Mary Corbet

writer and founder


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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On Needlework & Hand Embroidery Books


Amazon Books

Needlework and hand embroidery books have always been among my favorite topics on Needle ‘n Thread. I am a book junkie – not just needlework books, but all kinds of books. I love books! When I was little, I used to hide in the bathtub with the shower curtain closed and gobble up books – at least until discovered and forced back into Saturday chores! So it isn’t too unusual that I have a fairly extensive library of books. And considering that my other love is needlework, it is even less unusual that I have an inordinately extensive library of needlework books…

Embroidered Flora and Fauna

Not all my needlework and embroidery books are new. I like to find “old” needlework books, and I’ve been collecting them for quite a while. Out in the Studio, I’ve got a few deep shelves of old needlework books and magazines that are awaiting some kind of organization and indexing. I’ve also got a slew of needlework pamphlets and periodicals from the mid-1800’s through the early 1900’s that are chockfull of designs that are awaiting scanning and cleaning up. For the latter project, I’ve actually considering hiring someone – a teenager needing a summer job, perhaps? – to do the work! If I managed one design a day for the rest of my life, I probably wouldn’t make it through the stack!

Stumpwork Medieval Flora

In the past, I’ve mentioned cataloging all my needlework books on Needle ‘n Thread, and some day, that may actually happen. In the meantime, though, I’ve written quite a few reviews that I’ve published here on the website. But I’ve been awfully negligent when it comes to updating the index of book reviews!

19th Century Embroidery Techniques

Well, guess what? I finally updated it! Right now, there are 55 books listed on my Needlework Book Reviews Index, as opposed to about half that before today! The title of each book links up to the review I wrote on it. Most of the reviews include photos of the book, a summary of contents, and pros and cons. So if you’re looking for some new books for your needlework library and you’d like to know a little bit about them first, feel free to browse through my Needlework Book Reviews.

Long and Short Stitch Embroidery

The irony of the situation is that the all-new Needle ‘n Thread is gearing up for launch in the next couple weeks! And at that point, my indexing of books is completing changing! That’s what I get for putting things off!

Letters and Monograms from the House of Malbranche

I’d love to hear from readers about any books they would like to see reviewed on Needle ‘n Thread. Do you have any books on your wish lists that you’ve wondered about? You never know – I might have it on my shelf. If I don’t have it, I may be able to procure it! If you have any book requests, feel free to leave a comment below, and I’ll see what I can do!

Have a terrific weekend! I plan to get some stitching done! (Oh, and housework. I almost forgot that part.)


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(19) Comments

  1. What book is that in the photo where I can read "sampler two" on one page and "sampler three" on the next page. Whatever book it is, I think I need it!

  2. Hi, Donna –

    That's 19th Century Embroidery Techniques, by Gail Marsh. The review has several more photos!


  3. Did you ever try the flashlight under the covers at night trick? I did that until I drained all the batteries and got busted. Book are impossible for me to resist. I have an extensive collection of needlework (particularly embroidery) books too and always want more. I veer into every thrift shop I can find hoping that I might score a new-to-me (and preferably old) book. We won't even discuss how many 'other' books are in this house. Suffice to say, I doubt I will get them all read in this lifetime and I continue to bring in more! Won't discuss how many I manage to bring in through the library either!! Yep, I go around saying "My name is Mary Anne, and I'm a book junkie" and wondering if there's a 12-step program.

  4. I know there are programs and scanners that allow us to catalog and automate personal libraries (via isbn #, e.g.). I'd love to hear more info on these, from you or your readers.

  5. Hi Mary,
    Thank you so much for the oh so useful book reviews. the books all sound grand- and I want them all!! It is hard to choose a book especially when you can't see it first. The bookstores nearby no longer carry much in the line of embroidery books so your reviews will be invaluable. I wanted you to know that I was so very lucky to have seen the OUTSTANDING English Embroidery exhibit held at the Bard School last year. The book is incredible as well, and I would think a delightful addition to anyone's library. Peg from NJ

  6. que suerte Mary poder,contar con libros de bordado,no es igual que una revista,esta trae varios temas,me imagino que hay algunos con bastante material un solo tema''
    por aqui es dificil ,,solo estan en tiendas muy exclusivas,de muy dificil acceso,en una feria tube en mis manos uno en ingles,, me dejo sin dormir..
    gracias a ti e podido admirar tantas puntadas lindas
    pero que es bueno un libro '''no es bueno es genial¡¡

  7. Hi Mary!
    I would like to read a review on the book Embroiderer's countryside, by Helen M. Stevens.I like birds and small animals, so maybe I can find them in this book. It's quite expensive, so I haven't bought it yet. But maybe I should…
    Gwen Kok from the Netherlands

    1. You can’t go wrong with anything Helen Stevens publishes.I have five of her books and they are loaded with inspiration. However, they’re not really beginners’ books for needle painting. they do have lots of tips for working the art as far as setting up etc.

  8. OOH! I was just about to ask about the 19th century book and then I read the comments. I've got that one on my wishlist already. I think it must be purchased at this point! I have her 18th century embroidery techniques, and while it is very similar to the facsimile copy of the "Art of the Embroiderer" that I also have on my shelf, she translates to modern English VERY nicely! And the photos are great.

    Hope your rebuild of the site is going well… it's always a pain to do, but so fun to see the final results! (Kind of like stumpwork!)

  9. Oh! and the main reason I wanted to comment, and forgot, I'd LOVE to see some of the older books and pamphlets in your collection! (But I'm snoopy.)

  10. Hi Mary,
    I would really like to see a review of the book Embroidered Alphabets and Whitework (it is a
    Japanese book). I found it on the Lacis site and have been comtemplating buying it for some time.
    Thank you,
    R. Mondragon

  11. I too am drooling for the 19th Century Embroidery book, along with the 18th Century one, and the….Oh shoot, your reviews make me want them all!

    I'm Gail, and I have a book collection. I refuse to call it a problem. Of all the things I've spent money on, books are the one area I've never regretted. Some of my clothing, food, decorating, and garden plant choices have been regrettable, but not the books!

  12. Hi Mary,
    Do you have any Cross Stitch Book that you recommend for Details, Designs & Sketches?
    I am confused as there are so many Online…

    Do you have any comments on:
    Jan Eaton’s Cross Stitch Motif Bible?
    Better Homes.. 2001 Cross stitch designs?
    Betty Barnden’s Encyclopedia of Cross Stitch Techniques?

    Please Reply

    1. Hi Shaz – you might like “The New Cross Stitcher’s Bible” by Jane Greenoff of the UK. It’s got a chart library along with loads of tips and ideas. She’s a prominent member of the Cross Stitch Guild of the UK.

      I used to avoid crossstitch because I though it was just way too cutesie, but I have found some stunning patterns in The Nordic Needle website.

    2. Two more books you might like are “Cross-Stitch Alphabets and Treasures” published by Lacis Publications and Brenda Keyes “Traditional Samplers” Distributed by F&W Publications her in the US.

  13. Hi Mary,
    Thank you for your reply Doreen, I have ordered “The New Cross Stitcher’s Bible”.

    Do you have suggestions for BLACKWORK EMBROIDERY books which concentrate mainly on Projects?
    Do you have any comments on “The Art of Blackwork Embroidery” by Rosemary Drysdale?
    Awaiting your reply.

    Thanks again

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