Mary Corbet

writer and founder


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

Contact Mary

Connect with Mary



2024 (39) 2023 (125) 2022 (136) 2021 (130) 2020 (132) 2019 (147) 2018 (146) 2017 (169) 2016 (147) 2015 (246) 2014 (294) 2013 (294) 2012 (305) 2011 (306) 2010 (316) 2009 (367) 2008 (352) 2007 (225) 2006 (139)

Pet Portrait Embroidery – a Fabulous Book!


Amazon Books

When it comes to embroidery books, there’s nothing better than a systematic, logically-presented instructional book on a niche subject.

If you want to get into the nitty-gritty of a particular type or style of embroidery, or a particular subject for embroidery, you’re really lucky when you can find a book on specifically what you want to stitch.

Pet Portrait Embroidery by Michelle Staub is just such a book. It’s a niche subject matter – not embroidery in general, but specifically the embroidery of dogs and cats. It is a meticulous instructional book laid out in a logical and systematic way. It’s a fabulous book for those who have ever wanted to capture their pets in needle and thread – or anyone who wants to learn to stitch realistic animals.

I thought I’d show to book to you up close. It’s hard not to love it, if you love animals!

Pet Portrait Embroidery by Michelle Staub

Pet Portrait Embroidery falls into the category of instructional book, coupled with projects.

I really admire the thoroughness of this book, and I’ll show you what I mean as we peruse it.

Pet Portrait Embroidery by Michelle Staub

The book focuses on two types of pet portraits: the realistic needlepainted (thread painted) portrait like the one you see above, as well as simpler outline portraits.

The book is divided into those two approaches, but more content is spent on thread painting, because it is more labor intensive and takes a bit more instruction.

Both approaches – line portraits and full-out detailed thread painted portraits – have their merits and both are really well done in this book.

So if you feel you’re not quite ready for a fully detailed, thread painted portrait of your pet, never fear! There’s the option for outlined portraits as well.

Pet Portrait Embroidery by Michelle Staub

For the cat lovers out there, I need to apologize ahead of time. For some reason, as I was going through the book, I caught way more dog portraits than cat portraits with my camera. There’s an equal balance of both in the book.

The book is divided into the preliminary content, which covers how to use the book, supplies, and foundation information for these types of projects.

Pet Portrait Embroidery by Michelle Staub

The author offers advice on what makes a good reference photo, how to take a good reference photo, and what to look for when selecting a good reference photo.

Pet Portrait Embroidery by Michelle Staub

She presents instruction on stitches that are used in embroidering pet portraits, as well as instructions on transferring designs and so forth.

Pet Portrait Embroidery by Michelle Staub

She discusses what to pick out in the photo to turn into a design, and shows the reader how to do that.

Pet Portrait Embroidery by Michelle Staub

In the section on outlined portraits, these projects are not presented step by step, because they are the result of applying the basics she covers in the first part of the book.

Pet Portrait Embroidery by Michelle Staub

With the outline portraits, you’ll see completed line portraits (with detail photos) of different types of pets, some of which are categorized by type: so, the short haired cat, the long haired cat, the tabby cat. You’ll also see some examples of breeds: lab, Yorkie, poodle, and more.

Along the way, Michelle offers tips on stitching these types of line portraits, including tips on noticing differences between animals, their expressions, their fur characteristics, and so forth.

Pet Portrait Embroidery by Michelle Staub

Then, she moves into the detailed portraits, starting with exercises in thread painting.

Pet Portrait Embroidery by Michelle Staub

This is such a fantastic area of instruction in the book! There’s a lot of detail here to learn from.

Pet Portrait Embroidery by Michelle Staub

You’ll find out how to create a pattern for this type of detailed thread painting.

Pet Portrait Embroidery by Michelle Staub

You’ll learn about stitching direction and following the natural growth of the fur.

Pet Portrait Embroidery by Michelle Staub

And then, you’ll find extensive instruction on capturing the different facial elements and physical characteristics of the animals.

This part of the book is broken down into exercises that you can work individually, so that you can really learn the nuances of the parts that make up the whole portrait.

Pet Portrait Embroidery by Michelle Staub

You’ll learn how to stitch noses – and different types and angles of noses.

You’ll learn how to stitch eyes, and different shapes of eyes.

