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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For William Morris Lovers – A Design Resource


Amazon Books

If you’re alive and kicking today and in tune even just a little bit with the craft world in general, you’ve probably noticed the coloring book trend. It’s been going on for a while, and although the market is pretty well saturated with “adult coloring books,” I’m thinking the trend will probably continue.

For embroiderers, the explosion of whimsical and diverse coloring books available today offers a different approach to their use. Coloring book designs can be easily adapted to embroidery designs. For example, I’ve done so here with this hummingbird coloring book page from one of Jahanna Basford’s books.

As long as you’ve bought the book and you’re using the designs for personal use (you’re not reproducing and selling them, or selling items made with the designs embroidered), then you’re perfectly allowed to adapt a design to stitch rather than color.

For those more specifically interested in designs that are textile related, and for William Morris lovers in general, there’s a nice design resource to be found in a beautiful William Morris coloring book that I want to show you today. This was a birthday gift from my sister earlier this year. She knows me well!

William Morris Designs Coloring Book

There’s not a whole lot to say when reviewing a coloring book! But this one does have a few unique features that makes it even more suitable for needleworkers who: 1. are seeking designs to interpret; 2. are interested in historical needlework; 3. like to have color suggestions.

William Morris Designs Coloring Book

In the front of the book, there are beautiful color plates of each design, interpreted in colors a la William Morris.

And while you might not want to embroider an entire plate in this collection, if you were to extract elements, you’d have a nice guide for colors even for small designs.

William Morris Designs Coloring Book

And there are a lot of design plates in this book!

(The more the merrier!)

William Morris Designs Coloring Book

Like any coloring book, the designs are presented in nice, clean line drawings.

If you were drawn to the plate above, would you stitch the whole thing, or would you extract an element or two?

One aspect that I love about William Morris is that his designs were downright lush. They exude nature (albeit somewhat stylized).

I really like the image above, and I could see approaching it by combining a monochromatic palette for much of the background, done in simple, low-key, low contrast line stitching. Then, I’d pick up just a few of the main elements – the bird, the flower, and a few leaves, and deck them out in fully embroidered color.

William Morris Designs Coloring Book

I’d do the same thing here, and the lemons would get a high-impact treatment. And I’d go summery bright and modern!

It’s a fun book, and a wonderful resource for design ideas for embroidery.

If you like the idea of adapting Morris designs for stitching, there are plenty of other William Morris-related coloring books out there, too. I’ve acquired a few over the years, but this one really stands out for me. Is it because my sister thought of me when she saw it? Or is it because I really like the design selections and adaptations?

I suspect it’s a combination of both, but if I took her out of the equation, I still think this particular book would still be the best Morris coloring book I’ve come across so far.

Where to Find It

You can find William Morris Designs Coloring Book with designs adapted by Emanuela Carletti available through the following affiliate book sources:

In the US, it’s available on Amazon. You’ll find it listed on my Amazon page here, where you can find a good smattering of my favorite needlework books available.

This is a direct link to the book on Amazon, if you want to go straight there.

Worldwide with free shipping, you’ll find it available here through Book Depository.

This article contains affiliate links to book sources, which means that Needle ‘n Thread receives a small commission for purchases made through those links at no additional cost to you. Every little bit counts! Thanks for helping support Needle ‘n Thread by shopping through my links when buying books online!


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(6) Comments

  1. Dear Mary

    I do like William Morris designs and these look lovely and I’m sure they would look beautiful as embroidered designs and as you say a wonderful idea for ideas on creating embroidery pieces. Thanks for sharing the William Morris designs with us and for the photos they are lovely. I hope you have a great weekend and get some time for stitching.

    Regards Anita Simmance

    1. Nice!! Cute side table – wouldn’t that be fun? My space is currently being decked out via Craigslist, so I suspect that I’m not going to come across that particular table. šŸ™‚ But what a great idea!

  2. Well, you had me at “William Morris Lovers”! Thank you for sharing the features in the coloring book (I even like the type font used). Knowing the color plates are there, too, is what convinced me that I wanted to get it (already ordered it; I went to your list at Amazon and ordered it from there). It’s funny, but while I have William Morris needlepoint books and many B&W books with full plates in them, I’ve never pulled out motifs to use for embroidery–and there are so many!! I’m immersed in WM right now; in the midst of two quilts made from WM fabric (one is a baby quilt that includes embroidery motifs featuring Beatrix Potter characters). Thanks again for the review, Mary. Hope everyone has a nice Memorial Day weekend, filled with quiet moments of stitching.

  3. The book looks lovely and I have ordered it! I completed the Hummingbirds, thanks to you Mary, so I am looking forward to seeing what I can stitch in the William Morris colouring book.

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