Machine Embroidery: techniques and projects

Fell, Claire
Machine embroidery: techniques and projects
Ramsbury, Wiltshire, The Crowood Press, 2020
ISBN: 978 1 78500 701 9
288 pages

Have you ever been tempted to have a play with machine embroidery? Have you ever looked at beautiful machine embroidery and thought that you would like to have a go, but lack the confidence to try? If that sounds like you, help is at hand. The author of this book not only creates beautiful machine embroideries, she has become known and respected as a teacher of this art form.

The brief introduction describes three methods of machine embroidery, including (a little disparagingly!) computer embroidery. Chapter One then launches into the various and varied tools and materials you may need followed up with ideas for setting up both the machine and workspace.

Throughout the book are exercises and examples, from the most basic (setting up the machine) to the rather more complex (planning and embroidering a landscape from a photograph). I suggest you do the exercises, which will increase your confidence as you make samples which build into useful references of the appearance of various stitches, using various threads and techniques and tension. You may have to look at the problem-solving pages from time to time!

There is a chapter on what is my personal stumbling block – design. As the book progresses, so does the challenge and complexity of the projects. The first project is a straight stitch, monochromatic tulip, followed by a really lovely monochrome bag. Both of these are embroidered with the feeder teeth UP. Yay! It’s when they have to be dropped that ‘real’ machine embroidery skills are built up. That, by the way, is my personal opinion, not that of the author.

The projects have been carefully designed to build up the embroiderer’s skills and confidence. Each one is preceded with what you will need for it – equipment, materials and templates and even the type of sewing machine used with instructions to leave the teeth up or down, and what tension to set the machine at. You will also be introduced to some materials you may not have used before, such as solvy and metallic sewing machine threads. There are landscape projects, animal projects, abstract projects.

The copy of the book I have is from Auckland Libraries. There are obviously some borrowers out there who are keen to try this embroidery form as I have had to wait a while to get this title and I can’t renew it because others are still waiting. If the idea of machine embroidery appeals to you, this book is a great jumping off place. It is methodical in its approach. It’s amply illustrated with excellent photos, templates and diagrams and I particularly like the way the author carefully builds up skill levels as the book progresses. As the man in the tea ad says, ‘do try it!’

Erica Marsden