I recently attended a trade show for crafters and was blown away by one of the book stands. It had shelf upon shelf of stitching books covering all things textile related- felt making, knitting, crochet, embroidery, applique, machine embroidery and general stitching projects. I spent most of my time sitting on the floor with my head in a book in awe. There are so many books out there now but how often do you get to see them all in one place, up close and personal?? Yes, I bought some. Of course. But how nice to see before you buy. Often I buy a book online without really knowing the contents, only for it to arrive with very little of actual interest. We all do that don’t we?

So I thought I would just share with you, fellow stitcher, some of the books that I love, with a focus on machine embroidery.



Poppy Treffry- Free and Easy Stitch Style

This is the first machine embroidery book that I bought. I walked into Poppy’s tiny but perfectly formed shop in St Ives and I was hooked. Quirky, simple, bright and stylised items for the home filled every corner of the room. A joy to behold. This  book is great for beginners. It explains everything you need to know in a simple and fun way. The projects in the book are easy to follow with step by step photographs to help. There is a comprehensive  troubleshooting section which is also useful. Projects include making greeting cards, covering books, making pictures, egg cosies, coffee cosy, an apron, doorstop, cushions and quirky curtains. A lovely book to dip in and out of and to brighten up your day.


Wendy Dolan- layer, Paint and Stitch

For someone who has been stitching for a while, this is a scrumptious book of delights. Wendy begins by explaining all about the basics first- threads, fabrics, hoops, etc then goes onto give you some tasks to get you going. Enticing photos which are self explanatory. She also gives tips on combining paint with stitch, again with some accompanying tasks. She delves into the world of mark making, stencils and stamps and ways of transferring. There are four designs projects- Flowers, Architecture, landscapes and 3D Inspiration.All include paint and layered backgrounds with stitching on top. Beautifully photographed, these projects would be for the more experienced machinist who want to dabble with a bit of paint. You could spend quite a while on working on each project – well worth the stunning results though. I have been on one of Wendys workshops and would definitely recommend them. She delivers in a pacy way and is very generous in sharing her experience and knowledge.


Abigail Mill- Applique Art- Freehand Machine Embroidered Pictures

I love this book, purely for it’s prettiness. Abigail creates the most beautiful and delicate applique works of art. She begins by describing the materials she uses- organza for the backgrounds, then patterned poplins for the applique shapes with bits of lace for clouds and buttons to embellish. Her inspiration comes mostly from the English countryside with gardens, cottages and cups of tea added in. She shows stage by stage how she builds up a picture from the beginning with easy to follow photographs and simple instructions. Templates are at the back of the book to make your life easier. If you want to copy her projects exactly, then there are many to choose from. But just looking at how the layers build up and foliage is created should be inspiration enough for you to create your own designs. This book is not really for someone looking to learn the basics of machine embroidery- more for the keen stitcher who is looking for new projects. Any page will give you ideas and just lovely to look at!


Katie Essam- Layered and Stitched Pictures

I couldn’t wait for this book to arrive and had been an admirer of Katie’s work for a while. I wasn’t disappointed. She covers the basics- threads, materials, sewing machines, and embroidery feet, then gives a full explanation of “how to” machine embroider, with a couple of fun exercises to get you going.  Katies method of pattern transfer is to  draw the design onto pattern paper which is then pinned to the background fabric. Then she stitches over the lines then tears most of the paper away- deliberately choosing to  leave some areas of paper within a stitched boundary. There are several projects to follow stage by stage- a beach scene, a hare, a bird, a hen, cat and a house. The instructions are very detailed and have to be as the projects are not for the faint hearted. If you’re an experienced stitcher and want a project you can get your teeth into, you may well enjoy this book. The final results are delightful.


Harriet Riddell- In Stitch You- India

This book makes me smile everytime I open it. Harriet  travels extensively with her battery operated sewing machine, producing observational drawings in stitch of everyday life and people. She chats to people as she works and enjoys an audience while she stitches, calling herself a performance textile artist. As she gets to know the sitters, scraps of conversation are sewn into the piece. This particular book documents her travels around India. Utterly delightful drawings and sketches fill every page. She stitches on the trains, the Taj Mahal, a fashion show, Jaipur, Udaipur and she even stitches at the top of the Himalayas! A feast on the eyes and a truly original approach to free hand machine embroidery- not a template in sight.  There are no projects to follow in this book and Harriet does not show you how to stitch.  But if you’re wanting to find fresh approaches, this is a pleasure to read. Harriet is a true artist indeed.