First published in 1934, Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches is a classic resource, instructional book, and stitch guide for embroiderers all over the world.
The book was a trailblazer in its time, and it’s gone through a few editions since then. The contemporary versions of the book are revised by Jan Eaton, with updated stitch diagrams and photos of the embroidery stitches worked on fabric.
Recently, the book has gone out of print, but fortunately for us, it was picked up again by Search Press in the UK and by Trafalgar Square Books in the US, bringing us a new edition of a great classic.
Since the new edition is due to be released at the end of this month, I thought I’d show it to you. If you don’t have a stitch dictionary yet to use as reference at home, this is one that I always recommend, because of its easy-to-navigate layout, easy to read diagrams and instructions, and logical categorization of stitches.
Like most new editions of a book, the cover is a little different, and, I think, very appealing for today’s embroidery aesthetic. In short, it’s pretty!
You can see by the contents that the 400+ stitches in the book are arranged by type.
This is such a helpful layout when you’re looking for specific kinds of stitches.
For example, imagine that you’re working a project and you decide you want to fill an area with a solid filling stitch. You can flip right from the table of contents to “solid filling stitches” and see those stitches in action to decide if any of them will work for what you have in mind.
I was very honored to be asked to write the forward for this new edition, so you’ll find some words by me at the beginning of the book about Mary Thomas, her work, and this new edition.
Before the stitch dictionary part of the book begins, you’ll find information on materials to use for embroidery, and some of the basics that will help anyone new to embroidery get started.
Putting aside all the advances that have been made in publishing and photography since the early 1900’s, the materials used in embroidery is another good reason that necessitates new editions of books like Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches.
While there are many materials used in embroidery today that were also used in the early 1900’s, some materials are no longer available, and, of course, there are many new materials that weren’t available then.
So it makes sense to update these older books with contemporary information!
Each section of the book begins with a colorful title page, introducing the types of stitches in that section.
The stitches are presented in easy-to-follow diagrams and instructional text.
You’ll also find photos of the stitches worked out, so that you can see what they look like when they are stitched.
The book covers over 400 stitches in the following categories:
- Outline Stitches
- Border Stitches
- Composite Band Stitches
- Isolated Stitches
- Open Filling Stitches
- Detached Filling Stitches
- Straight and Slanted Canvas Stitches
- Crossed Canvas Stitches
- Composite Canvas Stitches
- Insertion Stitches
- Cut and Drawn Stitches
- Pulled Fabric Stitches
This 2019 edition of Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches features what I call (and I’m sure it’s not the technical term for it!) a “floppy binding.” That is, the book will lie open on its own. It isn’t a floppy book, but the binding allows it to remain open without any assistance.
This is a nice feature, when you’re stitching from the book!
Where to Find It
If you don’t have Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches on your bookshelf, now’s a good time to put it there! It will surely become one of your favorite reference books!
You’ll find the book available here on my Amazon Recommendations page.
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