Book Review: Mountmellick Embroidery

September 9, 2007 at 7:53 am | Posted in Book Review, Embroidery | 1 Comment

One of the books I picked up in Ireland is A Beginner’s Guide to Mountmellick Embroidery by Pat Trott. Mountmellick embroidery is a white-on-white embroidery, usually using natural and floral designs. A lot of different stitches are used to give the work texture and a bit of dimension. I was immediately intrigued by the different stitches presented in the book, some of them I hadn’t even heard of before, much less tried.

Being sure that I had all the materials necessary for this kind of work, I decided to work a small design from this book before writing about it. Of course, if you’re sure, something always goes wrong, which I figured out when I tried to transfer the design onto the fabric using my trusty water soluble fabric-pen. It was dried out and only able to put scratches onto the fabric instead of colour. 😉 So, my plans got a bit delayed until I could buy a new one. Everything went quite well after that, so here’s the result:

Grapes on Vine

This pattern of a bunch of grapes on a vine is one of 13 small designs the author uses as a sampler to teach the different stitches used in Mountmellick embroidery. I learned a couple of new stitches here: the cable plait stitch used for the main stem, which I really like, and the split stitch used for outlining the padded satin stitch areas for the grapes. I used a No. 20 Coton à broder from Anchor for the stitching. While the author recommends a drilled yarn for this kind of embroidery, I think this particular yarn isn’t optimal for working the satin stitches (or maybe it’s just my lack of practice). The alternative would be perle cotton, which I’ll try out for another of these nice and small sampler patterns.

To come back to the book, this really is a beginner’s guide in the true sense of the word. The author explains everything very clearly. The different stitches are presented each on it’s own page, with lots of photographs to show exactly how the stitch is worked. She also explains exactly how to transfer the pattern onto the fabric, use the different kinds of embroidery frames, and how to finish your work. There’s even a description of the knitted fringe that’s traditionally used for Mountmellick embroidery. There are lots and lots of photographs, all very clear, to illustrate every little step of the process and show the finished work. This is how I imagine a modern needlework book should look like, and everything else I get into my hands will have to measure against this one.

So, what will I do with the finished embroidery? I don’t know really, but I think it would look quite nice in frame on its own. I could make this into a fabric postcard, or put a border round it to use it as part of a quilt with its siblings that are sure to follow. For the moment, I’m undecided.


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  1. Your work looks very nice!! I am interested in doing some of this embroidery for my son and future daughter in laws wedding next July. I ordered a couple of books to get me started and for ideas. I like the perle cotton especially when you do the satin stitch.I hope the book gives some ideas for wedding gifts. I broke my foot 4 years ago and learned how to knit while I was mending. I first learned how to spin wool and figured I should learn what to do with what I make. I practiced a little embroidery and liked doing some of the stitches. You know what they say about idle hands. I think you did an excellent job for your sample.Thanks for sharing. Randy

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