material using prefelts, roving, yarn and even chiffon ribbon, then the next day, we had to take a deep breath and cut into our beautiful precious homemade fabric, then assemble and embellish the dolls with embroidery, appliquéd felt pieces and hand-painted faces. Below are photos of my fabric pre- and post-felting.BlogFeltBooks50lt 015BlogFeltBooks50lt 016 I loved my earth goddess Gaia, even though I forgot to sew in a base!BlogFeltBooks2518-04-28 19.40.37BlogFeltBooks2016-01-01 01.00.00-98 Elizabeth’s website is: http://elizabeth-armstrong.blogspot.com.au/.

Sue Pearl: Crazy Felt Critters  February 2012

Hailing from the United Kingdom, Sue Pearl gave a workshop at the Victorian Felters and  we were very lucky to be able to attend. My strange alien creature left a bit to be desired, but gave me a feel for creating 3-D toys.BlogFeltBooks50%IMG_9937

Sue’s website is at: http://www.feltbetter.com/. But now,  back to the books…!!!

Felt To Stitch: Creative Felting for Textile Artists by Sheila Smith 2006

Another excellent guide covering similar topics to the previous book: Hand-rolled felting; making prefelts; nuno felting, 3-D hollow forms; cobweb felting and needle-punched felting, but also has a big section on design with detailed discussions on colour, texture, line, shape and pattern.

There are instructions on colour mixing; using acid dyes; rainbow dyeing; making fibre paper; shibori; low-relief designs; using Markal Paintstiks; stencilling and printing. Projects include book covers; bags; cords, toggles and balls.BlogFeltBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-58

Felted Bags, Boots and Other Things by Cendrine Armani 2007

Making bags and boots are so well explained in this book with step-by-step notes, supported by excellent colour photographs of all the tools and each stage of each process: Flat felting; felting with a template; mixing colours; cutout motifs and insets; lining bags; inserting magnetised clasps and eyelets, embroidery; and making balls and pendants, and that’s just the first section!

The rest of the book is devoted to 56 bright and colourful projects from pencil cases, pouches and purses to jewellery, felt flowers, slippers and bags. It is certainly a very inspiring and practical book and makes you want to leap out there and start felting!!!BlogFeltBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-69

Felted objects can also be needlefelted using a dry felting process or stitched from flat felt pieces and/ or embroidered, as showcased in the next four books. The first book describes dry felting, which uses felting needles to work wool roving into shapes, while the other three books create flowers and toys from patterns cut out of sheets of wool felt, stitched together and embroidered.BlogFeltBooks2017-08-28 18.04.28Sweet Needle Felts: 25 Projects to Wear, Give and Hug by Jenn Docherty 2008

While I haven’t done much needle felting (it’s a bit too time consuming for me!), it is good to have a book, which describes all the tools and techniques, as well as a number of small projects from flower pins and gumdrop rings to belts, coasters, book covers, purses and toys like the cute ones on the cover. A good book for crafters, who love felt, but don’t want to work with water!!!BlogFeltBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-64

Felt Fresh Flowers: 17 Stunning Flowers to Sew and Display by Lynne Farris 2007

A very useful book for the middle of severe Winter, when the garden is fast asleep and nothing much is happening in the way of blooms! We are very lucky here in Australia in that many of our native plants flower in the Winter and our milder warmer climate still allows for the blooming of camellias, violets and Winter honeysuckle. We still get heavy frosts in our garden though, so I am still attracted to the bright colours of the felted flowers in this book, though I am more likely to use them to embellish bags and hats!

Basic tools, materials and techniques are covered before detailed instructions for a range of blooms from African violets, gerberas, geraniums and daffodils to lilies, roses, iris and sunflowers. I particularly liked the tulips, nasturtiums, magnolias and tropical anthuriums!

BlogFeltBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-62

Felties: How To Make 18 Cute and Fuzzy Friends by Nelly Pailloux 2009

A sweet little book on making felt toys. Starting with brief notes on tools, templates, stuffing, sewing and embroidery, it contains patterns for some very cute and obscure creations from the sweet little Babushka Doll, the Mushroom Girl, Sleepy Fox and Pensive Rabbit to the Pirate Mouse, Hoodie Wolf, Retro Alien and Sun-Loving Rat!BlogFeltBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-63

Felt Wee Folk: Enchanting Projects by Salley Mavor 2003

Salley Mavor (https://weefolkstudio.com/) is well-known for her imaginative fairy worlds and creative appliquéd and embroidered felt purses, bags and brooches.BlogFeltBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-61

I made my daughter a felt bird purse using one of her patterns.BlogFeltBooks2015-04-04 09.49.18 I also love the appliquéd felt work of artist Renee Harris. See:   http://www.reneeharris.net/Pages/GalleriesMenu.html.

Here are some photos of my felt appliqué work, which you will no doubt recognise from previous posts: OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogFeltBooks2517-12-06 08.18.25Steiner education is big on felt for all the same reasons that I love it. It’s a natural organic material, has wonderful colours and texture, is easily worked by children and makes imaginative and creative toys! I recently visited their shop, Winterwood Toys, in Warranwood, Victoria, to check out their beautiful felts.BlogFeltBooks2518-03-19 11.39.05

It is always a wonderful and inspiring experience, as is a digital visit to their website: https://www.winterwoodtoys.com.au/!

BlogFeltBooks2518-03-23 17.16.40They stock wet felting supplies and a huge colour range of hand-dyed and commercially dyed 100 percent pure wool felts (photo above), as well as toys, patterns and kits and books, many of which hail from Germany, the birthplace of Steiner education, as well as the origin of some wonderful felt designers and creations like the toys and Christmas decorations sent to us by our daughter Jen, who has been teaching in Germany for two years.BlogFeltBooks2518-04-28 19.41.16Here are three felt books, which I have bought from Steiner shops over the years.

