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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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Elizabetta’s Monogram Book: A Flower Alphabet

 

Amazon Books

This book review has been a Long Time Coming!

Last year, Elisabetta Sforza self-published an embroidery book called Un Alfabeta a Fiori, A Flower Alphabet. If you’re familiar with Elisabetta’s work which is featured on her needlework blog, Elisabetta Ricami a Mano, then you can already guess that the book and the projects in it are beautiful.

A Flower Alphabet, though, is a different kind of embroidery book. There are a few things that make it different from most needlework instructional and project books on the market today.

So, today, I’m going to show you this exquisite book, tell you how it differs from other embroidery books, and let you know where you can find it.

A Flower Alphabet - Elisabetta Sforza

At first, you might be temped to think that A Flower Alphabet is simply a project and instructional book that will take you through how to embroidery the featured floral alphabet.

And that would be a good thing! And it is a good thing, because Elisabetta does take you through how to embroider the featured alphabet.

But she does Oh So Much More along the way! If you read Elisabetta’s book from cover to cover, you’ll realize that it’s not just an instructional project book, but it’s what I call a concept book as well.

A concept book does more than just teach you how to embroider This Specific Thing in exactly This Specific Way. It takes you beyond the specific, to teach you the concepts behind planning your own versions of the projects and behind designing and stitching your own variations.

In this way, the book gives you much more scope for personalization and for developing your own designs and your own style of stitching those designs.

A Flower Alphabet - Elisabetta Sforza

The book itself is a 67-page exploration of a floral embroidered alphabet, with matching frames, borders, and motifs. It is written in Italian with an excellent English translation.

Divided into four sections, you’ll find an introduction, a section on embroidering, designing, and drawing, a section on colors and ideas, and a section of clear line patterns to start off with.

The meat of the matter in this book is in sections two and three – embroidering, designing and drawing; and colors and ideas.

A Flower Alphabet - Elisabetta Sforza

Throughout the book, you will be regaled with gorgeous photography!

A Flower Alphabet - Elisabetta Sforza

When it comes to the embroidery instruction in the book, the stitches are presented in simple diagrams. The book itself is not heavy on step-by-step embroidering instructions, but there is enough instruction in the book to complete the projects.

A Flower Alphabet - Elisabetta Sforza

Then, Elisabetta shows you all the different major floral motifs that make up the designs in the book, from little buttonhole flowers, to bullion flowers, to different types of leaves, stalks, and accents.

A Flower Alphabet - Elisabetta Sforza

You’ll find a good variety of floral motifs, all of which can be separated out and stitched as little individual embroidery accents on practically anything!

A Flower Alphabet - Elisabetta Sforza

Did I mention the beautiful pictures?!

Their primary purpose is not just to give you a whole lot of eye candy. It’s really to inspire you with ideas on how you can manipulate and arrange the letters and the motifs for your own specific uses.

A Flower Alphabet - Elisabetta Sforza

Here’s the design area of the book. Using a design that’s already available as pattern in the back of the book, Elisabetta shows you how she designed the world “Home” for floral embroidery.

She gives you little tips on how you can design your own words – think: names! – so that you have huge scope for applying the floral stitching techniques on many personalized projects.

A Flower Alphabet - Elisabetta Sforza

And then there’s the whole color question.

The letters of the alphabet are presented in different colors schemes, from vibrant, to muted, to all-white, to grayscale, to neutrals, and more. And underneath each sample shown, you’ll find a chart that lists all the DMC colors used for the floral motifs in that letter.

And this approach is yet another way of opening up multiple design possibilities for the reader!

Say, for example, you want to design your own floral word to stitch, like a single word or name – “Love” or “Hope” or “Adele.”

You have the tools to do that, under the designing and drawing section.

To stitch it, you’ll need to choose the colors of thread you want to use. Not confident with color? No problem! You can peruse all the sample letters, find a color scheme you like, and the DMC colors are listed for you.

Voila! Your own personalized, unique embroidery project!

A Flower Alphabet - Elisabetta Sforza

Finally, in the back of the book, you’ll find the line drawings for all the letters…

A Flower Alphabet - Elisabetta Sforza

…plus floral sprays and frames and other arrangements, so that you can deck out your embroidered monograms or use them for specific projects, like wedding pillows for ring-bearers, embellishment on blankets, quilts, or pillows, or stand-alone embroidery projects. The possibilities are endless!

In a Nutshell

Elisabetta’s book is clearly written and translated, it is beautifully illustrated, and it is a wonderful resource for opening up all kinds of design and personalization possibilities for the stitcher.

Some might find the book to be a little light on actual embroidery instruction. The stitching instruction is limited to basic stitch diagrams, which are sufficient for beyond-beginners, but might not be sufficient for absolute-beginners. But hey! This easily solved with a good stitch dictionary or even my how-to videos!

