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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Miniature Needle Painting Embroidery – Book Review


Amazon Books

If you’re a fan of needle painting, you are most likely familiar with Trish Burr’s exquisite embroidery, where she uses needle and thread to “paint” embroidered vignettes – primarily, flowers and birds.

Trish has a substantial list of published books available for the embroiderer, books that are a combination of instruction and projects. If you’ve ever wanted to learn needle painting, her books are a great place to start!

My two favorites, which I’ve reviewed already here on Needle ‘n Thread, are Needle Painting Embroidery: Fresh Ideas for Beginners and Colour Confidence, which is devoted to teaching embroiderers how to use color, especially when needle painting.

Well, this year, Trish is adding yet another book to her published repertoire: Miniature Needle Painting Embroidery. This particular book is devoted to the embroidery of small needle painted projects, including vintage portraits, flowers, and birds.

Miniature Needle Painting Embroidery by Trish Burr

Miniature Needle Painting Embroidery isn’t due out until March here in the US, but Trish sent me an advanced copy, so I thought I’d review it for you, in case you want to add it to your wish list!

What I really love, love, love about the projects in this book is that they are small. And because they’re small, they can be completed in a relatively short frame of time. A weekend of stitching will give you a darling finished piece of embroidery!

And the small designs are useful, too. They make great little gifts, framed, but they can also be added to crazy quilts, worked on children’s blankets or quilts (I love all the little vintage images of children in this book!), made into framable birthday cards, finished into needle book covers, journal covers – there are so many things you can do with small pieces of embroidery!

So, let’s take a look at the book!

Miniature Needle Painting Embroidery by Trish Burr

Miniature Needle Painting Embroidery is separated into two parts, really. The first part is all the preliminary instruction (starting from the beginning, including materials needed, thread and fabric discussion, stitches used and basic techniques, and two starter projects for practicing), while the rest of the book encompasses lots of little projects: flowers, “portraits” – which are actually little vignettes mostly of children, and tiny little fluffy birds.

Miniature Needle Painting Embroidery by Trish Burr

Throughout the book, you’ll find pretty little adornments, like the embroidered pot of flowers above (which is also a project in the book). I love little touches that make a book pretty, don’t you?

Miniature Needle Painting Embroidery by Trish Burr

Trish instructs on the long & short stitch and all the other stitches needed to work this type of embroidery, using diagrams and step-by-step photos.

The difference between the approach in this book and other books on needle painting is that she shows us how to adapt regular needle painting techniques to a small scale design and still achieve a perfectly shaded result.

Miniature Needle Painting Embroidery by Trish Burr

Wee pansies! The finished size of many of the projects in the book is no larger than 2 – 3 inches, give or take, in either direction.

Miniature Needle Painting Embroidery by Trish Burr

For each of the projects, Trish includes step-by-step photos that show the progress of the embroidery, so that you can easily gauge where you’re going and what you should be achieving as you’re stitching.

It’s nice to be able to see what your work should look like at each stage of a project.

Miniature Needle Painting Embroidery by Trish Burr

Throughout the book, there are sections of hints and tips to help the stitcher along. These tips are essential for creating a realistic, painted effect with the embroidery.

For example, in the tip above, Trish demonstrates the order of stitching the petals of one flower, so that they overlap each other.

Miniature Needle Painting Embroidery by Trish Burr

A wee birdie! And such a fluff ball! This fellow is the starter projects for stitching birds.

Miniature Needle Painting Embroidery by Trish Burr

And again, within the section on stitching birds, we get detailed instruction on how to achieve that fluffy aspect.

Miniature Needle Painting Embroidery by Trish Burr

Each project in the book is accompanied by a pattern at the actual size, a stitch guide to show you what stitch and color is worked where, a thread list, and instructions for completing the project, including step-by-step progress photos.

Most of the threads used in the projects are DMC and Anchor (used in combination), but for the teeny tiny details, Trish uses Güttermann’s Sew-All polyester sewing thread, sometimes taken apart into two separate plies. She explains her reasons for choosing this thread, particularly that it can be split into a very, very fine thread (and still remain usable and strong), that the thread is available in a wide range of colors that work well with DMC and Anchor flosses, that the thread is widely available and affordable.

Miniature Needle Painting Embroidery by Trish Burr

The projects in the book are adorable! Counting the starter projects – the pansies and the little bird – there are a total of 20 miniature needle painting projects in the book.

There’s also a nice set of instructions for constructing a beautiful needle case using one of the designs.

