Tag Archives: Stumpwork

Book review: ‘Raised Embroidery: techniques, projects and pure inspiration’, by Kelley Aldridge

I love stumpwork , as regular readers of this blog will know, so I was really looking forward to getting a copy of this book, ‘Raised embroidery: techniques, projects and pure inspiration’, by Kelley Aldridge.

Raised embroidery Kelley Aldridge

There aren’t that many good stumpwork books on the market, but if you’re even remotely interest in this type of embroidery, you just have to get this – it’s wonderful!

Raised embroidery Kelley Aldridge

It’s a 140-page book, about A4 size, that’s full to bursting with wonderful colour photos, some in incredible close-up, that covers everything you need to know to do this embroidery technique. As the title suggests, it doesn’t only cover projects – this book has quite a few pages of ‘pure inspiration’ – there’s a gallery section at the back of over a dozen pages with the most gorgeous examples of stumpwork by various embroiderers, not just by Kelley herself, plus interspersed examples of stumpwork, all in a modern style.

Raised embroidery Kelley Aldridge

The book starts with a very comprehensive section explaining all about the history of stumpwork, and then moving on to materials to use, plus various techniques such as padding shapes and using wire. The stitches you need are covered in detail, including needlelace stitches. That all takes up nearly half of the book – there’s a lot of information in here, apart from the pretty pictures!

Raised embroidery Kelley Aldridge

The section on how to set up a floor frame to stitch stumpwork on is really detailed, with loads of pictures to show exactly how to do it.

Raised embroidery Kelley Aldridge

The projects section then follows – here there are three main projects explained in detail – a brooch, a phone sleeve, and a biscornu. Each has a modern look, although elements from the past are used too. At the end of each project, there are several pages of related items shown in gallery format – for instance, after the brooch project there are examples of other wearable stumpwork, such as a fascinator and a beaded cuff.

Raised embroidery Kelley Aldridge

Although this one isn’t a project, it’s my favourite item in the whole book – it’s a half scale dress with trim around the bustline made to look like old-fashioned sweets!

Raised embroidery Kelley Aldridge

Pros: I really liked this book. It’s colourful, the photography is amazing, and the projects are different from many stumpwork projects I’ve seen before. If you’ve done a bit of stumpwork already, this book will really spark your imagination. It’s certainly given me some ideas of things to make. The early sections on materials, frames, transferring designs, etc., are very well done – Kelley was trained at the Royal School of Needlework, and that really shows in her skill at explaining the best techniques to use for stumpwork. I love the fact that there are so many 3D examples of stumpwork in this book. I’m not really one for pictures, and I particularly like bags and boxes, but having seen this book, I might start making embroidered jewellery, now!

Cons: One thing I wasn’t sure of was the balance between ‘projects’ and ‘inspiration’. I felt that the book was maybe a bit too  ‘padded out’ with pictures just for inspiration, however lovely, that someone with not much experience of doing stumpwork would feel frustrated by. Very nice to look at, but how would you go about making your own version? If you picked this up in a bookshop and flicked through it quickly, you might be forgiven for thinking that you’d be able to make more than just three items from all those showcased in this book – sometimes the ‘inspirational images’ are a bit too blended in for my liking. I know ‘inspiration’ is in the title, but I feel the balance is just a bit too much in the direction of ‘coffee-table book just to look at’ rather than ‘book to make things from’ for me.

Also, there is no list of suppliers, bibliography, or list of websites at the end of the book, which I feel lets it down. I know that sometimes publishers don’t like to include things that make a book obviously ‘English’ when they want it to sell internationally, so maybe that’s why, but I think it’s a pity. I’m sure Kelley knows some good stockists, books and websites!!

Verdict: If you like embroidery and books, get this one  🙂  It’s a no-brainer!

Title: ‘Raised Embroidery: Techniques, projects and pure inspiration’ by Kelley Aldridge

Publisher: Search Press

Price: £17.99

ISBN: 978 1 78221 189 1


Are you interested in doll’s houses and stitching? Then why not visit my website, where you can buy doll’s house needlepoint kits to make all kinds of soft furnishings for one-twelfth scale dollhouses. There are over 280 kits to choose from, plus chart packs, fabric project packs, tutorials, and lots of eye candy to inspire you! Kits are available on 18 and 22 count canvas, 28 and 32 count evenweave, and 32 and 40 count silk gauze, so there’s something for everyone – from beginners to experts.

As a special offer for new customers on my website, use the code FIRST TIME 10 at the checkout to receive 10% off your first order!