The real gem of this book, besides the gorgeous alphabet and motifs ready for you to stitch, is what it gives you in the way of scope for stitching. It’s the way the author shows you how she developed her designs and clearly demonstrates how you can develop your own designs using the same approach.

Where to Find It

In the US, you’ll find A Flower Alphabet by Elisabetta Sforza available here through Needle in a Haystack. I encouraged them to order a bunch for you, which is why I put off the review. I wanted it to be as easy as possible for you to pick up your own copy. And for those who don’t like to order online, you can call Haystack at 877-429-7822.

In Italy, you can order the book from Conti & Molinari, online.

In the rest of Europe, you can purchase the book through Tombolo.

And of course, you can order it directly from Elisabetta via email. Her email address is on her website.

I’m not sure of distributors in the UK or Australia, but if you are a shop interested in carrying A Flower Alphabet in your country, perhaps you could contact Elisabetta through her website and make arrangements with her.

 
 

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(20) Comments

  1. Dear Mary

    A Flower Alphabet book looks gorgeous I love the way Elisabetta has embroidered the E monogram full of lovely flowers and rich in texture and vibrant colours, beautiful bullion stitches it’s beautiful, a book worth owning. Thanks for sharing with us Un Alfabeta a Fiori, A Flower Alphabet it’s so rich in designs and colours and thanks for the photos and the links on how to purchase the book.

    Regards Anita Simmance

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  2. Mary, thank you so much for the review of Elisabetta’s book. I was hoping you would be the one to review it in the US. I have been following Elisabetta’s blog for a number of years and when she published this book I knew I had to have it. Thanks also to Needle in a Haystack for carrying this wonderful book. It has been ordered!
    Susan

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  3. WOW! Thanks so much for sharing this info, Mary. I have been an Elisabetta fan from the first embroidered initial I saw. I had no idea that she had a book. I’ve already preordered a copy from Needle in a Haystack. (My birthday is on Valentine’s Day, and I can’t think of a more wonderful birthday gift than “A Flower Alphabet”…yes, I’m humming the birthday song in anticipation!) I’ll sure be looking forward to receiving it. Thanks for making my day!

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    1. My favorite embroiderer featured on my favorite embroidery instructor’s site – I am beyond thrilled! Congratulations on the book, Elisabetta, I can’t wait to get it.

  4. I have already ordered this and am so excited to finally be able to have this glorious book, as I have been a faithful follower of Elisabetta’s work for years.❤️

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  5. WOW! These flowers are incredibly beautiful! And what a sense of color coordination! Fantastico, Elisabetta! Even I could be seduced into buying this book, although I’m not the biggest fan of embroidered monograms. But look at these flowers! They’re so … natural!

    Angela from the Ore Mountains

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  6. I love receiving her newsletter. Such breathtaking embroidery. Of course I can’t read a word of it so I’m glad that this has an English translation included. Thanks for the review.

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  7. Oh Mary, you are wicked! I must have this gorgeous book. But I looked at the Conti & Molinari site and now I am seriously tempted by some other books as well. Just as well I haven’t abused the credit card too seriously so far this year. Could it be because you haven’t reviewed too many books?

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    1. Thank you, Mary! Order placed with Needle in Haystack. Shipping to Oz from Tombolo is far more expensive. You’ve saved me $$$ by letting me know I can’t buy those other drool-worthy books.

  8. Thank you, thank you so very much! I’ve wanted to purchase this book as soon as I saw it on Elisabetta’s blog.

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  9. This looks like a great book to go with your Favorite Monograms Mary! More ideas on how to stitch them up. I’ve been wanting to do a hanging pennant for a long time.

    Thanks for the review.

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  10. I sort of hate how almost every embroidery book is ‘suitable for beginners’. You really only need one book that goes through the basics. I think it’s good to have specific things that are relevant for the projects in that book – e.g. choices of fabrics and threads. I love that she includes the DMC numbers in this book, for instance. But I don’t need endless instructions on separating strands of floss and using an embroidery hoop.

    All that to say, this sounds excellent! A book for non-beginners that takes us beyond following instructions to making our own design choices.

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  11. I just received the book and have been looking it over. I have loved Elisabetta Sforza’s work for quite a few years now. The book is lovely and as you mentioned more of a ‘concept book’. I am wondering about a photo that you show in your post and is fig. 2.33 in the book. What is the stitch used to fill-in the letter T…one thread couching?

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    1. Hi, Maureen – that’s kind of what it looks like to me. Very fine couching. But I can’t tell for sure…Perhaps if you look at it under a magnifier, you might be able to tell more easily. I’ll try that when I can dig it out!

  12. Beautiful. I now own this book. Please tell the www where I amy find your basting the letters so as to embroidery perfect lines according to the pattern. Pat/Texas

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