So, you’ve started your embroidery journey- or maybe you haven’t. Either way, we’re glad to say that everyone from embroidery newbies to veterans of the needle and yarn can find a fun, rewarding hobby in embroidery. But how do you get started? And for the veterans who find they’re having trouble taking their pieces up a notch, where can you go from where you are? If you’ve got these questions, the best embroidery books list we’ve put together might be your savior.
These hand embroidery books will start you off or keep you threading beautiful embroidery for your friends, your family, and, most importantly, yourself. Our selections will tell you who the author is and why we trust them. We’ll also give information about the cover (so you know what shelves it can go on and whose eye it will catch), number of pages (for readers with both endless time and mere minutes), and of course, the book’s purpose, so you know who these books target.
More features: detailed illustrations; easy to understand
Embroidery: A Step-By-Step Guide To More Than 200 Stitches is a wonderfully helpful guide to all sorts of beautiful stitches. No matter what kinds of stitches you’re into, Lucinda Ganderton has found one for you and will show you exactly how to put it together.
What we liked: The detailed illustrations make embroidering these pleasant pieces a cinch, and they’re easy to follow for grandmas and grandchildren alike. In terms of embroidery pattern books, you can’t get much better than this.
What could be better: While we liked the easy-to-understand instructions, we thought, at times, they got a little too in-depth. The author could have shortened them a little and dropped some of the more minute steps.
More features: fully redesigned and integrated; detailed; covers eight key subjects
This in-depth exploration of the art of needlework comes straight from the experts at the Royal School of Needlework. In 400 pages, you’ll get a masterclass on everything needlework, learning to refine your embroidery and put the finishing touches on your most proud pieces.
What we liked: These expert alumni are the uncontested masters of needlework, and receiving instructions from them is like undergoing a rigorous course at a prestigious university.
What could be better: If the last book was a little too simple, this one is too complex. The rigor involved in this text is enough to scare away the more faint-of-heart, and following the recommendations can be challenging at times. This book reads something like a textbook for a graduate-level class. The only reason we’ve placed this book below the preceding text is because of its rigorousness. This book aims for the serious embroiderers who are willing to cut the slack and put in the work. It’s not a pamphlet, and it’s not a picture instruction booklet.
With step-by-step photography, clear instructions, and a wide selection of charming embroidery, this little book is sure to delight the beginners, the experts, and everyone in-between.
What we liked: While we could talk a lot about the easy-to-follow instructions and the clear photography, we’ll instead focus on the embroideries themselves. This book features a wide array of folksy little pieces sure to delight the casual onlooker.
What could be better: While we loved the down-home country charm of the embroideries in this book, we thought they could get a little bit boring for more experienced embroiderers.
The illustrated instructions in this book provide essential information on everything from tools to various methods and styles of embroidery.
What we liked: This is one of the best learning embroidery books we know. Whether discussing tools or patterns, this book will take you through the raw basics of embroidery and refine your craft.
What could be better: Where you can go and what you can create with this book are quite limited. It is less of a complete instruction book and more of a supplemental piece- something meant to be read alongside another book.
More features: stylized photography; detailed close-ups of designs; easy-to-follow instructions; 30 intricate embroidery designs
In this in-depth book, Gayla Partridge uses her Fine Arts degree to bring you stunning and intricate designs that are sure to wow whoever you show them to and satisfy you most of all. And with witchy, magical themes, these projects are a shoo-in to enchant your guests.
What we liked: The projects in this book are something straight out of a museum. With such intricate and stunning works as these, you’ll never have to look elsewhere to find beautiful projects.
What could be better: Although we positively adored the works included in this book, we understand that they’re somewhat exhausting projects. These beautiful pieces are some intense projects and will work best for embroiderers with some time on their hands.
More features: rich textures; outlines the basics of 10 classic embroidery stitches; 20 beautiful and practical projects for hoops; glossary
Cristin Morgan has been embroidering her whole life, and she has chosen to share her hard-earned skills with anyone who will listen. In 128 pages, she takes us through a range of embroideries to give us the best and most rewarding projects we can get.
What we liked: These embroideries are the perfect mixture of simplicity and charm. Cristin is still quite young herself, so she’s in touch with everything modern and trendy. This book is an excellent gift for a child or grandchild.
What could be better: We thought that the embroideries included were a little too limited. The book is for the trendy, so it makes sense that the pieces would have some modern charm, but it strays away from embroidery’s roots and may not be what older stitchers are looking for.
Alright, so you’ve settled on it- you’re going to buy an embroidering book. But how do you find one that fits? There are so many choices and so much to consider. Not to mention the hefty price tag some books carry. Consider this buying guide for ways to refine your search and buy the best hand embroidery book for you.
Embroidery books are a lot like birds- some are simple and straightforward, some are wise, and some are showy. Depending on your skill level, you might be looking for professional embroidery books, commercial embroidery books, or beginner embroidery books. Embroidery pattern books take you through all the steps of the embroidery process. Some of them focus more on fundamentals, some concentrate on designs, while some simply delve into the details about what makes embroidery shine.
With so many features, finding the right book might seem a truly intimidating task. Here are some features you should consider before buying an embroidery book.
Some say a book’s author can be used to determine whether or not the book is right for you. Using this rule-of-thumb, you can look up a book’s author and find out whether their qualities, style, and expertise match up with what you want out of your book. For example, professional and expert embroiderers might be better suited for a book like The Royal School of Needlework Book of Embroidery. It is an in-depth and exhaustive text meant to provide readers with all of the foundations needed to create really stunning embroidery.
