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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Arts and Crafts Embroidery – Book Review


Amazon Books

Let’s kick off the New Year with a book review! Why? Because I love books!

And I love, love, love needlework books. I love how-to needlework books; I love project needlework books. But needlework books that I can really read are usually needlework history books. And I really love those!

Today’s book is just such a book. It’s not a how-to book. It’s not a project book. It’s a book that looks at a very specific era of needlework history – the Arts & Crafts Movement. The book is called Arts and Crafts Embroidery and it’s by Laura Euler.

Arts & Crafts Embroidery by Laura Euler

Arts and Crafts Embroidery is a somewhat hefty tome in weight and size, hard bound, with a beautiful dust jacket.

The book takes a close look at the Arts and Crafts Movement, its influences and its influenceing – what influenced it, and what it influenced.

Arts & Crafts Embroidery by Laura Euler

And of course, among the discussion, you will find abundant images of Arts & Crafts Movement embroideries. (Of course!)

Arts & Crafts Embroidery by Laura Euler

What I like about the book: it’s very readable. And the author relies on primarily sources, which is nice. She goes straight to the letters and writings of the movers and shakers of the movement.

I also find the book humorous, in a way. There are situations, ideas, opinions expressed about embroidery by these well-known figures of the A&C Movement that are quite insightful and funny. I love reading them!

Arts & Crafts Embroidery by Laura Euler

I love the section that takes a look at the silk industry and how it thrived during the era, especially in the Americas. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the Brainerd & Armstrong silk company, who were ever-direct in their marketing of Good Silk!

In speaking of mercerized cotton and linen threads, this is what Brainerd & Armstrong have to say:

Embroiderers should not for a minute think that these threads are the equal or will give the satisfactory results of silk embroidery thread. Cotton and linen threads are vegetable fiber, and silk thread is an animal fiber. A thread of animal fiber will take dye better and hold its color faster and longer than a thread of vegetable fiber. The silk thread does not split and fray with age.

Arts & Crafts Embroidery by Laura Euler

There are plenty of catalog references and pictures from old silk thread catalogs in the book. Since I collect these catalogs myself, this part of the book struck a chord.

Arts & Crafts Embroidery by Laura Euler

The Arts & Crafts Movement was not just about wallpaper, decorative pillows, and wall hangings. Clothing was influenced by the design styles and, for costume enthusiasts, you’ll be happy to know there’s a whole chapter devoted to this point.

The last chapter of the book discusses Arts & Crafts textiles today – the collecting of old pieces, plus the making of new by specific companies that market the style still.

Pros & Cons

For pros, I’d list readability, presentation, the inclusion of many images, and an interesting topic.

For cons, I’d say if you’re not interested in this period in the history of embroidery and design, the book will have virtually no interest for you. There’s no specific information about techniques used and so forth.

But if you are interested in the era, or in the history of embroidery, textiles, and designs in general, I think you’ll find this book a welcome, readable addition to your library!

Where to Find It

You can find Arts and Crafts Embroidery through the following book affiliates:

In the US, you can find Arts and Crafts Embroidery at Amazon.

Worldwide with free shipping, try Book Depository.

More Needlework Book Reviews

This week, I updated my Books page here on Needle ‘n Thread, so you’ll now find all the books I’ve reviewed on the site alphabetically indexed there and linked up to my reviews. If you’re looking for a specific needlework book or a certain type of needlework book, you might want to browse through my reviews to see if there’s anything that catches your eye!


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(18) Comments

  1. Dear Mary

    The book looks a very interesting historical read and from your description it has many images of the Arts & Craft movement the book would be a great historical reference as part of a study of embroidery. Another book to go on to my wish list, thanks for sharing this with us and for your views on the book.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  2. Guess what? I’m book-crazy, too! I’d much rather read a book (or embroider) than many other things.
    I still can not believe that it is January again!
    Thanks for the review!