She covers the portrait parts of both cats and dogs here, in wonderful detail. And she even provides patterns in the back of the book of just these elements, separated from the portraits, so that you can practice eyes and noses and ears and mouths and tongues and teeth!

I love the logical approach to learning here. Small parts make the whole.

This way, if you work through these practice elements, when you finally embrace the challenge of stitching your own pet portrait, you’re ready.

Pet Portrait Embroidery by Michelle Staub

The whole book, by the way, features wonderful photography of Michelle’s work, too – you can really see the details. I always appreciate that in an instructional book!

Pet Portrait Embroidery by Michelle Staub

Then, in what is the bulk of the book, Michelle takes us step-by-step through the detailed portraits of a dozen pets. Some are distinguished by breed and some simply by general type. All have names, as most pets do.

So we get to see Balto the black lab come to life…

Pet Portrait Embroidery by Michelle Staub

…as well as River, the dalmatian…

Pet Portrait Embroidery by Michelle Staub

…and Cookie, the Siamese.

Each portrait is accompanied by step-by-step photos of the stitching process, with tips along the way. There’s also a DMC color key for each portrait.

In addition to the animals above, you’ll find a white cat, a pug, a British shorthair cat, an orange cat, a golden retriever, a corgi, a tabby cat, a Maltese mix, and a poodle mix.

Pet Portrait Embroidery by Michelle Staub

There are patterns at the back of the book for all of the portraits, too, so you might even be able to skip the photo conversion process and just tweak the designs there, if you have the same type of breed or look to your own pet. These are perfect for practicing on.

In a Nutshell

This is the most thorough pet embroidery book out there, and it’s really good! Whether you want to embroider your own pet’s portrait or you’re interested in learning how to embroider animals in general, it’s a great place to start. From here, the animal world is at your stitching doorstep.

I love it! I don’t see any cons. Sure, it would be nice to see more breeds, but there’s always limitations when publishing a book.

Pet Portrait Embroidery by Michelle Staub

In fact, I was really hoping to see Mishka in there. But, given the fact that he’s an English mastiff and not prone to picture posing… (eye roll). But oh…that forehead!

If you’ve not met Mishka, he’s my sister’s family’s dog, but trust me – he’s enough dog for the entire extended family, too.

He’s a lovable lug, and I often feature him in my feed on Facebook.

Come on! What’s not to love about that forehead?!

Anyway… I digress.

Where to Find It

If you’re in the States, you can find Pet Portrait Embroidery available here on my Amazon Recommendations List, under books.

Worldwide with free shipping to most places, you can find it at Book Depository, here.

This article contains affiliate links to book sources, which means that Needle ‘n Thread receives a small commission on purchases made through those links at no extra expense to you. Thanks!


Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


(8) Comments

  1. Thanks Mary! Looks like a fabulous book. Is there something like this book that deals with birds? Many have pet birds and I’m sure they would be interested. I deal with Birds of Prey (Raptors) and I certainly could used a descriptive book like this. I can adapt any book instructions to fit Raptors vs pet birds, but it’s the directions of feathers, and makeing them lifelike that I can’t find.

  2. Oooo! I’m so very impressed to see this niche featured! Best of all, that Ms Staub smartly features a section on photographing the pet. I’ve done several dog (and chicken and rooster) commissioned needlepoints over the years and issues usually arise if I’m not able to do snapshots myself. It’s important to get on the dogs eye level – sometimes you just have to get dirty on the ground to create a good piece of artwork! Gratified to see this book.

  3. This looks like a very interesting book. Yes, it might be disappointing to some that more breeds are not included, but I’d think that it’s more important to cover the variations – smooth fur, curly fur, floofy poofy fur, wrinkles, no wrinkles, one color, multi colors and spots, and getting from photo to pattern. It might take a bit more work combining what’s needed for a particular pet, but it can be done.

    I wonder if the information would be useable for other animals like birds. The eye information would probably carry across all animals, the nose information could be tweaked for animals like snakes or bird legs, the fur tweaked for feathers, etc.?

    for Kathi – Helen Stevens has a book Embroidered Birds, and Trish Burr has a couple of books that I’m pretty sure have birds. I can’t reach my books to verify if they are realistic embroideries, but they might be worth checking out.

More Comments