Miniature Needle Painting Embroidery by Trish Burr

I love these chickens. Those are some darned good-looking chickens, for being so small!

Miniature Needle Painting Embroidery by Trish Burr

Here again is a sample of the progress photos for one of the projects. Where necessary, close-up photos are also provided so that certain details can be very clearly seen.

Miniature Needle Painting Embroidery by Trish Burr

Little Christmas birds – this image is 2.75″ x 3.5″, so it’s quite small. There are thirty-five shades of DMC in this little image (and five shades of Gütterman’s). That’s forty shades of color!

That’s how Trish achieves such magnificent shading!

Miniature Needle Painting Embroidery by Trish Burr

This lovely basket is 2.25″ x 3.75″ in size. It involves thirty three shades of DMC, five shades of Anchor, and three shades of Gütterman’s!

This is my favorite piece in the whole book – there’s something about it that grabs me. I think it’s the dark centers of the anemones, contrasting with the vivid colors, the shading on them, the way the flowers are bursting from the basket – it’s really fantastic! And it’s smaller than a deck of cards!

Miniature Needle Painting Embroidery by Trish Burr

The projects include enlarged version of the finished embroidery, but they also include “actual size” finished images with each piece. This is a very nice touch, because it keeps the embroidery in perspective.

At the back of the book, you’ll also find a thread conversion chart between DMC and Anchor, as well as a list of suppliers.

Pros & Cons

Trish’s books always start from the very beginning, so that a beginner can pick up on the technique, practice it with a starter project, and then work through various levels of projects in the book, improving skills along the way. I like that. It’s a good way to teach – very incremental, very manageable.

The book is quite hearty, clocking in at 200 pages. It’s substantial. And it’s well made and very pretty.

The instruction is top notch!

The projects are fun – and there are a lot of them!

So the pros are many!

The only con I can think of is not really in the book itself, but more in the technique. This is definitely a technique that requires very good eyesight, very good lighting, or very good magnification. If you have weak eyes, it probably isn’t for you!

But, if you like small, and if you like needle painting, and if you like a challenge – but one that is made accessible through good instruction, and if you like color – then guess what? You’ll love these projects! And you’ll love the book!

Where to Find Miniature Needle Painting Embroidery

You can find Miniature Needlepainting Embroidery through the following book affiliates:

In the US, you can find Miniature Needle Painting through Amazon.

Worldwide, you can find Miniature Needle Painting through Book Depository, where shipping to most countries is free.


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(48) Comments

  1. I love her stuff. I got a couple of her kits for Christmas that I am hoping to complete before completing the next move my husband and I will do. Thanks for sharing, Mary!

  2. G’day Mary,
    The way Trish embroiders these little pictures gives them a life of their own, right from picture book land. Precious.
    Glad for the review. Thanks
    Cheers, Kath

  3. Dear Mary,
    One thing I must stress if you want to do proper needle painting is you definitely need a magnifying glass lamp. I have a circular one and I will be lost without it. The beauty of this type of magnifier is there are no shadows on your work while you are embroidering. The magnified image also prevent any open spaces in between your embroidery. I will be totally lost without it. Oh yes I got this hint from one of Trish’s news letters.
    Love your review, I think I will get this book for sure.
    Love, Elza, Cape Town.

    1. Definitely agree!! With really, really good light, I’ve been able to do needle painting on a regular scale, until maybe the last two years. I’ve found as my eyes have gotten a little older that they appreciate the assistance of the magnifier for detailed work. It’s just easier on them all around!

  4. This looks to be a wonderful book. I love Trish Burr’s work – so beautiful and life-like. I’d like to learn needle painting someday; I don’t think I’ll get around to it any day soon, though! (those dreaded ‘Somedays’!)
    Thanks for your review of this book, Mrs. Corbet. It looks amazing! And I love the fact that they are Small projects. And the wee birdie! You’re right, he is such a fluff ball 🙂 And so cute, too.


