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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Embroidered Flowers for Elizabeth: Book Review


Amazon Books

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that Embroidered Flowers for Elizabeth by Susan O’Connor, published by Country Bumpkin, was released, and today, I want to show you the book up close. It’s a beautiful book featuring a beautiful project – but it’s more than that!

The main project featured in the book Embroidered Flowers for Elizabeth is a gorgeous wool blanket divided in diamond-shaped panes, and displaying a selection of hand embroidered flowers that reflect the style of the Elizabethan era (the Renaissance in England). Susan O’Connor, whose embroidery designs always capture my eye, has really written a winner of a needlework book with this one! It is fantastic – the book is beautiful in every sense of the word, and the designs within are versatile.

Embroidered Flowers for Elizabeth by Susan O'Connor

While it is certainly a project book – a how-to book – it is so pretty that it deserves a nice spot in your home for display. It would look great on the coffee table! The quality of the book is Country Bumpkin quality – they do produce the most gorgeous needlework books!

Embroidered Flowers for Elizabeth by Susan O'Connor

The blanket itself is striking: diamond shaped panes reminiscent of Tudor windows, the black panes outlined with gold stitching on a cream ground speckled with the colorful flowers. It’s a very sophisticated design.

The book begins with a short history of the Elizabethan era. There’s not a whole lot “new” in this section – it’s your typical text-book history that doesn’t delve into primary sources. The section following the “history” moves into the textiles of the era, and this much more interesting. Here, you’ll discover the significance of the flowers featured in the book.

Embroidered Flowers for Elizabeth by Susan O'Connor

After this brief introduction, instructions are given on setting up the blanket project, placing and embroidering the panes on the blanket.

But what if you’re not really into making and embroidering blankets? Oh! Never fear! This book is a perfect multi-project book for anyone who loves embroidered floral designs, all of which are suitable for a variety of needlework techniques.

Embroidered Flowers for Elizabeth by Susan O'Connor

The book is broken down by floral motif. Each section on each floral arrangement begins with a clear color photo of the finished floral design.

Embroidered Flowers for Elizabeth by Susan O'Connor

The floral design is followed by a materials list and stitching instructions. Paternayan wool is used for the embroidery on the blanketl. But for those not interested so much in wool embroidery, never fear – there’s a handy thread conversion chart in the back of the book.

Embroidered Flowers for Elizabeth by Susan O'Connor

Besides the general stitching instructions for the whole motif, there are step-by-step photos for the different stitches used in each motif. If you appreciate other Country Bumpkin publications (for example, the A-Z Series of Needlework books), you will certainly like these step-by-step photos.

Embroidered Flowers for Elizabeth by Susan O'Connor

Oooooooh. My Absolute Favorite in the Whole Book is this Pea & English Daisy design. I just love it! I love the greens, I love the peas, I love the daisies, I just love this motif! It’s beautiful, isn’t it?

Embroidered Flowers for Elizabeth by Susan O'Connor

After the larger floral motifs comes a section on smaller designs. These are like a little sampling taken from the larger floral designs – they’re little, sweet, perfect designs that could be stitched individually (relatively quickly) for a variety of applications, such as needlebook covers, pin keeps (as shown in the book), or whatever your imagination can devise!

Embroidered Flowers for Elizabeth by Susan O'Connor

Following the embroidery instructions are the instructions for constructing the blanket. One reader mentioned that these instructions are a bit confusing. After reading through them, I think that someone who has constructed blankets or quilts before would find the assembly instructions clear enough. They aren’t necessarily written for an absolute beginner, but I do think they are manageable.

Embroidered Flowers for Elizabeth by Susan O'Connor

The thread conversion chart towards the end of the book gives color numbers for DMC stranded cotton and Au Ver a Soie silk (Soie d’Alger). The author specifies the difference in stitching, should you choose a different thread to work with.

Embroidered Flowers for Elizabeth by Susan O'Connor

Some suggestions are given for individual projects with the small motifs. Very pretty! I love the addition of the gold spangles around the flowers.

Embroidered Flowers for Elizabeth by Susan O'Connor

And finally, the last section of the book is filled with all the line drawings, as well as drawings that indicate stitch direction.

All in all, the book is everything I was hoping it would be! The designs are so pretty, and oh, the possibilities! Silk shading, stumpwork, goldwork, whitework – the designs are versatile and easily adaptable to other techniques.

