While at Threadneedle Street in Issaquah, Washinton, I picked up a new book on hand embroidered monograms that is more than just a book on hand embroidered monograms – it is a fascinating glance into the House of Malbranche, a French institution dedicated, since the mid-1800’s, to the creation of beautiful household linens.
Letters and Monograms from the House of Malbranche by Yvonne Van de Velde-Malbranche and Christine Rosenthal is a hard-bound book that contains practical information for the embroiderer – instructions on creating beautiful monograms for household linens – as well as a unique look into an interesting part of textile history: the established “institutions” or “houses” that produced luxury embroidered goods for the rich and the royal.
The text of the book is presented in three languages: French, Italian, and English. The book begins with a history of the House of Malbranche, detailing how the insitute would fulfill orders for custom linens – from the consulting stage, to the designing, to the distribution to embroiderers, to collections and payments.
It then progresses to practical information about the embellishment of fine household linens, including embroidering to appliquéing linens for the home.
The monograms featured range from elaborate in form – scrolly, intricate letters entwined around each other – to simple, clear individual letters.
Technical information on completing the monograms is arranged alongside the photo samples included.
Along with patterns, detailed explanations of stitch direction (especially for satin stitching) are included. This type of information is of great help to the beginner who desires to achieve perfect satin stitching around the curves of graceful letters.
Appliqué and pin stitching are featured on a “modern” looking monogram – quite art nouveau-ish – worked in white on natural linen. Not only do I love the combination of white-on-natural, but I love the clean look of this monogram set!
Diagrams covering different technical aspects of the art of embroidered monograms pepper the book, helping to illustrate the instructions in the text.
One of the most helpful topics in the technical instructions is the stitch direction for satin stitching, as mentioned above. Here, you can see that stitch direction on rounded tips of letters is being discussed and drawn out.
Throughout the book, there are many beautiful alphabets suitable for a variety of interpretations.
If you’re interested in whitework, in monogramming, or in the history of textiles, I think you would enjoy this book! The English translation is a little choppy here and there, but the wealth of information and beauty within the pages makes up for this.
I found the book at Threadneedle Street in Washington, but I do not know if they still have it available, as it isn’t presently on their website. They can probably order it for you, if you’re interested in it. Note, though, that the price tag was pretty hefty – around $50.
You can also find the book through Mad Sampler Books, available for special order at $48. I couldn’t find it in too many other places online, so if you happen to know a resource, do please feel free to let us know!
I think, overall, this is my favorite purchase from my recent road trip. I picked up a lot of fun things, but this was a nice find of a not-so-common book, on a topic I like, in a beautiful format, with an interesting story to read. I really like it!