Books on Sewing With and For Children

Now that the school holidays and Christmas are almost here, I thought a post on sewing and creating with children would be very timely! Sewing is such a useful life skill, whether it be the basic ability to sew on a button and repair your clothes or more advanced garment making, and learning at a young age gives individuals so much confidence in their abilities, as well as developing their creativity and just being fun!BlogCreativity120%Reszd2015-04-22 08.59.48 - Copy

I have already reviewed Learning To Sew by Barbara Snook and Simple Embroidery by Marilyn Green in my first post on embroidery books (See: https://candeloblooms.com/2018/08/07/books-on-embroidery-part-one-general-guides/).

Another excellent sewing primer for children is :

Busy Little Hands: Sewing: A First Craft Book For Parent and Child  Illustrated by Douglas Hall 1988

Written specifically for children, this book has a very child-centred approach with simple instructions and fun pictures of mice and rabbits engaged in the task. Basic sewing skills are taught from enlarging patterns and using a needle threader to patchwork, tacking, oversewing, hemming and pleating, as well as a range of simple stitches, including back stitch, blanket stitch, herringbone stitch, stem stitch, satin stitch and cross stitch. There are some lovely easy projects from leaf needle cases and prickly hedgehog pincushions to butterfly mobiles; costumes, masks, hats and crowns; and drawstring bags and patchwork night cases. It’s a delightful little book and very appealing to young children.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6572

Once the basic skills are mastered, the next two books by quiltmaker Yolanda Gifford are wonderful for inspiring creativity and imagination and a love of fabric and colour.

Fabric Fun For Kids by Yolanda Gifford 1995

After introducing basic stitches (running stitch, back stitch, overstitch) and materials (vliesofix; embroidery thread; and fabric textas, markers, dyes and paints), Yolanda launches straight into the 24 projects themselves, including hanging pillows, cushions, bags, pictures, runners, Christmas decorations, quilts, toys and glove puppets and rag baskets.

Each project has a materials sidetab; clear instructions and finishing notes, patterns and diagrams and full-colour plates of the finished article.

When my eldest daughter was younger, she was inspired by the pattern Ellie’s Bird (seen on the book cover below) to make her dad a felt panel of a king parrot.

BlogSoftToys25%IMG_7245

My girls also made the Christmas tree pillow and picture; the heart pin cushion; and Jake’s Four Patches, as seen in the photo below.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_7214 I could easily make the chook runner; the flower cushion; the Nick-Nack Sew a Patch bag and the Home Sweet Home panel myself! The projects are an excellent indicator of the popularity of Yolanda’s home sewing classes for children.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6573

Simply Applique by Yolanda Gifford 1997

Yolanda’s second book is similar in presentation to her first book, but focuses on applique, using non-traditional methods and lots of freedom in colour, design and structure to portray children’s artwork on quilts, table cloths, curtains, cushions, bags, banners and family portraits and postcards.

While written for children, it is an equally wonderful book for beginners to the wonderful world of applique!

I love Yolanda’s use of bold simple shapes and bright colours and would love to make her family portrait and postcards; her appliqued curtains; her animal cushions and banner; her red and white embroidered cot quilt; and her love quilt, seen on the front cover of the book.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6574

Steiner education also have some wonderful books for encouraging imaginative play and creativity in children. Here are three of my favourites:

Toymaking With Children by Freya Jaffke 1987

Imaginative play is so important for the development of creativity, as well as developing basic life skills and this little book is packed with wonderful ideas from building sets, shops, dioramas and landscapes to making dressing up costumes, crowns, puppets, gnomes, toy animals and dolls, including doll clothing, houses and furniture and using natural materials to make toys like pine cone birds, bark boats, wooden animals and log trains.

Below is a photo of my youngest daughter’s make-believe fairy, which kept her occupied for hours in the local park, while our car was repaired during a family holiday.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_7246There is also a large introductory section on the meaning and importance of play; the three stages of play; appropriate toys for each stage; and outdoor play.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6575

Feltcraft: Making Dolls, Gifts and Toys by Petra Berger 1994

Felt is a wonderful medium for children to sew, as it is strong, firm and colourful; does not fray at the edges; and is easy to cut out into different shapes. Starting with simple embroidery stitches and instructions on making hair, the book describes a wealth of toy materials, construction methods and projects including:

Wooden standing dolls: Gnomes; a royal family; Saint Nicholas; an angel; a mother and baby ; hazelnut children; a wooden doll with moveable arms and legs and matchbox dolls;

Felt Dolls: Basic model; gnomes; woollen dolls; flower children and blossom fairies; finger puppets; and walking dolls;

Dolls with pipe-cleaner frames: Basic model; Christmas gnome; jester; man; and the man in the moon;

Animals and birds: Duck and swan; a bird; a seal; a butterfly mobile; a snail; cats, dogs and mice; a horse; a rooster; simple felt pictures and books;

French knitting and crochet: a picture and bag;

Felt gifts: Balls; jewellery; a gnome and a clown brooch; bookmarks; comb cases; scissor cases; egg cosies; purses and little gift boxes.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6577

The Nature Corner: Celebrating the Year’s Cycle With a Seasonal Tableau by M van Leeuwen and J Moeskops 1990

After a brief discussion on arranging seasonal tableaux and basic techniques for making dolls and marionettes with sheep’s wool, cotton, felt, cardboard cones, wire and wood, as well as creating faces and embroidering hair, this lovely book follows the seasons and special celebratory periods with instructions for all the elements of seasonal tableaux from:

Early Spring: Mother Earth and root children;

Spring: Spring fairies; flower children; felt dandelions;

Easter, Ascension and Whitsun: Hen with chicks; hares; sheep with lambs; paper flowers; Whitsun doves and a Whitsun wedding couple;

Summer: Beehive with bees; Summer fairies; grass wreaths; and sandcastles;

Autumn: Pumpkin child; toadstools; teasel hedgehog and spider; a boy with a kite; and a spider web;

Hallowe’en and Martinmas: Lanterns; gnomes; and mice;

Advent and Christmas: Saint Nicholas and assistant; an angel; sheep, oxen and ass; crib figures- Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus; the shepherds and the three kings;

Winter: King Winter and Mrs Thaw.

It is a wonderful way to develop and promote an appreciation of nature and the seasons in young children.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6576

My final book, Baby Crafts by Juliet Moxley 1995,  looks at sewing for children and contains 25 wonderful creative projects to make for babies, exposing the latter to the wonderful world of colour.

