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?
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…
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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