Embroidered Boxes: Techniques and projects

Authors: Broughton, Emma

Review: Ramsbury, Marlborough, Crowood Press, 2019 ISBN: 978 1 78500 563 3 192 pages

I wanted the last review for 2019 to be a positive one. I was beginning to despair. A book on appliquéing was, I thought, too technical. One on stumpwork, made by an Australian, now deceased, I did not find particularly inspiring. Then, thank goodness, I had an email from the library, letting me know that ‘Embroidered boxes’ was on the hold shelf for me.  

Emma Broughton is a Royal School of Needlework graduate apprentice. In the preface, she recounts the journey which took her there and a little about where she is now. This story explains how she came to be interested in embroidered and embroidering boxes. Prefaces are often skimmed over but I suggest you read this one. It sets the scene beautifully for the rest of the book.   

In the introduction, Emma recounts the history of embroidered boxes. There is a photo of the stunning needlework she designed for the lid of the box which she made during her RSN apprenticeship. Chapter one explores materials and equipment,  which Emma has restricted to those items needed to make the boxes in this book. I do like that she explains (simply) why she has recommended the particular materials recommended. The next chapter describes the basics of box construction. It is clearly written and beautifully illustrated with many coloured photos. Chapter three describes various styles of lids while the next chapter details how to construct trays, stacking boxes and dividers. Although to someone as spatially challenged as I am, this looks really daunting but, it is amply illustrated with clear, numbered, step by step instructions.  The first projects are for open sided boxes (etui), moving on to shaped boxes (round and pentagonal). This is followed by a chapter with projects requiring somewhat more advanced construction – a false bottom in a delightful jewellery box and a simply gorgeous, lockable box. Chapter eight has detailed instructions for the embroidery used on the boxes made in the previous chapters. 

After all this, are you up for a really advanced project? Boxes with multiple levels? Larger boxes? How do you go about designing your own boxes? No worries! It’s all explained in this book.  The book finishes with a stitch glossary, a glossary of terms and a list of (U.K.) suppliers for the products needed if you are going to launch into box making (some of these products may be difficult to source here in New Zealand, but most won’t be a problem) and a brief index.  This is a lovely book. The writing is engaging and clear. The photographs are excellent and plentiful. Hints and tips are highlighted throughout. If the thought of making a box has been daunting for you, but something you have thought you would like to do some time, I think this is a great place to start. It may even be the start of a whole new passion!  

Erica Marsden