They are divided into four categories:

First Needs: Moses basket; cot quilt; laundry bag; nappy stacker; travel seat; sleeping bag; night dresses and caps; and rag doll pyjamas case;

Bathing and Playtime: Fish bath mat and mitts; bath robe; cardigan and beret; play mat; painting smocks; and a very cute crazy patchwork teddy;

The Nursery: Torn paper frieze; painted toy box and chair; a delightful wall hanging with pockets based on the tale of the Princess and the Pea; a cot and quilt cover and an animal mobile using reverse applique

Photo of animal patches for mobile

Special Occasions: A beautiful christening robe and pin cushion; some very appealing Christmas stockings; painted plates; and a cross stitch sampler.

While directed primarily at adults, some can be achieved by children like the torn paper frieze and the painting projects. It’s a lovely book and is a great way to generate a love of bright colours and start young children off on their own creative journeys.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6578

 

Books on Doll Making

Last week, I shared my favourite toy and softie books with you. This week, I am focusing on doll making books.

While I tend to make toys rather than cloth dolls these days, cloth doll making is still a wonderful form of self-expression and creativity and these books are classics in the doll making world!

One name that is synonymous with contemporary doll making is that of Susanna Oroyan  (https://www.niada.org/portfolio/susanna-oroyan/). Sadly, she died in 2007, but she left behind her a wealth of doll making knowledge with her books, most of which I own except for her first (Contemporary Artist Dolls: A Collector’s Guide by Susanna Oroyan and Carol-Lynn Rössel-Waugh 1986).

In order of publication, they are:

Fantastic Figures: Ideas and Techniques Using the New Clays 1994

Anatomy of a Doll: The Fabric Sculptor’s Handbook 1997

Designing the Doll: From Concept to Construction 1999

Finishing the Figure: Doll Costuming, Embellishments and Accessories 2001

Dolls of the Art Deco Era 1910-1940: Collect, Restore, Create and Play 2004

They are all fabulous books with beautiful dolls, packed with information and very inspiring photographs!

The first book, Fantastic Figures concentrates on working with the new polymer and paper clays, from working armatures to sculpting and curing heads, bodies and limbs, then finishing with painting and wax, as well as wigging, clothing and accessories.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6538

The dolls are so life-like and amazing, but I think cloth dolls and soft sculpture is much more my forté, so her next book Anatomy of a Doll has been very well-perused!

The first section discusses the creative process and the design process in depth, including the origin of ideas and concepts, as well as variations, then looks at the evolution of dolls from elemental, primitive, simple and basic forms (outline dolls and rag dolls) to some very sophisticated figures.

She examines heads and faces, the body and joints (bead, stitched bead and button), working with wire armatures, and finishing the figure with hair, footwear, clothing and bases, as well as a myriad of embellishments, all supported with photograph galleries of other talented dollmaker’s artworks.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6537

Designing the Doll is another essential book for the dollmaker’s library with more fabulous and inspiring art works and a more detailed and comprehensive analysis of doll design and construction.

Part One: Designing the Figure looks at problem solving and making choices, addressing the issues of construction (materials, costumes, embellishments and treatments); sculpture (materials, armatures, moulds); design variations and breaking rules. Considerations of form (animal, realistic human, toy, exaggerated or caricature and abstractions) and design elements (subject and motif, focal point, line, scale, colour, texture, pattern, balance, harmony, and style) are discussed in detail, including basic body proportions, developing patterns and making templates.

Part Two: Construction Materials looks at the nitty-gritty of constructing the head, body and body parts with notes on making moulds (wax, plaster, elasticon, latex and RTV); wire armatures; sculpture mechanics and movement; joint physics, considerations, design and construction; and cloth figure construction.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6534

Finishing the Figure is the final book in the trilogy, looking at costume and elements of design (line, scale, texture and especially colour), as well as a large section on pattern drafting and historical costumery.

The elements of costume include underwear, underpinnings, petticoats and panniers, kirtles and corsets to bodices, skirts, dresses, folk costumes, pockets, headwear and shoes.

The section on embellishments is equally large and ranges from painting, stencils, stamping, embossing, printing, dyeing and burning to machine work, pleating, weaving, felting, beadwork, hand embroidery, lacework and appliqué.

Specialized costume like wings, glasses, jewellery and animals have their own chapter, as do the elements of display, including furniture; doll photography; and transport considerations (packing and shipping).BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6536

I bought Dolls of the Art Deco Era to try and discover more about the vintage doll parts in my collection.

Boudoir dolls, which were dolls for adults, were displayed in the bedrooms of the era, especially the porcelain and wax-over-chalk half dolls and heads, which could be attached to pin cushions, purses, powder boxes on the dressing table and even lamps.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6517 I particularly love the flapper wax doll heads, the cloth mask faces made in Belgium and the antique French boudoir half dolls.

While I did not find my dolls in this book, I did learn so much about the Art Deco period, the dolls and dollmakers of the era,  the art of collecting vintage dolls, repairing and storing vintage dolls, and making and costuming boudoir dolls. I suspect most of my collection hails from the 1920s, when Marie Antoinette, Flapper and Harlequin and Pierrot dolls were very popular. See: http://www.jazzageclub.com/fads/the-boudoir-doll-craze/#more-916 for more on boudoir dolls.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6533

Patti Medaris Culea is another well-known name in the doll making book world. See: http://www.pmcdesigns.com/ and https://dollmakersjourney.com/culea.html, as well as her videos on cloth doll making (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpoxSzpx0zQ) and cloth doll faces (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klNPrt0EUao) .

I own three of her books:

Creative Cloth Doll Making: New Approaches For Using Fibers, Beads, Dyes, and Other Exciting Techniques 2003;

Creative Cloth Doll Couture: New Approaches to Making Beautiful Clothing and Accessories 2006;   and

Creative Cloth Explorations: Adventures in Fairy-Inspired Fiber Art 2009.

Patti’s dolls are always very bright, fun and colourful and she makes the most of all the wonderful materials and embellishments available today!

In Creative Cloth Doll Making, she generously shares all her knowledge about the basics: the basic kit; laying out patterns; turning fingers; stuffing body parts; and creating the face, before progressing to all the fun and magical bits: surface coloration with dyes (silk dyes), paints (Dye-NA-Flow; Lumiere paints; pearl-ex pigments; textile paints; Prismacolor pencils; gel pens and Zig Millenium pens) and stamps (Impress Me); working with Tyvek, liners and machine embroidery; beading using Peyote and bead embroidery techniques; and collage with fabric, beading and photo transfer.