Dollhouse needlepoint kits


My oak sewing box

I was going to do a blog post this week about all my favourites doll’s house and miniatures websites, so that you can use it as a ‘basic resource’ when making and collecting for your own doll’s houses, but I have realised that that’s quite a mammoth task (as I have dozens of ‘favourite websites’), so rather than rush to get that one ready (I want it to be good!!), I’m going to give you a ‘stitchy blog post’ this week:

People have asked me what kind of tools and equipment I use day-to-day when I am doing my embroidery, so this week I’m going to talk about one of my favourite things. Whenever I start a new project, I collect together the threads and so on that I’m going to use, and put them in my project box. This is what it looks like:

Box 1

This is a box lid design by Sheila Marshall that I stitched about ten years ago, with goldwork highlights and some beads. I love it!

Most of the embroidery is long and short stitch, with some needlelace filling stitches for textural interest. Many of the shapes are outlined in various thicknesses of gold thread, couched in place with silk thread. Tiny gold seed beads are scattered over the background to fill the spaces.

Box 2

When I saw the design in the book ‘Elizabethan Needlework Accessories’ by Sheila Marshall, I really wanted to make it, but the box she had used for the version in her book had been specially made for her. So, I asked my husband to make me a similar sized box with an aperture lid for my birthday, to put the stitching into.

The box is beautifully made out of oak. It measures 10 inches by 6 by 3 high.

Box 3

I specifically asked him not to make the interior into lots of little compartments, as I find that although they look useful, nothing ever really fits properly. I’d rather have just one compartment.

Box 4

This is the book that the design is from. It was published in New Zealand in 1998. For several years it was out of print, but you can now get it on Amazon again here for around £13.  There are several other books in the series by the same publisher (Dick Georgeson), and they’re all very good. I’ve made several things from all the books, and they’re gorgeous. The stumpwork petal bag on the cover of the book is something I loved making a few years back.

Box 5

One small change that I made to the design was that I added a little bee from a companion piece in the book (to make a pinwheel), which was just too cute to leave out.

Here’s a picture of my box, alongside the picture from the book of Sheila’s one. Similar, aren’t they?!

Box 6

It’s one of my favourite things that I have ever made  🙂

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.

SE 1

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:


Or these roundels, stitched on black and white silk:


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


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


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!).


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

Carolyn Pearce Home Sweet Home workbox 37: the strawberry side of the box

[EDIT April 2016: This series of blog posts expanded into a huge series of 46 posts. Up till this one, I have been making the smalls to go in the box. From now on, I describe how to make the box itself. Please see the final blog post for a list of hints and tips for making this workbox.]

I am currently stitching the ‘Strawberry side’ of the Home Sweet Home workbox, designed by Carolyn Pearce. I stitched the main stem first, in Knotted pearl stitch, using Perle 12 thread, which makes a nice strong knot for each stitch. I deliberately spaced out the stitches as I worked from top to bottom, so that the stem gets wider lower down.

Next, to embroider the ripe strawberries, I padded the shapes by first working split backstitch around the outlines, then working two layers of Satin stitch across each shape, inside the backstitched outlines (one layer at right angles to the other).

Strawberry 1

Then, starting from the top of the strawberry, I worked Long and short stitch using a variegated silk thread, covering the backstitched outline as I went. I also started to stitch the white strawberry flower in the same way.

Strawberry 2

The unripe strawberry on the left hand side was stitched in three shades of very pale pink, in French knots using two wraps each time. I found it easier to work an outer ring of knots first, to define the shape, and then fill it in – otherwise, the shape has a tendency to just keep getting bigger!

The leaves are stitched in three shades of green, in the same way as the strawberries and flower, but without the padding first – backstitched outline, then Long and short stitch filling, from the outside in.

Strawberry 3

The highlights on the strawberry flower are made using pale green silk – straight stitches between the petals to define them, then several fanned out straight stitches from the centre outwards on each petal itself. Three French knots in yellow fill the centre.

Strawberry 4

The leaves behind the flower are worked in Leaf stitch, in very dark green Anchor stranded cotton.

Strawberry 5

The sepals for the ripe strawberries are worked in Picot stitch, and for the unripe strawberry they are Lazy daisy stitches in dark green, with a gold highlight added last.

The little bee charm is from a packet that I bought on Ebay several years ago – very small, dainty ones, that were very cheap I seem to remember, but I can’t remember exactly who I bought them from!

Strawberry 6

The meadow flowers along the bottom edge are similar to the ones on the ‘smalls’. The anemones are Raised cross stitches with a black French knot in the centre. The daisies are three individual Lazy daisy stitches, with a gold French knot highlight, and the forget-me-nots are Granitos stitches in variegated blue silk with a French knot centre. The three blue flowers above the caterpillar are supposed to be blue feature buttons, according to Carolyn Pearce’s instructions in her book, but I couldn’t find those to buy, so I improvised. The caterpillar itself is made from three thick threads of variegated silk, couched down with one strand of the same thread, and then Stem stitch worked around the outer edge. The eyes are bronze colour seed beads, and the legs and antennae are gunmetal metallic thread.

Strawberry 7

Here’s the completed panel:

Strawberry 8