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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Needlework Books as Holiday Gifts


Amazon Books

If you’re looking for holiday gifts for your needlework buddies, how about a new book to add to their collection? This isn’t actually a novel idea. My inbox is inundated with questions about holiday gifts for stitchers this time of year – where to find unique needlework-related gifts, book recommendations, shop recommendations, and so forth.

Invariably, I fall back on books as gifts, probably because I’m a book freak, and that would be my preference.

So, if you’re floundering about, wondering what to get a stitching buddy, or if you’re planning on buying your own gift and wrapping it and putting it under the tree and feigning surprise on Christmas morning, I thought I’d give you a list of twelve needlework books that are popular on Needle ‘n Thread. Just for ideas….

Beginner's Guide to Crewel Embroidery

The Beginner’s Guide to Crewel Embroidery is one of the most consistently popular books on Needle ‘n Thread. I suppose a lot of people out there are wanting to do crewel work?! I think there’s also a growing appreciation of different types of wool threads available on the market, so maybe these interests go hand in hand. Here’s my review of The Beginner’s Guide to Crewel Embroidery.

Felt Wee Folk

Felt Wee Folk has received a lot of traffic on Needle ‘n Thread, and many copies have been sold through the Amazon affiliate link at the end of the review. This could be due to the fact that it’s been on the main page of the site for several months. (I forgot to switch it out with my last review!) In any case, it’s a great little book on embroidery on felt and making… well, wee folk out of felt. It’s really darling and lots of fun! Here’s my review of Felt Wee Folk.

The Embroiderer's Handbook

The Embroiderer’s Handbook has been a top hit on Needle ‘n Thread for a long time. In the last six months, it has remained consistently at the top of the list, despite recent reviews on other books and the fact that my review of The Embroiderer’s Handbook is short and sweet (and no photos!). The makings of a classic?

Redoute's Finest Flowers in Embroidery by Trish Burr

Redoute’s Finest Flowers in Embroidery by Trish Burr has been on the site now for three years, but it still ranks close to the top in traffic, even over more recently reviewed books. For someone looking to branch out in their embroidery skills and try something new, this is an excellent book! Here’s my review of Redoute’s Finest Flowers in Embroidery.

Mary Thomas's Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches

Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches is another favorite. She just keeps popping up!! This is a good stitch dictionary to have on a reference shelf. You’ll find yourself going to it again and again. Here’s my review of Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches.

Stitch Sampler

Stitch Sampler was next in popularity – it received a lot of traffic in the last six months, because the review is fairly recent, and I think the give-away heightened interest in the book. It’s another good reference for a variety of stitches, clearly illustrated, with a good index. Here’s my review of Stitch Sampler.

The Left-Handed Embroiderer's Companion

Funny how all the stitch dictionaries are lining up in ranking! The Left-Handed Embroiderer’s Companion is quite popular, if I go by traffic indicators! If you’re left-handed, you need this book! If you have a left-handed friend who stitches, your friend needs this book! Here’s my review of The Left-Handed Embroiderer’s Companion.

Long and Short Stitch: A Collection of Flowers

Long and Short Stitch Embroidery: A Collection of Flowers by Trish Burr comes next on the list. Another beautiful book of needle painted flowers by Trish Burr, this is one of those books full of good information, that looks great on the coffee table. So don’t leave it on the shelf! You’ll be inspired by it over and over again! Here’s my review of Long and Short Stitch Embroidery: A Collection of Flowers.

Stumpwork Medieval Flora

Stumpwork Medieval Flora by Jane Nicholas receives lots of visits here on Needle ‘n Thread. It’s a gorgeous book with gorgeous projects in it! My favorite part of this book is the illuminated panels projects. They are stunning! Here’s my review of Stumpwork Medieval Flora.

Ricamo Estense

Ricamo Estense or Estense Embroidery (in English) by Elisabeth Holzer Spinelli has enjoyed steady popularity since it’s review in May, 2010. It is a unique book with beautiful embroidery projects in it. The designs are based on Italian pottery designs, and the combination of stitches and colors used to create this style of embroidery are really interesting. The book is a great resource for stitchers who are interested in combining stitches to create unique borders and fillings. Here’s my review of Ricamo Estense.

Stumpwork and Goldwork Embroidery inspired by Turkish, Syrian, & Persian Tiles

Jane Nicholas’s Stumpwork Tiles is also in the top twelve popular needlework books in the last several months. Like all of Jane Nicholas’s stumpwork books, this one is magnificent. There are heaps of projects to work herein, and lots of great inspiration on combining goldwork, silk, and beads for beautiful effects. Here’s my review of Stumpwork Tiles.

