Book Review and Giveaway: The Hand-Stitched Home by Caroline Zoob

I was so delighted to be asked to review The Hand-Stitched Home by Caroline Zoob (ISBN: 9781906417932, Jacqui Small), because embroidery and applique takes up a lot of my creative thinking time at the moment (probably because of the recent Art Trading Card swap) – and the projects in this book give these skills centre stage. 

The Hand Stitched Home by Caroline Zoob

Caroline Zoob (who is a self-taught stitcher – there’s hope for us all – you can find more of her work on her website and find her on Facebook just here) argues that you can find space for embroidery in modern day homes, whatever your decorating style, and this book really shows how this can be done, with suggestions for tiny touches of embellishment, to larger statement-sized projects.

From The Hand Stitched Home

IMG_8From The Hand Stitched Home 995

As you can see, the style is simple and delicate, with a focus on natural fabrics, especially linen and subtle colours with country themes – flowers, animals, fruit etc., and there’s a very French country feel.  Zoob encourages us  to sew with vintage fabrics and threads – I do so love people who encourage the collecting of bits and bobs to use in sewing. Are you reading Mr Very Berry – really, it’s fine to have a house full of bits of thrifted fabric, buttons and thread, ok??

This picture of her lovely threads all organised in a vintage drawer is so mouthwatering!

From The Hand Stitched Home

What’s great is that Zoob speaks with knowledgeable experience of the sorts of things that are worth collecting – advice that I definitely need and will be digesting. She says:

The more you surround yourself with beautiful colours, textures and natural finds, the easier you will find it to dream up things to embroider. Most important though is to keep your eyes open to spot the things that lend themselves to being captured in stitches: the dots on the petals of a hellebore, the bare branches of trees outlined against a wintry sky or rolled bales of hay in a field.

This is an arrangement of flowers ready for sketching – a lesson in taking time and trouble to find your inspiration – beautifully photographed by Caroline Arber.

From The Hand Stitched Home

From The Hand Stitched Home

There’s a good variety of projects here – pictures, embroidered bags, embellished edgings for tea towels, shelf edgings and pelmets, mirror frames, chair covers, place mats, cushions, window dressings and more. I really enjoy the little boxes, scattered throughout the text, which explain where Zoob got her inspiration for a particular project.

The project instructions are clear, although I think there could sometimes be a little more detail in projects which require a bit of constructing, e.g. it’s assumed you would know how to sew a zip in a cushion. But of course this is not what the book is about, so we should probably expect to go somewhere else for the basics of home accessory making.

From The Hand Stitched Home

The author is not prescriptive about fabrics, threads and colours to use. Personally, I really like this, because the book is quite definite in wanting you to gain confidence in your own choices and ideas, but I know that some folks might prefer a little more guidance, so thought it was worth mentioning. On the other hand, there are templates, explanations of the stitches that Zoob uses, and descriptions of particular techniques, such as using fusible web and painting on fabric, so there’s no shortage of help when it comes to the main focus of the book.

The book is fully of lovely little details and ideas and design tips that you could take and use elsewhere in your work. I love the beautiful colour and texture of these trees:

From The Hand Stitched Home

and the combination of applique and very simple stitches to create these lovely harebells:

From The Hand Stitched Home

The Hand-Stitched Home is definitely a rich resource and a good addition to any stitcher’s library.

The giveaway..

The great news is that I have a copy of this lovely book to give away. The giveaway is open to anyone, anywhere, and will run until midnight on this Friday 21 June. As always, you are welcome just to say ‘pick me!’, but I thought it would be in keeping with the theme of this book if you told me about where you find your own sewing inspiration – good luck!

91 thoughts on “Book Review and Giveaway: The Hand-Stitched Home by Caroline Zoob

  1. I find inspiration from all the wonderful crafting info available on the internet. There is a wealth of knowledge that is shared via tutorials for boosting our creative juices.

  2. I’ve only just dicovered your site, what a wonderful resource!

    My design inspiriation is derived primarily from the colors and shapes found in nature.

