Book Review

I thought it would be fun to go through my library of fiber art books and do a review of some of my favorites. I don’t have any other books by Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn but I have seen some of their other books. I have to say that I would recommend anything written by them. They are a great team and pack a lot of useful information in their books.

If you click on the photo above it will take you to Amazon. I think the book is out of print because the new copies are really pricey but you can buy them used for less. Or look in your local library, maybe you’ll be lucky enough to find this book. I love this book. I refer back to it frequently and have read it cover to cover at least three times.

The book has two sections the first is “Design to Embroider” and the second is “Stitched Images”.  The first section is about how to develop designs on paper and mixed media, where to look to find ideas and exploring those ideas. It is a good start to basic design and how to relate it to embroidery. The photos and examples are wonderful and inspiring. They show their own work as well as work of other artists.

Section two of the book is about taking your designs and making them into an embroidery. There is information about fabric paints and various methods of using them, working with applique’, stitch themes, machine embroidery and selecting a theme. This book is not a step by step instruction book. It does give basic information about how to use various fabric paint products but it doesn’t contain any projects to follow. The book is geared towards getting you to think about your own designs and how to develop backgrounds and then add stitch to make a complex experimental stitch piece.

The book talks a bit about using different stitches but it is not a stitch dictionary and limited directions for individual hand or machine stitches. What it does is give you lots of ideas about how to interpret designs and various approaches to use to achieve the desired effects. Every time I read the book, I find something new to consider. If you only do traditional embroidery from a kit and don’t want to learn how to design, this book isn’t for you. If you’d like to take a more experimental approach and learn how to design your work, you’ll love this book. All the reviews on Amazon are 5 stars!

If you have a favorite fiber art book, I’d love to hear about it. Hop on over to the forum and  tell us about your favorite book.

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8 Responses to Book Review

  1. Lyn says:

    Jan Beaney had a large exhibition area at the Alexandra Palace ‘Knitting and Stitching Show’ a few years ago. I was drawn to it like a moth to a flame – she certainly knows her stuff and her books were selling like hot cakes!

  2. ruthlane says:

    I so want to go to that show – one day :)

  3. Marie says:

    I have this book but never found it very useful or inspiring for my own work, mainly because I dislike using stuff that changes the hand of the fabric, such as bondaweb. I also much prefer hand embroidery over machine techniques. Perhaps I’d spend more time with this book if the typeface wasn’t so flipping tiny! Annoying. Having said that, it’s a very good book.

    Now, ‘Stitch Magic’ by Beaney and Littlejohn, and ‘Exploring Color’ by Julia Caprara are two amazing books that I refer to again and again and again. Another one that gets a lot of love is Gail Harker’s ‘Fairytale Quilts and Embroidery’. Snap that one up if you come across it – there are so many excellent techniques and glorious photos.

    • ruthlane says:

      Marie – I am sorry you do not like this book. It is good to hear what you do like. I am taking a class with Gail Harker for 5 days starting tomorrow.

  4. zedster66 says:

    It sounds like a really useful book, it gets great Amazon reviews. I’m not a fan of art/craft books, they tend to be filled with ‘arty’ shots that show nothing, so it’s good to hear of a really good one. Maybe the Kath Russon Silk Papers one I bought will be a favourite

  5. Sounds like an interesting book. One of the things on my list of things to do is take a machine embroidery class. i enjoy hand stitching. Not sure about about using paint products but it would be interesting to see what they do.

  6. ruthlane says:

    Machine embroidery is fun – you should try a class. Paint doesn’t work well on felt but it is great for cottons.

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