Embroidery for Everyone

Posted by Kathryn Patterson on Apr 9th 2019

Have you ever admired the elaborate embroidery on an antique crazy quilt and wondered how the maker got the stitches so even and perfect? Chances are, it was practice, practice, practice. But with Kathy Seaman Shaw’s new book, Stunning Stitches for Crazy Quilts, even beginning stitchers can get heirloom-level results quickly and easily, and I’m going to prove it to you today!

First, it’s important to know two things:

1. Kathy’s book includes clear stitch diagrams, stitching templates, 480 seam designs, and so much inspiration you will literally want to run to your thread and embellishment stash and dive right in.

2. Neither I nor any members of my family had ever tried crazy quilt stitching before one rainy day on our annual vacation.

You see, when I edited Kathy’s book, I was so taken with the whole process that I made some crazy quilt blocks and started gathering embroidery hoops, perle cotton, ribbons, beads, needles, etc. with one goal in mind—to have fun with the craftier members of my family. When the sky opened up on that vacation day, I knew we were all set.

The genius in Kathy’s technique is the stitching templates. Complete instructions and patterns for making your own are in the book—here’s the set I created using template plastic:

Marking seam lines using any of these creative templates prepares you for making perfectly-spaced stitches, and there are so many exciting choices! Here’s a seam my sister-in-law Anne did with pink perle cotton. She added beads between the stitched Xs and scattered more beads on a printed fabric patch for extra sparkle:

Of course, being the rookies that we are (or were!), we totally enjoyed learning the basic embroidery stitches as well. Woven roses were a favorite; here is my sister Teresa’s first try and my niece Allie with her very first woven ribbon rose. Great job, girls!

We got so inspired we even started making up stitches of our own. Anne came up with a pretty convincing starfish with just a few straight stitches and metallic gold thread:

And I got totally carried away with mine. In the end, after we got back from vacation, my block became a keepsake pillow I’ll cherish forever:

Check out those feather stitches, herringbones, and cretan stitches—all new to me, and so easy to achieve with Kathy’s templates and instructions.

If you’re looking for a truly inspiring new craft book, treat yourself to this one. With 480 seam designs and all the tools you need to create even more of your own, it’s the only embroidery book you’ll need for countless projects for (and with) family and friends.

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