Book Review:
Embroidery Stitches: Quilt Savvy

Allison Aller 2008

   
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Title: Embroidery Stitches: Quilt Savvy
Author:  Joan Waldman
Spiral-bound: 127 pages
Publisher: American Quilter's Society; Spiral edition (October 15, 2004)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 157432862X
ISBN-13: 978-1574328622

Joan Waldman's book, Embroidery Stitches: Quilt Savvy, was published by the American Quilter's Society in 2004, so many readers surely have experience using it. But for those of you who have not yet considered adding this book to your crazy quilt reference library, I decided to "give it a test drive", using it as the basis for a crazy quilt project.

The book is a well organized collection of charted seam treatments; each is grouped according to a basic stitch used in the seam's foundation.

The basic stitches are diagrammed for both right and left handed stitchers at the front of the book, which is very helpful to our "lefty" friends. These stitches are: Running, Straight, Stem, Chevron, Blanket, and Cross Stitch; Herringbone, Chain, Holbein, Holbein Straight Stitch, Lazy Daisy, Half Chevron, Feather, Double Feather, and Cretan Stitches are also included, as well as the Colonial and French Knots.

The seam diagrams are combinations of the above basic stitches, with each stitch having its own symbol, as presented in a chart in the front of the book. Two pages are devoted to "breaking down" an example of the seam diagrams and "reading" their components. This enables the embroiderer to be able to decipher and execute any of the seam combinations in the book.

Suggestions of how to evenly space one's stitching are also included, including how to do perfectly stitched circle designs. There are six pages of motif designs at the end of the book as well.

So what was it like to use this book?

I very much appreciated that all the seams were charted, the seam diagrams superimposed on graph paper. I tried Joan's method of basting a thin strip of graph paper to my block and stitching over it, using the paper as a stitch guide, and really liked that. It was a simple matter to remove the graph paper after my seam was completed.

I also tried her suggestion of tracing a motif onto translucent paper, basting it to my block, and then stitching through the paper along the outlines I had drawn. This also worked quite well.


I used Golden Threads brand Quilting Paper, which is an excellent product for this application. It tore away very easily, leaving no fibers or little bits to pick out of my stitching.

Joan's designs are all very traditional, as her stitch combinations were inspired by the crazy quilts of the 1800's. In using these designs on my project, I attained a lacy, Victorian feel; one that is quite formal. So while the combinations are not all that imaginative, they will give a classic feel to any crazy quilt project.

For some reason there are no seam combinations based on the feather stitch, which I found disappointing. And I would have loved to have the different sections of seam combinations easier to find...I ended up using sticky note paper to make tab divisions along the edges of the pages to make flipping back and forth through the book easier, as I tried to locate different stitch groupings.

But these are small quibbles. I would recommend this book as a great resource for easy (though some are quite time consuming) stitch combinations that are well diagrammed. If you want a Victorian feel to your stitching, and get stuck for ideas for new seams, this is the book for you.


This quilt was made by Allison to honor our retired editor and the founder of CQMagOnline, Nora Creeach. Joan's seam ideas, or some that were inspired by Joan's style, were used throughout this piece.



Details from Nora's Quilt showing seam treatments from Embroidery Stitches: Quilt Savvy .

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