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Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches
Revised Edition
BY Jan Eaton

Search Press
31 January 2019/ ISBN 9781782216438
How-To Books / Embroidery

Reviewed by Rachel Hyde


This is a revised and updated (by Jan Eaton) edition of the classic guide, originally published in 1934. Mary’s book was the original embroidery dictionary, the one that inspired the many to follow. How does it stand up today?

Like every book that is deservedly called a “classic,” it stands up very well. There are over 400 stitches in here, all with clear, easy to follow diagrams and, in many cases, photographs of a worked sample. Each stitch also has a short description that contains information about its origin if known, use, tips for working and anything else of note. Stitches are grouped according to their use in a design, so there are chapters for isolated stitches, borders, outlines, various types of fillings, different types of stitch for canvas, pulled fabric, cutwork and more. This is how I always look for stitches when I am designing a project, so appreciate this way of organizing. At the beginning there is a very short section showing types of thread and fabric available for hand embroidery plus a few tips for beginners. At the back is an index, and throughout the book quite a few examples of finished work. It does not matter what level embroiderer you are, a book like this is invaluable, and I wouldn’t be without a stitch dictionary. I have quite a few, but this is probably the best and also inspired most of the others. Recommended for anybody who wants to learn (or is already adept at) embroidery.

If you cannot find a good range of embroidery materials locally try for a list of suppliers.

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UK Reviewer: Rachel Hyde's work can be found in The Bead Magazine, Making Jewellery and
Reviewed 2019