The Kew Book of Embroidered Flowers (Folder edition)

The Kew Book of Embroidered Flowers (Folder edition) : 11 Inspiring Projects with Reusable Iron-on Transfers

4.53 (15 ratings by Goodreads)
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This sumptuous and inspiring book, written by needlework expert Trish Burr and created in association with The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, is a stunning, contemporary guide to embroidering flowers. All the reusable iron-on transfers needed are kept safely together with the book in an attractive hardback folder.

Focusing mainly on long-and-short stitch and Trish's delicate, considered use of silk shading, the book contains all the clearly-illustrated stitches needed, and gives thorough advice on preparation and choosing fabrics and threads - including a handy thread conversion chart.

The embroideries are reworkings of botanical artworks from Kew's Art Collection. There is one 'starter' project to encourage readers to try out the techniques, one large sampler containing 18 small elements that can be worked individually or as a group, and nine further projects - including a striking spider chrysanthemum, an elegant waterlily and an opulent magnolia. All the projects are shown step-by-step, with an order of work diagram given where appropriate.

The enclosed reusable iron-on transfer papers offer embroiderers a fast and accurate method of transferring the designs - the transfers simply need ironing on to fabric so that the reader can start embroidering straight away. The templates are also included at full size at the back of the book.

This stunning yet practical book is a must-have for anyone interested in capturing flowers in thread.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 176 pages
  • 216 x 280 x 16mm | 1,106g
  • Tunbridge Wells, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 700 Illustrations, color
  • 1782216421
  • 9781782216421
  • 26,933

Table of contents

Foreword by Kew 6

Introduction 8

What is needle painting? 10

Tools and materials 10

Preparation 16

Stitch instructions 20

Securing your thread

Long-and-short stitch

Split stitch

Satin stitch

French knots

Bullion stitch

Practise the stitches

Outlines 30

Raised embroidery 32

Anatomy of a flower 34

Useful advice before you start 35

Simple projects 36

Japanese anemone 38

Flower sampler 44

Clematis 94

Camellia 100

Intermediate projects 106

Rhododendron 108

Waterlily 116

Iris 122

Spider chrysanthemum 128

Advanced projects 134

Rose 136

Magnolia 144

Poppy 154

Thread substitutes 163

The templates 164

Using the iron-on transfers 176
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Review quote

Take inspiration from the natural world with needlework expert Trish Burr's embroidery guide, made in association with The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Learn new stitching methods while creating intricate spider chrysanthemums, striking magnolias and much more. The book also comes with reusable iron-on transfer papers so you can get started straight away. * Sew Magazine * Another fantastic Search Press craft book. The photos are beautiful and detailed and the instructions are clear to follow. The author has given step-by-step instructions for beginners but the projects will appeal to more experienced embroiders too. A gorgeous book with lovely projects to make. -- Louise Coyle * Amazon * This is a beautifully written and illustrated book, very clear instructions for beginners and improvers! Lots of information about threads and stitches before you start on a new project, can't wait for my new threads to come to start on a simple project, as I have only done a little hand embroidery in the past I look forward to accomplishing some more intricate projects in the future. -- Sandra Wood * Amazon * We have to admit, we will never get enough of Trish's exquisite needlepainting, and this book doesn't disappoint.

This time, she's combined her prodigious talent with the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, England, to bring you 11 gorgeous floral projects rendered in her easy-to-follow yet photographically perfect way.

For the Kew Book of Embroidered Flowers, Trish has chosen a range of unusual designs which can be worked individually or as one spectacular botanical study, packed with colour and life. Trish's books are known for their uncomplicated instructions and the gentle progression from simple to complex, and this book is no different.

You can begin with the starter project - a vivid purple Japanese Anemone, then work, step-by-step through the book, mastering flowers, plants and insects until you reach the magnificent Magnolia and intricate Poppy sampler at the end.

Beautifully presented in a hardcover folder, the book also comes with a set of reusable iron-on transfers tucked into the elegant cover slip, so you don't have to hand draw your patterns on to your fabric. Naturally, if you prefer, all of the patterns are also provided for you in the back of the book so you are really spoilt for choice.

It is difficult to decide which of these striking botanical studies is our favourite, so taken are we by each and every piece. This is a must for any Trish Burr lover, as well as any lover of floral and botanical imagery. Make sure to secure your copy now. * Inspirations * The Kew Book of Embroidered Flowers is a beautiful book exploring botanical textile art through needle painting (a form of surface embroidery).

