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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Stunning Stitches for Crazy Quilts – Book Review


Amazon Books

Quite a while ago, Kathy Shaw asked me if I would be interested in seeing her new book, Stunning Stitches for Crazy Quilts, when it was published. And of course, I said yes!

For those of you who have been hanging out with me on Needle ‘n Thread for a while, you already know I’m a bit of a book fanatic. I love books, and I really love needlework books.

When it comes to the pleasure of just browsing a book, I really enjoy books that are visually exciting. I’ve noticed that most books on crazy quilting have that element of visual excitement.

Stunning Stitches is one of those visually exciting books, but it is much, much more. It’s a practical guide to traditional crazy quilting, presented in a very organized, accessible way for beginners and beyond. Let’s look at it…

Stunning Stitches for Crazy Quilts

Stunning Stitches for Crazy Quilts does exactly what the cover promises – it presents the stitcher with 480 (!) variations of embroidered crazy quilt seams, along with 36 templates to help you with the perfect placement of the stitches along the seams.

This is not a “how to crazy quilt” book – rather, it is a practical guide to creating a whole slew of different seams embellishments.

Stunning Stitches for Crazy Quilts

The book is comprised of four parts: an introduction that covers some basic stitching information and supplies used for seam embellishing, a section on templates and how to create and use them, a stitch dictionary covering all the simple stitches used to build seam embellishments, and a vast gallery of embellished seams with diagram layouts for building each of those seams.

The book is organized and direct. It’s easy to grasp the guiding concept behind Kathy’s method of building embellished seams for crazy quilting. It provides practically an infinite resource for seam embellishing, by combining and mixing and matching the different layouts, elements, and stitches offered in the book.

If you’re a crazy quilter who’s always looking for seam ideas, or if you’re an aspiring crazy quilter who isn’t sure where to start with building decorative seams, the book will provide you with all kinds of ideas and inspiration, based on some very simple concepts.

Stunning Stitches for Crazy Quilts

Right at the beginning of the book, we are introduced to the idea of building an embellished seam by starting with a base structure and adding layers of decorative elements.

Stunning Stitches for Crazy Quilts

The author presents some embroidery basics, so that the newcomer to crazy quilting can start with foundational knowledge and move forward pretty quickly into the really fun part of embellishing seams.

Stunning Stitches for Crazy Quilts

There’s a nice section on supplies, covering threads, ribbons, beads, charms, other embellishments, along with the practical tools of stitching, too.

Stunning Stitches for Crazy Quilts

Then we jump into the section about making and using templates to help the stitcher with spacing and placement on the seam foundations.

This is a terrific concept! Many beginning stitchers really struggle with consistent spacing when they start embroidering. Spacing stitches with consistency is a skill which can be hard to master and quite daunting if you’re going into crazy quilting for the first time. The templates wipe all fear concerning stitch spacing away.

Stunning Stitches for Crazy Quilts

I got to looking at the template designs in the book, and I realized that they aren’t necessarily just for crazy quilting, either.

Stunning Stitches for Crazy Quilts

If you like the idea of making up stitch samplers featuring lines and layers of surface embroidery stitches, for example – or maybe you like the idea of embroidering on paper, because they’d work for that, too – you could use these templates for those pursuits and others. They’re versatile!

I had all kinds of ideas rumbling around in my head when I saw them!

Stunning Stitches for Crazy Quilts

Following the section on templates, we move into the embroidery stitches. Here, through very clear diagrams, we learn the simple stitches used to build the more complex seams.

Stunning Stitches for Crazy Quilts

While there are only six stitch families used for the foundation seams, Kathy shows us how to use those six stitches in all kinds of ways to vary their look.

We also learn several isolated stitches for working the embellishments on the foundation seams.

All in all, the stitches are very simple and accessible for any level of embroiderer. There’s enough variety here to keep the embroidery exciting, without being overwhelming. I think the idea is good: you don’t have to know a vast repertoire of complicated stitches to build beautiful crazy quilt seams.

Stunning Stitches for Crazy Quilts

Then, we move into the Gallery. Oh, the gallery!

Here’s where you’ll find page upon page of colorful examples of embellished seams.

Stunning Stitches for Crazy Quilts

The seams are all arranged by stitch family, so that you can see how one foundational seam type can blossom into innumerable layered and decorated bands of embroidery.

Stunning Stitches for Crazy Quilts

Then, we move to the diagrams of those 480 decorative seams…

Stunning Stitches for Crazy Quilts

This section of diagrams gives the embroiderer the layout for each seam, so that we can easily and clearly see the layers used to build each embellished band.

Again, these are logically arranged by stitch family, based on the foundation stitches used on the seam.

And while 480 sounds like a huge number, it’s only the beginning. Once you start practicing this kind of layering of stitches, you can mix things up and keep going ad infinitum! You’re only limited by your imagination – and of course, by your good taste and sense of order!