Readers without much time or dedication to the craft (hobbyists) might find such a book extremely intimidating. Just looking at the prestigious school these authors graduated from might tell you that this isn’t quite your speed. On the other hand, hobbyists might see a lot of themselves in Cristina Morgan. Cristina is self-taught and knows her audience as she knows herself. You might also consider her book a commercial embroidery book because it touches on the trends that sell.
At the same time, expertise is not everything. One look at an author like Gayla Partridge might tell you everything you need to know about her book. She’s a serious artist- dedicated to her craft and thinking up stunning images to put down on the cloth.
So, if you see an author you like, or if an author reminds you of yourself, you might want to check them out. Picking an author who matches your personality and style is a great way to find books that do the same.
If you’re a professional embroiderer with nothing but needle marks on your hands, you might dedicate all your free time to reading and studying embroidery. These kinds of readers would be best suited for much longer books- above the 200-page range. These books pack valuable information that can be used to perfect the craft of embroidery, but they take lots of time and attention. Embroiderers with less free time to work with might go for the lower-page number pieces. While The Book of Embroidery is great, A-Z of Embroidery Stitches works just fine for stitchers looking for a little bedtime reading.
Additionally, you have to ask yourself where you’re going to be taking this book. If you’re planning on carrying it through the subway, you might not want to be lugging around a big twenty-pound cinderblock. You may also want to put the book in a purse, backpack, or even a pocket.
For these purposes, readers should shoot for lighter books- somewhere below 200 pages. These books are lightweight and portable so that you can take your embroidery adventure everywhere you go. So, look at how you want to use your book. Are you a 50-page-a-day reader, or are you a skimmer? Do you want to stay in one place with your book, or will you have to haul it around? Book sizes cater to the on-the-go reader as well as the fireside tea-drinker.
You know the old saying: never judge a book by its cover, but let’s put that aside for a minute to do just that. Covers have important and useful functions and can present an obstacle while embroidering. So, go ahead, judge away.
Embroidery, just like any other form of art, can get a little messy. Between stray pieces of yarn to missing needles and flowing strips of cloth, a workspace gets chaotic. What helps is to have tools that work with the space you have and to find solutions for using your embroidery book in the appropriate ways.
One way to do this is to look at the binding- binding can make or break your book for a given workspace. Books bound like novels or textbooks at the spine have one fatal flaw- if you’re on the first or last page, they can be almost impossible to keep open. That spare hand you need to hold your book on the right page might be needed elsewhere.
Spiral-bound books don’t have this problem. When you open up a spiral-bound book, it lays flat on your table and stays open no matter how far along you are. Additionally, the flat surface spiral notebooks form takes up the least space possible and is ideal for a cluttered workspace. Position it right, and you’ll be able to do work on it just like it was an open space on the table.
This one might seem a little obvious, but how do you tell a book’s purpose? To keep it short, look for these dead-ringers: Style, complexity, and length. Style can be used to indicate a book’s purpose in this way: take a book like Embroidery: A Step-By-Step Guide to More Than 200 Stitches. What we see in this book is simplistic, pretty, and practical. These designs can be embroidered into anything from a shirt to a table-cloth. If we look at something like Stitch Craft, however, we see something a whole lot more artistic. That’s not to say those designs couldn’t go just anywhere, but you might be tempted to keep them hanging on a wall, somewhere they won’t get dirty or have to be washed. In the complexity category, we have a book like The Geometry of Hand-Sewing. In this book, we see straightforward designs with little color or flair. It becomes obvious that what the author is going for here is not something to show off but little practice pieces that will refine your talent.
As for length, page numbers can be used to determine who the book is marketed at and what the level of dedication in the average reader should be. If the book is 200+ pages with long, intimidating walls of texts, you can bet it’s for the professionals. A 140-page paperback, however, is a little more casual and might be skimmed through on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
This one comes down to your personal preferences. To decide what kinds of illustrations are best for you, take into account your level of expertise, your eyesight, and your stylistic tastes.
Lovers of minimalism might prefer illustrations, as they fit into a book’s pages without taking up too much real-estate. At the same time, they can be specially tailored by the author or designer of the book to get the best possible view of the technique involved in a stitch.
Photos might be preferred by people with weak eyesight, as they present clear and unmistakable pictures of the steps you need to follow to produce successful embroidery. They are well-lit, exact, and best of all, they are more likely to look like what you have in front of you.
These are all great books and great ways to start or continue your adventures in embroidery, but they’re meant for all different kinds of people. Casual readers might like the smaller texts, like Embroidery: A Step-by-Step Guide to More than 200 Stitches, whereas professional embroiderers might like the longer books, such as our Premium Pick The Royal School of Needlework Book of Embroidery. Commercial embroiderers might find that more simplistic embroidery often sells quite well, depending on the trendiness of it. For these embroiderers, we would recommend A-Z of Embroidery Stitches.
In any case, finding the right book for you boils down to a matter of deciding what kind of embroidery you’d like to do. Do you want to hang it up or wear it on a shirt? Do you want to thread a masterpiece or put together something trendy for a cute pillowcase or blanket? Whatever you want, there is something on our list that can meet your needs. These are all spectacular books sure to delight embroiderers young and old, expert and beginner.