  3. I have been knitting for few years and never thought I will start sewing. Then (already knitting & sewing) I didn’t thought I will ever try embroidery. But now I am absolutely fascinated by it. Beautiful projects on the internet motivate me to improve my own craft skills.

  4. I mainly tend to make little things for other people as presents so my inspiration is usually them – I have a look at their bits and pieces and choose a suitable design and colour that fits in with their stuff, sometimes similar to some art they have or a nice patterned cushion. This book might give me some great new ideas though!

  5. Hi Ali and what a very thorough synopsis of this book you have made. I would love to see it in my hands 🙂 – I get lots of my inspiration from my garden, pieces of old linen I have “found” and of course people like you and the many people who share their talents in blogs

  6. On top of my little pile of most treasured books ever, there is Caroline Zoob’s copy of hand made children’s gifts. I love how she breathes life into antique and vintage items by adding handwork to them and how she gives them a prominent place in modern day. But maybe that’s because I have been surrounded by an eclectic mix of antique, vintage and handmade all my life (that’s what happens when your dad is an antiques dealer and your mum a tailor)… 🙂

    But I would love to see what she has done with embroidery this time round…

  7. My inspiration comes from lovely blogs like yours, from nature, from my childhood and from fabrics my mother had. And from pictures.

  8. I’ve always loved embroidery! There is something about the texture that hand embroidery creates that gives a project another level of interest. Inspiration for me comes from cottage garden flowers, the landscape and often the lyrics of a song that won’t go away until they’ve been used!

  9. That looks like a wonderful book – so many gorgeous projects and photos! I’m not sure where I get my inspiration, I think I notice things and they stay in my brain and then suddenly (and occasionally!) an idea bubbles to the surface. I’m not really included in the process ;o)

  10. Hello!
    What a lovely looking little book!
    My sewing inspiration comes from pretty much anywhere. Whether it be people, pretty places I have been or small objects I find intriguing. I love spending time in the garden with my bunnies so a lot of my makes at the moment reflect this, flowers, rabbits, nature etc. I also love to sketch and doodle and then turn this into a piece of free machining or into shrink plastic designs.
    Love your blog!
    Chloe
    x

  11. What a lovely book! I get a lot of inspiration for my embroidered bits and pieces from photographs I take of flowers, trees, landscapes anything from nature really. I love scouring charity shops and the newer retro type shops for the old fashioned embroidery tablecloths, runners etc, there are some amazing embroidered pieces out there to inspire.

  12. What a lovely book! I like looking at books, blogs, etc. to start me thinking about a project. Then put my twist on it.

  13. This book looks absolutely gorgeous!! I find my inspiration in blogs like yours, in Pinterest, sharing ideas with friends…. Thanks for hosting such a lovely giveaway, Pati x

  14. I’d be so happy to win this! My inspiration mainly comes from the natural world, trees, flowers, insects, and home-grown edibles!

  15. What a lovely book! I get my inspiration form everywhere, my children, pinterest, outdoors, everywhere 🙂

  16. Oh heavens, this book looks beautiful. I must admit, mostly my inspiration comes from the internet, but maybe a book like this would change that! Thanks for the chance to win!

  17. That looks like an amazing book. I love embroidery and try to always have a little piece on the go, usually inspired by pictures i’ve seen. Thank you for a lovely giveaway!

  18. This book looks gorgeous! I get a lot of my inspiration from magazines like Country Living but also my incredibly imaginative 5-year old comes up with some great ideas!

  19. Pick me 🙂 I’m new to embroidery and this seems really my style, I’ve been spending all my time hopping from blog to another on my iphone, having a lovely book to sit with would be so much nicer, anything vintage inspires me, it’s the thought of other people in a different era doing and creating the same thing! I love crewel work but am not quite there yet, instead I am loving creating kitsch little birds, deer and even toadstools!

  20. This looks gorgeous. I get inspiration in my bed!! All my best ideas come to me there. Sitting on my bed is also where i do most of my hand sewing. Thanks for a gorgeous giveaway.