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew have a special place in my heart (after I got engaged there) so I had high expectations of this book to do justice to such a beautiful setting with a vast collection of botanicals and botanical illustrations. The botanical illustrations within Kew's Library, Art and Archives collection have offered inspiration for many makers, crafters and artists since it was established in the mid-19th century.

Trish Burr offers a new and inspiring insight into Kew's botanical illustrations through her 11 embroidery projects.

The book starts off with a beautifully detailed section explaining terminologies, materials, tools, and preparation activities.

Trish then begins to explain the different stitches. I found these pages not only visually stunning, but clear and accessible. Each stitch is explained with clear tips, methods, diagrams, and photos both how-to for the stitch and for the finished flower using that stitch.

Once all these areas have been covered, Trish then starts to guide you through the projects! These projects are grouped according to their difficulty and range from "simple projects" through to "advanced projects".

Each project is so sumptuously presented with beautiful stitching, a clear information list (about materials, project size), information about the illustration that inspired Trish's textile interpretation and a step-by-step guide for stitching the botanical for yourself.

I love how each project also has an accompanying, reusable transfer sheet (with information about how to use the transfer sheet) so that you don't have to worry about getting the botanical shape correct... you can just start stitching!

This really is a breath-taking book and the photography, the information, the projects, and the overall feel of the book is absolutely flawless! A true 5* book which is going to be a beautiful book for anyone interested in art, making, botanicals, Kew, sewing and creating! -- Naomi Clarke * * As well as sewing and quilting, I am very interested in botanical painting and I often indulge myself in painting flowers and botanical subjects. I also love flowers and gardening, so I was very excited to see Trish's interpretation of the Kew collection of fine art botanical subjects in embroidery.

When the book arrived, I was struck by the luxury of it - a sumptuous edition with the book wrapped in a practical hard-backed folder to store all the embroidery transfers you need for the projects in the book. There is an elastic closure on the folder to hold the book and transfers neatly in place. Beautiful it certainly is, but it's also a highly practical source book, packed with techniques for you to re-create Trish's stunning embroideries in stitch.

As well as sewing and quilting, I am very interested in botanical painting and I often indulge myself in painting flowers and botanical subjects. I also love flowers and gardening, so I was very excited to see Trish's interpretation of the Kew collection of fine art botanical subjects in embroidery.

When the book arrived, I was struck by the luxury of it - a sumptuous edition with the book wrapped in a practical hard-backed folder to store all the embroidery transfers you need for the projects in the book. There is an elastic closure on the folder to hold the book and transfers neatly in place. Beautiful it certainly is, but it's also a highly practical source book, packed with techniques for you to re-create Trish's stunning embroideries in stitch.

The book includes eleven wonderful projects for beginners and beyond, including embroideries of a camellia, waterlily, and magnolia. I particularly love the Flower Sampler that consists of eighteen small elements in a stunning completed project, or that can be stitched individually. I decided I'm going to have a go at stitching the blackberry. For a small design, it uses twelve colours of thread to build up a stunning design and richness of colour.

The folder edition of the book includes all the iron-on transfers you need plus outlines of each design. The iron-on transfers are on thick paper and can be stored in the cellophane envelope that comes with the book.

I used the iron-on transfer to get the blackberry design onto a piece of fabric I had actually dyed with real blackberry juice! I will be using this in a special book about the hedgerows that I am making. The instructions for using the transfers are at the end of the book and were very clear to follow. The iron-on design is useable more than once as I prepared a second blackberry for my project.

Each design in the book is photographed in excellent detail with step-by-step images to guide you through each stage.

The final project in the book is a poppy sampler in the style of a botanical plate and is exquisite. You can achieve this yourself with the comprehensive instructions in the book.

I am in awe of this book - it is stunning to look at in itself for anyone with a love of flowers and gardening, but the designs within are so well illustrated and explained that, with some practice, anyone who loves to embroider will be able to achieve them. -- Julie Briggs * The Sewing Directory * In association with The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, here's the ultimate guide to embroidering flowers. The reusable iron-on transfers are in a hardback folder, ready to use. Full size templates are also included. This stunning, practical book is a must-have for anyone interested in capturing flowers in thread. * Machine Knitting Monthly * Trish Burr reinterprets botanical artworks from the archives at Kew Gardens through her delicate and detailed needle paintings; bringing out their colours and giving them a three dimensional quality. A must-have for anyone interested in capturing flowers in thread. * Stitch * Every once in a while a book arrives that you cannot wait to open - The Kew Book of Embroidered Flowers by Trish Burr is such a book, this is a beautiful book, everything from the actual production and presentation of the book, to the illustrations inside, is truly inspiring.

