This is my Christmas haul….some fantastic embroidery books!

Every year at Christmas, I give the ‘Christmas Elf’ (also known as a ‘husband’) some ideas of what I’d like for Christmas. This system is foolproof – this way, I always get things that I love (and so does he – there’s a female Christmas Elf who collects ideas of what he’d like, too!).

This year, I had a bumper crop of gorgeous books:

Embroidery and patchwork books

This first one is one that I knew had to be on my Christmas list as soon as I saw it first advertised, back around September.

Passion for Needlework

It’s the new Inspirations book ‘A Passion for Needlework 2: Factoria VII’. This features twelve designs from a variety of designers who also create designs for the Australian ‘Inspirations’ magazine. The book is the second in what is now looking to be a series of volumes, fortunately – this is stitching eye candy at its best. The book is very well produced, the photography is wonderful, and I’m tempted to start on one or two projects right away! This is one of my favourites from the book, which I am itching to stitch:

Embroidered etui set

And these gorgeous little stumpwork pots are calling to be stitched too:

Stumpwork floral pots

One thing that I wasn’t very keen on with this book was the settings that the photography had been done in – a converted bacon factory in Australia, which is now a home, but it’s been decorated in the, admittedly, popular ‘industrial’ decorating style. But I hate that! The actual embroidery, in many of the images, seems a bit ‘lost’. Like this one:

Passion for Needlework

I don’t like to have to play ‘hunt the embroidery’ when I’m looking at a picture in an embroidery book……

This next book has been on my Amazon wishlist for a couple of years, but never got beyond that:

Stumpwork embroidery book

I think that’s because although the embroidery is great, I’m not personally very keen to stitch things all in white, so the cover was putting me off. But on Pinterest a few weeks ago I saw an image taken from one of the projects inside the book, and then I ‘upgraded’ the book from ‘maybe one day’ to ‘yes, now!!’

It’s got some gorgeous stumpwork projects in it – really creative stuff. This complements Jane Nicholas’s style very well (Jane is Australian, and has a lovely neat stumpwork embroidery style, doing mainly botanical studies). I’m looking forward to trying some of these projects, too. This is my favourite so far:

Stumpwork embroidery book

The book has a long section at the beginning covering all sorts of ‘how to’s’ – very good detail.

Stumpwork padding

I also received a couple of patchwork books, as I have a huge interest in making American Civil War-style mini quilts at the moment, using reproduction fabrics from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Patchwork

This book is by two really good quilt designers – Jo Morton and Kim Diehl. They both showcase designs based on the same blocks throughout this book, showing how a designer can be influenced in very different ways, when using the same basic elements as another designer.

This is my favourite design from this book. It’s one of Jo’s:

Jo Morton quilt

The other quilting book is a very new one:

Patchwork and quilting book

This book uses a novel idea – the author took one ‘layer cake’ of fabrics (that is, a pack of 40 co-ordinating fabrics, each ten inches square), to see how many projects she could make out of it (plus the backing fabric).

These are all quick little projects, so I want to get a few of these done soon, such as this one:

Patchwork mug mat

I’m hoping to share more of my attempts at patchwork and quilting on this blog during 2019.

Finally, I also got the latest Johanna Basford colouring book ‘World of Flowers’. If you haven’t seen this, you’re from another planet! I want to work on this one on the right hand side first:

World of Flowers

So, as long as I get some spare time (Ha!! What’s that?!), I should have some good things to be working on during the coming year  🙂

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needle minders, needle holder, pin keep, sampler, cross stitch, magnetic needle holder

 

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Book review: ‘The art of bead embroidery: Japanese style’ by Margaret Lee

I love beading, so when I found out that this book, ‘The Art of Bead Embroidery – Japanese style’ by Margaret Lee had been released, I just had to get it! It’s published by Stitchology, who publish the Australian embroidery magazine ‘Inspirations’, so I just knew it was going to be good…..Art of bead embroidery

Margaret Lee really knows her subject. In the book, she goes into detail about the equipment you’ll need to do Japanese style bead embroidery, design ideas, various techniques such as how to stitch neat lines of beads, plus filling stitches too…..

Art of bead embroidery

There’s a detailed section on the tools you’ll need. I’ve been doing embroidery for over 50 years now, but some of these tools were news to me!

Art of bead embroidery

The techniques are explained with photos as well as neat diagrams in the typical ‘Inspirations magazine’ style.

Art of bead embroidery

About a third of the 116 page book is for the projects – nine in total. These are really lovely. They range from a small handbag mirror, through evening bags and glasses cases, to ones such as this lovely beaded box lid.

Art of bead embroidery

I loved the photography in the book – very atmospheric, and really gets you wanting to grab some beads and get beading!

