Book Review: Layered and Stitched Pictures by Katie Essam

My love affair with free motion embroidery was started by a workshop I took with textile artist Katie Essam six or seven years ago so I was very excited to discover recently that she was in the process of writing a book on the subject.


The book - Layered and Stitched Pictures - has now been published and my pre-ordered copy popped through my letter box last week. 

I taught a couple of free motion embroidery workshops yesterday and mentioned the book to the workshop participants, so I thought it would be good to give it a little review.

Part of "The Textile Artist" series by Search Press, it's a gorgeous book, full of lovely photographs and inspiration.  If you like free motion embroidery and Katie's style in particular it's lovely just to look through even if you never made any of the projects from it.  But I'm sure you'd be inspired to sit down at your machine and have a go at one or two as well!

The introduction section firstly tells you a little about Katie herself, then goes on to talk about the materials you will need.  It covers everything from threads to backing and applique fabrics and various types of interfacing and fusible webbing you might need.  This section also lists other tools and materials you might find helpful, including paints and found items for collaging, and has a few tips and advice for before you start and what to do if things don't feel quite right.

This tip below is one of my favourites:

I always tell participants of my workshops that they shouldn't pressurise themselves to create something "perfect" first time; and what is "perfect" anyway.  Having fun and playing with the techniques is good for you!

There are a number of projects within the book, starting with a stitched beach scene, all with detailed photographic step by step instructions.

Each project focusses on a slightly different technique or uses different materials and then goes on to suggest how you could take what you've just learned further.

There's also a lovely section on finding ideas and inspiration and planning your work. In this section Katie talks about composition - do you remember the "rule of thirds" from your school art classes? - and colour.  This page shows how different the same piece can look when mounted on different backgrounds.

One of my favourite projects in the book is the applique hare.  Again, there are step by step photos showing how to layer the applique and add detail.

There are also projects featuring chickens, a pretty painted blue tit sitting on a blossom branch and a section on collaging pictures.

Towards the end of the book is a section on choosing your own design, with advice on how to choose a technique and making templates for your design, with plenty of gorgeous inspiration included.

It really is a great book.  I was expecting something good, but it's better even than I hoped for.  I love that Katie gives you not only step by step projects to complete but gives you encouragement and inspiration to use your own ideas.

If you're interested in free motion embroidery, then I'd highly recommend you treat yourself to a copy of this book.


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