My top 3 recommendations for a stitch dictionary

I was asked what my recommendations were for person who was learning embroidery and wanted to purchase their first stitch dictionary but as I wrote this I realised these books are a good foundation and reference for any hand embroiderers library. I don’t think you need all 3 books but if you have one of these you will have a good book in your hands to introduce you to the wonderful world of hand embroidery stitches.

So here is my recommendations for three good reference books There are many specialised books and many dictionaries that are useful for intermediate and advanced stitchers but owning one of these I see as a foundation to a stitchers library. They are all general hand embroidery dictionaries which cover a range of embroidery styles in an accurate and clear manner. They are also books I have on my shelves and use frequently.

cover of stitch dictionary My first recommendation is
The Embroidery Stitch Bible by Betty Barnden
as an essential reference for hand embroiderers. This spiral-bound, 256 page publication contains diagramed instructions for over 200 stitches. One feature of this book is that diagrams are accompanied with photographed samples of stitches on fabrics which makes is good for people who have trouble envisioning a stitch on a finished item. This makes it particularly good if you a new hand to embroidery as you can see what the stitch looks like.

The contents house colour thumbnail photos of the stitches covered in the book. This form of index means if you have seen the stitch but do not know the name of stitch you have a chance of identifying it. Stitches are arranged according to their use such as stitches used for outlines, or filling stitches, stitches used for edgings, hems, and insertions or flat stitches, and stitches used in backgrounds etc

This book also covers a number of hand embroidery styles such as canvas work or needlepoint, smocking, basic drawn-thread work, cutwork, and techniques such as cut work and applying sequins and beads. Additional information such as alternate names for the stitch, suggested uses and short tips are also provided.

This stitch dictionary has a concealed spiral binding which makes the book even more useful as it allows you to have the book lay open on a surface completely flat so you can refer to the diagrams and stitch simultaneously.The size is small enough so you can carry it to a workshop or have it in a large sewing box and the covers are sturdy enough to take some wear and tear.

cover of bookMy second recommendation is Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches which was first published in 1934 and is now a favourite classic. It has been updated by Jan Eaton, and it now illustrates and describes over 400 embroidery stitches. If by any chance you have Jan Eatons 1980’s classic The Complete Stitch Encyclopedia you already have a similar book.

The 298 page paperback is a great resource that also illustrates many of the stitches on fabric which makes is good for beginners as often they have trouble imagining what a stitch would like on a finished item. There is a brief overview on starting hand embroidery covering topics such using frames, choosing needles etc before it launches into the stitches is useful and does not bog down a beginner in the intricacies of more advanced techniques.

This best seller is also an economical resource for all embroiderers so I don’t hesitate in recommending it.

cover of stitch dictionaryMy last choice is also a reprint of a classic as it is the A-Z of Embroidery Stitches which is a reprint by Search Press of the classic book of the same title published by Country Bumpkin. It has a different cover but it is the same book.

The A-Z of Embroidery Stitches is an excellent stitch dictionary. The original book which is the copy I have, advertises that there are more than 1200 step-by-step colour photographs with step-by-step instructions for over 100 stitches. The A-Z series has a reputation of providing easy to follow clear directions. There is a good general overview on starting hand embroidery covering topics such transferring designs, choosing needles etc and all stitches are clearly photographed and described.

Thos are my 3 best picks. I don’t think you need all 3 book but if you have one of these you will have a good book in your hands. It was actually hard to narrow this down to 3. As I said I don’t think you need all 3 books but one of these will take you a very long way. I have thought is terms of very clear illustrations and colour to tempt people to try the stitches. So although there are some wonderful older books published if they were black and white I left them off my list. I think however there is a post to be written about stitch dictionaries that are retro gems. Do you agree with my choices? Perhaps leave a comment if you have others to add to the list as I would love to hear your opinion.

