The best hand embroidery books – Part Two
In the first part of our feature on the best hand embroidery books we selected a number of timeless classics by luminaries such as Constance Howard and the Royal School of Needlework. In part two we delve into some of the best contemporary publications available, with an emphasis on practical use within modern textile and fiber art.
Contents at a glance
(click the links to be taken to the book review):
Helen Parrott’s fascinating book takes a look at how marks can be used in textile work. Divided into types of marks, from simple to complex, arrangement and feel, ‘Mark-making in Textile Art’ encourages the reader to develop and enjoy the process. Exploring the crossover between stitch and drawing, this book covers both hand and machine stitch, exploring the limitless potential for mark-making when used together and separately.
What to expect: A well-produced book for both newcomers and skilled practitioners in need of stimulation for their textile art. Types of marks include single, grouped, massed, regular, irregular, calligraphic, permanent, transient, and more.
We’ve featured Hand Stitch, Perspectives by Alice Kettle and Jane McKeating previously but it’s such a great book we had to include it in this list. A collection of inspirational essays each written by different makers, embroiderers, artists and academics, from a range of individual perspectives. At 224 pages this tactile book covers the history and aesthetics of embroidery and stitch making it an essential read for any textiles student or practicing embroiderer.
What to expect: This is the companion volume to Machine Stitch: Perspectives and is an excellent source book for those already working with hand stitch. Contributors include: Alice Kettle, Jane McKeating, Lesley Millar, David Owen, Tom Lundberg, Kate Egan, Heather Belcher, Anne Morrell, June Hill, Melanie Miller, James Hunting, Ian Wilson, Nigel Hurlstone, Lesley Mitchison, Ann French, Tracy Gill, Sue Prestbury.
Issued by Batsford Books, a leading publisher in modern textile art, Contemporary Whitework is one of the first books to compile a collection of new and exciting whitework being produced today. Although Whitework techniques have been around for centuries its development and experimental usage are clearly presented in the pages of this book. With full instructions to explore and develop these traditional methods, contents include Broderie anglaise, Richelieu and cutwork, drawn thread work, pulled work, shadow work, Mountmellick, Ayrshire and fine white work.
What to expect: Detailed descriptions of tools and equipment, threads and materials, the history of whitework techniques and a stitch glossary, however there are no sample projects to work with.
A comprehensive guide to 225 embroidery stitches and techniques for beginners wanting to learn the basics. The Stitch Bible includes 17 contemporary projects across 8 different embroidery styles, including blackwork, crewelwork, hardanger, pulled thread, goldwork and freestyle. Each step-by-step guide is accompanied by coloured diagrams with explanations on how to get started as well as equipment and materials needed. Projects include an eye mask, a phone case, a book bag and a clutch purse.
What to expect: A great book for beginners using templates and stitch charts, however some templates need enlarging by 50%. The sample projects, although not cutting edge, offer thorough explanations of stitches using large, clear illustrations and detailed instructions.
Free-Form Embroidery with Judith Baker Montano gives an insight into how to apply fine art principles to fabrics, threads, and fibers. Using examples of her own work Judith suggests ways in which stitches can be used to create extraordinary landscapes and seascapes. Aiming to teach the reader how to turn your favourite photo of any landscape or seascape into fiber art through building layers, creating dimension and perspective, and blending shapes together. Subjects include a materials overview, looking at thread, ribbon, fabric and tools as well as some colour theory.
What to expect: Although Free-Form Embroidery uses small photographic samples of stitch combinations and clear instructions of how to create those stitches, it does not include start to finish projects.
Hand embroidery Books in this article
What are your favourite hand embroidery books? Let us know by leaving a comment below.