Recently, I’ve gotten a slew of e-mail asking for recommendations for “good” embroidery kits for stitchers interested in learning surface embroidery.
Well, there are embroidery kits, and then there are Embroidery Kits. And to tell you the truth, I prefer the latter. The difference? Let’s see…
This is a project I’m currently working through, called “Bird of Paradise.” It’s one of Tanja Berlin’s Modern Jacobean embroidery kits. Oh, wait…. that’s Embroidery Kits. Tanja’s kits definitely belong to the latter category. They are not commercially prepared kits with generic supplies and less than satisfactory instruction. No, no!! These are top quality embroidery kits, with excellent instructions, materials, and design – and perfect for learning lots of surface embroidery techniques.
This particular kit covers a myriad of stitches! Off the top of my head, in this one, there’s herringbone stitch, stem stitch, Vandyke stitch, coral stitch, chain stitch, French knots, satin stitch (used in different ways for different effects), lattice work, couching, bullions, raised spider web, chain stitch, seeding, stem stitch filling, needle lace, raised stem stitch…. and probably more that I’ve missed!
The stitches are all used in interesting ways – no humdrum stuff here! The satin stitching on the tail feathers, for example, helps teach how to space satin stitch correctly to achieve tail feathers that would turn Gertrude McFuzz green with envy.
The kits are packaged with a colored photo of the finished project on the outside….
… and clear step-by-step instructions on the inside. The instructions take the stitcher (even the beginner) from start to finish, detail by detail, in the order the project should be worked. They include all the nitty-gritty details – even how to start and end your threads correctly. Diagrams assist to clarify the text throughout, to assure that the stitcher “gets it.” The fabric in the kit (this one is silk dupioni) has the design pre-drawn on it, and all the necessary threads are separated onto color cards. In this kit, organza for appliqué and kid leather are also included, as well as metallic braid for the sparkly bits.
That’s an Embroidery Kit. It combines everything the stitcher wants, especially quality materials and good instruction. (Incidentally, Tanja also offers ongoing free critique via e-mail for those who purchase her kits. Nothing like having a professional instructor at your beck and call…)
Now, as for embroidery kits (with lower case letters)… well. There’s not much to say. It’s true that Embroidery Kits sold by individual designers are often slightly more expensive, but I always figure you get what you pay for. Most commercial kits don’t supply you with concise and thorough instruction, let alone decent materials. If you want good results, start with good materials. And in supporting individual designers, you help ensure the continuation of quality needlework.
So that’s the way I see it.
If you’re looking for a needlework kit that will really teach you something, feel free to take a look at Berlin Embroidery – she’s got something for everyone: whitework, goldwork, needlepainting, Jacobean crewel, and all kinds of books and supplies. Definitely worth visiting!
And that’s my soap box report on embroidery kits! What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and let the rest of us know!