Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Needlework Books – Bestsellers


Amazon Books

I’ve always been a bookworm, and as an embroiderer, I admit I’m an embroidery bookworm. I have a lot of books on needlework and embroidery. Some I love, and visit over and over. Some, I’ve found disappointing. The books I like best are the ones that have a good presentation of good information.

While I was shuffling through my needlework books this past weekend, I became curious about the books people buy. This, in turn, led me to checking my reports to see what the “top sellers” were from the bookstore here on Needle ‘n Thread. I thought I’d share the results of my perusal with you!

According to my reports, here are the top eleven needlework books that people have bought through Needle ‘n Thread in the last few months, arranged from least popular to most popular. I’ve linked them up to my reviews of the books listed.

10. Beginner’s Guide to Crewel Embroidery – actually, many clicks and many copies ordered, but this one has been listed on the site for only a little while!

9. Whitework: Techniques and 188 Designs (Dover)

8. Painting with a Needle: Learning the Art of Silk Embroidery

7. Goldwork Embroidery: Designs and Projects

6. Compendium of Ancien Artistic Initials for Vintage Style Monograms

5. Beginner’s Guide to Goldwork

4. The Embroidery Stitch Bible

3. 18th Century Embroidery Techniques

2. Beginner’s Guide to Silk Shading

1. The Embroiderer’s Handbook and Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches (tied for #1 spot)

I’d be curious to find out what peoople look for in a needlework book. I have my own criteria, which can be summarized, as I said above, with “a good presentation of good information.” But that’s rather general, isn’t it? What do you consider necessary to make the book “good”?


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(6) Comments

  1. I have to laugh! Half of those titles are in my “To Buy Later” Amazon shopping cart. I have to wait for my purse to catch up with my wish list!

    For me, as new as I am to embroidery, there are a plethora of stitches that I’m just discovering and have not tried yet. I had no idea there were so many to learn!

    I need lots of practice, so I’m creating my own quilt blocks from scratch, using a water erasable marker to create simple line drawings to embroider. This allows me to decide which new stitches I want to practice and apply to the blocks.

    So what I needed was a stitch dictionary. And what I needed in a stitch dictionary was lots and lots of colorful photographs showing all the steps of how a stitch is created.

    I’m just no good with black and white how-to illustrations. If I stare at it long enough I’ll figure it out, but not without feeling as though I’ve bruised my brain! 😛

    Thus far, I’m intimidated by what, to me, seems like advanced embroidery techniques, so I haven’t purchased any books such as Trish Burr’s and alike. I don’t want to get frustrated by not being able to produce something as beautiful and complex as what I find on those pages.

    For now I’m trying to keep it simple and fun, and I’m looking for books that lean that way too. I’ve recently discovered Ondori books on embroidery. They can be hard to find. Many seem to be out of print now. But the ones I have found contain very simple embroidery designs. It’s sort of like embroidering a kid’s drawing, or doodle stitching embroidery. Not sophisticated but fun! – Jeannine

  2. I think I have nearly all the books in Mary’s list (and just a few others… :-).

    What I look for in books is inspiration and technique. I don’t think I’ve ever found a single book on a technique that answers all my questions or meets all of my needs for that technique–and I don’t expect that either. I hope to pick up tips and tricks here and there and then funnel that information through my, um, brain to see what comes out on the fabric.

    The other thing I find in books is that I either don’t necessarily care for the projects, but the text is good and vice versa. Either way I get something from the book.

    Jeannine: don’t be intimidated! It’s only embroidery. 🙂 Start simple and move forward when you’re ready. If you see a book such as Trish Burr’s that you are attracted to, buy it. Use it for inspiration and goal setting. I have been doing that with goldwork. I have seen pieces/effects that I like and I want to be able to do that! It does take practise; none of this stuff happens overnight or necessarily on the first try. If it’s important to you then the journey will be worth it.

  3. Oh, I forgot about the Ondori books!

    I have a handful of these and they do indeed have nice little motifs and designs. I would definitely recommend them if you are looking for pretty, but nice designs that are not too complicated.

  4. Thank you so much for the encouragement, Margaret! I am in awe of the work that I have seen of yours and find it an inspiration! I’ve gone back to look at “Enchanted April” quite a number of times.

    I’m taking baby steps. 🙂 I keep putting little bits and pieces into the designs I’m creating on quilt blocks where I force myself to practice satin and long and short stitches. Aaargh! lol! I’m never fully happy with the results. But I’m going to keep trying! -Jeannine

  5. Thank you for the heads up, Elmsley.

    Oooh! I’m loving the look of The Embroidery Stitch Bible! I love that it’s a spiral-bound book. I could use that feature for sure!

    I went with this one for my first…

    I do like it and am using it every day. But I’d love to get a dictionary that I don’t have to find creative ways to prop open while I’m trying to follow directions and use my needle at the same time.

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