Art of the Needle by Jan Beaney

By | 11 April 08

The Art of the Needle, Design in fabric in thread, by Jan Beaney is a beautiful book. It covers far more ground than her other book, Stitch Magic.

However, while this is a more accessible book for less experienced sewers, it’s also far more dated than Stitch Magic. Though this book was first published in 1988, to me it has a very 1970s style.

Many of of the topics will look familiar to experienced fabric artists. From log cabin patchwork, to darning, shadow quilting, and hand and machine embroidery, the author displays techniques that will appeal to intermediate and advanced sewers.  It’s rich with examples but light on instruction.

I guess that I’m saying this:  If you already know how to sew by hand and machine, but you don’t know what to do next with your work, this is a good book.

Because so many of the projects have a “hippie” look, in a way, this book is ideal if you are working with retro styling.  (I’m not talking about tie-dyed and primitive art from the late 1960s, but the more upscale, intricate fabric art of that era.)

This book is a fine introduction to the kinds of surface treatments that can turn any fabric art into gallery quality work.

Though I personally prefer per other book, Stitch Magic, I keep this one in my bookcase because there are times when it sparks ideas because the techniques are familiar but the author’s approaches are opulent.

If your primary focus is surface embellishment with dimensional embroidery, select Stitch Magic instead.

However, if surface treatments are a new subject for you, this book is an excellent introduction that will keep you busy — and learning — for many months… if not years.  Generally, it costs far less than Stitch Magic does.  If it’s less than $10, I’d recommend it in a second; it contains at least as many good, inspiring ideas as any magazine.


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