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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RSN Stumpwork Essential Stitch Guide: Book Review


Amazon Books

So far, the Royal School of Needlework has released four good “essential stitch guides” in their new series of needlework books on specific topics: blackwork, crewelwork, silk shading, and stumpwork. Today, let’s look at their new stumpwork essential stitch guide!

RSN Stitch Guide for Stumpwork Embroidery

The RSN’s Essential Stitch Guide: Stumpwork is written by Kate Sinton, and it is presented and formatted like the other books in the series: a board-bound book with a spiral spine, rather small in size (about 6″ x 8″), which makes it nice for a work table reference book.

RSN Stitch Guide for Stumpwork Embroidery

Contents-wise, the book is divided into four main parts. The first part is “introductory talk,” where you’ll find information on the Royal School of Needlework; a short introduction to stumpwork; a brief history of stumpwork (with some photos of historical examples); a section on materials used in stumpwork (a nice section – it covers a wide variety and leaves the imagination open for anything); instruction on how to frame up a project for working; a section on stumpwork design; and a section on appliqué, which is included at the beginning here, instead of in the “techniques” section that comes a little later in the book.

The next section covers stitches in four categories: flat surface, raised surface, needlelace, and metal thread embroidery.

The section on stitches is followed by a section unfolding various stumpwork techniques: padding, slips, wrapping, and “found objects.”

And the final section focuses on figures in stumpwork embroidery.

RSN Stitch Guide for Stumpwork Embroidery

Each instructional section is presented with step-by-step photos of the technique or stitch. There are handy little marginal “notes” throughout the book, tipping the needleworker on some aspect of the technique.

RSN Stitch Guide for Stumpwork Embroidery

The book is be-speckled with little examples (and big!) of stumpwork elements or whole project, which help the stitcher see what the technique discussed can look like in a finished form.

RSN Stitch Guide for Stumpwork Embroidery

Because stumpwork involves a huge variety of embroidery techniques, you’ll find that the book touches on ribbon embroidery as well (though it is not heavily discussed).

RSN Stitch Guide for Stumpwork Embroidery

You can see the step-by-step nature of the stitch instructions here – reminiscent of Country Bumpkin’s A-Z series books, when it comes to step-by-step photos. I like this approach.

RSN Stitch Guide for Stumpwork Embroidery

I like the needlelace section of the book. The step-by-steps are very clear.

RSN Stitch Guide for Stumpwork Embroidery

And of course, there’s a section on basic metal thread work, too, because often stumpwork and goldwork embroidery are combined.

RSN Stitch Guide for Stumpwork Embroidery

In the techniques section, each technique (such as padding the elements of stumpwork) is also addressed with step-by-step photos, and alternatives to different ways of accomplishing each technique (depending on the element you’re embroidering) are given.

RSN Stitch Guide for Stumpwork Embroidery

But the most thorough and interesting part of the book, I think, is the section on stumpwork figures. It’s done very well – from sculpting faces to fingers, if you’re interested in stumpwork figures, this section makes the book a must-have.

RSN Stitch Guide for Stumpwork Embroidery

Another thing I like about this whole series, in case I haven’t mentioned it before, is that each book ends with an index, which makes the book very easy to search.

The RSN Essential Stitch Guide for Stumpwork is a book that grew on me. I went through it several times, and each time, I liked it more. It’s definitely a nice, useful resource for embroiderers. Even if stumpwork isn’t your thing, there is enough good content in here for various techniques that can be used in other types of embroidery, that the book is worthwhile to have in your reference library.

In comparing it to other books on the topic, I think it is more instructive than Jane Nicholas’s books (which are “project oriented” books that assume some knowledge of stumpwork), and I’d say it’s on par with the A-Z of Stumpwork, with the added advantage that it’s a lot less expensive. It doesn’t necessarily cover as much, but what it does cover, it covers well and thoroughly. It’s a valuable little book at a great price.

Where to Find It

You can find the RSN Essential Stitch Guide for Stumpwork available through the following book affiliates:

In the US, the Stumpwork Stitch Guide is available here through Amazon.

Worldwide with free shipping, you can find the Stumpwork Stitch Guide available here through Book Depository.


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(17) Comments

  1. Thanks a million for posting this Mary. Both this review and the last one have been a great help, esp. as I was considering buying them both! The thread painting one I will wait until I’ve seen in person, but I think this one I can go ahead and splurge some of this year’s anniversary pressie money on!

  2. Oh dear, another book that will have to go on my already long wish list! This one looks like it would be worthy of putting it near the top of that list.

  3. Oh dear, I really liked the sound of this one, but then you had to spoil my fun by saying it’s on a par with the A-Z! Mary, please help me here, there must be something extra in this one – I have all Jane Nicholas’ books and the A-Z one too … but another one wouldn’t go astray, would it ……

  4. I need it! I need it NOW!

    Something I find with JN is that there’s a lot of read in order to find the most appropriate technique. And the lack of indexing. Although I’ve got a lot of books, and consider myself a good intermediate at stumpwork now, I can’t wait to add it to my library.
    I do have the preference for step-by-step books tho. JN’s books are just wonderful, and the A-Z essential for a stumpworker.
    Thankyou for the review 🙂

  5. Thank you for reviewing Kates book. I have had the pleasure of being a student of Kate’s and now call her one of my friends. I have aleady ordered a book from her, and hopefully she will personally sign it for me. Kate is extremely gifted lady and does amazing work. Kate has taught me various techniques in stumpwork, especially needlelace work, which does need practice to perfect.
    Thanks again Mary, great review for a great book.

  6. G’day there Mary, I was excited to see your article in the latest Inspirations magazine. I caught it on your 2nd page and thought “Hey, this has got to be…” and quickly flipping back my expectations were confirmed. Wonderful.
    Thanks for this review, yes, a must have. I love the skirt on the little figure.
    Cheers, Kath.

  7. Dear Marymentor:
    As usual, you’ve come across. I hit a “slump” in a pastoral I’m doing (yeah…that same one) which has stumpwork on it and this is just the inspiration I’ll need to get back to it. I note the book covers much on trees/foliage and “people figures” YAY! (been having trouble with them). Just now went and ordered it . Thanks again so much dear Mentor! Judy in Pittsburgh

  8. Thanks for the review. A few months ago I didn’t know stumpwork existed, but after I got an embroidery book that included some stumpwork techniques I’ve reallly taken a fancy to this type of embroidery. Want to buy a book, but haven’t figured out which one I want yet. All reviews are therefore very useful for me, especially if the — like you did in the end — make comparisons with other stumpwork titles. (Still hard to choose, though.)

  9. Mary I already bought this book when it wasn’t released yet. I agree with you. Your review is right on.
    I also own Jane Nichols books and I haven’t been able to do a project from her book yet.They are beautiful eye candy and I am sure if I keep practicing . I will enjoy them fully. They are also a beautifully done book the paper is high quality.
    I also own Stumpwork A-Z which I was able to do a project from.. I really like that sometimes you are able to review a book not released yet so I can get them at pre released prices.
    Thank you

    1. Hi, Marian – “found objects” are miscellaneous little items that you come across or collect that can be worked into a stumpwork piece. “Miscellany” might work as another term, I suppose. ~MC

  10. Bom dia!!!!Boa tarde!!!!Por favor como faço para comprar este livro,sou apaixonada por bordados,sou Brasileira e aqui não tem,
    Maria Celeste

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