Monday, October 20, 2014

Book Review & Giveaway: Mollie Makes Embroidery

I was very enthusiastic about reviewing the book despite the fact that, as a couture blogger, embroidery has been of interest for me only when related to garment embellishment. Yes, the book is cute, very cute. Just as anything that appears in Mollie Makes magazine if you are familiar with it. But this cannot be the only reason I'd recommend it. So, what makes this new publication by Mollie Makes team so noteworthy?

(A), the timing is perfect. Like many of you, I love to make a few handmade gifts before Christmas, and there are quite a few memorable gift ideas!

(B), not having an extensive embroidery library, just a few technique-based books really, I thought this particular one was a great learning resource if you want to try different techniques before investing into something that focuses on one type of embroidery only. 

(C), I like that all fifteen projects come from international designers, each with a distinct signature style. Website links for each designer profile help find inspiration for more projects using the same technique. 

The concept of the book is simple: the projects are followed by detailed step-by-step instructions, the designer and the embroidery story blurb, and a very well illustrated 70-page techniques chapter. All the projects have are suitable for complete beginners as well as seasoned embroiderers.

Here are my favourite projects:

Freestyle embroidery

The first project featured in the book is strongly influenced by the artist's graphic design background. Embroidered using only backstitches, The Cabin in the Woods hoop picture is not only suitable for an absolute beginner but is also very memorable. And, there are quite a few more practical projects I can think of using this design for. 

CLOUD SHAPED PILLOW  by Nicole Vos Van Avezathe (
Freestyle embroidery

This umbrella flying kitty and a bear are simply adorable, on a pillow or a pajama bag (my plan). The project is lined up as a Christmas present for my girls.

FOLK ART THROW by Clare Youngs (
Freestyle embroidery

Although I could not place this project anywhere on my wish list I still like it a lot.  Claire Youngs is strongly inspired by Scandinavian embroidery and if you like the style, it is worth checking out her books and projects from Scandinavian Needlecraft series. I loved her felted wool slippers, or embroidered mittens. Step-by-step instructions in the book provide you with skills necessary to make quite a few different projects inspired by her work.


My 5-year old daughter insists I make her these owls. We visited Michella Galetta’s website and found even more cute embroidered dolls and kits.  Another Christmas gift candidate.

KITTY CATS TEA COZY by Samantha Stas (
Free-motion machine embroidery

A tea cozy is needed to keep a tea pot warm in my sewing workshop, and these designs are a guarantee for a good-mood working session. You can find even more inspiring projects in Samantha Stas’s Etsy shop, all made using free-motion machine embroidery: wall hangings, Christmas tree decorations, scarves and more. 


A beautiful example of stumpwork where stitches are worked over padding. Wisteria flowers and the ladybug come alive on the needlebook and the pincushion. As a sewer, I cannot have enough pincushions and needle books, and what would make a better gift for a fellow sewist. 

Crewel embroidery

I am a big fan of crewelwork. A clutch? Maybe. I must admit I loved the crewelwork embroidered hoody Karin Holmberg is wearing on the photograph in the book. Clutch is a good project to get acquainted with the technique. More fearless stitchers may try taking on more complex projects, such as embellishing a dress, a blouse or even a jacket.

Bargello embroidery

Bargello embroidery is a special treat in the book, and this cuff bracelet is another great project for a beginner. I’d pair it with long-sleeve navy blue shirt or blouse, and would go for two bracelets to make them look like cuffs.  Slightly more elaborate bracelets are offered for over USD 700 in the designer’s store, but, then, according to the designer, it took her 40 hours to complete her first cuff. In any case, it is worth making it yourself if you really love the look and don’t mind investing so much time. Another project that I can see making using bargello is a belt, or a clutch.

Overall, I think the book is great for both, relative beginners as well as more seasoned stitchers. You get a diverse and carefully curated selection of designs and techniques here. And the substantial techniques section is very well illustrated and organised, providing essential skills to complete stunning projects using wide range of techniques: main embroidery stitches, crewelwork embroidery, silk ribbon embroidery, counted cross stitch, canvaswork, bargello and free-motion machine embroidery

And now that you reached the end of this post, here is the best part: the publisher is offering a free copy to the US-based readers of this blog. All you need to do is leave a comment here by Sunday, October 26. I would  love to read a few words about your embroidery experience and what you might consider making from this book. The winner will be chosen in a random drawing and will be announced the following Monday. 

The book is available for purchase  here:

Mollie Makes: Embroidery
By the Editors of Mollie Makes
Interweave/F+W; $19.99


  1. I love hand embroidery. I don't do it very often, and really only know a couple of stitches. I would love to learn more. I saw an Ukrainian embroidered hoodie at the circus the other day, and decided that I need one myself! I love that last cuff and would totally love to win this book.

  2. Oh man, I am wanting to make that clutch SO HARD! My experience is pretty limited with embroidery, but I've doodled a tiny bit, and I remember learning to stitch a letter in 3rd grade for some project and loving it.

  3. I want to start embroidering on leather bags. I love the Molly Makes style and the magazine is so fun. I learned to embroider from an article in the magazine but I need more practice as my technique is sloppy!

  4. I love doing embroidery! I'm relatively new at it, but I love using it to make patches or to embellish clothing.

  5. Love those owls! I think that would be my first project from the book :-) Perfect stocking stuffers! I have done a little embroidery but would still consider myself a beginner.

  6. I have taken one of the Craftsy classes on embroidery, I used to love to embroidery as a girl making dresser scarves and pillow cases. I would love to make the Ladybird Needlework Set for Christmas gifts for a few of my sewing friends.

  7. A little embroidery might be a nice respite from couture fashion sewing!

  8. I would love this! I keep trying to take up embroidery, but without a proper teacher, or even a dedicated learning resource, I always set it aside. This book looks perfect for me, and I absolutely adore the project you've highlighted. It's a bit hard to choose my favorite, but I think it might just be the cloud shaped pillow. This book looks incredible!

  9. I love to embroider by hand. I am doing some Brazilian embroidery along with some silk stitching. It is fun to see all the stitches blend together. This book would be a good resource. I could use it with my grand daughters in addition to myself. Anne Szabo

  10. I, too, love those owls, simply adorable. And the pincushion and needle book would be great for one of my sisters. I've done some Alabama Chanin work on samples and have signed up for two embroidery classes on Craftsy. I very much want to do more. I also love cross stitch.

  11. I did cross stitch and crewel embroidery as a child; I embroidered my initials on my school back pack. Haven't done much in years but this book has some beautiful projects. Love the owls!

  12. I love to smock and do hand embroidery. My Christmas tree has lots of bird ornaments and the owls would fit right in. The folk art throw is a close second- those colors just scream fun!

  13. I started sewing this April, making dresses for my twin toddlers. Embroidery is a great next skill to learn for embellishing dresses and accessories. It looks like this book would be a good beginner survey. I'd love to get a copy here in the US!

  14. I know how to do some embroidery by hand. I'd love to learn more.

    The owls would be tops on my list of makes. My five-year-old niece would love them.

  15. I was just thinking this morning that I would love to learn how to hand embroider. I used to do a little bit when I was in high school, on my jeans and sweatshirts! ha ha. Hey, it was the 70s! This book looks pretty awesome!

  16. I have dabbled in hand embroidery since I was a child. My biggest project and pride was embroidering the shawl and headpiece and ribbon for a traditional dress my predecessors wore for special occasions. Every two years people get dressed up in these outfits for the Kraska Ohcet. That book looks like it has some great ideas.



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