You can find Embroidered Flowers for Elizabeth at several places online:

Country Bumpkin Publications – located in Australia; the book costs AU$34.95. For those ordering outside Australia, be prepared to pay shipping costs and, where applicable, customs duty.

The Book Depository (Thanks, Irene!) – this is located in the UK, but shipping worldwide is free. I ordered a copy from here ($21.81) and had it within a week.

Amazon UK – Though not available on Amazon in the States yet, the book can be found on Amazon UK for £13.27 (US$20.22 right now).

And, finally, this weekend, I’ll be giving away a free copy of Embroidered Flowers for Elizabeth, so keep an eye out for the give-away!


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(42) Comments

  1. your review only makes me want this book even more… I never win anything but I hope I will win your give-away… I would *KILL* for a copy of this book… I am fastly becoming addicted to your blog!

  2. I also would like to win this book.
    I think the pictures are wonderful and it would be an awesome resource to have and to explore new designs. Keep up the good work of keeping us informed on the resources becoming available.

  3. G'day Mary,

    Susan O'Connor is a treasure and this book is one of her gems.
    It definitely deserves the Coffee Table label.

    Thanks for the beautiful review.

    Cheers, Kath

  4. Oh darn. I was SO hoping this book wouldn't be spectacular because I really don't need to add any more to my wish list! It appears you have dashed my hopes and this will have to go on my list straightaway. I think it will have to be in top place too!!

  5. Mary,
    Hope you don't mind- I'm posting a link to this review on Twitter.

    (And yes, I'll come back this weekend to enter the giveaway!)

  6. Ohhh! I do love Susan's elizabethan designs. I put my name on the Amazon list a few weeks ago. Hoping they get it in SOON.

  7. I bought this book from Book Depository (thanks Irene from me, too) and also had it in a week. I've been examining it minutely with great pleasure ever since. Country Bumpkin publications are absolutely the best, with clear instructions and beautiful photography.

  8. I've bought this book from Amazon UK, having had it on order since Christmas and I haven't looked at it yet. I've been saving it for a day like today when my husband has gone to a football match and I have some time to browse. I just know that it will be gorgeous.

  9. HI Mary I would be thrilled to win this book because I have been living in Paris and enjoying your videos as I work on my crazy quilt and mastering some of the stitches . The book looks so delightful and I would love to win it. Thank you so much . Joni Meyers

  10. Oh! how i wish i could win your give a away goodies.i am eager to try those designs.i dont have a book of that class in my collection.your blog is very interesting- i follow it daily

  11. Dear Mary, your web site has been incredibly useful for me in every topic you bring up. But I enjoy your book reviews at most. I have not been disappointed in any of the books you recommended. I am positive that this book is everything you say it is as well. I cannot wait to have it. I probably will attempt to embroider the flowers for small separate projects rather than the blanket.

  12. I would love to think I would make the blanket,..but I know that what I would truly do would be to use some of the elements to make Christmas ornaments. And…The Rooster.. wonderful…. twas better than any soap opera!… what color? what stitch?… what! she pulled out those stitches??!! Great stuff. Thanks

  13. I would love to have this book, whether I win it or have to order it from Amazon.com when it becomes available. I am working on my embroider skills and this book really inspires me. I love your blog, I look forward to it everyday, thank you for sharing your talent. Judie

  14. This looks like an amazing book. The blanket design is absolutely gorgeous. However….I usually get distracted and find myself being pulled by all the wonderful things you tell us about. AND I am a slow stitcher. So I would have to be honest and say I would work on the individual designs. If I found after one or two that I could execute them perfectly, the blanket might be a possibility. I try not to set myself up for failure. (LOL)

  15. I love to study the history of textiles and embroidery from the Elizabethan through the Edwardian periods. I have a beautiful book entitled: The Needlework of Mary, Queen of Scots. In this book, historical and personal by-lines tell us that Mary sat in prison and did her needlework along with her jailer's wife. Mary tried unsuccessfully to win her "sister" Elizabeth's sympathy by making her beautiful gowns, etc.

    Elizabeth accepted these gifts, but sadly, although she suffered over the decision, she finally allowed the other queen to be put to death.

    It is fascinating in the context of the womens' roles and their shared interests.

  16. I haven't entered a drawing in a while because I only enter when it's something I am truely interested in doing soon. I adore this book. I put it on my gift list as soon as I saw it. I haven't done much embroidery except cross stitch and hardanger. I am itching to make this blanket!