The Embroidery Stitch Bible

Finally, The Embroidery Stitch Bible by Betty Barnden is another very popular stitch dictionary, and one of the top twelve most popular books on Needle ‘n Thread right now. It’s a great reference book, and there are lots of features about it that I like: the spiral binding, the visual index, the stitch groupings, the carefully drawn stitch diagrams. Here’s my review of The Embroidery Stitch Bible.

So there you have it! The twelve most popular books on Needle ‘n Thread in the last six months – any and all of which would make a perfect holiday gift for a stitcher in your life! (Or for yourself, of course!) You can find lots of other needlework books reviewed here on Needle ‘n Thread as well, if you’re looking. At the end of the Books & Links page, you’ll also find some free online books featured. Feel free to browse!

What about you? What needlework-related goodies do stitcher’s want for Christmas this year?! Leave a comment and let the rest of us know. You never know. Maybe Santa reads Needle ‘n Thread, too! (Heh heh. Just kidding. We know he’s too busy for that….)


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(16) Comments

  1. I assume that you know but perhaps some of your readers don’t, you can take your unspiral bound reference books to Staples or Kinko’s and they will spiral bind them at a very nomimal cost? I had my Left Hand Embroidery one done for about $8.00. So well worth the few dollars to have it lay flat while I’m stitching.

  2. Darn it, Mary, the last thing I need to do with today’s budget, etc., is to placate my love for more needlework books. Now look what you’ve done!! I mostly do appliqué, but have numerous embroidery projects partially completed, and have spent money for more books than I will ever actually work from. The most tempting on this list are: Stumpwork Medieval Flora (never tried stumpwork yet) and Felt Wee Folk (which looks like just pure fun, something for the grandmother in me, and a neat combination of different fiber arts). Maybe I better send the link to this site to everyone I know – hint, hint. Thanks

  3. Mary, thank you so much for this article on reference books–I wasn’t aware of the left-handed one and I’m always looking for ‘help’ :0) I’ve adapted to alot of righthanded needlework techniques (like xstitch and French knots), but most hand embroidery I do is lefthanded and sometimes it’s hard to ‘translate’ right to left.

  4. Merry Christmas to me! You motivated me to stimulate the economy even more 🙂 I ordered some linen and a stitch encyclopedia and a bunch of floss and …. well, I can hardly wait for Christmas now so I can start playing with my new goodies.

  5. I take your reviews very seriously. When people ask me what I want for my birthday I refer to my list of books mentioned by you.
    Thank you very much

  6. I’m amazed because I don’t have a single one of these books (and I honestly thought I had a pretty good library!). I’m putting ‘The Embroiderer’s Handbook’ on my wish list…probably will have to be Santa to myself!!

  7. I just purchased Jane Nicholas’ Book “Bettle Collection” for my self an early Christmas present. In the list of books here, I can see a few more I may have to add. I would love to add one of those lighted magnifiers you did a review on recently. My 55 year old eyes could sure use one!

  8. What I really, really, want is time to do all the projects I have waiting! But I’ll ask for the Jane Nicholas book on Stumpwork and Goldwork Embroidery. I do hope to get into Goldwork, but too many other urgent projects always seem to get in the way.

  9. I am thinking I may need to add the wee felt folk to my collection. Thanks for the list. I am wondering if you can tell me where you buy the Martha Stewart “moonstone” color pen you used to mark your linen with. I can’t seem to find it anywhere.

    1. Hi, Janine – I found the individual pens at Michael’s craft stores (in person, not online). Some scrapbooking stores online carry a four-pack of the pens, but only one of them is this moonstone color. You want to look for the “writing pens” not the “arts and crafts markers”. Hope that helps! ~MC

  10. Mary,
    I purchased the wee felt folks back when you did a book review on it,to give to my 12 year old daughter for Christmas. And yes, every year I do buy myself a gift and this year it will be the Beginner’s Guide to Goldwork by Ruth Chamberline. (I went to check my wish list on Amazon and did not see it there. I wonder if my husband is playing Santa and got it already)Thanks for a great site full of info and great reading 🙂
    Maria in Kansas

  11. Hi
    It has been wonderful always to have ur informating e mails and getting something new everytime. I really enjoy the project that give a little smile to my love ones. Nowadys i’m working on a birthday gift of my neice and the book “The Embroidery Stitch Bible” will really be helpful for me.
    THANX for everything u do.

  12. Hi MARY,
    I love to have ur emails that really helped me out a lot of times. I’m doing ribbon work embroidery on my shirt and i’ll be delightful if santa give “The Embroidery Stitch Bible” to me i wish.
    Thank u Mary u r wonderful.

  13. I recently bought “Felt Wee Folk” Oh My Goodness!! What an adorable little book!!! I have shared some time with my friend’s seven-year-old little girl making one of these little darlings! We had such a great time! And what great little gifts these are to give someone (even adults!) Thanks for sharing this with us! I have really enjoyed this one!!

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