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 Art of Felting & Silk Ribbon Embroidery – Book Review


Amazon Books

Do you like silk ribbon embroidery? How about felt? Do you like unique, textured backgrounds? Do you like a multi-media approach to your needlework? Are you looking for new avenues to explore in your artistic adventures? Or do you just love a good needlework book that’s packed full of techniques, ideas, inspiration, and instruction?

If any of the above applies to you, chances are, you’re going to like The Art of Felting & Silk Ribbon Embroidery, written by Di van Niekerk with Toody Cassidy.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book, actually. But the title intrigued me! And of course, I’m familiar with Di van Niekerk’s sumptuous silk ribbon embroidery, and I had seen little hints and peeks at some of the projects in the book, so … what’s a gal to do? Of course I had to see the book!

Let’s take a look inside, shall we?

Art of Felting & Silk Ribbon Embroidery

The covers of Di’s books are always stunners. This one, though, is pretty much a knock out! I love the rich blue background with the yellow roses. I’m tempted to hang the book on my wall, that cover’s so pretty…

Art of Felting & Silk Ribbon Embroidery

When you open the book – which is a large format book with a heavy, glossy paper cover – you’ll be met with the table of contents. As you can see, there’s a lot in this book!

Felting & Silk Ribbon Embroidery is both an instructional book and a project book, so it starts “from the ground up” in the instructions. The first thing you learn is how to make your ground fabric! The aren’t too many needlework books out there that start with making your own ground fabric!

Art of Felting & Silk Ribbon Embroidery

As you move forward in the book, you’ll see photos of beautiful felt and silk ribbon combinations – and they will whet your appetite for what’s to come!

And you’ll get it right away – you will understand the combination of the two topics – felting and silk ribbon. Because there’s just something about the combination that heightens the beauty of both techniques. The play together really well!

Art of Felting & Silk Ribbon Embroidery

The first part of the book, then, is devoted to felting techniques for creating a ground fabric for ribbon embroidery.

The reader is lead step-by-step through different approaches to felting, using different fibers and techniques. If you’ve never felted before (I’ve only done tiny projects in dry felting), you might be a little intimidated at first by the whole notion of this type of felting.

When I first encountered this section, my mind was saying, “I would never do that…” I was considering the mess, the time, the work, the supplies. After all, it’s much easier just to buy a piece of fabric!

But by the time I finished reading the first part of the book, I was saying, “Wow! I can do that! I want to do that!”

The instructions are super thorough and they make the techniques not only accessible, but exciting! You can do it, whether you’ve ever felted or not!

Art of Felting & Silk Ribbon Embroidery

Two points captivate me when considering the whole notion of a felted background that you make yourself:

1. It lends to absolute individuality in the finished project. No two pieces of felt worked up by hand in the techniques covered here could possibly come out exactly the same!

2. The different textures you can achieve through felting add a visual interest that I don’t think any other fabric could match. It imparts a kind of cross-impression – a bit of fiber luxury coupled with a kind of rustic-ness, so that the whole combination of the felt and the silk and the textures come off as really sumptuous and not rustic at all!

Art of Felting & Silk Ribbon Embroidery

After covering the basics of felting, the materials involved, and all the little particulars that go along with the process, we move to making particular types of backgrounds. Again, step-by-step photos lead you right along, so that you can successfully create your felted ground.

Art of Felting & Silk Ribbon Embroidery

Wool is not the only fiber covered in the felting section. You’ll find instructions of “felting” with silk as well as “Nuno felting” – which involves felting into other natural fabrics.

You’ll also learn how to add embellishments into the felted background, that become part of the visual focus of the finished project.

Art of Felting & Silk Ribbon Embroidery

And then… we move on to the embellishment!

If you’re already familiar with Di’s ribbon work and her previous books, you already know this part is going to be really good!

Art of Felting & Silk Ribbon Embroidery

You’ll not only learn a lot, but you’ll be accosted along the way with a riot of glorious silk ribbon and other fibers sculpted into amazingly life-like floral elements and more.

Art of Felting & Silk Ribbon Embroidery

The book features 14 projects, from handbags, to clutches, to bracelets, to blankets…and more!

Each project is presented with photos of the finished piece, a materials list, and step-by-step instructions to successfully complete it.

Art of Felting & Silk Ribbon Embroidery

You’ll get instruction in all the ribbon work techniques that you need to complete the beautiful projects.

There’s a stitch dictionary with common embroidery and ribbon embroidery stitches, as well as a techniques section on general ribbon embroidery practices and tips.

Art of Felting & Silk Ribbon Embroidery

Even if you’re not necessarily keen on felting your own backgrounds right away, the projects can be worked on other ground fabrics. You can definitely abstract ribbon embroidery elements, whole designs, tips and techniques, and apply them to your own ribbon embroidery projects.

The instruction throughout the book is so clear and so well illustrated, that you’ll be creating your own ribbon masterpieces with ease in no time!

