Book Review

Here’s another review of a book I have in my fiber art library. The book is called Freestyle Machine Embroidery by Carol Shinn. (I can’t seem to copy the photo from Amazon so you’ll need to follow the link to see the book.) This book is about machine embroidery and is a combination of specific step by step photos as well as wonderful selections from artists around the world doing free motion machine embroidery.

The piece above is a machine stitched fabric page of an old castle ruin that I did using Carol Shinn’s method of machine embroidery. The book is very informative and has beautiful photos of Carol’s work and work of other artists. The chapters are:

  1. Understanding the Process of Machine Embroidery – This chapter covers all the basics including what “freestyle” means, supplies needed, adjusting thread tension, stitch direction and distortion, caring for your machine and trouble shooting.
  2. Color Mixing – The second chapter includes several different exercises to help you learn about mixing colors with thread including layering thread colors, understanding gradation, and planning and stitching a complete design. Carol shows a variety of samples that really illustrate color mixing well.
  3. My Process for Making an Embroidery – Chapter three shows a step by step process with lots of photos of how Carol stitches her pieces. There is an excellent troubleshooting section at the end that teaches you how to correct any possible errors.
  4. Adding Variety – The fourth chapter reviews all the different types of stitches that can change the look of a machine embroidered piece. Again, there are many close up photos to show the different variations. Carol also talks about combining hand and machine stitching, attaching decorative elements, edge considerations, dissolvable films and fabrics and using different background surfaces. There is also a small section about painting the surface and mixed media techniques.
  5. Freestyle Machine Embroidery as an Artistic Medium – The last chapter is a gallery of other artist’s work and brief description of their working methods. It is amazing the variety of work that can be done on the sewing machine and each has their own style. If you’re interested in machine embroidery, this chapter is very inspiring.
The last part of the book has further information in different appendices including your work space and equipment, basic color information, three ways to re-proportion artwork for embroidery and distortion. I really enjoyed this book and experimented with several pieces using her method. I think the book was the most helpful to me in what I learned about distortion and how to control it when adding dense layers of thread.

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10 Responses to Book Review

  1. Lyn says:

    Your ruin is wonderful Ruth!
    I agree that Carol is a wonderful artist – some of her embroideries are staggering.

  2. ruthlane says:

    Thanks Lyn – I would really love to see one of her pieces up close.

  3. koffipot says:

    Yes, super ruin! Very atmospheric!

  4. Allison Green says:

    Wow, thanks for sharing! Going to have to track this one down.

  5. zedster66 says:

    Your castle ruin is great, Ruth! It sounds like a really useful book :)

  6. Sounds like a great book. Your wonderful ruin picture looks like part of your book project is it?

  7. ruthlane says:

    Yes Ann, it was for a book page and was sent off to someone else.

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