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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Whitework with Colour – Book Review!


Amazon Books

Seems like a bit of an oxymoron, doesn’t it? Whitework with color?

Whitework with Colour is Trish Burr’s latest embroidery book – and it’s a doozy! It’s a hard-cover, large project and instructional book that incorporates techniques that normally would be seen in whitework (as in, white-on-white embroidery), but that, in her book, are worked in a combination of whitework threads and colored threads, employing many surface embroidery techniques that are often seen in whitework.

So, while technically, Whitework with Colour does not concentrate on whitework per se, the techniques, materials, and approaches to the actually stitching are reminiscent of whitework. Trish’s ingenious incorporation of color brings to life the varied and vivid embroidery projects in the book.

Let’s take a look at the book in detail, shall we?

Whitework with Color by Trish Burr

Whitework with Colour by Trish Burr is a hardcover book publishing by Sally Milner.

The book features a collection of embroidery projects that have a unique look to them. You can definitely see a relation between the projects in the book and the design elements found in products of the coloring book / zentangle craze in the arty-crafty scene of today. They’re mostly contemporary designs full of striking patterns that work well for exploring texture, shading, and fillings in embroidery.

Not all the designs are super contemporary, though. You’ll also find some very traditional looking Jacobean-type designs in the book, if your tastes lean more towards the calmer, classic design styles.

Still, they’re all approached in much the same way, as far as the embroidery goes – each design seems to exude that zentangle-coloring-book look that’s in right now, giving them a contemporary flair that’s different and fun.

Whitework with Color by Trish Burr

The book begins with all the background information you need to work any of the projects in the book, or to work pretty much any surface embroidery project.

Tools, fabrics, threads, project set-up – it’s all covered in the first section of the book, and this is followed by a section on techniques and a section on color.

If you’re especially keen on instruction, you’ll find some great instructional treasures in the techniques section at the beginning of the book.

The instructions for various approaches to satin stitch, for example, are solid gold. A lot of folks are intimidated by satin stitch, but Trish lays out very good advice on how to produce beautiful, professional-looking satin stitching, whether in shapes, on curves, padded, and so forth.

Whitework with Color by Trish Burr

There’s also a section on color.

I’ve always been a huge fan of Trish’s work with color! Her book, Colour Confidence in Embroidery (reviewed here), is an excellent resource for embroiderers.

Whitework with Color by Trish Burr

But when it comes to a book this size, focusing on a specific style of embroidery, chances are, you are drawn to it by the projects within, so let’s talk projects!

Each project section contains everything you need to know to work the project: a photo of the completed project, line drawings of the design (with stitch and color layout), materials list, and stitching instructions. You’ll also find extra hints and tips scattered here and there to help you complete each project successfully.

Whitework with Color by Trish Burr

There are 17 projects in the book, ranging from classic Jacobean-esque embroidery designs…

…to “still life” designs (simple flowers, complex flowers, vase, a teacup with flowers and the like)

Whitework with Color by Trish Burr

…to contemporary and lively designs (here’s a nod to the 70’s – and who doesn’t love a Bug?)

…to vibrant landscape designs that flow with movement….

Whitework with Color by Trish Burr

…to wildlife designs. A lion, a zebra.

Whitework with Color by Trish Burr

Of course, we are talking about Trish Burr here, whose needlepainted birds are simply amazing, so I wasn’t surprised to find a bird in the mix, too!

Each project has its appeal! I suspect that stitchers will be drawn to the projects that reflect their own tastes in design style (which is always the case).

In short, though, there’s pretty much something for everyone here. It’s quite a spectrum of subjects for stitching, but they’re all tied together with the very unique look that Trish has developed in her explorations of whitework embroidery techniques mixed with color.

Whitework with Color by Trish Burr

While satin stitch plays a major role in all the projects in this book, and while other stitches (line stitches, lattice fillings, seed stitches) play a role as well, I have to say, it’s always Trish’s needlepainting (long and short stitch shading) that makes my little stitching heart sing!

Whitework with Color by Trish Burr

Her shading is always exquisite, no matter what project it’s featured in!

In a Nutshell

Get it! You’ll love it!

I’d classify this book primarily as a project book, more than a technique book. The techniques employed in the projects are techniques typical of surface embroidery in general, so if you already have a handle on surface embroidery, it’s definitely the projects you’re after in this book! At the same time, you’ll learn a lot from the technique section and the color section, whether you’re a beginner or a an advancing stitcher.

Overall, it’s the projects in this book that are the main attraction. And the projects are, in short, enticing. They’re appealing on so many levels – texture, color blending, filling, design styles – so many points of appeal!

The book is suitable for beginners and beyond. Even if you’re just starting out with stitching, you can tackle the projects in this book. Some are larger and more complex than others, and some are great for just starting out.


The projects – they’re gorgeous, they’re fun, they’re unique. And there’s plenty of instruction to go along with them, making it accessible to all levels of embroiderers.

The book is affordable.


Not many! I’m not a huge fan of hardcover project books, because they don’t always open and lay out as easily, but binding and such aside, the project content is what it’s all about!

Where to Find It

You can find Whitework with Color available through the following book affiliates:

In the US, Whitework with Color is available here through Amazon. It is due for release on March 7, 2017 in the US, and you can pre-order it now.

Worldwide with free shipping, you’ll find Whitework with Color available now, through Book Depository.