Kew's Library, Art & Archives was established in the 1850's and now forms one of the greatest collections of botanical information found anywhere.As well as supporting the work of Kew's scientists and horticulturalists it is also accessed by thousands of researchers, garden enthusiasts, historians and the general public around the world.

It is from this collection that Trish Burr's beautiful embroideries have taken their inspiration.

The illustrations are exquisite and the detailed instructions contain everything to encourage any embroiderer to want to create their own examples.

The contents include a Foreword by Kew detailing their work. An Introduction from Trish explaining her own journey and encouraging everyone from beginner to advanced to become involved in creating their own work.

Trish uses a technique called needle painting, this is a technique of surface embroidery like painting a picture on fabric with a needle and thread, this is also known as silk shading, long-and-short shading, or thread painting. She also includes very comprehensive details including everything you need to know to enable you to get started; including tools and materials, preparation, stitch instructions, how to practise the stitches, outlines, raised embroidery, anatomy of a flower, and useful advice before you start.

The projects are then divided into:

Simple projects including:

Japanese anemone, Flower sampler, Clematis, Camellia

Intermediate projects including:

Rhododendron, Waterlily, Iris, Spider chrysanthemum

Advanced projects including:

Rose, Magnolia, Poppy

Finally there are details on thread substitutes, the collection of templates and how to use the iron-on transfers.

The detail is so helpful, the step-by-step instructions take you through each stage of creating the pieces and the illustrations themselves are outstanding.

Embroidery is such a satisfying and wonderful activity and this gorgeous book is destined to become a beautiful heirloom providing inspiration for many generations to come, we absolutely adored it!

Highly Recommended! * Beautiful Heirloom Home * Trish Burr is a needlework designer in South Africa, and she has written many, many books, most notably about needlepainting, which is her specialty. With her vast experience, her ever-developing style and approach, and her exquisite sense of colour combinations for shading, it is no wonder that Trish would be the needle artist to delve into the Kew Archives (from the Royal Botanic Gardens), in order to reproduce some of their botanical illustrations in needle and thread. The resulting book, published by Search Press as part of their 50th Anniversary line-up of stellar art and craft books, is a wonderful collection of floral and garden-related cameos for the embroiderer to stitch. The book is extra-special, thanks to a few nuances and extras that we don't often find in this type of embroidery book.

So, let's take a look at it!

First, let's talk about what's different. The physical properties of the folio edition of the book are different. Most of us, if we are getting the book now, are most likely going to go for this folio edition, which is the one that's available for pre-order. The other edition - it's a straightforward hardbound edition for libraries - lacks this outer folder that holds both the soft-bound version of the book and a packet of iron-on transfers, to make your journey into the projects much easier!

The hard-board folio cover protects the book and the transfers and closes with an elastic band. It's a lot like a moleskin notebook... a very large moleskin notebook. The folio cover and the presence of iron-on transfers are probably the greatest differences you'll notice right away with this book, but there are other nuances within the book itself that are slightly different from Trish's previous books.

You might not notice it right off the bat, because many art and craft books these days have morphed into this approach, but some of the photos in here are larger than life. They are big, making it easy to see the details of the embroidery. The little berry element, for example, which is part of the Floral Sampler found under Simple Projects, is about 1.5" high from the tip of the stem to the base of the berry when transferred at the given size. In the book, the photo of the berry is around 5.5 - 6" from tip of stem to base of berry. So, it's super enlarged, and you can't miss the details! This is a good thing, I think. Seeing details is helpful when it comes to exploring a technique, especially as a beginner.

But it can give you a sense of discombobulation when you set about embroidering. You don't necessarily realize that the item you're about to embroider is significantly smaller than the image of it, until you transfer it. This is one of the problems I run into with blogging, too. Close-up photos of embroidery shown on a website tend to give the sense that the piece is much larger than it actually is, and when you sit down to stitch it, there's a period of adjustment while you get used to the difference in the real size versus the perceived size. Still, I'd rather have too much detail than too little, especially when I'm learning something new!

Ok, let's look at what's in the book!

The Kew book is both an instructional book and a project book. The projects range from simple to advanced. If you are a beginner in needlepainting, you can start at the beginning of the book to get your feet wet, and then move into deeper waters. If you are experienced, you can jump in anywhere.

At the beginning of the book, you'll find introductions to Kew, to Trish and the book's contents, and to needlepainting in general. Before getting into the projects, you'll find the background information for getting started, from fabrics, threads, tools, and basic techniques. Much of the preliminary instruction is offered via diagrams and via close-up photos that demonstrate the techniques. It's all very clear, as you would expect.

