Review: The Stumpwork, Goldwork and Surface Embroidery Beetle Collection

The Stumpwork, Goldwork and Surface Embroidery Beetle Collection
The Stumpwork, Goldwork and Surface Embroidery Beetle Collection by Jane Nicholas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A fantastic book for the advanced beetle-loving embroiderer. This may be a small audience, but it’s a wonderful book–from the research on the inspiration insects, through to the instructions and projects using stumpwork, goldwork, crewel, beading, and applique techniques.

I finished my first stumpwork beetle –the ladybug–and can say that the instructions are clear, the measurements and diagrams are accurate and make sense, and the project worked.


In person, this little guy measures about 1 cm long.
In person, this little guy measures about 1 cm long.

It is definitely not a perfect project, but I learned some things in doing this one:

  1. You cannot substitute the 24-gauge jewellery wire you have on hand for the 28-30 gauge florists’ wire called for in the pattern. It makes too thick a border for the wings, and once you finish the wing, you’ll have a devil of a time trying to get the wire through the background fabric.
  2. Draw the outlines on to the back of the background fabric, so you can still see where the legs go after the front has been covered by the wings. Draw the outlines of the wings on the front of the wing fabric, because honestly you’re going to cover the whole thing front and back with stitches anyway so it doesn’t really matter where it goes.
  3. The black seed beads you have on hand are maybe not quite small enough.
  4. You will absolutely need to have good, clear detailed vision of objects held at about nose-distance. Doing couching stitches over even 24-gauge jewellery wire, and then padded satin stitches to fill in tiny shapes only a few millimetres in each direction, will require you to hold things pretty close to your face and be able to see them relatively well. This may mean reading glasses. If you’re me, this will mean reading glasses worn in front of your regular prescription glasses. Hazel Blomkamp, whose wonderful crewel embroidery books I got the double-glasses suggestion from, gently reminds her readers to take off the reading glasses before being seen by anyone. Or you can take selfies and post them on the internet, which is what I did.

    In a 4" embroidery hoop, to give you a sense of scale.
    In a 4″ embroidery hoop, to give you a sense of scale.
  5. Working itty-bitty black stab stitches around the borders of the two teeny pieces of black felt that form the body underneath those wings will require the brightest light you can find. Don’t try to do this in the kitchen at 10pm.
  6. After 30 minutes stitching while wearing two pairs of glasses, you will not be able to see well without them.
  7. But you can totally do 3D stumpwork embroidery.  It’ll even be recognizable when it’s done, if a bit messy.

    See? 3D!
    See? 3D!

Given that these little ladybugs are so small, I think they could be a super cute touch on a shirt collar or placket or something.  I’m not sure what I’ll do with this little guy. It’d be a fun pendant for a necklace, don’t you think?

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4 thoughts on “Review: The Stumpwork, Goldwork and Surface Embroidery Beetle Collection

  1. Somehow I came across your blog through searching bugs, animals etc. Your work is really good and I especially love the lady bug. What puts the whole thing over the top is the way that you express yourself in writing. I could not stop reading and you should really look at becoming an author of some sort.

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