A Gorgeous Book

At 144 pages, Fashion Embroidery, Embroidery Techniques and Inspiration for Haute Couture Clothing (2018) is not a big book, and as there is a long history of embroidery and its various applications with many resource books to draw from, this book is specific to couture garments. With the author, Jessica Jane Pile, having many years of first hand experience and knowledge about and working in this art form in the couture realm, she is also the Production Director of the British embroidery house Hand & Lock, therefore a first hand source expert to learn and be advised from. I wouldn’t call Fashion Embroidery an extensive how-to book even though 2/3 of the book does have stitch instruction, but the methods of stitching that are covered are basic forms that run from machine to hand applications. The methods explained are well supported with gorgeous photographic examples of how the stitch techniques are being applied by designers today.

There are a great deal of photographic examples to draw from of the current types of applications embroidered in haute couture and these images alone are an encyclopedia of inspiration.

In the section “Which Stitch?” the author points out: “A lot of the embroidery used in fashion can quite often be very basic. You can achieve some beautiful effects with these stitches if you have the imagination to use them in the right context,” and to me, this sums up best how to use this book.

The point, I think, of mastering basic stitchery is that once the technique becomes second nature, you are free to apply them as you imagine, and that these basics are like tools that you use to create the images and textures you might want to impose on your garment pieces and structures. Here I’m reminded of an explanation by couture instructor Susan Khalje where she points out that your basic hand stitches are like tools when it comes to putting together garment pieces, and it is in using these “tools” effectively that one is able to, in couture, confidently join, build up, reinforce, and enhance the structural areas of these.

I wouldn’t call Fashion Embroidery an intense how-to book, but I could see it as an inspiring base guide to begin your planning process for whatever embroidered image/effect you might be imagining for a particular project you might be working on. I know that my own imagination is tingling with visual possibilities after going over this book…just show me how it works and I’ll take it from there…

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