Last week, we had a great discussion here on Needle ‘n Thread about designer embroidery kits.
“Designer Kits” – sounds a bit snobby, but for lack of a better term, this is what I call embroidery kits that are created by a specific designer and usually only sold through that designer. You won’t find them, for example, in big box craft stores, and usually not even in local needlework shops (although sometimes, you might).
Designer kits are normally very fine embroidery kits, containing extensive, well-written instructions and superior materials. They often concentrate on specific techniques, and they’re a great way to learn those techniques and to improve your embroidery skills overall.
They’re also the perfect solution for folks who are isolated in the embroidery world – who might not have easy access to good embroidery supplies, for example – and for those who want to work the project without the headache of gathering their own supplies. When the kit arrives in the mail, you’re good to go and you can start without delay!
There are heaps of advantages to purchasing designer embroidery kits, many of which were discussed in last week’s article and the ensuing comments below the article.
The article generated quite a few inquiries about where to find designer embroidery kits, so today, I thought I’d offer you a list of designers who produce kits, to get you started in your quest to find the perfect project for you!
Designers of Fine Surface Embroidery Kits
This is a starter list – I’ll most likely add to it over time. With these listed below, I’ve either worked their kits, seen their kits, or followed their work for a long time and know, by their reputation, that they produce quality kits.
Keep in mind, these are hand embroidery designers, specializing in different techniques belonging to surface embroidery (as opposed to counted work). While they may cross over into counted work now and then, they’re primarily surface embroidery designs.
Trish Burr (South Africa) – Trish specializes in needle painting, especially flowers and birds (but other subjects as well). Recently, she’s also been producing a series of kits called “Shades of Whitework” that involve whitework embroidery techniques. Her kits are normally partial kits – the include fabric, needles, instructions, but not threads. She relies on easily available threads.
Tanja Berlin (Canada) – Tanja offers a range of kits in all kinds of techniques. Her instructions are among the most thorough you will see in the embroidery kit world. Her kits come with all the materials you need to finish the project – threads, fabric (pre-printed), beeswax for goldwork kits, and so forth. She doesn’t miss any details, and considering what you learn from her, her kits are an amazing value. She also offers email feedback on them while you’re working them, if you need help.
Hazel Blomkamp (South Africa) – Hazel’s kits focus on surface embroidery mixed with fun techniques, stitches, beads and bling. If you’ve been reading Needle ‘n Thread for a while now, you know I’m currently working one of her kits and really loving it. Supply-wise, they are extremely thorough and well organized kits, with quality supplies. You can order different supply levels for the project you want to work – maybe you just want the pre-printed fabric, for example. Or the threads and beads. She offers quite a few purchasing options. Her kits are based on projects in her books, so you’re required to buy the books (her books are affordably available worldwide through Amazon and other book outlets) in order to work the projects.
Canevas Folies (Switzerland, available in the US through The French Needle) – Laurence produces beautiful little (and sometimes a little bigger!) surface embroidery kits, usually featuring flowers and incorporating all kinds of stitching techniques. They’re very pretty kits, and they’re a great way to indulge in the pleasure of surface embroidery and to enjoy a finished project relatively quickly. The come nicely pre-printed on the linen. In some cases, you might have to source your own DMC thread, and while there are instructions, beginners might find a stitch dictionary beneficial while working the designs.
Alison Cole (Australia) – Alison offers a Massive Abundance of Incredible Kits! Her goldwork kits are always what draws me to her website, but she also offers stumpwork kits and combination goldwork and stumpwork kits. The kits range in complexity and you will be lost for hours, strolling through the gorgeous pictures of them on her website! She includes all the threads, fabric, and instructions. While I have not personally seen any of her kits yet (I have a long wish list!), I know by reputation that they are excellent.
Jane Nicholas (Australia) – Jane specializes in stumpwork embroidery. Her kits include everything needed to complete the project, except instructions, which are found in her books (widely available through book outlets). Her designs are gorgeous! Beginners should start with smaller designs and work up to her more complex projects. This is another case where I haven’t seen the kits personally (the wish list again!), but her reputations guarantees a good kit!
Lorna Batemen (UK) – Lorna specializes in surface embroidery, and her kits are for various types of projects, including beautiful pincushions (she works them over a lovely wooden base), scissor keeps and the like. The kits come in a pretty bag, perfect for keeping everything together, and they include threads, fabrics, instructions, and all the embellishments needed to complete the project.
Jen Goodwin (UK) – Jen produces a range of kits that focus on blackwork, goldwork, combinations of both, and other surface techniques. Her kits come beautifully boxed, with all the supplies and instructions you need to complete them.
Inspirations Magazine Kits (Australia) – Inspirations Magazine offers kits for all, or most, of the projects featured in each current issue of their magazine. You can subscribe to the magazine for the instructions, or you can purchase one-off copies. The projects are designed by the authors of the articles in the magazine, so lots of designers here, but the kits are assembled by Inspirations Magazine, and they contain everything you need to complete the project, except the instructions. Designs are not usually pre-printed on the fabric.
Threads in Bloom (USA) – Sharon Shetley offers many nice Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery Kits, with threads, fabric, needles and instructions for working the project.
Crewel Work Company (UK) – The Crewel Work Company specializes in historically accurate crewel embroidery kits. The kits come beautifully bagged, with the pre-printed heavy linen twill, all the crewel threads needed to complete the design, thorough instructions, needles, and any extras (beads for eyes and so forth). There are various levels of kits available, too, but all are equally thorough.
Jenny McWhinney (Australia) – Although I haven’t seen her kits personally, Jenny’s work is beautiful, she has a pristine reputation for instruction, and her books are wonderful, so I’m guessing her kits are just great! Her work ranges from beautiful to exotic to downright adorable.
Jan Kerton (Australia) – At Windflower Embroidery, Jan offers kits for beautiful stumpwork projects that cover a range of levels. The projects are generally small and manageable. Although I haven’t seen her kits personally, her reputation as an instructor proceeds her, and her designs are lovely.
Gary Clarke (Australia) – Gary’s work is enchanting. I always love seeing what he comes up with next! His embroidery on organza is gorgeous, and his kits look quite thorough. Another situation where I haven’t seen his kits personally, but he has a tremendous reputation as an instructor and his designs are excellent. I just love his artistry!
Kay Stanis (USA) – Kay specializes in all kinds of techniques, but they usually involve some kind of metal thread embroidery. Her work is gorgeous. She often teaches for the EGA, and she offers kits on her website, The Gilded Edge. I’ve not seen her kits in person, but she is another case of a brilliant reputation, so I’m sure they are excellent.
That should get you started in exploring the world of Designer Embroidery Kits. Down the road, I’ll highlight other sources for surface embroidery kits, too. I’ve got a few to look into, and I’ll let you know what I come up with!
Coming Up on Needle ‘n Thread
In the meantime, don’t forget that the Colour Complements thread give-away ends this Friday, if you haven’t signed up yet.
Very soon, I’m going to show you some finished stumpwork elements (whew – it’s about time).
You should see the books lurking on my bedside table, begging for reviews. Oh, oh! They’re good! Some reviews coming up.
I’m dying to show you a reader’s contribution that just oozes charm! Lots of stitching details to go along with it, too.
And some glorious (and I mean Stinkin’ Glorious!) Thread Talk coming up, with all kinds of exciting thoughts and ideas and news bubbling around it.