  5. Thanks, Mary, already pre-ordered thanks to your review. I am working on a baby-quilt, partly embroidered, partly applique and I can see some finishing touches in its future from this lovely book. Blessings, Charlotte

  6. Dear Mary

    What a lovely book and I love the chickens and the little girl she is so sweet and like you I really like the basket of flowers. I’ve just looked on Amazon and it’s in stock in the UK so that’s great. By what you have shown it looks a very instructional book and very reasonable priced. Funny you should write about Trish Burr I’m currently embroidering one of her flower projects from her book Colour Confidence, I’m making a pillow for my Sister, although she uses DMC I using guess what yes Soie D’Alger silk thread because I want a shine to the project which has been difficult to match but I am now the proud owner of the Soie d’Alger real thread chart so hopefully I won’t have that problem any more. Thanks so much for reveiwing Miniature Needle painting Embroidery book and for giving your views on it.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  7. “The only con I can think of is not really in the book itself, but more in the technique. This is definitely a technique that requires very good eyesight, very good lighting, or very good magnification. If you have weak eyes, it probably isn’t for you!”

    You made me laugh! I love needle painting and especially the miniatures. I successfully finished Trish’s Miniature Blue Birds last year as well as the Robins with very poor eyesight, very poor lighting, and a very tiny magnifying light. I’m very near sighted-taking my glasses off often to check stitch placement and color, I’m still camping in Idaho so lighting is not great, and my magnifier is tiny! So for me the projects will not be accomplished in a weekend. I am determined however to enjoy stitching many and eventually all of them. They are the perfect size for gifts. Thank you to Trish for encouragement! Thank you Mary for great tutorials and reviews.


  8. Thank you for reviewing the book Mary. I couldn’t agree more that Trish’s books are very good for learning this technique. Personally, I love the little blue tit. Can’t wait to stitch one, so I just ordered the book!

  9. Oh, thank you for this review Mary. I so love her work, I do have a couple of her books and did a piece trying to use the needle painting technic. I think it worked. LOL. (I did my own design). This is an “I want, I want”!!! for sure!

  10. Little chickens! How cute. I’ve been following Trish Burr for a while and really want to try her designs. Now I .Really. want to try the chickens!

    Have to weed out a few WIPs first.

    Thank you for sharing, I really enjoyed this one.

  11. I am waiting (impatiently) for this book to come out! Love needle painting and her instructions and pictures make it so much easier to learn.

    Because of her wonderful instructions, I’ve branched out into drawing my own flowers/etc and needle painting them now. 🙂

  12. I don’t know if anyone else is experiencing this, but I have not received the email notification of the blog updates for the last two days. Just letting you know:-)

    Love Trish’s work. Just wish I had the time to pursue needlepainting.

    1. Hi, Beth – I just checked the email address that you used when you left your comment. It isn’t on my list, for some reason, if this is the email address you normally use. I did clean up my mailing list a few days ago, just to eliminate the ones that were bouncing back up as “undeliverable”. If I made a mistake and somehow deleted you, I’m awfully sorry! You can re-register here: https://needlenthread.wpengine.com/newsletter-signup

  13. Ordered! Another fabulous book, Mary, many thanks. On those hard-to get-to sleep nights, it’s great to look at a few pages of an embroidery book, then turn out the light and plan projects…..very relaxing!

  14. I love this book. The fluffy bird! Adorable! I normally don’t purchase new books but this is one I think I will treat myself to. Thank you for sharing it.

  15. I love her books! The girls and birds are definitely what appeals to me. The little girl feeding the chickens is my favorite from the pictures you showed. I put the book on my wishlist.

  16. Thank you Mary!! I’m saying that somewhat sarcastically because of course I have to add this to my wish list and of course it’s going to end up costing me money and of course it’s all your fault for leading me astray – again. Sigh.

  17. I received my copy the other day and it is absolutely gorgeous! I have been a fan of Trish’s work for many years and her books have been so helpful. This book lives up to her high standard of work and I LOVE the projects. They are so cute and I can see many little projects waiting in the wings…

  18. I’ve never done thread painting, although perhaps I will, someday, but what strikes me with this book is how thoroughly she shows what progress you should be making through each step…along with showing examples of what NOT to do, and why. Frankly, this text should be held as an example for how-to books on any subject. Very, very impressive! I might have to purchase this book, even if I never actually learn thread painting!

  19. Hello Mary, I just ordered this book. Love the idea of small projects for learning new techniques. These are about the same size as the rosary cases that I am making. I still have at least 2 more to make. I look forward to improving my skills before starting another.Thanks for letting us know about it.
    Blessings in Kansas
    From Victoria in VA

  20. This is such gorgeous work and I LOVE CHICKENS! I am not sure exactly what needle painting is – is it an embroidery technique, or something different. I am definitely getting this book. Thanks for showing it.

  21. Hi Mary, I already have a copy of this gorgeous book. I love Trish’s books and have I them all – but this is my favourite! I have already completed one of her miniature designs which I downloaded from her online store – lovely coral finches! I really love it!