Stunning Stitches for Crazy Quilts

I really appreciate the logical arrangement of this book, from the overall layout of the book to the orderly layout within each section.

The logical layout makes the concepts presented in the book easy to grasp and really accessible.

Stunning Stitches for Crazy Quilts

Is the book just for crazy quilters?

It’s certainly aimed at the crazy quilter, but I can see all kinds of uses for the concepts and design ideas in the book.

Sure, seam embellishment is a Crazy-Quilting Thing, but for anyone interested in general surface embroidery, it’s a wonderful thing to have a nice repertoire of decorative band stitching, and this book provides just that!

And of course, if you love stitch combinations, color, texture, and just fun explorations with your needle and thread, then the book is for you, too!

Where to Find It

In the US, You can find Stunning Stitches for Crazy Quilts available now through Amazon.

You’ll find it listed here on my Amazon Recommendations page. I’ve rearranged that page into two idea lists – one features embroidery tools & accessories and the other, my book recommendations. This will be under my book recommendations list.

And here’s a direct link to the book on Amazon.

Worldwide with free shipping, you can find it available here on Book Depository.

This article contains affiliate links to book sources, which means that Needle ‘n Thread receives a small commission for each purchase made through those links, at no extra expense to you. Every little bit helps keep things going, so thank you for using my affiliate links!


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(16) Comments

  1. What a wonderful book, it looks great. Love it, thank you for letting us know about it.
    Have a great day!

  2. Dear Mary

    Stunning Stitches for Crazy Quilts looks a very good instructional useful book for quilters. There seems to be so much in it, I especially like the templates for stitches that helps to space them as you sew, great idea. I’m not a quilter but the book would be great for those who are interested in quilting as it offers so much, perhaps I should try quilting. Thanks for reviewing and sharing Stunning Stitches with us and for the links on where to purchase the book.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  3. Hello Miss Corbet,
    Thank you for the wonderfully thorough review.
    I’ve never tried crazy quilting, it always seemed quite daunting with it being so elaborate. However, the idea of using templates is brilliant and makes it seem much more doable, it’s something I never would have thought of!
    This might be just the thing to make me give it a go, although I’d most likely go for “slightly mad” quilting rather than full-blown crazy 😉

  4. Oh yum! what a great review of what sounds like a delicious book…headed immediately over to Amazon to order it. Thank you!

  5. Thank you for such a comprehensive review of this book. I found it most useful and I will be buying a copy when it comes out here.

  6. Looks like a great book. I’m loving all the new combinations, threads, etc that are coming out. I especially love the Sue Spargo line of threads to give pizazz and bling to our stitching. This looks like a lot of exciting combinations to experiment with and try in different threads.

  7. Wow…another book to add to my collection…yummie! It looks great! Thanks for sharing this temptation!

  8. This looks like a terrific book! Thanks for the review. I don’t know how the Amazon affiliate links work if you use them to put something on a Wish List, but perhaps you will see 🙂 I love books, most likely as well as you do, and even though I don’t do crazy quilting, that book looks like a box of candy to enjoy. I do wish someone would come out with the same type thing for our sewing machines with 100’s of stitches, that I am never quite sure how to stack them to give the crazy quilting effect or any kind of really pretty effect.

    I picked up a bunch of craft books at the thrift store yesterday and one was on using embroidery stitches in knitting. I don’t knit, but certainly very interesting to look at. They even showed a Fair Isle type sweater that instead of being knitted in, the design was added to a striped sweater with embroidery! Of course, something that can be done with a purchased sweater. If any of your readers are interested it is Beautiful Embroidered and Embellished Knits by Jane Davis.

  9. Do you have the book, “Treasury of Crazyquilt stitches” by Carole Samples? It is the first book I bought when I became interested in embroidery

  10. Les felicito por tan linda publicación, me emocionan los bordados, además soy una mujer mayor y esta; ha venido siendo en mi caso, el emprendimiento hacia una labor dentro de las manualidades, que hasta hace poco estuve realizando a través de toda mi vida, en la que he venido volcando mis sentimientos y emociones.

    Estoy muy interesada ya que soy una bordadora en mi hogar. mi pregunta, el libro viene también en español.? Vivo en Bogotá Colombia. El precio me lo darán en donde?
    Les agradezco de antemano su gentil atención y respuesta a estas inquietudes.

    1. Hi, there! I’m not sure if the book is available in Spanish. You might try googling “crazy quilt books” in Spanish and see if it or any others come up? That would probably help. Thanks!

  11. Je vais me le commander pour Noël ! C’est ce que j’attendais. J’ai 75 ans, j’ai commencé a broder a l’âge de 5 ans et puis j’ai oublié. Ce livre si détaillé va me permettre de replonger dans le rêve et le bonheur de broder. Je suis en train de coudre une courtepointe en héxagones de 5cm. Je cherchais une astuce pour le quilter avec fantaisie. J’ai trouvé. Merci de partager votre savoir. Janine

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