Sunday, March 10, 2019

Weekend Review: The Readers Digest Complete Book of Embroidery

Reader's Digest Complete Book of Embroidery / Melinda Coss
Pleasantville, NY: Reader's Digest, c1996.
192 p.

And on the topic of embroidery 'encyclopedias', here's another collection of stitches for your library. I love this book despite its being a little older because it really goes into a lot of stitches (100+), and has clear and thorough illustrations, and lots of projects and motifs (75!) to trace off and make. You can get a look at the contents in this amazon preview, just click the 'look inside' button.

My favourite thing about it, though, is the stitch samplers it gives patterns for, to practice your families of stitches. Each family (Straight Stitch, Satin Stitch, Cross Stitch, Knotted Stitch, Looped Stitch and Laced Stitch) has a little garden parterre designed to let you practice and sample each stitch. They are all so pretty, and practical, and they haven't dated at all, being very classical. I really want to make them all as my stitch sampler.

There are over 100 stitches shown clearly, with projects for each, followed by some specialty techniques like goldwork & ribbon embroidery, though these last one are relatively small sections. There are a couple of projects there as well. And throughout the book there are traceable motifs for you to make your own projects and designs if you wish.

It also has a section at the end that I haven't seen in many other of these 'complete guide' books -- a set of monograms, both patterns and suggested technique for success. I can see the usefulness of these for many projects! It ends up with some tips for finishing your work, and a large thread conversion chart between DMC & Anchor cotton & wool threads.

It's very clearly laid out and explained well by the author, who designed her own needlecrafts and wrote many books on this topic. I feel like anyone could learn by starting with this book. The focus is on the stitches available to any surface embroiderer -- with applications for other styles of needlework, but of great use to the person who is most interested (like I am) in surface and/or freestyle embroidery.

I've used this book quite often, and would recommend it to anyone interested in needle and thread. While it's not attached to a trendy style or name, it's a classic for a reason. Really practical and complete.

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