Good morning, and welcome to the first embroidery book review of 2021!
I have an ever-growing stack of needlework books on my book table at the moment – some fabulous bookish treasures have appeared in the past year! – but I really wanted to highlight Sharon Boggon’s Creative Stitches for Contemporary Embroidery right away for several reasons, not least of which is that Sharon’s was the first embroidery website that I ever found and followed (way back when it was called “In a Minute Ago”), before craft blogging was big. She’s been online for a long time, and of all the contemporary embroiderers out there, she is one of the most thorough and creative when it comes to manipulating the stitch.
Sharon heads an initiative every year called TAST (Take a Stitch Tuesday) in which she presents a stitch every Tuesday, highlighting variations, and encourages the participants to explore the stitch thoroughly, experimenting with combinations, variations, threads, colors, embellishments – all the aspects that can bring a different look and life to the stitch.
Predominantly, Sharon is a crazy quilter. But her embroidery goes beyond crazy quilting. She creates fascinating embroidered works of texture, color, and combinations, all hinging on getting the most out of each type of stitch she uses.
Creative Stitches in a Contemporary Embroidery is the natural outcome of Sharon’s explorations in stitch. It’s a book for embroiderers who love embroidery stitches of all kinds, from simple to elaborate, and who find fascination in the creative ways they can be employed.
Creative Stitches for Contemporary Embroidery explores several basic embroidery stitches in all kinds of variations.
For the crazy quilter, this is the type of book that will give you a plethora of ideas for seam treatments and the like. Think of it as a source book for embellishment ideas.
But if you are not a crazy quilter, the book is still for you!
It’s a book that will give you confidence in exploratory embroidery. It will show you how to manipulate embroidery stitches for myriad results, in ways that can be applied in all kinds of creative pursuits. It will make you comfortable with the stitch, and show you how you can take it beyond basics, to a completely different level of interest and execution.
Keep in mind this is not a project book. Think of it more as a stitch dictionary on steroids.
The book begins with a pictorial table of contents.
I like it when I can look up a stitch by the look of the stitch. There are a few stitch dictionaries out there that do this, and I think it’s a great way to present the contents. This pictorial table of contents is in alphabetical order.
We then move into tools and materials. Unlike more “formal” types of embroidery, the tools and materials here are very simple: fabric, needles, a hoop, some transfer pens or pencils… and lots and lots and lots and lots of thread in different colors, types, and weights.
The next section focuses on giving stitches a modern twist.
In this part of the book, Sharon talks about “finding the play points” in the process of stitching – those moments when “a creative decision turns a mundane stitch into a lively and interesting surface.”
And that’s just it, isn’t it? That’s what makes exploring a stitch fun – that moment when you digress from the ordinary and turn the stitch into something to play with. It’s here that you’ll learn how to move fearlessly from the basics of the stitch into more inventive territory.
Then, the book moves into the meat of the matter – the explorations of the stitches.
If you were to break the book down into basic stitches, there are probably about thirty overall that could be considered different stitches from each other. These stitches are explored in depth, with all kinds of variations so that you have a good idea about what you can do with the stitch and where else you can take it.
Sharon presents the stitches through clear photos and explanations, making it easy to grasp the basics of the stitch and to move into interpreting the stitch in different ways. Once you get the hang of Sharon’s approach to manipulating and interpreting the stitches, you quickly realize that, really, you’re only limited by your own imagination when it comes to bringing new life to any embroidery stitch.
Interpretations are inexhaustible. Add a different thread weight, different fibers, different colors, twist the stitch in a different direction, add another element to the stitch – there’s so much you can do with one simple stitch, to achieve innumerable varied results.
You’ll quickly discover that embroidery stitches can be a fantastic source of creative entertainment!
There are 120 interpreted stitches in the book, overall – all of which can serve as a springboard for your own experiments.
It’s a good, solid book on stitch interpretation – both inspiring and instructive, when it comes to making one comfortable and confident playing with stitches.
If you are working through any yearly stitch challenge – whether it’s Sharon’s TAST, any of the Year in Stitches initiatives, or your own Stitch Fun 2021 sampler – I think this book would be a really good companion! Keep it on your work table, and if the Muses aren’t stirring by themselves, you can prod them into gear by browsing through the pages of this book!
Where to Find It
If you’re in the US, Creative Stitches is available through Amazon, and you’ll find it listed here on my Amazon Recommendations page, under Browse My Amazon Recommendations. It’s in the first spot there, easy to find!
Worldwide, you can find Creative Stitches here through Book Depository.
This article contains affiliate links to book sources, which means Needle ‘n Thread receives a small commission for purchases made through those links. Every tiny bit counts! Thanks!