She explores all these techniques with backup projects like the Beginning Doll, seen on the front cover, and a gallery of other artists’ work. The patterns for the projects are in the back, as well as details about the contributing artists.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6541After an introductory chapter on making the basic cloth doll, Creative Cloth Doll Couture focuses on costumes and accessories.

There are four wardrobes: a 1940s Haute Couture stylish suit; a 1960s Flower Power outfit; a Formal Affair and a whimsical Fairy Gathering, each section a platform for teaching specific techniques like collage and layering appliqués, fibres and transfers (1960s);  working with beads, lace, satin and silk (Formal affair); and dyeing, painting and stamping (Fairy outfit) and again, reinforcing and inspiring with a gallery of other artist’s work.

.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6542

Her last book, Creative Cloth Explorations has a similar presentation to the previous two books, but dives headlong into the fairy world, a perfect venue for indulging in extreme creativity!

The first chapter on basic techniques and supplies for fibre arts is a bit longer and more comprehensive than its counterpart in the other books and covers: the basic sewing kit; the basic beading kit; the basic embellishing kit; making stencils; using silk rods, waste and cocoons; stabilizers; photo transfer; threads, needles and presser feet; colour; embellishments and embroidery and beading stitches.

There are some wonderful projects: an Art Nouveau Fairy themed journal with fairy pages and a book mark and a fairy fan, as well as gallery pages showcasing the inspiring work of other artists.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6540

Making Creative Cloth Dolls by Marthe Le Van 2002

My final book with some wonderful totemic and abstract spirit dolls!

Basic materials and techniques are covered in the first chapter by Barbara Carleton Evans with some useful notes on design, journaling, conceptualizing and proportion and movement.

Marthe then presents a series of Blank Canvas projects, based on basic forms: Clarity; Energy and Strength for the reader to make, then decorate and embellish creatively.

She also asked four other doll artists to decorate them as well as a platform for showing different techniques and the huge potential and versatility of the craft. She also invited ten talented designers to create unique patterns to showcase more inspirational ideas.

Along the way, she also discusses the use of doll making for personal growth; art therapy and healing; and past historical and cultural associations, including health insurance, good luck, fertility, magic, the supernatural world and sacrifice.

There are a number of contemporary photo galleries for further inspiration: a Gallery of Mystics;  a Gallery of Storytellers;  a Gallery of Angels and Demons; a Gallery of Legends; and a Gallery of Body Language.

This is a particularly good book for beginners and people with limited experience, as it promotes creativity and imagination without overwhelming the reader!BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6543

Other sources of inspiration include doll making groups, like Western Dollmakers, in Western Australia ( http://westerndollmakers.com/), magazines like Art Doll Quarterly http://www.artdollquarterly.com/ and https://stampington.com/blog/ and commercial patterns.

There are so many talented artists in the cloth doll world. Some of my favourites include:

Julie McCullough of Magic Threads: https://www.magicthreads.com/ and https://dollmakersjourney.com/mccullough.html, as well as designers like: Elise Peeples; Jo Maxwell; Bev Bradford; Ann Clemens; Priscilla McDonald; Maxine Gallagher and  Sally Lampi eg The Weather Vane in the photo below.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_7211Many of their patterns can be sourced on websites like: https://dollmakersjourney.com and http://dollmakersjourney.net/ and Pinterest is also a wonderful source of inspiration and ideas.

Next week, I will be looking at books about sewing with and for children. Until then, Happy Creating!

Books about Toymaking

Last week, I shared my toymaking journey with you. Here are some of the books in my craft library for the aspiring toymakers amongst you!

Sewing Sculpture by Charleen Kinser 1977

One of my very first books on soft sculpture and still a favourite for its originality, its notes on design and its patterns.

The first two chapters discuss the inherent qualities of the craft; developing visual awareness and clarifying your perception; and recognizing symbols and form.

The next chapter takes a comprehensive look at the nature of different materials:

Fibres: Cotton, linen, wool, silk, acrylic, nylon and polyester;

Fabrics: Woven, knitted and felted fabrics;

Other materials: Leathers, fur, fleece and vinyls;

Threads and Yarns, both utilitarian and decorative: Mercerized cotton, linen, silk, nylon and polyester; and

Fillers: Cotton or polyester batting; down; foam rubber and polyurethane foam; styrofoam pellets, dried straw and grasses; excelsior; wood shavings and sawdust; sand and pebbles; sewing and knitting scraps; and aromatic dried herbs and flowers.

It also discusses the workplace and the tools of the trade: Sewing machine; shears; needles; pressing aids and stuffing aids.

Design is a major part of sewn sculpture and is covered in two chapters with notes on:

Idea and concept;

Elements of surface design elements: Colour; pattern and texture; theme; contrast and comparisons; transitions; variation and repetition;

Elements of drama: Proportion; composition; and staging;

Seams and darts: Placement and type;

Borrowing shapes from objects and patterns; and

Materials as a point of departure.

The thoosing fabrics; pattern and fabric preparation; stitching and types of seams; stuffing; special considerations for working with leather, fake fur and knits; surface ornamentation and batik; and making geometric forms (box, cone, tube, opposing triangles and squares, softball, closed doughnut, spiral and globe) are all discussed in the next two chapters before presenting a variety of wonderful patterns:

Floor cushions and nest chairs; scallop and marble cone pillows; pillow dolls; tiny witches and life-size grannies; floral toads and huge grizzly bears and seal sliders; some wonderful ogres and an orphan Annie doll; an Art Nouveau plant form and a beautiful leather gentle beast; and finally, a set of soft sculpture heads.

This book is full of wonderfully creative ideas and possibilities and is a terrific book for toymakers wanting to design their own original patterns!

BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6550

Toys For Your Delight by Winsome Douglass 1962

Another excellent old book, written by embroidery expert Winsome Douglass, which has a similarly broad scope, allowing for plenty of creativity and personal self-expression. The introduction covers the basics:

Tools and equipment;

Materials and the use of paper mounts with fraying materials;

Surface decoration: embroidery, appliqué, beads and sequins;

Embroidery stitches; and

Stuffing.

BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6551

The majority of the book is devoted to patterns, but the instructions are general and allow for lots of variations. The simplest form of toy is a ball, with patterns given for four-sectioned, six-sectioned and eight-sectioned balls.BlogSoftToys2015-04-22 08.58.14The chapter on animals starts with notes on wiring, manes and tails, ears and eyes, horns, decorated heads and moveable legs before describing a variety of separate animals: a dachshund, reindeer, cow, horses and deer, a sitting cat and a tiger, a lizard and toad, and a magical griffin.

