Free Embroidery Stitch Book online

Free Embroidery Stitch Book online

Embroidery Stitches by M.E. Wilkinson is available online free at the Internet Archive.

I selected to download it as PDF file but you can view this book via a number of options.

illustration of page

It is 216 pages of embroidery stitches illustrated by drawings. Published in 1912 as with any book of this era some stitches are explained and illustrated better than others. Stitches are listed alphabetically. However many of the names of the stitches are not conventional and the author has taken the quirky route of repeating a stitch if it is known by two names!  So it is quite possible to find the same stitch twice in the book under different names.

illustration of page

Also many of the stitches are patterns in the sense they are a particular arrangement of  a particular stitch rather than a unique stitch  itself. For instance in the illustrated page above both Boat stitch and Branching stitch are arrangements of straight stitches.

Some stitches are a bit misleading as over time the name and the way are used  has changed.

illustrated page

For instance on page 125 under “Patching Stitch” the author states

“In ordinary patchwork seaming stitch is used (a) in “crazy patchwork” where one raw edge lies over the other, Herring-bone stitch is best to use (b) any other embroidery stitch which will keep the edges in place is permissible.”

By “seaming stitch” I assume she means top stitch as the illustrated hexagon patchwork would have been made using a the English paper piecing method.

Where it might get confusing for the modern reader is that now in crazy quilting the object of embroidery is to embellish! Contemporary crazy quilters work on a foundation block which is already assembled. You can use any of the surface stitches quite safely as they have a decorative role rather than a structural one. They no longer have to hold the pieces of fabric together.

I love the term “permissible”. I will have to remember that the next time someone asks if something is right or wrong. How the world of embroidery has changed. Really today anything goes particularly with crazy quilting.

These criticisms aside you will find more than enough interesting stuff to spark ideas. For instance I had not encountered this arrangement of buttonhole and chain stitch before.

illustrated page  There are plenty of patterns and arrangements of stitches to spark imagination.

M.E. Wilkinson approaches the study of embroidery stitches by breaking them down into design units. This is an approach I use. In her introduction she writes “A point somewhat overlooked in Art Embroidery is the fact that each separate stitch is a design in itself. If this principle be fully recognised, the necessity for careful and systematic study of the forms and functions of Embroidery Stitches will immediately become obvious to the student and worker.”

I liked “hat stitch” and can see it applied to a crazy quilting seam.

illustrated page

I think readers will enjoy this book and it is definitely worth downloading. Crazy quilters will find many interesting arrangements and patterns that can be used to embellish seams on crazy quilts. They can either be adapted or will spark ideas.



  1. Wow!! Another great freebie, thank you Sharon.

    The description of crazy patchwork is interesting. I’m English, and I use the piecing method (Crazy pieces, not hexagonal) that requires the embroidery to hold down the seam. It calls for a little more thought at the design stage but I prefer it.

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