  21. I love the trees and am trying something similar on a purse. I would love to win too. I am inspired by my daughters cute little drawings. So free and innocent.

  22. What a beautiful book. I’m not very creative so I usually get inspiration from other people-books, magazines, flickr and pinterest., anything really!

  23. This prize is amazing! I’ve just started to get into embroidery, however, I have been cross stitching for a while. I’ve been making up my own patterns (starting off simple) – the inspiration comes from what I’ve seen during my day, how I’m feeling, who I want to stitch for, or sometimes I’ll take out a kit that I’ve had lying around and just stitch to relax 🙂

  24. What a lovely book. I get inspiration from colours I see together, I love teal and pink. I also get lots from other people’s blogs and Pinterest! Sadly not all my ideas make it into reality!!

  25. I would love to win this book. I have recently run out of inspiration and need something to kick start my sewing again

  26. I would love to enter the contest too. 🙂
    Inspiration is everywhere! in books, magazines, internet (mainly in blogs and on Pinterest), and ofc. in the nature! I love old folk art embroidery too, there is a huge inspiration for me as well.

  27. Gorgeous book. My inspiration comes from everywhere!! I love going to the library and leafing through all sorts of books. Nature books and pictures of castles always get my mind racing!! I live in a pretty place so the gardens and the lovely scents are around me everyday and some days I stop and inhale all of it in – though my nose and eyes!

  28. Handwork is a passion since I was a child. now I’m 86 and it still is a passion. Books, internet, magazines, nature….

  29. I hate admitting this – I am old enough to have been taught embroidery as a child at school (which is about a thousand years ago)! I haven’t done any for years and seeing the illustrations from this book on your blog has inspired me to do some again. I am delighted by the (?) table napkin design – reminds me of the tray cloths we made age about 7 years. Thanks for showing it.

  30. I would love to enter the contest..
    heehee.. this is such a lovely book and I agree with you that it is in inspiration for making ATCs.. I’m currently also hooked on making this.. 😀

  31. Looks like a great book. I see much inspiration all around, in buildings and architecture…whether or not it ever gets put into practice is a another matter.

  32. Discovering the macro setting on my digital camera has given me so many creative ideas! However there can never be enough and I would love to receive this book.

  33. Pick me! I find inspiration everywhere. I like nature and animals. I don’t usually quilt animals though 😉 But I would stitch them up! Thanks for the chance to win 😉

  34. Hi, The book looks beautiful! I am just beginning to learn to embroider,therefore this book may be inspirational.

  35. I’d love to win this lovely book. I find my inspiration in nature and my collection of vintage embroidered household textiles. A very modest but precious collection.

  36. I’d love to win this prize, I find my inspiration in the natural world and my collection of vintage hand embroidered household textiles. These are very modest items but beautiful to me.

  37. What a lovely book. My inspiration seems to arise from need. The things I make generally have a practical purpose. Practical things can still be lovely.

  38. This book looks amazing; i’d love to win it as it looks like its full of amazing ideas and I have only just started embroidering. My inspiration comes from my mum and grandmothers old embroidery books from the 60’s and 70’s! My fingers are crossed!

  39. I first came across Caroline Zoob at Country Living Fairs. Her stalls were full of gorgeous bits and pieces, each saying “pick me!”. I love her use of thrifted finds and simple shapes and designs. I’m sure the lucky winner of this giveaway will be thrilled with their prize.

  40. What a wonderful book! I find inspiration in all sorts of places – blogs like yours, books, gardens, exhibitions, shops, nature, all over!

  41. I struggle to find inspiration – I think I am lacking in confidence so lots of blogs inspire me, but I can’t seem to go off on my own when trying to find it in the everyday. I am working on telling myself it is ok to “play” and if it doesn;t work out it doesn’t matter – it isn’t a waste of fabric/thread/.time (can’t you tell I am really struggling with it!) so I would be fascinated to read it.

  42. What a great book – I love the flowers and trees so you could say that mostly I get inspiration from the natural world!