The chapter on birds starts with notes on beaks, heads and crests, tails, wings, and feet, legs and stands with patterns for sitting ducks and hens, small birds on conical stands and cockerels on cotton reels,  and two standing birds, all magnificently embroidered.

Insects and fish are also covered with notes on insect wings, legs and feelers and hints on design and patterns for wasps, flies, ladybirds, butterflies, fish and sea-serpents. More complex creatures include a rocking bird, a tortoise, a pig, a camel, a donkey and cart, a French poodle, an elephant, an alligator and dragonflies.

Papier-maché toys, Christmas decorations and dolls and their toys are also covered in depth. Below are a few photos of Christmas decorations I have made using this book: BlogSoftToys2015-10-13 14.34.34BlogSoftToys25%IMG_7226While many of the toys shown in the colour plates look a little dated now, the use of modern materials and bright colours would totally revolutionize their appearance and I love the bold black-and-white designs in this book. It allows for plenty of individuality and creativity in the execution of its patterns.

However, if you would prefer more detailed precise patterns, so you can reproduce exactly the same toy described, then the next suite of books are perfect for you!

Titmouse Cottage Designs by Christine Brooke 1992 is an Australian book, based on an original range of woodland characters for her shop Titmouse Cottage: Mr and Mrs Nibble, Amelia, Miss Poppet, Rosebud and Missy Mouse. Patterns and step-by-step instructions for making and dressing these delightful little felt mice make it easy to reproduce them.

The author also gives introductory notes on equipment, materials, working with felt, stuffing, attaching beads and lace and general instructions for making ears, paws, heads, noses and eyes, whiskers, tails, glasses, mob caps and sleeves with patterns and pattern layouts in the back of the book. Each specific pattern details the mouse’s size and personality, materials used and method, including black-and white sketches and colour plates. They are very sweet little characters, which I would love to try making one day, especially Rosebud and seamstress, Miss Poppet!BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6556

Little Grey Rabbit’s Pattern Book by Pamela Peake 1988 is based on the world of Little Grey Rabbit, created by much-loved British children’s author Alison Uttley with patterns and clothes for five characters: Little Grey Rabbit, Squirrel, Old Hedgehog, Weasel and Hare.

General directions include notes on patterns, fur fabric choice, layouts, cutting, seams, ladder stitching, stuffing, safety eyes, whiskers and tape hinges for limbs. They are lovely patterns, though those in the next book are even more attractive.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6557

Sue Dolman’s Book of Animal Toys by Sue Dolman 1994 also features mainly British animals, the exception being Kenny the Koala! General notes are provided on fabrics and furs, equipment, patterns, cutting out, trimming fur, stitching, trimming seams, turning, filling and the assembly of body parts.

Characters include: Freddie and Freda Fox, Brewster and Bertha Bear, Kenny Koala, Reggie and Rosie Rabbit, Bertie Badger and the entire mouse family: Mrs Maisie Mouse, Baby Mouse, Miss Molly Mouse and Master Monty Mouse.

BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6558

Each project includes actual-size patterns, notes on materials, step-by-step instructions and drawings and clothing. I used the pattern for baby mouse to create these cute felt mice in the photo below and could easily make up some of the other patterns, especially Bertha Bear and Baby Mouse’s mother, Mrs Maisie Mouse.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_7236Countryside Softies by Amy Adams 2011 is another favourite toymaking book with 28 very cute and whimsical woollen creatures made out of recycled felted old jumpers or blankets, though I prefer to use ordinary felt, having had to do a major clean-out of my severely-clogged front-loading washing machine after trying to felt an old jumper. I think having an old top-loader expressly for felting would be ideal!BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6559

Tools and equipment, materials and notions, embroidery stitches and detailed notes on felting wool and making weighted bodies; tummy and chest patches; snouts and beaks; eyes, mouths and ears; wings, feet, claws and arms; tails; whiskers; and insect legs and antennae are all discussed in the introduction, before presenting groupings of patterns according to their home environment:

In the Hedgerow: Fox; rabbit; hedgehog; robin; bumblebee; and butterfly;

Amongst the Woodlands: Squirrel; badger; owl; mouse; and toadstool; and

Along the Riverbank: Otter; swan; duck; kingfisher; and dragonfly.

There are patterns for baby versions, as well as related plant materials and props like bulrushes, carrots, chestnuts, fish and eggs, and notes on making mobiles and finger puppets. Each project details requirements and assembly instructions, while the patterns are in the back of the book, along with a list of resources. You can see more of her work at: http://www.lucykatecrafts.co.uk/ and http://lucykatecrafts.blogspot.com/.

I just adore her style, the mixture of felt/ wool with floral patches; her recycling ethics; and her patterns. They are seriously cute! I have made her Baby Rabbit for my daughter for Easter one year, but am keen to try my hand at her Fox; Robin; Badger; Owl; Mouse; Toadstool; Duck and Kingfisher.

BlogCreativity120%ReszdEarly march 2013 144

I have mentioned the next book briefly in my post on Fabulous Felting Books: https://candeloblooms.com/2018/07/17/fabulous-felting-books/, which also describes a few other books on toymaking, as does my post on Knitting Books: https://candeloblooms.com/2018/06/26/books-for-winter-knitting-part-two/.

Sew Soft Toys: Using Natural Fibres by Karin Neuschütz 2007

A lovely book from our Steiner years using cotton, drill, flannel, towelling, wool gabardine, wool felt, fur and dupion silk to make dogs and cats; mice and bunnies; horses, donkeys and zebras; cows, sheep and pigs; seals and penguins; red and polar foxes; brown bears and polar bears; weasels; and elephants, camels and giraffes, all with baby equivalents and notes on variations (eg transforming the bunny into a squirrel)!  I used this book to make Jen a camel and Caro an embroidered piglet.BlogCreativity120%ReszdEarly march 2013 014BlogSoftToys25%IMG_7232 There are introductory notes on fabrics and stuffing materials; washing instructions and storage; and sewing and stuffing with detailed notes on materials; patterns and step-by-step instructions for assembling and stuffing each project.BlogSoftToys2017-08-28 18.04.20 They are lovely patterns and I am keen to make more, especially the mice (little grey mouse in photo above); the donkey; and the African elephant.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6560

It will be a very useful book for pcreating my Noah’s Ark Christmas ornaments!BlogFeltBooks2515-10-13 15.06.45Sock and Glove: Creating Charming Soft Friends From Cast-Off Socks and Gloves by Miyako Kanamori  2005

This book also appealed to my recycling and thrifty instincts, as well as being exceedingly cute!