    Kelley Poulos

    p.s. pick me! pick me! pick me! 😉

  17. Thank you for your very generous giveaway…great book, and other gifts too. I would like to make the blanket. I am still learning, and this looks like the perfect book to learn by and have a work of art when finished!

  18. Mary

    You have done a lovely job reviewing this book, I can see why you like the daisies and pea pods! I love the pea pod needle cases they used to have in olden times.

    Julie in Australia

  19. Your review of the book made it blossom before my eyes! The embroidery looks so lifelike you could almost smell the flowers' fragrance. I am new to embroidery and am working on embellishing a crazy quilt block for a fundraiser (The Palmettos Tatting Guild Scholarship fund.) I know I would find much inspiration in this new book.
    Thank you for your overall generosity and the wonderful information you have posted on the website. It has been a help to me.
    Georgia Seitz
    The Online Tatting Class.

  20. Not only a beautiful book to leaf through but a perfect source for brainstorming new projects, and I am MOST interested in stitching individual designs. I've not done embroidery in recent years and am thrilled to find your website. I'd love to win the book but if I don't, will keep an eye for it out on amazon.com

    Joanne Crouch

  21. Oh, shoot, I've been resisting, but I don't think I can hold out much longer…I think I might have to own this book…….VBG

  22. hi
    would love to win this book …..if not will definitely get it from amazon . thank you for sharing.
    learnt so much from your blog and will continue to do so:-)

  23. franco lambiase
    i think i should win this book because, I am a male , and its the first time i have entered a competition .I would use the silk Soie d'Alger to get a more smooth paint like finish , to look like paint
    Love your website
    keep it up

  24. Hi,

    I would love to have the book as I do quite a bit of crewel embroidery and I definitely would make this blanket. I believe, however, I would stitch the blanket with the Au Ver a Soie Silk (Soie d' Alger)as I prefer working with the Au Ver a Soie Silk thread and I would use the book's color conversion chart. I love the sheen of the Au Ver a Soie Silk thread in a piece of needlework much better than Paternayan wool thread. Again, I would really love to win this book. Thank you for the opportunity to win this book and I love your work and enjoy reading your newsletter and blog. Marilynne Quick in SE TN

  25. hi
    i would like your interesting about book for using stiching. pls send me free book project .thank you for sharing.

  26. I would do what the book said if its easier to find the threads. I am a novice so anything that makes it more simple would be best. Love the designs. I am very drawn to this look. diana Campbell

  27. Hi-Mary, Don't include me in the giveaway but I did want to say that the flowers are very pretty. I'd make them in silk ribbon embroidery since I am not a thread painter.

  28. Lovely book, pretty designs. Your review on the book makes this book even more desirable. How much I wish I can get hold of one copy :). Hoping I might win ;).

  29. i would use the thread i have on hand. I bought wool thread thru estate sales and most is not marked. I would match best I can to the colors in the pattern that choose from book.

  30. Thank you for giving this chance to us. This book is really a fortune to have it. Using which tread it depends on the project and the material I am using.

  31. I would use the conversion chart and do them with different threads. I would first do the ones with that I wanted to do with the suggested threads since I am new. Then I would use different threads to experiment with them.

  32. Thank you for this opportunity and for such
    detailed review.
    I would definitely do the patterns in silk to make the designs part of a family legacy, they
    look so beautiful and delicate.

  33. Oh no! I just discovered this site and it’s too late to enter the draw.

    I’ll just have to put this site on my favourites list.

  34. I am looking for a free hand embroidered flower arrangement using a lot of white daisy’s. I need it to be already to embroidery. I am no good at piecing things together so thought you might help me or tell me where I can find can go to get it.

    Thank you

    1. I would check around for “doctor’s flannel” (wool) or perhaps wool flannel for blankets – you’ll have to google it, I think. You might contact Dorr Mill to see if their wool flannel would work. I think it is used for appliqué, but I don’t know if it is the right weight for a blanket. Obviously, the blanket would be backed, so that would increase the weight. There’s also a company online called “The Woolery” and they have a natural white wool fabric that sounds like it is fairly heavy and might work. If you’re planning to take on a project that size, you definitely would want to collect some fabric swatches so that you make a good decision!

  35. En regardant cette sublime couverture on a déjà l’envie de faire ce quilt. En plus ce livre serait parfait avec mes autres livres de broderie- Merci pour cette occasion. Belle journée à toutes et tous.

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