The pile of opened hand embroidery books

Best hand embroidery books: For reference, inspiration and skill-building

I want to share a short list of the best hand embroidery books I made for myself and you. This curated list offers resources for hand embroidery reference, inspiration, and education.

You might wonder why I did not add online courses, video tutorials, and other digital resources to the list. These are great sources of learning and education, but sometimes, the most simple solution is the best one.

Pile of opened hand embroidery books
Some of the hand embroidery books I use for reference

Learning hand embroidery from a book has distinct advantages over online resources. Firstly, books provide a structured and comprehensive learning experience, meticulously organized from basic to advanced techniques, enabling a smoother and more systematic skill development. Unlike the fleeting nature of online content, a book is a tangible resource that offers the convenience of referencing and revisiting instructions or patterns anytime, without the distraction of ads or the need for an internet connection. Furthermore, many books are crafted by experts who have invested significant effort to ensure the content’s accuracy, clarity, and quality, offering learners a more profound and enriching educational experience. Crafters can immerse themselves in learning, away from the screen, in the quiet, focused environment that books encourage, fostering a more intimate and meditative crafting experience.

Now, after I explained why I prefer books over digital resources, let’s move to the list of the best hand embroidery books.

Disclaimer: To cover the cost of creating free embroidery patterns and video tutorials for this blog, I do sometimes link to products. Please assume these links are affiliate links. If you choose to buy through my links then THANK YOU – it will make it possible for me to keep doing this.

Best hand embroidery books

The Embroidery Stitch Bible

The Embroidery Stitch Bible

Book by Betty Barnden. This book is considered one of the best hand embroidery books because it is an exhaustive reference for over 200 stitches. Each stitch has clear illustrations and instructions, making it easy for embroiderers of all skill levels to follow. The book covers various techniques, from basic stitches to more complex ones, making it a valuable resource for expanding your embroidery skills. Additionally, it has a spiral-bound format option that allows it to lay flat while you work, which is a practical feature for crafters.

Embroidery: A Step-by-Step Guide to More than 200 Stitches

Embroidery_A Step-by-Step Guide to More than 200 Stitches

Book by Lucinda Ganderton. This book is highly recommended because it offers precise, easy-to-understand instructions and detailed photographs. It’s structured to help beginners start from scratch while providing advanced embroiderers with challenging stitches and techniques. The guide covers essential tools and materials, making it a comprehensive resource for anyone interested in embroidery.

The Royal School of Needlework Book of Embroidery: A Guide To Essential Stitches, Techniques And Projects

The Royal School of Needlework Book of Embroidery

This book is one of the best due to its authoritative source and comprehensive coverage. It compiles years of knowledge and teaching expertise from the Royal School of Needlework. The book offers detailed instructions, history, and practical applications of various embroidery techniques. It is filled with inspirational projects and high-quality photographs, making it both an instructional manual and a piece of art. I especially like that this book covers eight hand embroidery techniques in detail: crewelwork, bead embroidery, stumpwork, canvaswork, goldwork, whitework, blackwork, and silk shading.

Doodle Stitching: Fresh & Fun Embroidery for Beginners

Doodle Stitching: Fresh & Fun Embroidery for Beginners

Book by Aimee Ray. This book stands out for its modern and whimsical designs, which appeal to beginners and young embroiderers. It breaks away from traditional patterns and offers fun, contemporary designs that are simple to execute. Aimee Ray’s clear instructions and tips make it easy to start creating beautiful pieces right away, making it one of the best books for those new to embroidery or looking for refreshing projects.

Sublime Stitching: Hundreds of Hip Embroidery Patterns and How-To

Sublime Stitching - Hundreds of Hip Embroidery Patterns and How-To

Book by Jenny Hart. Jenny Hart brings a fresh and modern perspective to embroidery, appealing to a new generation of crafters. The book includes a wide variety of trendy designs and ideas that push the boundaries of traditional embroidery. It also covers basic techniques and stitches, making it suitable for beginners and inspiring more advanced embroiderers to experiment with their style.

Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches

Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches

First published in 1934, this classic reference book is cherished for its comprehensive coverage of traditional embroidery stitches. It is an essential resource for both novice and experienced embroiderers. The book’s detailed illustrations and instructions provide a solid foundation in embroidery techniques. At the same time, its historical context enriches the crafting experience by connecting readers with the tradition of the art.

The Geometry of Hand-Sewing: A Romance in Stitches and Embroidery from Alabama Chanin and The School of Making

The Geometry of Hand-Sewing: A Romance in Stitches and Embroidery from Alabama Chanin and The School of Making

Book by Natalie Chanin. During the pandemic, I fell in love with the Alabama Chanin brand and their style of embroidery when I followed an online course by The School of Making.

This book offers a unique approach by linking embroidery stitches with geometric shapes, appealing to crafters interested in design and technique. Natalie Chanin presents a methodical approach to stitching that promotes mindfulness and creativity. The book is beautifully illustrated and provides patterns that can be applied to various projects. It is a valuable and inspirational resource for embroiderers looking to explore new dimensions in their work.

How to Embroider Almost Everything: A Sourcebook of 500+ Modern Motifs + Easy Stitch Tutorials – Learn to Draw with Thread!

How to Embroider Almost Everything

Book by Wendi Gratz. It is an inspiring, fun, and sophisticated collection of 500+ stitch motifs that offer a fresh new take on embroidery. Inside this book, you will find a detailed checklist of everything you’ll need to start embroidering: threads, needles, fabric, and more. Also, there are step-by-step tutorials for essential stitches and other techniques for creating the motifs, answers to common questions, and invaluable tips and tricks.

Wardrobe Embroidery: Knit & Embroidery Projects for Upcycling Clothes

Wardrobe Embroidery: Knit & Embroidery Projects for Upcycling Clothes

Book by Warunee Bolstad. My list of the best embroidery books would not be complete if I did not include an embroidery book about mending. This book will inspire you to reduce your consumption of fast fashion and build a unique and upcycled wardrobe with one-of-a-kind garments! Warunee presents a collection of charming embroidery patterns, ranging from beginner-friendly hearts and daisies to intricate floral arrangements. Use these lovely designs to freshen up worn-out blouses and jeans or to personalize plain white t-shirts and boring bags.

FAQ: Frequently asked questions about embroidery books

Should you buy all the books from the list of the best embroidery books?

Absolutely no! These books are for embroidery enthusiasts of various levels and skills. Some are for absolute beginners, others are books of stitch reference, and others are books of projects. Choose your next step and pick a book accordingly.

What are the best places to get embroidery books?

I’m a big advocate for sustainability and reducing consumerism. So, my first option is a public library. Also, thrift shops and flea markets are great sources for finding preloved books. Some online platforms sell secondhand books or offer the possibility of exchanging books with like-minded people.

If you do not find a desired book secondhand, you can visit local bookstores or pick one online. I added Amazon links to the books if you prefer this shopping option.

How many embroidery books should one have?

It depends. For example, I have stitch reference books in various languages. I also have books about specific embroidery techniques, such as Sashiko, Visible Mending, Cross stitch, Silk shading, Needlepoint, etc. Besides that, I have some project books, like floral or animal embroidery.

How many books you should have will depend on your interests and the projects you want to work on.

Over to You

Pile of hand embroidery books
Some of my hand embroidery books

The list of the best hand embroidery books I’ve put together provides a rich tapestry of knowledge and inspiration for embroiderers of all levels. From the comprehensive “Embroidery Stitch Bible” to the innovative “Geometry of Hand-Sewing,” each book offers unique insights and approaches to hand embroidery.

Whether you are a beginner seeking clear, step-by-step instructions or an experienced stitcher looking for fresh ideas and advanced techniques, these books serve as invaluable resources. They teach fundamental skills and stitches and inspire creativity and personal expression through the timeless craft of embroidery. Turning to these top picks can enhance your embroidery journey, ensuring that every stitch contributes to a masterpiece of thread and fabric.

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