Written from the point of view of the characters created, it is a charming book, which introduces all the sock creatures first and tells their stories, before getting down to the details of their assembly in the back of the book with detailed notes and sketches. Gloves were used to make Billy the Dog and the rabbit, bear, pig and panda, while mittens were used to make the mouse and bonus fish. Marcus the Monkey and the dog, cat, sheep, bird, fish, elephant, zebra and girl were all made from old socks.

I just loved Billy the Dog, who features on the front cover and whose face can be portrayed in so many different ways, changing his character totally. I also loved the sheep, the mouse, the sock fish, the bear, the elephant and the zebra. Clothing patterns are also provided to dress the characters.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6561

Steampunk Softies: Scientifically Minded Dolls From a Past That Never Was by Sarah Skeate and Nicola Tedman 2011

And now, for something completely different…! I just love the originality and creativity of steam punk and the fact that anything goes!! Materials and accessories; cutting out; gluing; and ageing fabrics with wax, toothpaste, chalk, scratching and bleaching to give that essential timeworn appearance and ‘authenticity’ are all discussed in the introduction, followed by detailed notes on each project’s personality; materials and equipment; and assembly and construction.

Characters include: the mysterious illusionist and teleporter, Tompion Zeitgeist; the deep sea diver, Fathomless Tilt *; the Steam Punk Lady, Marveletta O’Houlihan; the mining prospector, Geronimo Bore; the intrepid explorer, Floyd Fastknight *; the aviatrix, Charity Storm; the lady detective, Minerva Dupine* and the steam punk doctor, Ferris Scapula.  They are all delightful characters, with my favourites highlighted with an asterix *.

It’s a wonderful way to use up all those obscure bits and pieces in your hoard and letting your creativity run wild!BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6562

Finally, a book on top dollmakers and the secrets of their trade:

We Make Dolls: Top Doll Makers Share Their Secrets and Patterns by Jenny Doh 2012

After a brief section by Jenny Doh, in which she discusses templates, seam allowances, doll making tools, embroidery and hand stitches and tips and techniques, including clipping and notching curves, turning and stuffing, raw-edge applique and rotating joints, the doll makers themselves are introduced, complete with websites; notes on their dollmaking journeys; tips and secrets; and patterns with finished sizes, materials, preparation and step-by-step construction notes.

I particularly liked the style and work of Mimi Kirchner (http://mimikirchner.com/blog/) and Denise Ferragamo (http://deniseferragamo.blogspot.com/). I particularly liked Denises’s Matryoshka dolls, which can be seen on: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/374784000213602208/?lp=true and https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/864409722201944266/. It is also well worth exploring Mimi’s blog with links to other useful and inspiring craft and art blogs.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6563

Next week, I will be sharing some of my favourite dollmaking books.

Craft Books: A Miscellaneous Medley

While I would probably classify myself as a textile artist, with the majority of my books covering the textile crafts of embroidery; sewing and dressmaking; patchwork, appliqué and quilting; soft toy making; felting; knitting and crochet; textile dyeing; printing; and paper crafts, I also own a few books on other fibre crafts like basketry, making corn dollies, whittling, bread dough sculpture and making paper kites and lanterns, as well as those using totally different mediums, including wax (candle making); glass (jewellery making); and clay (mosaics, handmade tiles and sculpture). Many of these crafts are relatively cheap, as they use natural materials (plant fibres, bread, wood, paper, wax and sand or dirt) and forces (hands, wind, light) and can be enjoyed at both a beginner or advanced level. Here is a selection of books accrued during my journey through life!

Basketry and Weaving With Natural Materials by Pat Dale 1998

I have always loved baskets and have been fascinated for years by the whole basketmaking process, so when I discovered that we had an active basketmaking group, Basketeers Wyndham, here on the Far South Coast of NSW, I spent a day with them at their local meeting place, the Willy Wagtail Café, Wyndham. They are a lovely group and very generous with their time, knowledge and materials and I really enjoyed making the small basket below, however I did not pursue the craft further due to early arthritic changes in both my hands (feltmaking also went by the way for the same reason- I need to save my hands for embroidery!), not to mention the fact that you need heaps of room to dry, process and store natural fibres from the garden. However, if you are interested in basket making, joining a basketmaking group is a great way to learn basic hands-on techniques, as well as being a lot of fun!BlogMiscMedley2015-09-01 14.10.58I would also highly recommend this book as an excellent beginner’s guide to basketry and weaving with natural materials. It starts with a large section on natural materials: the leaves of agave, arum lily, bulrush, cane grass, canna lily, corn, cymbidium, Hemerocallis, dianella, ginger, gladioli, iris, cliveas, kangaroo paw, lomandra, phormium, kniphofia, and a variety of rushes and palms; and the stems of box thorn, native hibiscus, lavender, wattles, elms and oaks, kurrajong, paperbark and casuarinas, clematis, coral pea, dodder, ivy, jasmine, lawyer vine, lignum and wisteria, including a description, harvesting and preparation notes, and availability. It’s a wonderful sideline for gardeners, as you can use all your prunings and old leaves to great effect with zero waste! Below are photos of Monbretia (on the left) and Kniphofia (on the right), whose strappy leaves are perfect for basketry materials!

The book progresses to teaching basic techniques like under-and-over weaving; braiding and plaiting with three strands, basic melon basket construction and basket coiling with easy random stitching and using natural plant dyes, as well as providing instructions for a few easy projects, including harvest dolls, tassels, lavender wands or bottles, three palm sheath containers, a plaited and sewn Autumn mat, a stitched and coiled basket and a God’s Eye. Throughout the book are excellent diagrams and beautiful colour photographs of natural materials and projects.BlogMiscMedley25%IMG_6304

I have attended many different craft classes during my life, some more obscure than others, like Painting Ukrainian Easter Eggs and Making Corn Dollies, and this next book resulted from the latter workshop.

Discovering Corn Dollies by M. Lambeth 1994

Corn dollies are decorative art forms made from straw since pagan times to celebrate successful harvests and bring good luck and fertility.BlogMiscMedley25%IMG_6358 This little paperback describes the huge wealth of legends and traditions surrounding them; the basic plaiting technique; and all the different designs: the traditional dolly or Neck; a variety of Countryman’s Favours; the Glory; the Mare; the Staffordshire Knot; the Cambridgeshire Handbell and Umbrella; Horns; the Crook; the Crown; the Suffolk Horseshoe; the Pickering Chalice; the Yorkshire Candlestick; the Essex Terret; Mother Earth;  Heredfordshire and Welsh Fans and Scandinavian Christmas Ornaments. While there is a small amount of basic instruction, it is more a theoretical book, but does give a good idea of this craft’s long history and traditions.

