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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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The A-Z Series: Another Great Series for your Bookshelf!

 

Back in October, we chatted about a series of needlework books called Beginners Guides, that are super-valuable to have in your embroidery library. The books are excellent, especially for stitchers who want to explore specific needlework techniques that they might not have tackled before.

Today, we’ll look at another great series of embroidery books that are for beginners and experts alike – the A-Z Series of needlework books. The A-Z series is an instructional reference series that has been around for a while and has been a best seller in the industry. Understandably, the books have a huge fan base, because they’re just that good!

If you’re just getting into embroidery and you’re looking for instructional books that will take you step-by-step in a logical, methodical way through learning stitches and techniques, these books are perfect for that.

A-Z Series of Needlework Books

One of the best things about the A-Z series of needlework books – originally published by Country Bumpkin and recently re-published by Search Press – is that there is such a wide range of techniques covered in the series.

So whether you’re a beginner looking for a good stitch dictionary, or an intermediate stitcher ready to try new techniques, or an advanced stitcher looking for some good reference, technique and inspirational books, this series has you covered!

The Topics Covered in the A-Z Series

The A-Z Series covers a pretty wide range of needlework topics. To my knowledge, there are 20 of them currently in print, two of which are scheduled to be released in January.

There are A-Z books available on the following topics:

  1. Bead Embroidery
  2. Crewel Embroidery
  3. Crochet
  4. Embroidered Flowers
  5. Embroidered Motifs (with bullion stitches)
  6. Embroidery Stitches
  7. Embroidery Stitches 2
  8. Goldwork with Silk Embroidery
  9. Heirloom Sewing
  10. Knitting
  11. Needlepoint
  12. Quilting
  13. Ribbon Embroidery
  14. Sewing for Smockers
  15. Sewing
  16. Smocking
  17. Stumpwork
  18. Thread Painting
  19. Whitework
  20. Wool Embroidery

What’s in Them

The A-Z Series is primarily an instructional series of needlework books, although several of the technique books (like A-Z of Crewel Embroidery and A-Z of Thread Painting, for example) also include projects so that you can practice the techniques.

A-Z series of needlework books - sample page

Inside the books, you’ll find some of the best step-by-step photo instructions available in needlework books today.

I think this is what has made the books so popular ever since they were first published. It’s so much easier to learn a technique when you can see it worked out, in each step, in photographs, with real people working the stitch. It’s the next best thing to video, which is the next best thing to sitting right next to someone!

In addition to the instructional content in the books, they’re full of beautiful needlework, too. Practically every page of each books is visually pleasing in some way. They’re pretty!

If you want to see up close what’s in some of the books – and they all follow pretty much the same format – I’ve written reviews on several of them. The links below will take you to those:

A-Z of Embroidery Stitches 2

A-Z of Embroidered Motifs

A-Z of Goldwork with Silk Embroidery

A-Z of Stumpwork

A-Z of Whitework

How They Differ from Beginner’s Guides

The A-Z series and the Beginner’s Guides might seem as if they’re a lot alike, but there are some differences between the two series.

The Beginner’s Guides introduce you to the basics of particular kinds of embroidery, and they do this pretty much by taking you through projects and setting you up to explore the type of embroidery further on your own. They include all the basic instruction for getting the hang of the type of embroidery and then they help you through the project or projects in the book. Sometimes, the instruction unfolds within the projects.

The A-Z series if first and foremost a technical series. The emphasis in the books is on specific, systematic, step-by-step instruction on the technical aspects of stitches and techniques. While some books have projects, some don’t. It just depends on the book. Some of the technique-oriented books (crewel work, thread painting, etc.) have some kind of project(s) in them, but the focus is not really on the projects. It’s on the technical stuff.

The A-Z series features a very recognizable layout of step-by-step instruction, with pages full of photo grids. The Beginner’s Guides are a little more organic in the presentation of the instruction.

My Favorite A-Zs

The whole series of A-Z books are on my “easy access” bookshelf, but these are the ones that I reference most frequently:

A-Z of Embroidery Stitches (both volumes), A-Z of Goldwork with Silk Embroidery, A-Z of Crewel Embroidery, A-Z of Bead Embroidery, A-Z of Thread Painting and A-Z of Stumpwork.

Sometimes, I take these books off the shelf to flip through them for inspiration and ideas for stitching projects, for a technical refresher, or to learn something that I don’t know yet, but that I know is in there.

And sometimes, I take them off the shelf just to flip through them for no reason at all!