Trish goes into detail demonstrating approaches to shading, to colour combinations, stitch direction, and so forth. There are '11 inspiring projects' within the book... technically. Really, there are 28.

There are two projects in the book that really excite me the most, although they are all beautiful in their own way. The first is under 'Simple Projects', and it's called the 'Flower Sampler'. It encompasses 18 embroidered elements (20, if you count each individual embroidered element), each of which can be taken out of sampler context and used as its own little practice project. I love this sampler. I love the idea of it. I love the beauty of the finished, whole sampler. And I love the fact that each element could really stand on its own as a mini project. For each element in the sampler - some of which are not necessarily flowers - you get a materials list, the design, and step-by-step instructions on how to stitch it. You'll also get a larger-than-life photo with clear details of the embroidery, which will serve well to help you successfully stitch your version.

There's a magnificent bee, by the way... Now, this is where Trish's artistry really shines. I mean, it shines everywhere, but I'm especially besotted with the bee. Check out the bee wing. It's solidly embroidered. There's no translucent anything there - the threads are solid colours. But it is a wonder to behold. It looks translucent, thanks to her subtle shading, drawing in the colours behind the wing and bringing them to the forefront while stitching it. It's fabulous! There are many simple projects in the book, then, if you consider the sampler as individual projects, too.

Then, there are intermediate projects that build on the knowledge and skills you've gleaned from the first section of the book. There are four intermediate projects, including studies of the rhododendron, the waterlily, the iris, and the spider chrysanthemum which graces the cover of the book. For those of you who have followed Trish for years, you'll probably notice some slight adjustments in her style and approach here and there throughout the book. The rhododendron, for example, has a definite contemporary and somewhat trendy look to it. So, you can expect to see some variation in Trish's interpretations - they are not necessarily all sketchy-botanical looking. Some pieces are very boldly contemporary.

There are three advanced projects: a rose, a magnolia, and a poppy sampler. The poppy sampler is my second favourite in the book! It's just lovely. And it would be a wonderful study in long and short shading. I think I have A Thing for things called samplers. The poppy sampler can also be broken down into at least two - if not more - projects.

In the more advanced projects, you'll see that Au Ver a Soie silks enter the materials lists. Yay! I'm a huge fan of needlepainting with silk. I know there is a school of thought out there that favours stranded cotton for needlepainting (also called "silk shading") but I've always thought that there's nothing quite as beautiful as silk shading worked with silk! In the back of the book, Trish offers a list of thread substitutions for those who wish to work some of the projects in silk. This is handy! Thread substitutions are never absolutely exact, but it's a nice springboard for those who like to adjust their own colour palettes and thread types.

Finally, of course, there's the pattern section. If you have the folio edition of the book, though, thankfully, you won't have to go through a meticulous transfer process! Wow! Heaven!

I'm not going to pro and con this book. If you love needlepainting, if you want to explore needlepainting fully, if you love botanicals, you're going to love this book. You're going to want the special folio edition. And you'll find it a treasure. -- Mary Corbet * Needle 'n' Thread * Sometimes Search Press really goes the whole nine yards and produces a book with extra wow factor. From its larger format, sturdy colourful covers, and elastic to keep it closed like a box you know that something special hides within, and you won't be disappointed. Inside is a pocket full of transfers for stitching eleven stunning studies of flowers from Kew Garden's botanical illustration collection.

The lush colours and elegant layouts of 18th and 19th century botanical art are just made to be captured in embroidery, especially the thread painting style worked mostly in long and short stitch. The author promises that this is not too difficult for even a beginner to master, and there are not many stitches to learn. Mostly it is a case of practising getting the shading right and there are quite a few staged photographs to show the right way. You won't need many tools and materials; a slate frame or hoop, six stranded cotton floss and fabric is most of what you will require. You can learn how to work the various stitches as well as prepare a hoop, use transfers, choose materials and care for your finished work.

To limber you up for the actual projects there are several simple pieces, all with captioned photographs as well as a diagram showing the order of work, list of threads and anything else you need. All sizes are given in both imperial and metric, and after the first project there is an option of working a sampler featuring another 18 small studies plus two simpler larger projects. Following this are two more chapters containing the intermediate and advanced projects, the latter of which concludes with another sampler.

Full projects typically have photographic stages with arrows indicating what colour floss, essential when working on complex, variegated flowers with a lot of different shades. Each finished piece is shown in a large format, often over two pages so you can appreciate its beauty and see what you are working to achieve.

