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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Traditional Alphabets for Hand Embroidery


Amazon Books

This past weekend, I received a lovely gift in the mail – a beautiful book, in French, called Abécédaires de Tradition, published by Sajou, in conjunction with marie claire idées, which is a popular needlework (and other stuff) magazine in France. I know I’ve been on a French book and magazine kick lately – Mains et Merveilles and the the perforated paper and embroidery book – but I can’t help it! I think you deserve to see these great resources, too, and this one is particularly nice if you like monograms, and it’s available in the US. So take a look…

Though written in French, Abécédaires de Tradition is not a book that requires you to know the language, in case you can’t read French. Why not? Because it is primarily a design book, plus a little bit more.

Book of Iron-On Monograms from Sajou

Traditional Alphabets abound in this book of traditional alphabets. It is a “stiff” paperback book, printed on high quality paper, with beautiful color photos within.

Book of Iron-On Monograms from Sajou

Maison Sajou, a French needlework establishment, has been well-known for over a hundred years for their quality needlework products. When I think “Sajou,” what normally comes to mind are their alphabets.

Book of Iron-On Monograms from Sajou

The book is packed with decorative monograms which are first presented to the reader via colored plates.

Book of Iron-On Monograms from Sajou

Many beautiful monogram styles are featured…

Book of Iron-On Monograms from Sajou

… and they are all accompanied by photos of embroidered pieces featuring the monograms.

Book of Iron-On Monograms from Sajou

There’s a wonderful animal alphabet. Granted, the names of several of the animals don’t match the English translation. “C,” for example, is illustrated with ducks (“canards” in French). But many of the letters do match up – Z: zebra; Y: yak; P: peacock; R: rhino, etc. Personally, for me this isn’t a bother – I like the idea of a foreign language alphabet. You can look at it as a teaching moment for kids.

Book of Iron-On Monograms from Sajou

Oh, yes, pictures of monograms are nice – but this is the best part of the book.

Book of Iron-On Monograms from Sajou

The whole last half of the book is made up of iron-on transfer sheets for all the alphabets within….

Book of Iron-On Monograms from Sajou

… along with some nice borders to dress up your monograms.

The book contains 10 full alphabets in various sizes and in varying degrees of formality and informality. Each alphabet is attractive, and can be used on anything from household linens, quilts, and so forth, to handbags and clothing. You can even stitch up full alphabets to hang as samplers. From beautiful to downright fun, there’s something in the book for everyone.

Here’s a thought: Are you planning to make Christmas presents this year? How about personalizing some gifts with a monogram? That’s what I’m planning to do! And these monograms will be just the thing.

You can find Abécédaires de Tradition in the US through The French Needle, which specializes in all kinds of European-style stitching kits, books, threads, and accessories. (I love this shop – this is where I got the Bayeux tapestry kit). Lisa carries some beautiful surface embroidery kits that would be great fun to work. I love the large monogram (majuscule) kits. When I saw those, I suddenly longed for a name beginning with “W” or “Y”!

Anyway, at the time of publishing today’s article, the book is not listed on The French Needle website yet, but it will be posted there some time today. Click on boutique in the left column of the site, and you’ll see an extensive list of everything available. Go to the books category to find this particular book.

If you like the idea of hand embroidering some monograms on various and sundry articles, then, do check out this book! The beautiful monograms within it are worth the price alone, but coupled with the convenience of iron-on transfers, how can you miss?

Later in the week, I’ll be showing you a thread that works well for all kinds of surface embroidery, including monograms, so keep an eye out!

Until tomorrow…. au revoir!


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(11) Comments

  1. Je suis en France, et pourtant je ne connaissais pas ce livre ! Merci de nous le faire découvrir, et bravo pour ton excellent blog.

  2. While the photos are pretty, personally, I don't like satin stitched monograms because they look like they came from an embroidery machine. I do all sorts of initials to give away as gifts but I steer away from that style. It just seems so very common and bland. I like to mimic some of the very old styles of monogramming which required up to four different stitches per letter.

  3. Thank you for writing about this book, Mary. I've been looking for a collection of beautiful monograms, so I've written to The French Needle to see about ordering it. Again, many thanks!

  4. Hi Mary,

    The book seems lovely with beautiful monograms in different style…..and the one with animals are adorable….Amazing.


  5. Thanks, Mary, for all the information that you pass on to us. I really appreciate it!
    I ordered the book today. The monograms can be used in so many ways with whatever stitch variations a person would want to use.

  6. I would like to embroider monograms using silk ribbon. Do you have instructions and websites where to purchase supplies? I am located upstate New York. Also ,kits to purchase. Thanks , Florence

    1. Hi, Florence – For all things silk ribbon embroidery, you should search “Di Van Niekerk” – her silk ribbon work is beautiful, and she has some silk ribbon monogram books.

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