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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Wessex Stitchery


Amazon Books

Going back to my pile of needlework loot I picked up on my recent road trip, here’s a beautiful book by Gay Eaton called Wessex Stitchery. Now, if you’re a counted thread embroidery fan, you’re gonna love this book! And even if you’re not, you’re still gonna love it, because of the variety of stitches and applications in the book. (Well, ok… I think you’ll like it, anyway!)

Wessex Stitchery is a book devoted to the study of the motifs and arrangements of stitches (on even-weave fabric) that reflect a style of embroidery made popular, apparently, during the Victorian age by a British lady – a fact I found sort of disappointing, as I thought it was a more “historical” approach to embroidery, with roots stretching way back to Medieval England or beyond.

I quickly overcame my disappointment (or surprise, rather) when I realized that just about any embroidery technique has more “historical” roots than we give credit for, because, after all, that’s pretty much what we do – we generally build on what came before.

The book illustrates the anatomy of groups of stitches that make up beautiful patterns (especially filling patterns).

Wessex Stitchery by Gay Eaton

The variety of combinations and the use of many colors make Wessex stitchery a really fascinating technique, one definitely suitable for on-going development and discovery.

Wessex Stitchery by Gay Eaton

The book includes explanations, patterns, instruction, and diagrams all clearly focused on teaching this style of embroidery to beginners and beyond.

Wessex Stitchery by Gay Eaton

The filling patterns are not relegated to counted embroidery on even-weave fabric, of course. If you like canvas work (needlepoint), I suspect you’ll find plenty of inspiration here!

Wessex Stitchery by Gay Eaton

Wessex stitchery, methinks, would be particularly suited to make band samplers. You certainly wouldn’t get bored with working the same types of stitches over and over again with this kind of embroidery!

Wessex Stitchery by Gay Eaton

I like the idea of using this type of stitchery for background. Who says it has to be in colored threads, for example? What about a background on a goldwork pattern, worked in gold threads? If you’re not working on even-weave, I suspect you could tack on some waste canvas or netting and work up a beautiful background fill pattern.

Wessex Stitchery by Gay Eaton

Besides covering a wide variety of stitch combinations and motifs, the book also contains projects, including needle keeps, pin cushions, and the like, along with ideas for samplers.

This is worthwhile book for any stitching enthusiast to have on the shelf. It’s especially worthwhile for counted thread enthusiasts who want to expand their repertoire of counted thread stitches or who want to add some variety and texture to their work. Surface embroiderers will find the book fascinating for the variety of filling ideas and the combinations of stitches. In short, I think anyone interested in working with needle & thread will like this book!

Strangely enough, the book is becoming a wee bit difficult to come by, though you can still find it through Lacis and some used book sources online. I bought mine at Lacis, where it was available for $25. It’s still listed on their website, so just search their catalog with the term “Wessex Stitchery” and it should pop right up.

I don’t advise acquiring it through Amazon in the US right now. One copy is available, used, for a mere $387.90 (a couple weeks ago, it was on there for $175). Sheeeeesh!

Still, I believe the book is out of print, so if you want it, now’s the time to get it, while Lacis is still carrying it….


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(16) Comments

  1. THUD!! I just fell out of my chair in SHOCK!! I bought this book years ago on my honeymoon (8 years ago to be exact!!) I'm RICH!! not really. My husband's name is RICHard!! Still it is a beautiful book! Enjoy it!! Linda

  2. I think this book is a gem. I, too, bought mine at Lacis when I was there a couple of months ago. I don't know what made me pick it up as I don't do counted work, but I just love the use of colour and the technique of layered embroidery stitches. I think you could incorporate these stitches (or at least the ideas) on non-counted work. It's a beautiful book.

  3. Oh oh…another one going on my wish list! I would love to play with these designs using waste canvas. I think they'd make lovely additions to crazy quilted pieces.

  4. Hi, Mary-
    I am replying to your previous question about the changes you will be making.
    Everyone seems to agree, and I do, too, that we love the way it is. The format is perfect. Separating the NeedleArts on your site will be a huge disappointment to us readers. Your strong suit is that you show us different divisions of embroidery. We all salivate over the things we love to do and over the things we wish to do! That is precisely the reason why everyone enjoys reading your postings. We never know what will turn up but we know that it will be exciting and beautiful and interesting! Don' change, Mary. With Love, Laura B.

  5. I am off to buy this book. It`s been on my 'wish' list for years, ever since I read about this embroidery in a book I bought in England(the name of which escapes me at the moment)

    I am envisioning a sampler…with many-coloured bands of vibrant stitches…

  6. Hi there
    I sadly had to close my textile art centre and am currently selling off my stock. I do have a brand new copy of Wessex Stitchery and am open to offers for it. I am based in Yorkshire in the UK so please bear in mind psotage costs.
    Please feel free to ask me any questions.
    Best wishes

  7. I couldn’t agree with you more about the cost of some of the more rare embroidery books, such as the Wessex Embroidery book, there is one book seller attempting to sell one of Erica Wilson’s Crewel Design Books for $9,999.00 on Amazon right now. Maybe the rest of us should attempt that and see if we get rich.

  8. Ha yes I bought my copy from Hedgehog Handworks. I love the designs in this book, and the infinite number of ways they can be used 🙂

  9. Women! This book is basically unavailable now. The few copies to be found in America range from $150 or so to $350 or so.

    Can someone Please download it page by page into Gutenberg ebooks or somewhere and then POST where you put it so we might all see the stitches and how to make them?

    Please Please Please??? It would be muchly appreciated!!!

    1. Hi, Katherine – yes, it’s too bad it’s out of print now. There’s a book called Early 20th Century embroidery techniques that has a little bit about Wessex stitchery in it – not a lot of instruction, but it does touch on it a little. The book is still under copyright, though, so it shouldn’t be out online…

  10. Mary,
    I didn’t realize that is how it works (under copyright), but of course it is! Oh well. Thank you muchly for your reply though.

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