    What to do next? I’m planning on th lovely blue tit!

    But for certain it will take me longer than a weekend – I must be a slow worker.

  22. Dear Mary,
    I adore the chickens too. And the whole book! Thank you for your thorough review. I can hardly wait to get a copy to paw and delight over. Trish your work is excellent!

  23. I love Trish’s work and have her other books. I also love working in miniature. Her new book will be a wonderful addition to my stitching library. I do a lot of crazy quilting and use her books as inspirations. I especially loved her birds and flowers though the little girl feeding geese reminds me of my granddaughters.

  24. You asked which of the above pictures was my favorite…well, that, indeed, is a hard choice. I kept staring at them and finally decided that if I were to do one of the projects, I would do the one with the little girl and the chickens. I really like those chickens!

  25. I have tried a little bit of Trish Burr’s needle painting, but put it aside for a while. This delightful book could tempt me back again. I love miniature anything and am especially drawn to the little figures, though it is all so gorgeous.

  26. Would love to win the miniature needlepainting book. I think my favorite project was the little blue bird with the yellow breast. Just loved the way his eye was stitched. The little girls appealed to me a lot too.

  27. I can’t think of a nicer birthday present (Feb 21) than to have this exquisite hand embroidery book coming up this month. I did hand embroidery as a child along with needlepoint and cross stitch. Even though it’s hard for me to see I still love this type of work.
    As a bird and flower lover, I an enamored by the beauty of Trish’s artwork. I also love the texture of embroidery that could also be felt by some of my friends whom are blind or partially blind.
    Creating miniature garden scenes that are so delightful is a gift to all who view and touch them, for they bring beauty into the heart and soul.

  28. Well, I’m goofy! Didn’t read the directions properly, I was too excited to read about the contest! I do love her little bluebirds. Most people think of robins for the spring but for me, its the bluebirds. When I see them coming and going out of their nest box I know spring isn’t too far away. But I think I have to say my favorite is the pansies. Somehow she has captured the soft velvety texture of my beloved pansies and I am completely intrigued with learning how to do that myself!

  29. I love the way the flowers look. I often say I am a frustrated painter and that I paint with needle and thread.

    Thank you for the opportunity.


  30. Thanks for the chance on winning this fabulous book. Of the designs you shared the other day my favorite was the bird with the nest and dogwood blossoms on the index page. It spoke to my heart.

  31. I have several of Trish’s books and love them all. I would particularly love to have this one because it will aid me to achieve all the delights in your list of ‘PROS”. I am making a mini fabric art book and the designs will be absolutely perfect for this project!! And what delight to stitch them and have them framed and ready for viewing right away!! And then of course the gift giving. Having quite a few to give, these little gems would be perfectly designed for the job. The more one does , the better one becomes at the techniques! Please be mine!

  32. What a lovely book you shared with all of us, I,m so new to embroidery, practicing some of the different stitches is where I,m at, slow going but I,m determined to master them. I,m intrigued with short and long stitch! My favourite piece in the book was the fluffy bird. It looked so real! Thank you for sharing, I have learned a lot and hoping to put my practice to the test soonest. Thankyou

  33. The cover pictures alone are gorgeous and that little fluff ball bird is wonderful! I would love to have this book to learn how to do thread painting much better than I do now. Thanks for the opportunity to win this book.

  34. I buy all the Trisha Burr books for my Mom. She does beautiful work. Both of us like the fuzz ball bird, though the pansies ate quite nice also

  35. I think Trish’s new book looks wonderful! I particularly like the little birdie. I like to do stumpwork and I think her techniques are very applicable, particularly in such small sizes.

  36. Oh it’s impossibleto choose one! But if I have to chose one the little girl with the topiary flower tree really speaks to my heart! It’s just gorgeous like all of Trishas designs.

    Gina S

  37. The needlework painting of the little girl feeding the chicken grabs my attention as this reminds me of my childhood days. The different shades of colors that are used for each project entices me to learn miniature needle painting.

  38. Just purchased her book for beginners. It’s not a good teaching book at all. This book looks like it contains more information needed to complete her projects. Thanks for the review.

  39. I got acquainted with needle painting tutorials by accident.

    I’ve been doing needle painting using my own techniques which were very haphazard and not at all neat and tidy. Hence, I’ve destroyed most of my attempts.

    This page was very enlightening and informative.

    Thank you

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