“Take a Peek Inside” Stitching Idyllic Spring Flowers Second Edition

When available, I always like to “Take a Peek Inside” a stitching book that I am contemplating purchasing.  Then I know if the information duplicates what I already know or if it new for me.  This book is technically relevant for new stitchers in that it includes basic information that I have not seen in other books.  It is also good for experienced stitchers in that there are unique adaptations and uses of stitches and a method of planing your very own garden.  An ebook is also inexpensive. and you can print your own personal copy

Carry on reading this blog entry and the next one to know why this book is a good investment for you.

A Summary On Hand Stitching Recognizable Spring Flowers Using Creative Surface Stitchery 2nd ED

An English Country Garden, as sung by Nana Mouskouri, was in my brain. Just to show you the mood I was in and how creativity came acalling, you can hear Nana Mouskouri sing this song.

To create any piece of stitching, it is necessary to first gather the materials and tools.

Fabric: The sample flowers are all stitched on a light green Batik cotton fabric.

Threads: DMC floss was used throughout for the stitching.  There are floss conversion charts on line.

Tools: Needles, scissors and other essentials are explained later in the text.

Stitch Directions: There are only four stitches plus some adaptations used in this book. Unbelievable! The stitches are –

Straight, Detached Chain, Buttonhole and French Knots.

This makes this an ideal book for a learner.  The flowers are stitched so as to be recognizable and identifiable. They are not as elegant as those created by Mother Nature but it is obvious what they are.

Stitching Frames: Ring or Hoop frames seem to be a favourite choice. Although the fabric is held at a tension, this tension is not always well maintained. Some functionally improved alternatives are

Q-Snap Frames and Grip-n-Stitch Frames. Stretcher Bars are available in Art and Craft stores and are very satisfactory. A Slate Frame is ideal if you should be so fortunate as to own one.

Grip-n-Stitch/Clip-n-Stitch frames can be found via www.fabricflair.com

Stitching on really taut fabric is a huge plus for all stitchers. It is an essential that one does not recognize until you experience it yourself. There are no issues of puckering and having to stretch the finished piece for framing. Also, the stitches lie on top of the fabric surface giving an embossed effect which is achieved by nothing more complex than the fabric being drum tight. If you can bounce a coin on it, it is tight enough. There are nothing but pluses to be gained by adhering to this principle.

Placing a backing fabric behind the front fabric has many benefits. It stabilizes and gives body to your stitching surface. It makes starting, ending, reverse stitching, plus long threads on the reverse side much simpler. It allows you to stitch on fabrics that are not always deemed suitable for embroidery.

Each Spring Flower has a photo of the real flower. There is the thread recipe for that plant’s foliage and flower, a stitching diagram and a photo of the stitched flower included. There are no patterns to follow in this book. Instead, a way of planning a garden layout and then stitching it are shown. This establishes original creativity immediately. Chloe, for example, has already bypassed cross stitch and other kits in her first venture into textile creativity.

Right now, I would like you to meet Edna Mumford and to see the garden she stitched.

I can thoroughly recommend Ann Bernard’s Stitching Idyllic for Spring Flowers.  Ann brings her training at the Royal School of Needlework to the fore by devising a whole new way of embroidering spring flowers with ordinary cotton floss.

Her method of combining different hues of 4 or 6 strands at a time for flower stems and flower heads results in lovely raised effects which make the effort of stranding (which I originally thought tedious) very worthwhile, and gives the impression of many stitches whereas your one bold and stranded stitch is fully expressive by itself.  This technique for the flowers and stems – which aims for true colours in nature – at once gives a wonderful shaded and depth effect.

I’ve been an embroiderer for many decades and I was delighted with the results I achieved just doing a practice piece. Using only her techniques, I then embarked on an embroidery, of my own composition of spring flowers. Her directions ‘take you by the hand’ and lead you through flower sizes, growing habit, and colour to make them quite realistic. I completed my own piece of work without my usual agonies as a result, and I was very pleased to produce recognizable flowers.  The directions are thorough and the diagrams very descriptive.

I would recommend this book for any stitcher whether novice or experienced, as there is much to learn for very pleasing results.

Sincerely, Edna Mumford

There are many examples of stitched gardens. They all use the same stitches and thread colours but each garden is totally different.

A way to plan your own garden is included. It is a well known method using a triangular positioning of colour. The viewers’ eye is comfortable with this. I was  looking at a painting by Monet and although the triangulation of colour was not obvious as I looked at it carefully, I found it. It is been a method of design for a long time and will be helpful to you in laying out your garden. This is how each garden becomes individual and unique.