Art of Felting & Silk Ribbon Embroidery

Finally, the book ends with a section of drawn patterns for the different projects in the book.

Embroidery patterns on felt? And on this type of textured felt? How do you manage that? Well, don’t worry! There’s a section on that, too!

In a Nutshell

Lots of pros, very few cons!

The book is beautiful. The instruction is clear. The projects are varied, unique, and intriguing.

If you’ve never considered felting your own fabric, the book might seem a little overwhelming at first. But read through it – you’ll find that some approaches are more manageable than others and that the clear instructions will boost your confidence!

It’s a book for any fiber artist, for any silk ribbon enthusiast, and for any needleworker who enjoys learning about other techniques to explore some day!

Where to Find It!

You can find The Art of Felting & Silk Ribbon Embroidery through the following book affiliates:

The Art of Felting & Silk Ribbon Embroidery is available now here through Book Depository, with free shipping worldwide.

In the US, The Art of Felting & Silk Ribbon Embroidery is available here for pre-order through Amazon, due to be released January 2.

And Kits to go With It!

Want to make projects in the book? But you’d rather have someone else make the felt? Well, Di has you covered. You can find kits for the projects in The Art of Felting and Silk Ribbon Embroidery available on her website here.

Affiliate Links and How they Help Needle ‘n Thread

Needle ‘n Thread uses affiliate links for books, which means I get a small kickback when you purchase a book (or anything else) by going through my links, at no extra cost to you.

Here on Needle ‘n Thread, at the top of each article, you’ll find direct links to favorite embroidery books on Amazon. If you use those links to access Amazon for your regular purchases through Amazon, you’ll be helping to keep Needle ‘n Thread online.

The Book Depository link above is also an affiliate link. For world-wide readers looking for good craft books, Book Depository is one of the most affordable ways of acquiring newly published needlework books at a good price, and with free shipping.

If you shop through Amazon regularly, please consider accessing Amazon through the links at the top of my articles on Needle ‘n Thread before you shop. I know it sounds like begging, but what can I say? Every tiny bit helps! Thanks so much!


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(17) Comments

  1. If I use your link to Amazon to purchase items other than needlework-related, would you still get credit? If so, I will try to remember to do that.

  2. I’ve been hoping you would review this one. I saw reference to it a couple of weeks ago and thought it looked interesting. Perhaps something to add to the birthday/Christmas lists. Thank you!

  3. I never thought I’d be tempted to stitch on wool or wool felt, but years ago I bought a Colour Streams silk ribbon needle book kit from Australia. Stitching on wool felt was . . . OK. Stitching a small item like a needle book (as with the kits Di advertises on her site) was a good way to get a taste of the technique. While this project didn’t end up being the gateway drug for me, it was an interesting change of pace. Stitches sink into the felt a bit, which can present challenges; it also makes “reverse stitching” trickier. The Art of Felting probably addresses this kind of thing.

    I’m all for experimenting with new types of grounds, though making my own is a bridge too far. Perhaps more designers will be expanding stitching horizons in this regard. I’m sure you’ll keep us apprised of any developments!

  4. Dear Mary

    It looks a very beautiful book I love the photos of the various flowers and it looks like there are great tips and techniques for all sorts of needlework and great value with 14 projects added. Silk embroidery always looks so beautiful and coupled with felt I think this would make beautiful projects. Thanks for your review of the book and for sharing your views with us and for the beautiful photos and links to where to purchase the book.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  5. Looks a gorgeous book! And reminds me of my own experiments many years ago with wet felting and then embroidering the result (albeit not with ribbons) – I had no idea I was so ahead of trend, lol! I found my half-finished efforts in a box the other day during a hunt for something – I really ought to try and finish my little panels, I’d forgotten how much I liked the colours.

  6. Can’t wait to read this new book. I have played around with needle felting and silk ribbon and found the combination to be beautiful. I’m sure Di has some great new ideas.

  7. Happy to one smart be involved in the Christmas giveaway. Not that I want last year but it was fun. I love Christmas and I love needlenthread. The combination of both is perfect. I had already read the description on this book and cannot wait to get it. I love Di’s work

    1. I need to cancel my comment spellcheck killed me! LOL can you let me know by email that this one has been deleted and I can try again. Plus I forgot to mention my favorite place to see

  8. Mary, I tried silk ribbon and had fun but it wasn’t as easy as I thought. But,as usual you make everything, ever article and every project look soooo easy and wonderful. I keep all your articles to read late at night but since you are having a give away, I just had to read your for review for this one. Not sure I will try for this one, but I do so enjoy your reviews.Thanks so much for all you do for us that love handwork, it remains my favorite go-to work for relaxing.

  9. I find ribbon embroidery fascinating. I first saw it at a National Trust property in England where the the Sealed Knot (English historical association and charity, dedicated to costumed reenactment of battles and events surrounding the English Civil War) where giving displays and teaching crafts. A woman dressed in 16th century costume was using ribbon embroidery to decorate part of a costume. I think I may try it on a Christmas decoration.

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