    Sarah 🙂

  3. Beautiful book. I am thinking of writing one myself, when I set aside some time! Thank you for the review, Mary and Happy New Year!

  4. Your site is very bad for my shopping habit Mary. On the other hand, I end up supporting many of the designers and writers you feature and discovering wonderful things. The Arts and crafts movement and art deco are two of my favorite artistic movements, so this immediately went on my wish list. Indeed, I think I should have been born sixty to seventy years earlier as I prefer the art, fashion, movies, music and politics of that earlier time. Incidentally, I love the Secret Gardens coloring book and am trying to figure out which lovely design you intend to embroider. Some of the designs seem like they would be lovely as stumpwork as well as surface embroidery, or at least with stump and needle lace elements incorporated…but then I’m a mixed technique girl. Thanks as always for a wonderful site. Anastasia

  5. G’day Mary,
    It’s a kind of delicious goose bumpy sort of book to me. I so love the illustrations you’ve shown in your review. Thank you.
    Cheers, Kath

  6. just placed the order–looks like a wonderful book–I have almost nothing pertaining to the Arts and Crafts movement and time period–I don’t think there are a lot of books about the needlework from this era–anyway, it looks like a great book, wonderful photos. I am also happy to know it is not a project book. $36 doesn’t seem pricey to me when so many needlework and embroidery books now cost $75 to $90.

  7. Cheers!

    I love reading about the history! This book sounds wonderfull!!! Thanks for sharing, saves alot of time and frustration in searching. : )

  8. Happy New Year, Mary,
    Thanks for the book review. I stumbled across the tile a few weeks back while recovering from surgery, and have been mulling the title over, wondering about the content. After reading your review, I just placed an order for my birthday gift for myself. This looks like it might be useful for some work I’m doing with organizing and cataloging silk thread from a monastery that used to have a needlework department.

    Your book reviews are so helpful. I have had many a book waiting in the wings on an Amazon wish list until you have a book review. Once the review reveals more detail of the pages and content, it finalizes a selection. I have no regrets to report (and have most often be extremely thrilled with the results)!

    Thanks so much for helping me build a wonderful embroidery reference library!

  9. Thanks for this review, Mary! I ordered the book immediately after reading your comments. I have a few Arts and Crafts embroidery/textiles books, but I don’t have this one. Great find. 🙂

  10. Oh, Mary, Mary, you’re such a bad influence, LOL!!! I love Arts & Crafts so I just went and ordered the book. Thanks for bringing it to our attention. Looking forward to reading it.

  11. Oh Mary, my poor husband, whenever I say ‘Mary has a new book review…’ he rolls his eyes dramatically and asks in a resigned tone, ‘how much this time?’ and off I go and order the new book. Or in this case, two new books. When I was looking for the Arts & Crafts book, up popped one called ‘Embroidery and Embellishment’ which is right up my crazy quilting street so it went in the basket as well. Oh dear……

    Seriously though, the Arts & Crafts book looks fabulous. This is one of my favourite periods in design history, prefiguring as it does the Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Modernist movements. And it covers so many fields, as you mentioned: art, architecture, furniture, embroidery, textiles, decorative arts etc etc. Thank you for the review of this splendid book.

  12. Hello Mary,
    This is right up my street, I’m putting it straight on my wishlist. I love books like this and read them over and over.Thank you for a great review.
    Kind Regards
    Mandy Currie

  13. After looking at the sewing necessaries in the auction, I’m left in a stupor. One just can’t get those things in their local J—– or M——-.

  14. I saw a copy of this today. I am interested in the Art Noveau/Arts and Crafts movements, and *drool*. Beautiful pictures.

  15. I own this book. I had to order it as soon as I found out about it. I love it. I am a lover of all embroidery, but the A&C period is my favorite. This book is the first I’ve found with much about the embroidery on the dresses and wearables. It is just a beautiful book to look at too. I just found you site, and am really enjoying looking around. Thank you.

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