Some smaller projects have been developed including name tags, artist trading cards, greeting cards, phone and eye glass cases. Every stitcher who belongs to a Guild needs a name tag and it is nice to have a new one occasionally. Try wearing your stitched name tag to another event and see what the reaction is. You can even wear the official tag and your spring flowers one too. Two are better than none and you will be flattered at how many people remember you the next time you meet. They are great conversation starters too.

Finishing and mounting are included. This process is quick and easy when you follow the directions in the latter part of the book.

You will have created a unique item that is specifically original to you. If you really are a beginner, your stitching career is off to a flying start. If you are already experienced, you will still find techniques and ideas in this book that you can blend into your repertoire and give you another mode of expression to add to your stitching portfolio.

Stitching freehand, but with guidance, is a wonderful experience. You can express your own ideas and there are no black lines or charts to follow. Your creation will be unique and totally your own. It is of continuous amazement to me that, using the same stitches, the same threads and the same information, that the results can be so infinitely varied.

The creative use of these four basic stitches to express the spring flowers and plants in this book are entirely my own. I have not borrowed or been inspired by any influence other than the bounty and glory of nature. It has been a challenging process with endless trial and error.  I am happy with the final results.  They are different and have proved to be infinitely adaptable.

Welcome, and Enjoy.

Ann Bernard.


Once in a lifetime, a keen student obtains an authoritative text which becomes a firm foundation for everything that follows. In the world of botanical embroidery – this is that text. It is not the fanciful embroidery of the Jacobean’s, nor the drooping coils of Art Nouveaux. This is the rendering of botanically correct images using embroidery thread with due attention to hue and colour. It uses the techniques artists use to create the infinite complexity of natural patterns. Follow the detailed instructions and the numerous illustrations and you will be exploring all the different yellows to contrast the daffodil with the crocus. Perhaps you will be making your first detailed observations of the arrangement of leaves on a plant stem. Others will then recognize the plants in the embroidery garden you have created.

With profuse illustrations of stitched gardens, real flowers, embroidered flowers as well as line drawings and how-to diagrams, Ann brings you a lifetime of dedication to embroidery and botany. Anyone who is new to embroidery (as I was) will be successful if they follow her detailed instructions on preparation, colour choice and methods for stitching flowers. Your garden will bloom!

Bridget O’Brien, Guelph ON

This book had me itching to start stitching. The level of detail is wonderful for new stitchers and great for experienced stitchers to help maintain good stitching habits.  She tells us how to do a certain operation and what not to do from her experience. I thought that was great for those of us who do not follow directions very well. Looking forward to your next book.

Marsha Fontes, Cambridge ON

Ann Bernard has written a wonderful instruction book on how to stitch miniature garden flowers. Ann’s instructions are so clear and precise I would have no difficulty in achieving excellent results.

It is plain this work is dear to her heart. The numerous illustrations of her exquisite flowers demonstrate her dedication to achieving extremely lifelike results. They almost look like garden photos that have been altered with special effects, not pictures painted with thread! The book is also very readable and it’s like having the charming, affable Ann in the room; I could almost hear her voice as I read it! Every embroiderer who loves flowers should have a copy of this book in their personal library!

Lilith Muramasa, Guelph ON

This 2nd edition of Hand Stitching Recognizable Spring Flowers is a good book to learn how to create and embroider spring flowers in an easy, free style manner. Included are wonderful, full coloured photographs and examples. Only four basic stitches are used. The beginner stitcher will feel a sense of confidence as she works through the very clear step-by-step instructions. This book is a good investment for the beginner but also for intermediate and other stitchers who may appreciate help in creating designs. The informal conversational style of the contents is engaging. It is, as if you are taking a class, one on one, with Ann in your own living room.

Ann Bernard is to be congratulated for the time and effort put into producing this extremely helpful book. Her teaching and stitching experience come through the words.

Alison Jackson, Cambridge ON

Hand Stitching Recognizable Spring Flowers by the talented stitcher, Ann Bernard, is a wonderful book full of inspiration and easy to follow instruction. As a fibre artist who is a novice to the more traditional embroidery techniques, I found this book provided all of the basics that many other books assume the reader will know.  But what really excited me was that Ann teaches you how to create truly unique embroidery! By learning some basic theory of colour and design, which is presented in an easy to read manner, Ann gives the reader, whether an experienced stitcher or a novice, the courage to ‘grow’ their own unique and beautiful Spring Garden without following a prescribed pattern.

Linda Kittmer Rockwood ON

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