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.


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  🙂


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



Book review: ‘Make Mine Mini: 13 miniature quilts from traditional to contemporary’, by Christine Carlson

I’ve been getting back into quilting during the past few weeks, and I found this book on my bookshelf:

‘Make Mine Mini: 13 miniature quilts from traditional to contemporary’.

It’s a slim book of 64 pages and was published in 2010, and features 13 little quilts, using various techniques. It is a very useful way to learn the techniques, as each quilt shouldn’t take too long – these aren’t difficult designs.


There are 23 pages of general information at the beginning of the book, covering how to make the most of the blocks you have chosen to make (by setting them in different formations), to how to choose fabrics wisely, and how to bind your finished quilt.


The instructions for the 13 projects are very detailed, especially the information about fabric quantities and how many of each square or triangle to cut out.

The section on colour theory was really good
The section on colour theory was really good
Quick tips for rotary cutting are also included, with advice on how to save time when piecing at the sewing machine. This book covers the ‘flip and sew’ method, and also shows you how to make trims for your finished quilts, such as yo-yos. There are ‘box-outs’ throughout the book with tips relevant to that page, and I found these really useful.
These are the 13 projects in the book
These are the 13 projects in the book

The project I liked the best was the Spools Variation mini quilt (featured on page fifty – see the illustration above for the visual index to the book), with an edging made from ‘prairie points’ (folded fabric triangles, caught into the seam between the front and the back fabrics).


Although, on the whole, the fabrics chosen for the quilts in this book aren’t my choice really (they are either a bit too pastel, or a bit too brown, for me), it is easy to substitute your own palette when you start to make your own version. So, visually I was not attracted so much to this book, but once I started reading it, the information contained in it is very good, and I can see myself making several of the projects at some point soon.

The book is published by Clotilde, and costs $11.95 in Canada (I paid £3 on Amazon, second-hand. New, it’s about £6). ISBN 978 1 59217 323 5.

Book review: ‘Small Scale Quilting’ by Sally Collins

I got this lovely book about quiltmaking for my birthday (Amazon wishlists are wonderful things!).


It is about A4 size, has 112 pages, and has a quality feel to it. Sally Collins has published several books before on various aspects of quilting, and all her books focus on her love of precision. This is what I need, as I’m too impatient to do things carefully, and I can easily spoil something by not taking enough time over it.

Sally calls her quilts ‘small scale’ rather than ‘miniature’, because she says she thinks they are not scale models of full-size ones. So, this book features designs from 6 x 8 inches, up to around 30 inches square – still significantly smaller than any bed quilt would be.

The beginning of the book covers colour, fabric, how to cut accurately, lots of information about borders – how to choose fabrics for them, how to accentuate the centre panel with a good border, and so on. The construction techniques section is particularly good.


There are then nine projects, listed in order of complexity. These use several different techniques. All cutting information, fabric amounts, etc., are given – I thought this part of the book was very well planned. Sally is obviously a perfectionist!

There is a short bibliography at the back, and a list of other quilting books from C & T Publishing.

What I particularly liked about the way Sally writes, is that she often mentioned the link between her creativity and her spirituality. They both feed into each other, and Sally is very aware of this. The process of making a quilt is part of her unfolding spirituality, so for her, unpicking a seam and re-sewing it is just part of life’s journey, not a ‘nuisance’ or a ‘problem’. Hmm, I’ll have to work on that one  🙂

An intermediate design
An intermediate design
An advanced design
An advanced design

The project I really liked, which will probably be the first one I’ll try from this book, is the ‘Framed Double Wedding Ring’ mini quilt. This is only 6 x 7 1/2 inches. Am I being ambitious here? It is listed as being the second-simplest project in the book, so that’s my excuse! I love double wedding ring quilt designs, but I don’t think I’d have the time or the patience to make a full-size one. But this little thing is so cute. It’s made with bias tubes of fabric 1/4 inch wide, and little four-square units at the intersections. Simple, really!

I'm planning to make the small version of this design, in the bottom right hand corner of this picture
I’m planning to make the small version of this design, in the bottom right hand corner of this picture

This is a very inspiring book, with several techniques to try. Sally is very precise, so if the book is read through carefully, you can pick up a lot of tips from this expert.

C & T Publishing. Paperback. 112 pages. About £19 on Amazon. ISBN 978 1 57120 009 9.

Book review: Learn to do hand quilting in just one day, by Nancy Brenan Daniel

I recently bought this slim A4 size paperback of 64 pages after seeing very good reviews of it on It was originally published in 1996, but the first edition had about half the pages, and only a few projects. This edition, from 2008, has been expanded to have eight projects (most of them new ones), but the basic text is the same.

HQ 1

After the large title of ‘Learn to do hand quilting in just one day’ it is easy to overlook the sub-title, ‘…and then practice for the rest of your life’. The author, Nancy Brenan Daniel, makes it very clear from the beginning of the book that basic hand quilting is an easy skill to pick up, but it is constant practice which makes an average quilter into an expert one. There are many tips that Nancy imparts, in a friendly but informative tone. The early pages, describing equipment and materials, give the pros and cons of various things you could choose, rather than being bossy about what you ‘should’ use.

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The ‘Getting ready to hand quilt’ section shows you how to start and end your threads, and detailed descriptions with diagrams on how to make the ‘dimple-style’ running stitch that you will use to quilt. There is a good Q & A section at the end of that chapter about how to improve your technique.

HQ 3

Then the projects. Personally, I am not into ‘quick and easy’ modern-style projects, even though I can see their usefulness. I want to get straight on with the difficult stuff! There are both types in this book. I was drawn to buy this book by the picture on the cover, as that is the kind of project I want to make – an almost ‘wholecloth’ look, with just a little patchwork around the edge, more like a deep border than a patchworked piece, really. Maybe that’s ambitious, but it’s likely to be the first project that I tackle from this book. The instructions for it are detailed, with template designs for all the elements printed full size on the pages, and suggestions for how to finish the quilt.

HQ 5

At the back of the book are several pages of quilting motifs, to use in your own projects (not just the ones in this book), which make it good value for money, as buying individual quilting stencils can work out quite expensive.

HQ 4

I can see why this book gets such good reviews on Amazon – it really is a useful book. There are many books on patchwork designs and techniques, and on machine quilting, but not many on the hand quilting side – especially the more ‘traditional’ aspects.

It is published by the American School of Needlework, and costs $9.95 (I paid £5 on Amazon). ISBN 978 1 59012 230 3.