At the back is a handy table of thread substitutes so you can opt for DMC instead of the more costly and harder to source (at least in the UK) Au Ver A Soie thread. When your transfers have worn out, or you want to work on a dark background there are also full-sized outlines for tracing, showing that the author has thought of everything! This is one of my top choices for this year and a book to treasure. -- Rachel A Hyde * * I was delighted to be asked to review this book. Having grown up less than seven miles from Kew gardens I have happy memories of family visits to Kew. I have been aware of Trish's books for a while. I was always a bit daunted by the pictures I had seen. How could I possibly even think about starting one of her projects and achieve such amazing results? With this book think that it might just be possible!

The book itself starts with hints and tips for stitching, predominantly using silk shading (also known as needle painting). The most beautiful flower projects are given, all inspired by the library of art and archives at Kew Gardens, the largest collection of its type.

Trish begins with good explanation of the types of fabrics you could use for your project, setting out the pros and cons of each. She goes on to explain the threads used and how to use them. Also covered is the types of frames, needles, and other accessories to use as well as tips for when you have finished such as how to wash, block and mount your completed work.

There are detailed instructions, photos and line drawings explaining the stitches used, with tips for those perhaps new silk shading - starting with simple leaves and petals, showing direction of stitch and colour changes. This then builds to introduce additional stitches to enhance your embroidery - French knots, satin stitch, padding and outlining.

Next on to the set projects - starting with a lovely Japanese anemone. It is so well photographed at every stage, that a flower could otherwise appear daunting, is achievable. The projects then build as you work through the book. There is a sampler with 18 separate elements including some insects as wells as flowers that could be stitched individually or as the intended sampler.

Trish then moves onto the intermediate projects which begin to use silks rather than stranded cottons but could be completed with stranded cotton if wished. Finally, we have advanced projects, rose, magnolia, and poppy all with comprehensive shading instructions and photos including very detailed close up pictures. Everything is so clearly illustrated with instructions and pictures, even the advanced projects seem achievable.

In the winter when I personally find stitching more difficult with lack of natural light, I can see myself just sitting down and turning its pages. It is beautiful, inspiring, well put together and every purchase supports the work of Kew saving plants and fungi around the world. -- Alison Cross * The SEW Region Magazine - Book Threads * A beautifully illustrated book that will inspire all embroiderers, this book is the result of an invitation to Trish Burr from the Royal Botanic Gardens to examine their extensive collection of botanical illustrations and to reproduce a selection of the illustrations as embroideries. While principally a book on thread painting, the author has used other stitches where appropriate to bring the subjects to life. The details found in the botanical illustrations have been faithfully reproduced in the embroidered works. Rather than being too prescriptive with respect to the materials required to complete the projects, the author provides a good discussion on the pros and cons on background fabric, thread and hoop/frame options.

This book has been designed for use by embroiderers of all skill levels. There is an excellent tutorial at the beginning of the book covering the stitches required to complete the projects. The illustrations are excellent and there are examples of petal shapes that can be used to practise shading and colour blending before starting a project.

There are 11 projects divided into beginner, intermediate and advanced sections. The photos of the finished projects leap off the page. They are all well presented with easy to follow step-by-step directions and beautiful macro photos of each of the steps, providing excellent guidance on stitch and colour placement. Trish has used the silk threads of Au Ver a Soie in a number of the projects and the subtle colour movement across the embroidered petals gives the smooth, lush appearance of newly unfurled petals just before they are damaged by weathering and insects. The intricate details recorded in the original botanical illustrations have been superbly translated into stitch and the choice of colours and subtle blending of colour throughout the projects is true to nature. There is one particularly good illustration of this in the selection of colours for the bee wings. By selecting a lighter shade of the same tones as the rest of the abdomen of the bee and then outlining the edges and veins of the wings with straight stitch, the wings appear to be transparent. It looks amazing.

Each project references the botanical illustration and artist, but I love botanical and zoological drawings as they help you focus on the details in the original subject material and would have loved to see the original illustration beside the embroidered reproduction. (Editor: To see these visit Kew's website). For anyone who wants to learn or further develop their thread painting skills, this book will help give you the confidence to develop your own projects. -- Sue Swann * Threads *
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About Trish Burr

Trish Burr is a self-taught embroiderer who hungrily consumes all aspects of this fine craft. Through research and practice she has developed this individual technique of surface embroidery. She is the author of several highly successful books. Trish lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa. For more information on Trish and her work visit
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Rating details

15 ratings
4.53 out of 5 stars
5 73% (11)
4 13% (2)
3 7% (1)
2 7% (1)
1 0% (0)
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