Whenever I get together with other art quilters, talk often turns to techniques and where one gets their ideas or where they learned a certain way of doing something. I have been wanting to talk about textile art resources for a while now, so here is the first of a periodic series on what I have been using to learn. NOTE: I do not receive any compensation for mentioning any book, product or individual on this blog!
I have been working on a (somewhat) weekly project, making a fabric postcard sampler of hand embroidery stitches. The amazing array of textures created by hand stitching in crazy quilts and ribbon embroidery was probably the biggest factor in my finally learning to sew and jumping into art quilting. Over the past few years, I have amassed a stack of books on fancy stitches. I keep coming back to four of them more than any of the others.
For my weekly stitch samples, I have slowly been working my way through the Embroidery and Crazy Quilt Stitch Tool by Judith Baker Montano (C&T Publishing, 2008). You really can’t go wrong with any of her books, but I feel that this is the best of her stitching books if you want to learn stitches. No images of her stunning stitch work here, just clear instructions on creating some 180 thread and ribbon stitches, very easy from which to teach oneself. My little project consists of making one postcard per stitch, and I use as many different threads as I can, resulting in my own visual stitch journal/”dictionary.” It is a great reference for choosing a thread and stitch for a certain look that I want to achieve, and sometimes it is a reminder that some stitches don’t look so great in some threads. If something doesn’t work out, I leave it as a reminder.
Another stitch guide that I refer to frequently is Creative Stitching by Sue Spargo (self-published, 2012). This source covers only about 50 stitches, and there is some duplication with the Montano book, but there are enough other stitches not in Montano to make it worthwhile. Spargo also gives helpful recommendations on what needles to use for each stitch.
Once I’ve mastered the basics of some new stitches, I look to Montano’s Free-Form Embroidery (C&T Publishing, 2012) and The Magic of Crazy Quilting by J. Marsh Michler (Krause Publications, 2003) for endless inspiration on combining and altering stitches by stretching and overlapping.
As I mentioned, I have other books on embroidery stitching, and there are more than that out there, these are simply then ones I use most often.