Book Review — Art in Needlework

March 15, 2009 at 8:11 pm | Posted in Book Review, Embroidery, Project Gutenberg | Leave a comment

As promised last week, I want to tell you a little bit about one of the sources I’m currently getting ideas for my crazy quilt project from. Art in Needlework by Lewis F. Day and Mary Buckle is basically a stitch dictionary, systematically exploring the different types of embroidery stitches and presenting them in samplers. At least that’s what makes the book useful today. Have a look, here’s the Herringbone Sampler:

Herringbone Sampler from Art in Needlework

For almost all the samplers the backside is also shown:

Backside of Herringbone Sampler from Art in Needlework

There are explanations on how all those stitches are worked, with drawn schematics where necessary. Great to look through and get inspired. In addition to traditional embroidery stitches there are chapters on appliqué, quilting, goldwork and others.

In addition to the samplers, there are also quite a few images of embroidery pieces worked in the different techniques in the book, for example this one in Satin Stich from a Chinese work:

Chinese Satin Stich

All in all a book well worth reading. While there are a few places where the author falls into the gender stereotypes prevalent in 1900, as here in the chapter on Appliqué:

Appliqué must be carefully and exactly done, and is best worked in a frame. It is almost as much a man’s work as a woman’s. Embroidery proper is properly woman’s work; but here, as in the case of tailoring, the man comes in. The getting ready for appliqué is not the kind of thing a woman can do best.

there are also quite unexpected gems of wisdom in the book, that I can agree with in the 21st century as well:

Let the needleworker study the work of the needle in preference to that of the brush; let her aim at what stuff and threads will give her, and give more readily than would something else. Let her work according to the needle: take that for her guide, not be misled by what some other tool can do better; do what the needle can do best, and be content with that. That is the way to Art in Needlework, and the surest way.

I really enjoyed preparing this book for Project Gutenberg with the help of lots of volunteers from Distributed Proofreaders. I hope you like the result, and will get some good use out of it!

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