Fun Facts about Embroidery with Book Reviews


Disclosure: I was sent copies of these books in exchange for honest reviews. Some of the links shared here will give me a small percentage of any purchase made by you at no cost to you. (Thank you for your support!) All opinions are my own.

I have had some craft books sitting on my review shelf for awhile and need to share them with you. I have been so focused on other things and diamond painting that I have not given much thought to embroidery, so I thought I would share all of the embroidery books with you as well as some fun facts today! Embroidery is the art of decorating fabric with a needle and thread. It has definitely changed over the years (centuries). Let's begin with some fun facts and a bit of history.

Fun Facts About Embroidery:

  1. An archaeological excavation in Sungir, Vladmir in Russia revealed the remains of a Cro-Magnon (believed to have been alive around 30,000 BC) in the year 1964. His hat, fur, and boots were decorated with parallel rows of ivory beads. This shows that this art is older than 30,000 BC!
  2. Primitive instances have been found across the globe from China, Northern Europe, and Egypt. Touches of embroidered crafts have been perceived in surviving works from the Iron Age (1300 BC-600 BC).
  3. In the Middle East embroidery began to represent social status. It was adorned by rich Muslims.
  4. The biggest piece of embroidery work is now at the Bretagne Museum in northern France. It is called Bayeux Tapestry and is 50 cm in height and 70 m in length. It was completed around the 1070s. It depicts the tale of William the Conqueror’s acquisition of Britain in the Battle of Hastings.
  5. The Bayeux tapestry elucidated (1856) (14593537919)
    Bayeux Tapestry (Source)

  6. Cross stitch came about in the 1800s in England.
  7. Josue Heilmann developed the first-hand machine in the year 1828. It did the work of up to four people. It brought the fabric to the needle rather than the needle to the fabric. The designs were six times the size of the original. It took quite a bit of coordination to run the machine. He could only sell 2 units because of fear of it threatening the industry.
  8. Isaac Groebli designed a machine that had a boat shaped shuttle, that contained a bobbin of thread, that created a backing stitch. His son improved it and made it an automatic machine. Many viewers believed that the work from it was done by hand because it was so high quality.
  9. Around 1900 mail order catalogs and paper patterns helped embroidery become more common. This allowed embroidery to be done by other people than the upper class. Cheaper materials were used.
  10. Primarily women embroidered historically. However it is now a past time of some men. Henry Fonda and Gustaf V, King of Sweden both enjoyed this pastime.
  11. In 1911 the Singer Sewing Company created a multi-head sewing machine which revolutionized machine embroidery production.
  12. In the 1980s Wilcom introduced the first computerized embroidery designs. Today’s machines make everything from embroidered designs to lace and cutwork to be created in a fraction of time it would take to do by hand.
  13. There are different classifications of embroidery work. It can be classified by how the design stitched on to the base fabric. These classifications are free or surface embroidery, counted embroidery, and needlepoint or canvas work.
  14. The type of needle used depends on the fabric you are using.
  15. People now embroider on wood.


Now let's look at some books to help you design your embroidery projects. Our first book is Enchanting Embroidery Designs: Whimsical Animal and Plant Motifs to Stitch by MiW Morita.  

From the Publisher:

Enchanting Embroidery Designs invites you to create your own world using bright thread colors and imaginative stitches.

Full of motifs that are both simple and playful, from zany crocodiles, and cuddly cats to big-eared bats and stealthy ravens. This book invites you to be creative with its whimsical designs and step-by-step instructions—whether you use these projects as visible mending techniques or simply to add interest to a piece. The sweet scenes and cute characters are full of life and texture, making them at home on your favorite clothing, home accessories or wall hangings.

The unusual and versatile designs in this book include:
  • Cheery flowers on a broach
  • Pretty pine trees on hanging ornaments
  • A colorful curly sheep
  • Fluffy and stormy clouds
  • Bushy-tailed foxes
  • Moss on stone and microorganisms in Petri dishes
  • And more!
Simple how-tos take you through every recommended stitch, while a section on combining colors will inspire you to try mixing and matching to create something new. There's also a section on turning your stitchery into embellishments you can use, wear and share. Put your imagination and hands to work with the help of this inspiring embroidery book.

From Me:

This book is set up by chapters. In the first chapter the designs are shared and each has a story that goes along with it. The designs are cute and fun and how they are used is creative.

The designs vary from animals to plants and are used as button covers, brooches, clothing decoration and more. I love the moss design on rocks and the petri dishes are really neat. I love that the designs and tutorials are ones that can be played with and not just for decoration. 

The second and third chapters are the ones about tools, stitches and color use. The third chapter literally shows how mixing the threads (strands in one stitch) can change the stitch and it looks at how different stitches will look with strands mixed up. This is the first time I have seen this in a book and love how it gives ideas to create more unique designs. The fourth chapter is the designs. There is a picture to copy to use for your transfer and one with the details of the stiches to use. To transfer the designs you need transfer paper, which is common in sewing and can be bought at most fabric/sewing supply stores.