BlogMiscMedley25%IMG_6302

Bread Dough Creations by Susan Roach 1993

Another obscure phase, which didn’t last very long in my childhood, was modelling bread dough creations and they can be surprisingly effective and quite pretty, given their unlikely source of material. This small book showcases this art form very well, describing the materials and basic techniques and a number of projects embellished with bread dough flowers and shapes from jewellery, hair combs and headbands, and hand mirrors and photo frames to thimbles, jewellery boxes, candle holders, serviette rings, wall plaques, door hangers and door wedges. It certainly is a cheap hobby, a great use for old bread and a fun craft to try with your kids.BlogMiscMedley25%IMG_6303

Whittling by Rosalie Brown 1977

Another cheap and fun craft for kids and adults alike is whittling wood. All it requires is a wood and a penknife and lots of practice and patience, though you do need tools to sharpen the knife, as well as sandpaper, varnishes and paints to finish the work. Chapters cover: sharpening a penknife; woods and how to identify them, basic carving techniques and safety considerations, and notes for carving a wide variety of projects, including paper knives; picnic cutlery; chopsticks; napkin rings; animals and birds; chess pieces; walking sticks; and totem poles and symbols. Soap and plaster carving are also discussed. It is a comprehensive little book, which should provide hours of fun and inspiration.BlogMiscMedley25%IMG_6301

Kites by Didier Carpentier and Joël Bachelet 1981

Making and flying kites is another fun hobby! It too has a long history, originating in China 4000 years ago, and is popular all over the world, especially in China, Japan and Korea. The first few chapters discuss the history and stories behind kites; the necessary safety precautions; the parts of a kite; classification of designs and categories; physical aspects; winds; methods for measuring altitude; the take-off; and problem areas, causes and remedies, followed by a more detailed examination of the different parts of the kite (bridles and keels, knots,  tails, reels); tools and materials; basic instructions for making  and decorating paper and collapsible nylon kites and descriptions of a wide variety of different types of kites with some amazing appearances and structures and names like the Dragon, the Cobra and the Centipede to the Triple Conyne; Double-sailed Roller; Pomoserf, Saconney and Cody; and the Stunter and the Fourré  43.BlogMiscMedley25%IMG_6300

In our early years of married life, we made a basic paper kite, based on the old nursery rhyme about the cow that jumped over the moon, for a family kite flying competition, in which we came a very creditable second place!BlogMiscMedley40%IMG_6309BlogMiscMedley30%IMG_6308BlogMiscMedley50%IMG_6310Magic Lanterns by Mary Maguire 2002

Lanterns have also fascinated me over the years with some memorable nights on the banks of the Lismore (2004 Top photo) and Moruya Rivers (2016 Second photo) during their lantern festivals. While the Riverlights Lantern parade is no longer part of the Granite Town Festival (Moruya River), the next Lismore Lantern Parade is on 22 Jun 2019. See: https://www.lanternparade.com/.

BlogMiscMedley25%IMG_6356BlogMiscMedley25%Photo 28-10-16, 8 57 32 pmThis lovely book has instructions for a wide range of lanterns from simple and colourful paper bag lanterns, Chinese lanterns, carved squash, punched tins and frosted jars to tin foil garden flowers, weird icicles, flower fairy bells, stars on sticks and crescent moons, willow fish, Christmas lights and whimsical goblin night lights. It discusses materials and equipment; safety and illumination; and the basic techniques for creating and covering structures. I could make any one of these delightful, magical and highly creative lanterns!

BlogMiscMedley25%IMG_6299

In her book, the author refers to the deep emotional connection that we have to the lighting of yesteryear, which manifests itself in our yearning for simplicity, now that electric lighting has obviated the need for lanterns and candles. We still enjoy using both for special occasions like Christmas and Halloween or for romantic dinners, so it stands to reason that I would have two books on candles and candle making in my craft library!

The Book of Candles by Miranda Innes 1991

Both a theoretical and practical guide, this book begins with their history and a Catalogue of Candles and Candlesticks, discussing the different kinds of candles (dipped, church, beeswax, Christmas, decorated, scented, floating and garden) and candlesticks (metal, ceramic, glass, wood,chandeliers,  candelabras and sconces) and accessories (dripcatchers, shade holders, candle shades, snuffers, wick trimmers, candle boxes, candle stickers and foam snuggers).

The second half of the book describes the art of making candles: the ingredients (types of wax, wicks, dyes, paints and crayons) and basic equipment (double boiler, hotplate, scales, wax thermometer, newspaper, aprons, stirring spoon or stick, moulds, tweezers and scissors); general tips (melting wax, using beeswax, priming the wick and general precautions); making dipped, moulded, scented, rolled and pressed flower candles and methods of decoration (painting techniques and using mixed media including fresh foliage, foil, tissue paper and carving).

I will definitely be trying to make dipped candles, scented and pressed flower candles in the future! A good general guide for beginners like me!

BlogMiscMedley25%IMG_6298

The New Candle Book by Gloria Nicol 1995

A similar type of book, it is larger and more comprehensive. Again, the first half of the book is devoted to chapters exploring their use in the home; different themes , seasons and special occasions like weddings, christenings, St Valentine’s Day, Easter, Christmas, Halloween and birthdays; and different types of candles. It gives you a good idea of the wide variety of uses and presentations, from Victorian pressed glass and embossed tumblers and old-fashioned china teacups to floral arrangements, shells and floating bowls. But be warned, I once had a monumental and memorable disaster when the floating candles were caught under the rim of the bowl, the flames heating the glass until it shattered spectacularly, deluging the dinner table with water!

