What Are the Best Embroidery Books?

The following reviews explore a small selection of the embroidery books out there, and include guides for both hand and machine embroidery.

A good embroidery book should not only talk you through the technical aspects of creating a particular stitch, but should also show you what that stitch looks like in a finished project, so you can tell when you’ve got it right – or if you need to go back over things.


The Top 5 Books to Learn Embroidery

#5: Embroidery – A Beginner’s Step by Step Guide to Stitches and Techniques (Charlotte Gerlings)

Embroidery: A Beginner's Step-by-Step Guide to Stitches and Techniques (Design Originals) More than...
  • Aimed at beginners as well as those wishing to refresh their skills, Embroidery is a step-by-step guide to every aspect of this rewarding...
  • Including methods and techniques, an illustrated directory of stitches, as well as exercises and projects, this book will inspire creative...

This short book provides diagrams of the basic stitches used in embroidery, and discusses the techniques that those new to the craft are likely to encounter and require.

While the diagrams are good, there are few photographs of completed projects, which can make it difficult to judge whether one is completing the stitch correctly.

While this book is marketed to beginners, it might be better suited as a refresher for more experienced embroidery artists, who are familiar with how a stitch should look, but wish to remind themselves of the technique behind it.

#4: Hand Embroidery Basics (Florence Schultz)

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This book offers good, clear instructions for hand embroidery, and is easy to follow for someone new to the art form.

However, it would be improved by having diagrams, rather than lists of instructions. It also sticks to the very basic stitches, which most people will pick up quickly, and could therefore do with including “next stage” techniques so that readers have something else once they’ve grasped the basics.

#3: Embroidery and Crazy Quilt (Judith Baker Montano)

Judith Baker Montano's Embroidery & Craz: 180+ Stitches & Combinations Tips for Needles, Thread,...
  • More than 180 embroidery stitches
  • Montano, Judith Baker (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Judith Baker Montano is a fabric artist whose work encompasses a variety of styles and traditions. This spiral bound book is presented in such as way that it can be stood upright, and flipped through (a little like a calendar) while you’re working on a project at your table.

Some people like this, others find the design format a little awkward: in the end, it comes down more to personal preference and how you use reference books than anything else.

This book helpfully covers stitching techniques for both left and right-handed individuals (many books tend to assume you’re right-handed), and a wide variety of stitches are covered.

One small let down is that there are too few completed projects shown. Completed projects, alongside stitching diagrams, are useful, as they allow you to do a visual cross-reference with your own work, to see if it looks right, or if you need to go back through the stitching technique.

#2: Embroidery Machine Essentials (Jeanine Twigg)

Embroidery Machine Essentials: How to Stabilize, Hoop and Stitch Decorative Designs
  • Jeanine, Twigg (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

This book is useful for those coming to embroidery as complete novices, who may be using older, second hand or borrowed machines.

This book offers good basic information, which can be transferred to more contemporary machines, and keeps things simple for the very raw beginner.

#1: Embroidery Pocket Guide, (Leisure Arts)

Embroidery Pocket Guide-Handy Laminated Pocket-Size Encyclopedia of the Most Popular Stitches
  • Leisure Arts (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 12 Pages - 07/01/2010 (Publication Date) - Leisure Arts, Inc. (Publisher)

This laminated, folding guide is ideal for students and travellers, or to put in a desk drawer for quick reference.

It folds out easily, and is easy to understand.  Some might argue that it needs to cover a greater variety of stitches,  but, for the price, and for complete beginners, it’s more than adequate.

This is affordable enough that tutors could easily purchase several to give to new students as a join-up gift, or as part of a welcome package.