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Whitework Embroidery
  • Publisher: Search Press
  • Edition: BC Paperback
  • Publication: 17 July 2019
  • ISBN 13/EAN: 9781782216896
  • Stock: 50+
  • Size: 210x260 mm
  • Illustrations: 360
  • Pages: 160
  • RRP: £14.99

Whitework Embroidery


Create 30 beautiful projects with a modern touch by Ayako Otsuka (Author)

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Book Description

This sumptuous book by accomplished embroiderer Ayako Otsuka is full of incredibly delicate and beautiful whitework embroidery of all kinds. Whitework is simply embroidery worked in white thread on white fabric, and it is renowned for its calm beauty and simplicity. An ancient form of embroidery that was popular in the Middle Ages, Ayako has brought whitework completely up to date with her gorgeous examples.

The projects include such items as a sampler, a tea cosy, a teddy bear cushion, a christening gown, a ring bearer’s pillow and a table runner. Some items are more complex than others, and there is a comprehensive techniques section with detailed step-by-step instructions, clear photographs and diagrams to guide you.

Featuring drawn thread work, Schwalm, Ajour and Hedebo embroidery among other techniques, there is a wealth of information here for the keen embroiderer and 30 very beautiful projects to choose from. 

Table of Contents

Whitework Sampler I
Dish Covers
Tea Pot Cosy
Edged Placemats
Buttonhole Scallop Coasters
The Cushion Collection:
Floral Cushion
Snowflake Cushion
Teddy Bear Cushion
Hen Cushion
Drawn Work Bolster
Eyelet Cushion
Envelope Pillow
Whitework Sampler II
Christening Gown
Drawstring Pouches
Ring Bearer’s Pillow
Table Runner
Napkin Rings
Pin Cushion Doily
Embroidery Tool Case
Cube Pin Cushions
Needle Book
Tools & Materials
Whitework Techniques:
Schwalm Embroidery
Hedebo Embroidery
Drawn Thread Work
Eyelet Work
Count Work
Mask Work
Ajour Embroidery
Surface Embroidery Stitches

About the Author

About Ayako Otsuka

Embroidery designer Ayako Otsuka is the director of Embroidery Studio Ecru and a member of the Japan Association of Linen Spinners. She has been immersed in the world of embroidery since childhood, learning from her mother, a designer of Japanese and Western style embroidery. Ayako is the author of several books about embroidery published in her home country of Japan.  She specializes in teaching Whitework, Stumpwork and botanical embroidery at her school Studio Ecru and exhibits her work in Japan and abroad.


The Textile Art Magazine - Embroidery

Create 30 exquisite whitework projects using traditional stitches and techniques under the guidance of accomplished embroiderer Ayako Otsuka. Using draw thread work, Schwalm embroidery, Ajour embroidery, Hedebo embroidery and other techniques, Otsuka includes step-by-step instructions, clear photographs and diagrams to guide you.

Customer review

Love the front cover, it is inviting you to sit and 'look at me' and enticing you to look inside.

The photographs and descriptions offer delicious ideas to tempt a creative mind, for me as a novice to this embroidery.
So often in craft books they begin with a chapter on tools and materials. I like the setup of the first section of your photos of projects at the beginning. This sparks my interest whilst my mind is thinking what do I need to get started, but let's turn another page and wow, more delicious ideas.
To get started on a project, very little is required. Living in North Devon I haven't been able to find any suitable linen locally, so will have to search the internet instead.
From page 88 the instructions for the projects are clear and well laid out. Any problems with the stitches are easily solved in the Basic Embroidery section where the colour of blue thread makes it clear to follow.

I can see many of my friends and fellow crafters wanting a copy!

Customer review

A beautiful book, featuring traditional and modern designs, with a comprehensive worksheet. Excellent step by step photos and diagrams, plus stitch glossary. Very good section on tools and materials. 

Customer review

An absolutely beautiful book, full of detailed instructions, lovely photos/pictures. The introduction tells of the history behind the different stitches, its a fab coffee table book too. 

Customer review

An extremely well laid out book for those of that have never attempted Whitework before but also I think for those with some previous experience too. Rather like having a workshop at home, which you can work through at your own pace, with clear instructions and excellent pictures as well.

And of course there's no reason you couldn't transfer the skills learnt to use red, black or blue threads for example as you become more confident, accomplished or adventurous!

Customer review

This book is a great stand alone read before you even pick up a needle. It has sections on the history of whitework with examples of styles from different countries. Techniques included are Schwalm, Hedebo and Hvidsom as well as the more familiar broderie anglaise, pulled thread and drawn thread work. All are beautifully photographed to make your mouth water. There are 30 projects ranging from simple small bags, sachets and needlebooks to challenging projects for cushions babywear and samplers.
Instructions are clearly presented with each step accompanied by colour photographs, and paper patterns for the projects are included at the back of the book. Materials and tools are discussed, these being fairly simple and readily available, making it an inexpensive craft. Stitches are mostly basic embroidery stitches and instructions for these are also included at the end of the book. The only thing missing is a list of suppliers but as most materials are readily available from local shops or online it's not really necessary.
Even if you never attempted whitework before this book inspires the confidence to try it out while at the same time experienced whiteworkers will enjoy the more intricate designs.
It's a beautiful, beautiful book I have thoroughly enjoyed reading, It will become a treasured part of my stitch book collection and I can't wait to get started on some of the projects.