The second half of the book looks at practical considerations: Materials and equipment; detailed instructions for making dipped, moulded, scented;, candy-twist, floating , sand and rolled candles; decorating techniques (carved, stencilled, sponged or embossed; painted or marbled; using foil, gold leaf and sequins); and candle holders (types and projects). I love the idea of using old sardine cans and bottles and would love to try making the Byzantine jam jars, the Foil Leaf Chandelier and the colourful tin foil pie dish flowerheads of the Garden Candleholders. There are also patterns for storage boxes and candle shades.BlogMiscMedley25%IMG_6297

The Complete Book of Glass Beadmaking by Kimberley Adams 2005

When I think of crafts involving light, I automatically think of glass and this next book is the glass beadmaker’s bible! My daughter studied glass bead making as part of her Design and Technology course in Year 12 and made some beautiful jewellery pieces, many of which she sold at the local craft gallery. Below are photos of her final year project for D & T: Rainforest, River and Sea 2006 and my favourite necklace!BlogMiscMedley30%DSCF0312BlogMiscMedley40%DSCF9207This book covers everything you need to know about glass bead making:

Tools, supplies and materials required;

Setting up the studio, ventilation and lighting, ergonomics and the all-important safety equipment, clothing and precautions;

Basic techniques: prepping the mandrels, lighting and using the torch, heating the glass to the molten state, winding the first bead, varying the bead shape, finishing the ends, flame annealing and cooling, and removing the beads from the mandrel; and

Shaping the beads: barrels, rounded or oblong, cones and bicones, pressed, disc, grooved and patterned, stacking colours and surface decoration (frit, dots, making and using stringers, twists, trailing and averturine).BlogMiscMedley30%IMG_6320Intermediate techniques include: Applying enamels; reduction frit; encasing beads; altering bead surfaces with mixed media (baking soda, mica powders and etching cream); shaping and sculpting (furrows, cutting hot glass, sculpting with a graphite paddle, pinching glass with tweezers and making large-hole beads); adding metals to beads (leaf and foils; silver stringers, shavings and fine wire; and copper tubing); and gravity beads, millefiori and dichroic glass. The beads in the photo below were made from recycled window pane glass and were Caro’s first experience with glass-making.BlogMiscMedley40%DSCF2596The Advanced section includes notes on: Fuming; hollow beads; sculptural techniques for making winged hearts, spiral seashells and Aegean urns; and making decorative canes (millefiori or mosaic glass, latticino and murrini), including numbers and letters, eyes and portraits and flowers. More of Caro’s homemade glass bead jewellery…..BlogMiscMedley30%DSCF5112_1BlogMiscMedley30%DSCF5123_1BlogMiscMedley30%DSCF5124_1Each section is supported by wonderful full-colour gallery pages showcasing all these techniques and types of glass beads and there is a trouble-shooting guide at the end of the book, as well as a pattern and instructions for making a ventilation hood.

It is an excellent guide for anyone who loves glass beads and colour and essential for serious glass bead makers!

BlogMiscMedley30%IMG_6296Backyard Mosaics by Connie Sheerin 2002

If colour is your thing, then you are sure to love mosaics! My first experience with this craft form was with a friend when my children were young. We made mosaic stepping stones from circular concrete pavers and they have followed us to every garden, their installation being one of the very first gardening chores of the new property !Blog NewBeginnings20%Reszd2015-01-21 10.34.49

I loved fitting all the colours and random shaped pieces to create personal artworks. My next experience was a Mother’s Day workshop with Helen Millar of a Flock of Birds (http://www.flockofbirdsmosaics.org/), in which I made a Mother Bird and Baby Bird Plate. It was such a fun day and the time just flew! I was in another world!BlogCreativity120%Reszd2014-05-03 20.36.56Helen holds one day classes at the Geelong West Community Centre, where I also attended a second workshop to make two Birds on a Stick.Blog SpringsprungFav20%ReszdIMG_0580Making mosaics is very addictive and limited only by availability of materials! Because we have moved a bit, carting broken tiles and china and heavy bags of grout and cement is not really an option, but now we are settled, I may start to amass my materials again! I certainly plan to make a mosaic one day with all the broken bits of china, glass and ironware, which we have unearthed in our ex-turn of the century-blacksmith- garden!

Mosaics can be used to decorate all manner of things from tables, trays and trolleys to votive holders, picture and mirror frames, signs, boxes and birdhouses, fountains, balls, pots and planters and garden statues. They can be made from ceramic tiles, glass, china and pottery, shells and buttons and are used to a wide variety of surfaces from wood to ceramics, cement, metal, glass, mirror and plastic. All are described in this lovely book, along with :

Other basic materials: Grout; colorants, adhesives and sealers; pattern drawing supplies (transfer paper, graph paper, templates, rulers, pencils and markers); and protective gear (goggles and latex gloves);

Equipment:  Tile cutters and nippers; mallets; spreaders; tweezers and brushes;

Basic techniques: Preparation of china, tiles and surfaces; adhering the tesserae to the surface; grouting the design; cleaning up the grout; and finishing the piece; as well as making glass sandwich tiles with pressed flowers.

The rest of the book is devoted to a wide variety of mosaic projects for the garden and outdoor living. I loved her White Daisy Table; Hearts and Flowers Gazing Ball; and her Mosaic Frog, Turtle and Mushroom Garden Statues.BlogMiscMedley30%IMG_6295For more about the use of mosaic in gardens, see my post on Artists Gardens: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/10/11/favourite-private-specialty-gardens-part-1-artists-gardens/.

Handmade Tiles by Frank Giorgini 1994

This book is for those, who would prefer to make their own handmade tiles, rather than smash them up for mosaics!!! This lovely book teaches you how to design, make and decorate your own tiles for a very personal touch in your home!

The book starts with a detailed description of the handcrafted tradition in ceramic tiles from their use in Ancient Egyptian tombs and Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian and Spanish palaces to Italian maiolica; Dutch delftware; Medieval raised earthy tiles and inlaid tiles; Minton’s multi-colored encaustic inlaid floor tiles of the Industrial Revolution; the decorative art tiles of the Arts and Crafts movement in America (Mercer’s Moravian Pottery and Tileworks;  Grueby Faience Company; Rookwood Pottery; Pewabic Pottery; Batchelder tiles; Claycraft Potteries; and California China Products Company; Calco; Malibu Tiles; Solon and Schemmel; and California Faience); and the revival of the handcrafted tradition from the 1960s to the 1990s.

Material, tools and equipment are discussed next, as well as in Chapter 14, including clay, kilns, pottery tools for sculpting, incising and scraping, cutting wires, templates, tile dippers, hangers, plaster-block mold forms, tile-waxing stands, slab cutters and tile presses.

The following chapters describe :

Making a flat tile: Making a slab, transferring the slab, calculating shrinkage, cutting tile shapes and drying tiles;

Making tile models for open-face press molds: Relief tiles, layering techniques and direct carving;

Making and using open-face press molds: Preparing the model and form, mixing and pouring the plaster, cleaning up and finishing the mold, and making clay plugs and pressing them into the mould;

Carved plaster blocks, tile presses and extruders, including making a carved plasterblock, pressing tiles by hand and using a tile press;

Surface decoration on unfired tiles: Stages of tile dryness, transferring designs, impressing, painting or spraying with underglazes, slips and engobes, slip trailing, inlaid tiles, sgraffiato, shellac resist, and screen printing on tiles;

Firing to hardness: Bisque firing and stages of firing;

Surface decoration on bisque tiles: Painting, dipping and spraying with glazes, wax resist for glaze separation, glaze scraping, stains and underglazes on bisques;

Glaze firing, overglazes and decals;

Mosaics: Materials and composition and mosaic design, assembly and installation;

Tile design: Applications (tables, counters, backsplashes, fireplace facades, murals, dry and wet walls and floors) and computer tile design;

Installation: Tools and adhesives; and installation on a table top; and finally and most importantly,

Health and safety: Studios, cleanliness, kiln safety, studio ventilation, protective gear, ergonomics and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).