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(24) Comments

    1. Bonjour,
      Je me le suis déjà procuré sur le site de Trish, certes je peux me débrouiller un peu en anglais pour éclaircir certains points, mais les images parlent d’elles même et il me semble que pour quelqu’un qui pratique un peu de peinture à l’aiguille et de broderie traditionnelle, les modèles sont abordables et bien expliqués au travers des photos.
      Cécile, brodeuse amateur éclectique.

  1. I saw this book earlier somewhere. I don’t do this type stitching, but oh, I want it! LOL. (book lover here). She is in one word: ARTIST GALORE. OK, 2 words. LOL.

  2. White work techniques in colour! Wonderful. I have always found white work – very and altogether – too white and invisible. It is also difficult to see it while stitching it and it is difficult to see and appreciate the results. An excellent example of camoflage. One has to explain to a guest, “believe it or not, that piece of fabric is stitched but it is white which is why you cannot see it.”
    I love the lion. Bravo Trish Burr and many thanks.
    Ann Bernard.

  3. I often look through your articles about book reviews but more of a scan than a read. Not because I don’t like books (what a horrid thought) but because I really don’t know how to do embroidery. However, this book got my heart pounding. Amazing work with all the bright splashes of color as well as the subtle shading around the white areas. It explodes with excitement. This may be the book that pushes me over the edge to try some serious embroidery. Even if I’m not any good at it, this is a book worth having just for the beauty of it all.

  4. Mary was so excited just got my book.
    Love Trish Burr’s embroideries. One of my favs.
    My favourites in the book is the lion but the bestie is the owl. I have a bit of a passion for the owls.
    I wonder how long it will take someone to say that it is not Whitework at all as White Work does not have colour. Daah! we know that and so we should not call it that?Sometime ago I did a bit of Mountmellick, which is all white. I used the original stitches and called it Mountmellick with colour. Apparently I was told it would be preferred that I call it In the Style of Mountmellick. Well the short of it, is it is Mountmellick, with or without colour. It is nearly as good as saying that if you don’t live in Mountmellick Ireland the work is not “true” Mountmellick.
    Well as far as I am concerned I have been doing a lot of embroidery, lace and other fibre work I have never been told that my Brussels lace should be called “In the style of”.
    So I had a cup of tea and continued sewing.
    Well thanks Trish for another neat book, lovely photos and easy to read.
    Thanks Mary for puting it up for all to see.
    A happy week to all.

  5. Oh my Heavens, Mary! I love it! I love it! The owl and the hummingbird are gorgeous! I have her Color Confidence book and it has helped me with my color palettes. I absolutely delight in pictures of anything that Trish Burr does. Also the colors she uses for the projects in this book sing to me. I absolutely have to have it!

  6. My daughter ordered this book for me for Christmas and I can’t wait to get it – – more now that I’ve seen your review!! Thank you for the sneak peak! I asked for it sight unseen so I really enjoyed your review.

  7. Thank you, Mary. I have this book in the back of my mind for a project I’m putting together. I have to decide between buying this book or her Needlepainting and Whitework Handbook. Whichever, her embroidery work inspires me.

    And @Martha May, the same could be said for Hardanger as well. Color is not traditionally used either, but you see many modern examples of it. Who knows, if our predecessors had the color array of threads to choose from then that we have now what they would have done.

  8. I have just received my copy of the above book. It is an absolutely lovely book, I could look at this book for hours. Trish Burr makes a needle and thread work wonders, her work is stuning and looks very lifelike. I am mainly a patchwork/quilter but would love to master the art of thread painting.

    I strongly recommend this book to all interested in embroidery and wish Trish the very best with this book and hope she has plans for more.

  9. Thanks, Mary for all the fabulous information you have on your blog. Your site is a go to one for stitch information, tutorials etc. My stitching buddies also agree with me.
    I’ve been looking at this particular book by Trish Burr, since it was advertised. Because of your review, I pre-ordered it yesterday from Amazon.ca. I also mentioned your review in my latest blog post at http://judycooper.blogspot.ca

  10. I showed this book & post to my son & let him know that I want it for Mother’s day. Ha ha one way or another I’ll get this book

  11. I had to comment on Ms. Burr’s book because I love white work and I really appreciate how skilled she is, but (you had to know this was coming), as I mentioned my adoration of white work that is what I want to know about and the techniques and threads used. Otherwise, I would read about, oh say, red work, black work, gold work (you see where I am going here), or just about any other kind of embroidery. If you are a very good cook you use the best ingredients, your best skills, and, most of all, keep it simple to show off the ingredients and skills. So this is just another book on thread painting – a lovely one to be sure – but not one that I will buy.

  12. Thank you for reviewing this; I was wanting a glimpse inside, since I’m a Trish Burr fan. The projects contain too much satin stitch for me to want to buy the book, but I enjoyed the review.

  13. I have this book….Trish Burr white work with colour and I love the clarity and instructions.I have attempted two and am fairly pleased with result. I say fairly as I have had little success finding the fine linen required or DMC floche here in the Uk. The linen I found on line was 40 count and not really fine enough. Suggestions would be greatly appreciated

  14. Bonjour !
    J’aime beaucoup ! Je suis une fan !
    Ce livre me plairait bien, mais existe t’il en français ? SVP !
    J’ai celui des transferts, 2 autres de peintures à l’aiguille de vous ! J’adore !
    Merci pour tous ces beaux modèles !
    Amicalement !
    Martine Hurtaud

    1. Hello, Martine – please check with Trish Burr to see if her book exists in French. Or you could look on Amazon France? I think her books are listed through Amazon by the publishers. Thanks!

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