Customer review

This is a beautiful looking book with many gorgeous, inspiring photographs. Some of these are of complete projects whilst many others form part of the very clear step by step instructions. Additionally, there are also many diagrams for each project with clear instructions for each step in the process. At the back of the book there are instructions for the basic embroidery stitches and also a set of patterns as required for projects in the book.

The book includes a total of 30 designs with some which could be successfully attempted by a first time Whitework Embroiderer through to other more challenging designs. There are two samplers which give an opportunity to practice and demonstrate the skills learnt. I dream of one day being able to make the very beautiful Heritage Christening Gown.

Customer review

What an amazing book! Just what I wanted to relight a passion for embroidery. All instructions very clear and even has templates included. I am getting it for a friend for Christmas I was that impressed. 

Customer review

Whitework embroidery is something I haven't tried before so I was eager to flick through this book and it hasn't disappointed. I love the idea of starting by creating a sampler to learn all the different stitches and techniques.

There is a section on tools and materials and then an in-depth guide to the various stitches with clear photographs, and everything seems to be clearly explained. It all made sense to me even as a beginner. I especially loved the full-size templates in the back of the book as they will make it so much easier. The book is packed full of projects, I particularly loved the christening gown, it would make the perfect family heirloom. Even though this is a traditional technique I can see some of the projects in here being used as a centre panel of a cushion maybe surrounded by a bright modern print. The book is beautifully photographed and well thought out.


What a beautiful book this is. 30 gorgeous whitework embroidery designs for you to make. These interesting and varied designs use traditional stitches. The detailed techniques section is accompanied by step-by-step illustrations. The instructions show different types of whitework including drawn, counted and pulled. Two sampler patterns allow you to practice your skills. This book is suitable for beginner upwards. Handmade projects make perfect gifts and keepsakes and include table linens and items such as a teacosy, cushions, accessories, gifts for babies including a heirloom christening gown, and gifts for a wedding such as a ringbearer pillow. Embroiderers will find this book a pleasure to look at and practical with good projects and clear instructions. The projects are elegant. I have one niggle, all the photos are at the front followed by tools, materials, techniques and then the instructions and the back with only line drawings. I prefer clear photos with the project instructions. 

Postcard Reviews

Whitework Embroidery is an absolute beautiful thing to see.

White embroidery on white fabric is just stunning. It gives an antique and millionaire feel to any home.

Filled with techniques, this is a book that will advance your skills and enable you to complete a project with a stunning professional finish.

There are 30 projects, the Baby layette is amazing, but that said all the designs are skilfully and expertly showcased. I just hope I can achieve the same result.

The introduction to the book is an interesting read and gives some history on the craft. There are 2 samplers included which give the chance to practice and hone your embroidery. These can be as small or as large as you choose.

Each project has a visual and written stitch guide included and a large double sided pattern sheet has the designs that can be easily traced.

If you love embroidery then this book is for you. Even a beginner will appreciate the beauty of the work involved and it will inspire and motivate any stitcher.


Understated, classic and beautiful that is whitework, a traditional and often neglected style of embroidery.  This book brings it up to date and shows how it can be used to adorn all kinds of useful and elegant items for the home and beyond.


I confess that although I have tried many types of embroidery, I have never done any whitework.  Fortunately, it says on the back cover that this book is ideal for anybody new to it or who needs a refresher.  Like all the books I have seen that originated in Japan this one follows a particular layout.  At the front are photographs of all the projects, followed by the instructions and patterns.  Also, at the front is a short introduction to whitework, mentioning five different styles and where they originated from.  You then get to try them all out in two samplers first which is a great idea as you then get a flavour of what they are like and how they are worked.  There are thirty projects to make including cushions, sewing kit items such as a needle case and pincushion, heirloom pieces for christenings and weddings, table settings, sachets and more.  Following the gallery is a section on what tools and materials you will need (not many) and all the stitches.  These are grouped under the five styles, so you get to know which stitches are associated with each.  There are many pages of staged photographs and diagrams, some of which might have been even better larger (ditto the print) but you will need sharp vision and a good light anyway for whitework.  Many of the stitches are quite complex so it is good that so many stages are shown, together with tips for foolproof results.  Last are the projects, each with a list of materials, finished size and written instructions, plus diagrams and at the back a pullout pattern sheet.  To any real beginners all this might seem daunting; I would recommend anybody who has never done any type of embroidery to have a go at some freestyle first, as whitework is not one of the easiest types.  Some of the more complex pieces such as the christening gown come with instructions and diagrams rather like those on a paper pattern.  The simpler sections are given to mark out with measurements, the more complex parts appear on the pattern sheet.  To make most of these projects you will need the usual sewing know-how plus a sewing machine.  At the very back is an index of stitches plus diagrams for some freestyle stitches which are also featured in some projects.  I have never done any whitework before as it seemed like such a bewilderingly huge topic with so many styles, but this book helps simplify it and I feel that I will at last take the plunge.  Highly recommended for making the complex seem very doable.


If you cannot find a good range of embroidery and needlecraft materials locally try http://www.searchpress.com for a list of suppliers. 

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