This post contains affiliate links which means if you follow the link and purchase any of the books I have recommended I get a small commission. The items do not cost you any more than a normal purchase, but it helps offset the cost of running this site. It is also not the reason I recommend these particular books. I have them in my library and use them regularly.

Sardinian Knot stitch a review

Sardinian knot stitch book I recently received in the mail a book titled Sardinian Knot Stitch: Interpreted by Gioja Ralui. The parcel was pleasant surprise from Jeanine of Italian Needlework.

I love the story of how Sardinian Knotted Embroidery came to be. Gioja Ralui is a pseudonym that combines the names of 4 women who met online and with a common interest in traditional embroidery techniques developed a friendship. This in turn resulted in a book,Sardinian Knotted Embroidery. So, it was with a big grin on my face that settled down further to read about this form of embroidery.

All over the globe there are groups of women who have taken an embroidery stitch and developed it into an embroidery style with patterns that have gone on to become part of their cultural story. Sardinian Knotted Embroidery is like that.

The preface outlines the history and mythology associated with this form of embroidery. This is followed with a discussion on materials traditionally used in this form of embroidery.

Sardinian knot stitchSardinian Knot Stitch is clearly illustrated with step by step photographs.

Sardinian knot stitch patternsAs you can see diagrams describe the patterns with clear instructions.

Sardinian knot stitch projects For me good photography is crucial to good embroidery books. The finished embroidery is clearly photographed

The 70 page book covers the uses of this stitch, and the main pattern motifs used in this style of embroidery. Names of patterns are usefully in both Sardinian and English. These translate into charming names such as “the little leaves”, “the heart”, “the teeth”, “the crosses” and “the spurs”. Also in the book there are 5 “non-traditional” projects in varying degrees of difficulty.

OK so how do I feel about Sardinian embroidery after reading this? I am not likely to work a traditional piece but I am likely to add some of the patterns to my band sampler. My eye is becoming more and more attracted to traditional styles and patterning. This means for me I think it is time to explore this traditional style in a non traditional manner! But I am a bit quirky as I am sure for many people Sardinian Knot Stitch will be the start of a wonderful journey into this traditional form of embroidery.

Sardinian Knotted Embroidery by Yvette Stanton

Sardinian Knotted EmbroideryWhat I love about embroidery is that it can take you around the world. I love learning about stitches and how a particular group of people, take a technique, and push it to create a whole style that becomes associated with a region and their culture.

Yvette Stanton has released a new book on Sardinian Knotted Embroidery. Punt ‘e Nù, means knotted stitches and it describes a style of knotted whitework embroidery from Teulada, Sardinia. This beautiful type of embroidery is based on what are essentially coral knots. Now described like that, it sounds very pedestrian, but this form of embroidery is simply stunning as the white on white textured geometric patterns of traditional motifs really satisfy the eye.

Have a look at this Video and you will see what I mean.

The coral knots are worked in a white thread, on even weave material following the weave of the fabric. In order to reproduce this type of embroidery you need to master the stitch, spacing the knot at the right tension, turning the line and joining threads etc Without this information you would not be able to work in this style and Yvette Stanton has provided pages and pages of step by step illustrated instructions for both right and left handed stitchers. Also a good troubleshooting section gets folks like me – who jump ahead too quickly – out of trouble.

Sardinian Knotted Embroidery page spreadThere are 11 projects in the book. Usually books like these have something for the suitable for beginner through to projects for an advanced embroiderer. To be honest I think that since this style of embroidery is based on coral stitch, once you have mastered the technique is not a question of if you are new hand to embroidery but how committed you are to producing a project applying this particular style. The book contains both large and small projects. Some such as the tablecloth, or the table runner, would take a long time to create others such as the biscornu, or the candle wrap, and the hand towel, would be quicker and suitable for gifts. I really feel that anyone could with care recreate pieces in the Punt ‘e Nù style from this book as each project has a pattern sheet detailed instructions.

It is a great book and I am going to enjoying having it my library. You can find out more and purchase a copy by visiting Yvette Stanton’s, website Vetty Creations