Creative Felt: Felting and Making More Toys and Gifts by Angelika Wolk-Gerche 2007/2009

Another good basic guide to felting, but with an emphasis on felting with children and imaginative play, a key tent of Steiner education.BlogFeltBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-59 The history of felting, different fibre types, setting up the workplace, preparing the wool, natural dyeing, the basic felting process, creative possibilities (mixing colour, collages and felt pictures, modelling and embroidery) and felting with children are all topics covered in the first section of the book, followed by lots of suggestions for felt projects: Hats and jewellery; slippers and hot water bottle covers; felt envelopes and gift wrap; book covers and treasure pouches; juggling balls; dolls and accessories; toy animals and puppets; and Easter rabbits, seasonal toys and dioramas and Christmas decorations.BlogFeltBooks2016-01-01 01.00.00-112Feltcraft: Making Dolls, Gifts and Toys by Petra Berger 1994/2001  

More Steiner toys and child-oriented projects are included in this book.BlogFeltBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-67 They include wooden and felt gnomes, angels, flower children, fairies and dolls, jesters, finger puppets, ducks, butterfly mobiles, snails, dogs and cats, horses, mice and balls, as well as felt pictures and books, jewellery, bookmarks, boxes, egg cosies, purses and cases. Here are some egg cosies and felt toys, made by my children when they were young, as well as some finger puppets.BlogFeltBooks2518-04-28 15.35.35BlogFeltBooks2518-04-28 15.34.43BlogFeltBooks3016-01-01 01.00.00-79I love making felt toys and would not be without the next book, which I have used to make camels and pigs for my daughters!

Sew Soft Toys : Using Natural Fibres by Karin Neuschütz 1996/2007

After a brief discussion of sewing with natural fibres, stuffing materials, and tips for sewing and stuffing toys, it gets straight into instructions for the toys themselves: Dogs and cats; mice and rabbits, farmyard animals, marine animals, African animals, and bears, foxes and weasels.BlogFeltBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-65 They are lovely patterns with excellent clear instructions and illustrations and the toy animals are just so cute! Below are photos of Jen’s camel and Caro’s piglet, which I embroidered as well!:

BlogFeltBooks25rly march 2013 012 BlogFeltBooks25rly march 2013 014I could easily make every animal in this book! And perhaps over the years I will, gradually recreating my husband’s old family Christmases!BlogFeltBooks2515-10-13 15.06.45Over the years, I have also made embroidered birds and fruit, Christmas angels and dear little felt mice, as seen in the photos below.BlogFeltBooks2015-04-22 08.55.47BlogFeltBooks2015-10-13 14.34.34BlogFeltBooks2015-10-13 14.31.53BlogFeltBooks50%midjune 046BlogFeltBooks3015-04-22 08.56.18 - CopyAK Traditions (https://aktraditions.com/pages/about-us) in Prahan, Melbourne, Victoria, is another source of wonderful Central Asian felt toys, some of them featured in the photos below:BlogFeltBooks2518-04-28 15.37.41BlogFeltBooks2518-04-28 15.37.19And finally, some of my favourite books for felting inspiration! These books are wonderful and showcase the imaginative work of two contemporary European feltmakers, as well as showing the enormous creative possibilities afforded by felt!

Filz Spiel: The Felted Play by Annette Quentin-Stoll 2010

Annette is a German artist (born 1978), who was introduced to felt in Finland, and she produces the most amazing sculptured hats, bags, costumes, vessels, games, toys and puppets, based on cones and spheres, concertina folds and pleats, elastic structures and even the incorporation of marbles.BlogFeltBooks3016-01-01 01.00.00-70 I just loved her Rainbow Worm, her Dragon and Elephants, her mouse finger puppets, snail and star rings, animal bags and spiky swim hats and seed pod vessels. She has also written three other felt books: Filz Ornament (https://www.galeriebuch.de/en/gallery-books/filzornament/); Filz Experiment (https://www.galeriebuch.de/en/gallery-books/filzexperiment/) and Filz Geschichten (https://www.galeriebuch.de/en/gallery-books/filzgeschichten/).

Gentle Threads: Felts of Judit Pócs

Judit Pócs (born 1976) is a Hungarian artist, whose work I simply adore!  She dyes the raw wool before felting and like the previous artist has a fabulous sense of colour and fun!BlogFeltBooks4016-01-01 01.00.00-73 She too makes weird and wonderful sculptured hats, exotic colourful bags and fabulous toys, all featured in this book, as well as in the gallery on her website: http://pocsjuditstudio.hu/gallery2/.

I also own her inspiring video:

Video: On Gentle Threads About Feltmaking by Judit Pócs and István Rittgasser 2007.

It is a wonderful accompaniment to the book and is spoken in Hungarian and English.BlogFeltBooks4016-01-01 01.00.00-72 In it, Judit generously demonstrates the making of a rug, based on the felt origin myth of Noah’s Ark, as well as a scarf, a bag, two of her amazing sculptural hats and a wonderful stylised crested lizard. She makes the magical process of felting all look so easy, even though her work is incredible skilful! There are also delightfully quirky animations and the catchy music of Krulik Zoltán, the founder and leader of Hungarian ethnomusic band Makám (www.makam.hu).

To view stills from  the film, see: http://www.filmkultura.hu/regi/2008/articles/films/szelidszalakon.en.html.

I  will finish with a gallery of my felt cushions, which you will recognise from previous posts.BlogFeltBooks2016-08-22 14.53.46BlogFeltBooks2017-03-28 14.02.24BlogFeltBooks2518-04-25 12.07.18BlogFeltBooks2016-11-15 12.55.50BlogFeltBooks2016-02-23 13.13.36