Review: Stitching Idyllic: Hand Stitch Recognizable Summer Flowers

book cover screen shotAnn Bernard has written a second instruction book on using Creative Surface Stitchery to stitch garden flowers titled Stitching Idyllic: Hand Stitch Recognisable Summer Flowers. Stitching Idyllic: Spring Flowers is Ann Bernard’s first book. With the Summer Flowers they form a pair but you do not need both. Although they are sisters each book is complete of itself and can stand alone.

Ann Bernard has aimed this book towards novice stitchers. I am sure that new hands to embroidery will taste success if they follow Ann Bernard’s detailed instructions for stitching flowers. Experienced hands will also learn from Ann’s approach mainly in how she approaches adapting photos of flowers to create her designs. In both books you are taught how to design your own garden in a free-style manner using Creative Surface Stitchery.

At the beginning of the book, the section on ‘Preparation’ covers the essentials such as selecting the material for your background, or printing your fabric using a home ink jet printer, backing the fabric, using a frame or hoop, striping your thread and other information needed to set up.

Instructions on how to do the stitches are hand drawn. Most are basic stitches and are well described. The stitches that are creatively employed throughout the book are Straight, Split, Seeding, Stem, Detached Chain, Fly, Feather, French Knots, Cretan, Herringbone, Woven Spider Wheel, Bullion Knots, Raised Chain Band, and Distorted Straight stitch.

page spread screen shotThe rest of Stitching Idyllic: Hand Stitch Recognisable Summer Flowers you’ll find instructions on how to hand embroider garden flowers, with the back ground story about the garden that was the inspiration, detailed instructions on stitches, threads, and colours used alongside a description of process and why particular creative decisions were made.

As an embroiderer who delights in varieties of stitch and creative adaptions I think Ann Bernard’s use of stitches to represent flowers is wonderful. Ann’s adaption of stitches also teaches a very important aspect of embroidery which is that embroidery as an expressive creative art.

With this book Ann Bernard introduces her silk flower conversion technique which uses silk flowers to create small floral motifs that are then used in her gardens.The section is illustrated with examples of the technique in use by herself and her students. The technique is easy and I can see it being highly adaptable for crazy quilters and I can see many stitchers enjoying this section.

The last section of the book cover mounting and presenting your embroidery.

Stitching Idyllic: Hand Stitch Recognisable Summer Flowers is well written 148 page ebook. Instructions are clear and Ann is very precise. The stitches used are simple, the materials recommended are easily accessible and opportunity to be creative is encouraged. As an ebook it is very convenient to have on an iPad or tablet.

I am not affiliated in any way with this product not do I gain financially by recommending it. You can buy the book via Ann Bernard’s web site here.

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My top 3 recommendations for a stitch dictionary

I was asked what my recommendations for a stitch dictionary for a  person who was learning embroidery 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 a stitch dictionary that are 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 dictionaryMy 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 recommendations for a stitch dictionary. 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 and  recommendations for a stitch dictionary.

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.