The Newest A-Z: Embroidered Flowers

The newest A-Z to be reprinted by Search Press is A-Z of Embroidered Flowers, which just came out. If you’re already collecting the series, this is a nice one to add to the list!

It’ll give you a heap of variety to pull from, for your embroidery projects that involve flowers.

A-Z of Embroidered Flowers

The book includes instructions on how to embroider some 100 flowers in all kinds of different techniques, including surface embroidery, stumpwork, ribbon embroidery…

Where to Find Them

All the A-Z books are available online through the following book affiliates:

In the US, you’ll find them reasonably priced through Amazon.

Worldwide, with free shipping, they’re available here through Book Depository.

You can find A-Z of Embroidered Flowers available here through Amazon in the US and here through Book Depository in the UK (with worldwide free shipping).

The A-Z books are also sometimes available through local needlework shops and online needlework shops. I know that Nordic Needle and The Wooly Thread all carry the series.

And, in some cases, if you’re lucky, they might also be available at your local library. If not, you can request that they get the ones you’re interested in, or that they find them for interlibrary loan.

 
 

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(10) Comments

  1. First of all I want to thank you for the give away. I really want this book because I do embroidery every day. I have my own technique doing embroidery, but I love learning new things and trying them. That is what makes embroidery fun. And the end results are so satisfying. Thank you, Shelly of Kentucky.

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    1. Hi, Shelly! I’ll be doing give-aways between Thanksgiving and Christmas. For now, this is just an information article, but keep an eye out over the next several weeks. I’ll be giving away two groups of three A-Z books – they’re really nice! Thanks for commenting!

  2. Mary,
    I have most of the A-Z books and they are all good! But when I want to learn a new stitch or am having trouble remembering one I haven’t done for awhile my first choice is one of you video lessons. They are the best of the best!

    iPad or laptop in my lap stitching project in my hands. I learn so easily from you. Thank you for a great resource.

    Elaine in New Mexico

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  3. A – Z of Embroidery Stitches is my favorite stitch dictionary and the one I always recommend. I have a lot of stitch dictionaries (and a lot of project or technique books that have stitches illustrated in them) but what makes the A – Z series unique and easy to follow are the step by step photos.

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  4. I actually bought both of the embroidery stitches books because of your review on the second one. (Didn’t seem right not to get both.) Anyway, I am constantly searching through them looking for a new stitch to learn or something that’ll add to my project. (I’m always making my projects bigger and more complicated than they have to be. It’s a sickness.) And, if it happens to be the middle of the night and I can’t sleep, I’ll just go through and play with some stitches. I don’t know if those two will ever reach a shelf, to be honest. I also have the thread painting one and some of the projects are quite advanced. Fur and feathers abound! I’m working on the pear at the moment. Cause it’s just a freaking pear. (Worked on Tanja Berlin’s wolf before that. Do you know how many colors it takes to paint up an ear? No? Well, it takes a lot. A…. lot… Pear? Not so much. Boring in comparison, though.)

    I have pretty much the rest of the A-Z series on my wishlist, too. Very excited about the flower one. I’m terrible with flowers, aren’t very interested in them. Except, of course, for the colors. Colors, colors, colors. I like fruit more because you get the colors, plus I really like fruit.

    Oh, and Mary my dear! I recently remembered that I did a still life of some fruit in high school using the colors that you picked out for your sunset! The fruit was orangey-yellow-red and contrasted perfectly with bluish-indigos in the background. A little tasty, round sunset. Only art I ever did that I’m proud of.

    I never win giveaways, but it’ll be fun all the same!

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  5. I’ve seen a couple of the A – Z Books and never really looked at them, but I will now, thanks to this review. I’m really excited about the Embroidered Flowers. This book would be a great resource for a future quilt project I’d like to work on. I might have to go shopping on my lunch hour tomorrow. Thank You! Happy Thanksgiving.

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  6. Me encantan esos libros gracias Mary yo tengo algunos pero no sabía que en la serie está uno sobre puntada de aguja

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  7. What a great series! I’ve checked out several from the library and was truly blown away. They’re informative and well-constructed. Of course I wanted the whole lot!

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  8. i have been working on baby clothes for my newest granddaughter and have been busy embroidering flowers and ribbons on the front of her tiny little dresses. i would love to have this book to learn a better way to do flowers and other embroidered designs.
    i also teach embroidery to my elementary school age granddaughters and am always looking for a better technique to teach them with.

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