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Inspiration

Three Hand Embroidery Books for Beginners and Experienced Stitchers Alike

Three embroidery books published in 2021 will appeal to those who appreciate hand-sewn embroidery. These books feature written instructions and templates, as well as helpful images and illustrations. Plus, they supply plenty of inspiration for everyone from beginners to skilled embroiderers.

The books show how this type of decorative sewing is easy to learn and accessible to nearly everyone. All the books are filled with small embroidery projects ranging from simple to complex. The motifs are inspired by the human form, the natural and supernatural worlds, and even technology. Here’s a closer look.

 

Doodle Stitching One-Hour Embroidery

(C&T Publishing, 2021)

Written by prolific embroidery book author Aimee Ray, the softcover book offers 18 mini embroidery projects suitable for beginners, but experienced stitchers will enjoy them, too. These projects are quick, but some may take newbies more than an hour to complete.

The author provides how-to instructions and templates for hand-embroidering a range of cute to elegant projects. You’ll find emoji patches, a hedgehog pincushion, tiny felt animals, whitework flowers for a shirt, and a monogrammed pillowcase, among others.

The book starts with the basics: needed materials and tools for hand embroidery, five methods for transferring patterns, preparing the fabric, and stitching and finishing advice. Then you’ll find a “Stitch Library,” divided into three categories: outline, decorative, and basic sewing stitches.

But the bulk of the book is devoted to the projects. Each lists essential materials, key stitches, and steps to complete it. Project patterns and variations, which must be copied or otherwise transferred, fill 14 pages in the back of book. They include page references to the corresponding project.

 

Embroidery for Everyone

(Quarto Publishing Group, 2021)

By Kelly Fletcher, this book of slightly larger motifs contains 32 patterns depicting living things as well as some inanimate objects, 11 patterns for borders and decorations, and 6 monogram patterns. Each stitched design is shown in an embroidery hoop alongside the instructions for creating it.

The book details the tools and materials needed, followed by a stitching guide. The guide, which includes helpful photos, starts with a one-page explanation of how to start and end threads. It then walks the reader through how to create 26 embroidery stitches used in the projects that come next.

Clearly illustrated templates of the designs are organized in the back of the book, and each project references the page on which to find the correct template.

 

Mystical Stitches

(Storey Publishing, 2021)

Author Christi Johnson takes an unconventional approach to presenting the subject of hand embroidery. She explains in the opening pages: “More than simply a series of projects to complete, it is a way of thinking about your own artistic process as a magical ritual—and explores how this perspective can inform your approach to the rest of your life.”

The book intertwines the art of hand embroidery with the personal spiritual, physical, and mental realms.

In the case of embroidery tools, for example, the author describes the fundamentals: fabric, needles, thread, hoop, and marking tools. But she spends nearly as much time discussing “tools for accessing creativity,” including meditation, breathing techniques, and hand exercises. Later in the book, she encourages embroiderers to take breaks from the creative ritual using some of the yoga poses that are illustrated and explained.

Embroidery design ideas and projects are at the heart of the book’s contents. Chapter 4, Treasury of Symbols, is divided into 10 areas ranging from geometric forms and zodiac signs to forces of nature and human forms. The author explains the significance of each symbol in this chapter. Stitches used to create these symbols are noted later, in Chapter 7, Stitch Key. Suggestions for combining the symbols and creating your own design or talisman appear in Chapter 5. They include ideas for embroidering on jacket backs and adding them to pockets on jeans.

All three books note the calming, meditative qualities of embroidering by hand. And all three authors attempt to show, through their instructions and simple designs, how easily this form of sewing can be tried and mastered, even on a small scale. Perhaps practicing the art of hand embroidery is a pastime we can all benefit from during these uncertain times.

 

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