  43. I get inspiration from blogs, Pinterest and google searches. I have just got into embroidery and find I love it. I had to give up knitting due to shoulder damage and embroidery fills the space that left behind. Jennylarking@gmail.com

  44. Inspirational… Old work clothes the more holes and stains the better. I don’t feel bad if it goes all wrong and I have the freedom to go mad with my creativity. I like a mixture of nature and the bizarre. If it doesn’t workout the item goes in the bin anyway.

  45. a lot of inspiration for me comes from colour, I find it almost like colour therapy, sometimes I need to work with certain shades or a fabric will scream at me out of the stash. It is often the same with my knitting, certain colours call me, I’ve been knitting a lot of purple recently and just realised that I am also working on a quilted cushion with purple fabrics so I guess purple is what I need at the moment! Thanks for the give away!

  46. What a lovely book! I especially love embroidering flowers, but I’ve found myself making lots of projects with embroidered words and names lately . . . and that’s fun, too! 🙂

  47. I love to look back at holiday photos and gain inspiration from them…..of course the picture needs to be colourful or textured in the first place!

  48. I get a lot of inspiration from my sewing club – give us all the same fabrics and you get a bunch of completely different items!

  49. ooh the book looks fab! I make dolls normally and get alot of my inspiration from birthday cards, I have a lovely little selection of pretty cards with vintage type drawings of dolls and fairies pinned up in my sewing room 🙂 xx

  50. I would love to win. I take inspiration from my garden and by looking at books and magazines.

  51. I get inspiration for my ‘Pollies’ from so many different things, the garden and seeing a flower I could sew, a person in the street with crazy hair or a craft like sewing or knitting, so many things and people give me inspiration. But strangely most ideas appear in the middle of the night, so I have to keep a notebook by the bed!

  52. It looks like such a lovely book. I’m a teacher and I get my inspiration from the children in my class – from their simplistic and colourful artwork to how they view the world around them 🙂

  53. Hi ..
    My inspiration to create my embroidery is in nature, observe small details in antique tiles, finally, like to watch and transfer it to my embroidery ..
    I would love to win this book, but it goes to those most in need ..
    a big hug from Maria Filomena,
    Portugal,

    Olá…
    A minha inspiração para criar os meus bordados está na natureza, na observação de pequenos detalhes, em azulejos antigos, enfim, gosto de observar e transferir isso para os meus bordados ..
    Gostaria imenso de ganhar esse livro, mas que ele vá para quem dele mais precisar..
    um grande abraço de Maria Filomena,
    de Portugal,

  54. lovely looking book! I find my sewing inspiration everywhere really – in nature: the lines of plants, the patterns of clouds, birds and other animals in the garden (last week there was a little brown mouse eating the bird food on the patio, and I was inspired to sew a little brown mouse – although I confess the one in the garden wasn’t wearing a liberty print dress). I am often inspired by paintings and prints that I can imagine as quilts or cushions. Food. People’s faces in a crowd. Fairy tales. Seaside. Honestly…I want to sew the world!

  55. Oooh this book looks so inspiring I’d love to do some hand embroidery as I usually do cross stitch or machine embroidery. I get my inspiration by looking at blogs and Pinterest and books too

    Jackie x

  56. Ooh inspiration – that’s a hard one. Gorgeous books; pictures on the internet; sometimes the fabric seems to dictate; at other times I just pick up my needle, thread a pretty colour of floss and see what appears! It doesn’t always work out, but the journey’s still worthwhile! I’d love to win this book – I have loved Caroline Zoob’s work for since I first saw it.

  57. Oh please consider me for the ‘Hand Stitched Home’. My inspiration comes from everywhere, especially colours, in the landscape, cloth, yarns, threads, sweets in the shop all jumbled together.
    I also love different textures, furtling through all those fabrics, wondering what I could repurpose the into..not having enough hours in the day to do everything I want and having itchy fingers.

  58. i find my inspiration looking through old embroidery’s of my grans, both photos and actual. reminds me of many hours where i sat beside her ‘sewing’ as a little girl while she sewed large pictures on a frame

  59. I would love to win this prize, I had my first embroidery class last week and would love this for inspiration : )

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