book review // pen to thread
Several months ago I ordered Pen to Thread by Sarah Watson and I'm finally getting around to sharing it here!
This is a truly beautiful embroidery book, and it's also fun and funky, which I love. The subtitle "750+ Hand-Drawn Embroidery Designs to Inspire Your Stitches" describes it perfectly. Sarah's motifs feel like thread drawings, and even the lines of the patterns reflect the ink pen style.
Because I create my own patterns, I really bought this book because I wanted my stitches to be inspired by the completed embroidery in the more than 150 pages. All of that fantastic filled stitching is something I haven't tried much, but it's a technique I want to use more often.
The designs in Pen to Thread are divided into sections that are grouped by theme, and there are some really good ones. Of course, Craft Room is a favorite of mine.
In addition to the typical craft tools we think of, there are art supplies like paint, a hole punch, pencils, and more. These are both in with the crafts and in a section all for Tools of the Trade.
And maybe this is silly, but I really like that most of the examples in here are stitched on darker fabrics. With the bright colors and bold textures, they pop! That in itself is inspiring.
It's as though each page calls to you "Try this! Work this into your stitching!"
Each section has about a page and a half of stitched examples (which really shows a lot), then it has pages of the patterns.
I love this "life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness" design. It's in the Made in the USA section, which contains a few America-specific motifs, but also a lot that would be suitable for folks from around the globe. This section amuses me a little, as the author/illustrator lives in Brazil!
A very nice feature with Pen to Thread is that it includes a CD-ROM with all of the embroidery patterns. The files are PDFs, which makes them easy to print. And if you have image software that can open and adjust PDFs, you can do so much with the motifs before printing. For example, you could group a bunch onto one page, then print onto Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy!
I mentioned that I was eager to explore the fill stitching and overall textured look of Sarah's embroidery, and the Getting Started/Basics sections address this well. There's even a chart showing how different threads look in different stitches used for fill. Brilliant.
If you're curious, this really is more of a pattern book with embroidery instructions. It's not a project book. That said, there are a few ideas for ways to use your embroidery. Just don't expect any detailed tutorials.
Which is fine, because there's more than enough to keep you busy with just the stitching designs. And with so many projects online or in other books, you'll do just fine finding things to make with your newly stitched patterns.
If you like whimsical designs and happy stitching, I do think you will love Pen to Thread.
And you know...I said that I was drawn to the look of how the patterns are stitched, but I really LOVE the designs themselves, and will be stitching some for myself eventually.
Bottom line: This one's a winner!