I think this glasses case is my favourite project in the whole book – I like stitching with yellow shades, as it lifts my spirit. The design is a gorgeous flowing paisley pattern. There’s a matching small handbag that can be made from the same pattern – dimensions and instructions are given for both, and you just double the quantities of beads listed when making the bag.

Art of bead embroidery

At the end of the book there is a section for ‘case studies’, which is a kind of in-depth analysis of a couple of designs, without giving detailed instructions for how to make them, but explaining the design and execution challenges – interesting to see how Margaret Lee thinks these through.

As with the Inspirations magazines themselves, this book comes with pullout sheets of pattern outlines at the back of the book. If you love these designs, but feel that you’d prefer to just do them in embroidery (that’s what I kept thinking, anyway!), then these pattern outlines would be very useful.

 

Pros:

A beautifully presented book, with lots of projects explained in detail with good photography. The projects list which techniques are used, along with fabric and bead quantities required, and build up from simple to complex throughout the book. I really loved the fact that Margaret lists the bead quantities per project in the format of a fraction of a 2″ x 1/2 ” tube – such as half a tube, or a third of a tube. Such an easy way for you to work out if you’ve got enough beads of the right colour in your stash!! This book covers an unusual topic, so if you already have ‘too many’ embroidery books, then this one could be justified simply by being that little bit different!

Cons:

Not many, really. The contents page has the projects listed with names like ‘Hanami’, but not what the project is FOR – such as ‘glasses case’. So, if you’re looking for something in particular, it’s quicker to just flick through the book. Perhaps it seems a little pricey at £28 for a paperback, but this is an exceptional book.

Conclusion

I feel that Margaret Lee is the Jane Nicholas of the bead embroidery world. She has got an eye for detail and a neatness that really shines through. Her eye for colour is amazing. This book is full of her personality. Even if you never actually make anything from this book (despite your good intentions….) then this book is worth getting. I love it!

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The Art of Bead Embroidery – Japanese style by Margaret Lee

Publisher: Inspirations

ISBN 978 0 9923144 7 7

Price: £28.99

Available from the publisher, Inspirations (i.e. Stitchology), the UK Distributor Search Press or from Amazon.

 

PS: This month’s Inspirations magazine, Issue 95, has an article and a project (which is not one repeated from the book!) in it. It’s to make the beading tools case which is shown open in the book, but we never got to see what the beaded side looks like! So, if you would like to ‘try out’ one of Margaret’s beaded projects for yourself before investing in the book, buying Issue 95 might be the way to go first  🙂

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Book review: Stumpwork embroidery designs and projects by Jane Nicholas

I have owned this book, ‘Stumpwork Embroidery: designs and projects’ by Jane Nicholas, ever since it first came out in 1998, and it is one of my all-time favourite embroidery books. It is the book that got me started on doing stumpwork embroidery.  So, although it’s definitely not a new book, it most certainly is a classic, so I thought I’d do a review of it.

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Jane Nicholas is a stickler for detail. Her stitching is so neat, it’s unbelievable. I should think the back of her stitching is as neat as the front, but she’d never let you see, I bet!

This book covers instructions for 26 different projects – from single pansy flowers, to drawstrings bags, needlebooks and more complex pictures. The photography is very clear and detailed, and there are hundreds of diagrams to show you exactly how to achieve the results that Jane describes so eloquently in her text.

The book is a large (8 1/2 x 11 inch) hardback book, with 192 pages. Each project is carefully explained, with lists of materials required, the order of work, and the patterns needed, all together (rather than having to turn to the back of the book for the pattern templates, for instance, which is common in other books). There is a stitch glossary and index at the back, and also thread conversion information. This is a useful section, as Jane realises that although she loves to use the more unusual/expensive threads such as Soie d’Alger, many people do not have access to these, so the thread conversion page gives alternatives for Soie d’Alger, Madeira Silk, Cifonda and Minnamurra thread to DMC equivalents. Very helpful! There is also a good bibliography too.

Jane’s take on Elizabethan stumpwork, updated for today, is just wonderful. Take this, for example:

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Or these roundels, stitched on black and white silk:

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My favourite project in the book is this drawstring bag etui set, with woodland animals and plants embroidered on the pieces:

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I made the hedgehog pipkin from it a few years back.

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And I have used the squirrel needlebook assembly process (but not the squirrel motif) to make a needlebook (although the design on the front is still by Jane Nicholas – but this one appeared in Inspirations magazine, as a motif for a sweet bag!).

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It is not always available in the UK, but Amazon.co.uk has it at the moment.  Maybe it’s on it’s way to being out of print, so if you’re interested, I’d track down a copy sooner rather than later. Embroidery books as good as this one are few and far between!

Stumpwork Embroidery: designs and projects by Jane Nicholas.

Milner Craft Series

192 pages

ISBN 186351 208 X (Hardback)

£19.99 / US$24.95