The appendices include temperature equivalents for cone-firing ranges; a flow chart of tile techniques; slip and glaze formulas and a schedule for cone 10 glaze reduction firing.BlogMiscMedley30%IMG_6294A very comprehensive and detailed book, similar to the glass bead making book in its depth and scope. While I love the concept of making my own tiles, it is probably another lifetime for me, but I did enjoy looking at all the beautiful artistic tiles featured in the book. The next book is much more my skill level and I can definitely see myself making some of the projects!

Handmade Clay Crafts by Susan Alexander and Taffnie Bogart 2000

This delightful book has always been a favourite for its lovely presentation, excellent explanations and descriptions and its quirky creative projects using kiln-fired, oven-bake and air-dry clay. I loved them all, but especially the floral pins and stamped buttons; door knobs, tiles and mirror frames; chicken planters and bird and flower finials; and miniature shoe, skimmer and chicken ornaments.BlogMiscMedley30%IMG_6314BlogMiscMedley30%IMG_6315The possibilities are endless and further inspiration is provided in a gallery in the back, as well as a metric equivalency chart. This really is such a lovely book and highly recommended.BlogMiscMedley30%IMG_6293The Complete Potter: Animal Forms and Figurines by Rosemary Wren 1990

Another lovely book for those who like to play with clay, much of its content and photographs equally applicable and inspirational for soft toy making. Chapters cover:

Sources and development of ideas: Museums and historical precedents in clay and other mediums, zoos and aviaries; drawing in sketchbooks and experimenting with variations;

Materials: Types and properties of clay;

Equipment and its uses: Workshop; clay preparation; the wheel, turntable, working table, workboards and decorating table; lighting, claybins, small tools, glaze making equipment, drying and firing, choosing kilns and ergonomics;

Working to a theme;

Hollow handbuilding: Sculptural form; movement and expression; and decoration; and

Moulds; and

Earning your living.

There is also a gallery of inspiring artworks based on the human figure, animals and birds by twelve different artists, each describing their sources, techniques and artistic background. I particularly liked the work and style of Neil Ions and Anna Adams.BlogMiscMedley30%IMG_6292Finally, four general books on traditional and ethnic crafts:

Traditional Country Crafts by Miranda Innes 1993

A lovely book featuring a variety of traditional country crafts, including:

Needlecraft: Homely Amish and Mennonite quilts; traditional samplers; rag rugs; and feltwork;

Kitchencraft: Baskets; floor cloths; chimney boards; and punched tin;

Woodcraft: Shaker and Amish woodwork; wooden toys; weathervanes; game boards; automata; and animal houses; and

Decorative Craft: Painted ceramics; lampshades; papier mâché; flotsam and jetsam; bookbinding; and painted furniture.BlogMiscMedley30%IMG_6305Each of the 20 crafts featured includes a sample project as well. My son used this book to paint the wonderful chequered game board, which was designed by Sue Martin, in the photo below.

BlogMiscMedley25%IMG_6312

I am also very drawn to: Clare Beaton’s Flowered Felt Hat; Moira Hankinson’s Somerset Trug; Nicola Henshaw’s Pull-Along Fish (as well as her seagull and pelican!); Marion Elliot’s Papier Mâché Money-Box and Cressida Bell’s Fruity Shelves.

Classic Crafts: A Practical Compendium of Traditional Skills Edited by Martina Margetts 1989

Another lovely coffee table book with a similar project-based approach and featuring 35 country and traditional handcrafts and their talented exponents, divided into four categories:

Textile Crafts: Hand block printing; quilting, smocking, patchwork and appliqué; dyeing and knitting; tassels and braids, Ikat weaving and rag rugs;

Paper Crafts: Paper making; marbling; calligraphy, wood engraving, letterpress printing, book binding and papier mâché;

Kitchen Crafts: Goat’s cheese, festival bread and biscuit making, smoking fish, chocolate making, preserves, cider making, basketry, dried flowers and candle making; and

Decorative Crafts: Stick dressing, gilding, carved birds, toymaking, leatherwork, spongeware, stencilled tiles, stained glass and jewellery.

My one criticism of this book was the lack of attribution of the works and projects featured to their designers on the same page. There is a thank you to the artists, listed in alphabetical order, at the front of the book, but I would have liked to have had more specificity. Luckily, I was familiar with and could recognise the work of Janet Bolton, Sarah Burnett and Ann Hechle, all favourites, but it took me ages to find the spongeware and ceramic artists, whose work I adored (John Hinchcliffe and Wendy Barber) and I would also love to know the names of the artists featured in the sections on the sections on marbling; stick dressing and carved birds.BlogMiscMedley30%IMG_6306Both books played an significant role in celebrating age-old traditions and the importance of handwork. It is great to see a revival in interest in these traditional skills, so they are perpetuated in future generations. The Lost Trades Fair in Kyneton, Victoria, showcases these traditional skills here in Australia. See http://losttrades.info/ and    https://www.rundellandrundell.com.au/lost-trades-australia.

Two local artisans on the Far South Coast are the Pambula Spoonsmith (http://www.spoonsmith.com.au/) and the Galba Forge Blacksmith (https://www.galbaforge.com.au/).

World Crafts by Jacqueline Herald 1992

My final book features pottery, basketry, carving, theatre and music crafts, painted and paper products, spinning and weaving, dyeing and printing, embroidery and appliqué, floor coverings and crafts using recycled materials from all over the world. It is a fascinating book with beautiful photographs, which tells us so much about traditional crafts, as well as the different cultures themselves. It is so important to document and preserve these skills, before traditional lifestyles and the old slow ways of doing things completely disappear. I particularly loved the chapters on theatre and music crafts, painted and paper products, dyeing and printing and embroidery and appliqué.BlogMiscMedley25%IMG_6307

I hope that you have enjoyed reading about this medley of miscellaneous craft books. Next month, I will be focusing on books about soft toy making and sewing for children.

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.

BlogBksDressmaking30%IMG_5381

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 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!

BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-32

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!