The fifth chapter gives tutorials on how to make the different projects like the button covers, brooches, ornaments and sachets. There is even a tea cozy and more! This is a fun book and I wish I had it when Hazel was younger and at the Waldorf school. I am sure I would have made some of those moss rocks.

These Micro Micro Microbes in petri dishes are perfect for the scientists or to add some STEM to play. I love the creativity in this book and find the different designs and projects really fun plus I love the stories that go with them!

Our next book is one I was so excited for but I must admit is also the one that has put a stop to my embroidery. The book is Stitch a Masterpiece from C&T Publishing. It has iron-on embroidery designs of famous artwork. I have been so excited to stitch the Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies by Claude Monet. I bought all the threads using the color guide and even ironed the design on to the fabric but then I stopped. I don't want to mess it up after all Monet's water lilies are my favorite pieces of artwork. I have been too afraid to actually start. Oops! Guess I should have started with another one. 

From the Publisher:

Transfer and embroider famous art from around the world!

Over twenty-five embroidery designs from some of the most visually stunning paintings of all time. Celebrated works from van Gogh, Monet, Matisse, Cézanne, and Klimt are now available as iron-on transfers to make stitching their artwork a breeze. Transfer and embroider beautiful paintings ranging from Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night to Klimt’s The Kiss. These will make for your most remarkable projects yet, featuring elegant images of all kinds (and in all sizes, too!).Includes paintings of the most celebrated artists in history: van Gogh, Monet, Klimt, and more
  • Each line drawing comes in multiple sizes with swatches and a color guide to get you stitching
  • Full-color paintings with stitched up inspirations
  • Iron-on will transfer several times

From Me:

I love that the designs are iron-on. I also love that they come in various sizes. My Monet design above is the largest of that design. There are six other sizes of the design. Some are portions of the designs. Some are circular and others are rectangles. I also have the floss to make Under the Wave off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai (pictured above) and was thinking of making one of the smaller ones of it. We recently went to the Monet and Boston: Legacy Illuminated exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and discovered that Monet had Hokusai prints hanging in his own home! How neat is it that I picked those two artists to try my masterpieces with! 

Now besides the various sizes of the masterpieces to iron-on and stitch (or paint) there is a section with each original masterpiece and the colors in it so you can match your floss to the various colors. You can see a sample of this above on the back cover. The only thing I wish they had done is provided the closest DMC floss number for each color, but it doesn't take much to hold the threads up to each and pick for yourself. As you can see from the back cover there are a few samples of the masterpieces stitched. The stitches used are up to the creator. The back cover of the book has instructions for some of the basic stitches. I love the book and will get over my fear of messing up and actually start my work some day soon!! I will share it when I do!

Our final book is Butterfly Stitches: Hand Embroidery & Wool Applique Designs by Catherine Redford. Now I have a love of butterflies. One of my biggest joys this summer has been seeing the monarchs flying around our yard. Our yard is full of milkweed so we attract them. I am also thinking Hazel's birthday party this year will be somewhat butterfly themed. She is turning 13 and I see that is a period of change or metamorphosis, so butterflies are the perfect theme. I may be trying some of these butterflies for her party or for her this year!

From the Publisher:

Beautify with butterflies! Appliqué and embroidery designs for nature lovers

Let your creativity take flight with a rainbow of embroidered butterflies! Internationally recognized teacher Catherine Redford shares her passion for embroidery and embellished wool appliqué. Embroidery, appliqué, or a combination of both? The choice is yours, as you customize 12 designs for 36 unique looks! With delicate details, these winged beauties will inspire you to start your next sampler quilt, pillow, or small project. With an overview of materials, basic stitches, and a robust gallery of ideas, you’ll be ready to unwind and enjoy the soothing practice of hand stitching!
  • Embroider and appliqué butterflies with renowned teacher Catherine Redford
  • Inspiring projects! A gallery of electrifying ideas to ignite your creativity
  • Relax with pretty, portable hand-stitching projects and meditative stitches

From Me:

This book shares twelve butterfly designs (although one looks like a dragonfly). Each design is provided as a embroider design as well as the pattern pieces to applique it (and then embroider decorations on it). The projects shared in the photos are in the book as inspiration. The embroidery designs are meant to be transferred to your fabric by use of a lightbox. You could also use the transfer paper like in Enchanting Embroidery Designs

The first chapter provides instructions for the embroidery. It includes the tools, techniques and instructions for stitches. This book goes into more detail about finishing the stitches and create shapes with stitches such as circles. It also goes into embellishing stitches. It has more stitches than either of the other book. It also gives instructions on finishing your piece so it won't wrinkle and it can be used to decorate something else. 
The second chapter is about the wool applique. It includes information about the fabric and tools, techniques and stitches needed to applique. After this chapter is a gallery filled with samples of projects, some of which have been shared above. 

The final section is the patterns. The patterns include the embroidery design with a completed sample as well as the sample saying which stitch is used where, the pieces for the applique as well as placement for the applique including pictures of a completed design as well as the decorative stitches used on the completed design. This book has so many wonderful possibilities and will let you create your own flying wonders.

So if you are ready to start stitching, I hope you will check out these three books. I know you will not be disappointed with any of them!