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Look inside Blackwork Embroidery in Colour
  • Publisher: Search Press
  • Edition: BC Paperback
  • Publication: 31 May 2023
  • ISBN 13/EAN: 9781782218456
  • Stock: 50+
  • Size: 216x280 mm
  • Illustrations: 350
  • Pages: 128
  • RRP: £14.99
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Blackwork Embroidery in Colour


A colourful modern twist on a traditional technique by Melanie Couffe (Author)

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Book Description

Blackwork is a traditional form of embroidery, usually worked in black thread on a white background.

Here, author Melanie Couffe takes the technique and gives it a burst of colour by introducing delicate shades of pink, blue, green, red, yellow, orange and purple. Her book begins with an introduction to the fabrics and threads she uses, and the basic stitches you need to produce the beautiful designs featured in the book. There are 16 gorgeous projects to create, including a pinkeep, mobile phone case, purse and several framed pieces, all accompanied by step-by-step instructions, photographs and charts. Melanie's enchanting designs will inspire you to introduce colour into your blackwork, and create your own modern, stunning embroideries based on this classic technique. The threads used in the book are her own hand-dyed range available to order from her website and Etsy shop.

Table of Contents

History of Blackwork
Tools and Materials
Stitch Guide
Geometric Patterns

SPRINGSpring Tree of Life, Tulip Pinkeep, Bee Pendibule, Spring Fob Trio 
SUMMER - Summer Tree of Life, Flamingo Tote Bag, Marine Jewellery, Mobile Phone Cases 
AUTUMN - Autumn Tree of Life, Pumpkin Citrolli, Hedgehog Purse, Autumnal Grapes  
WINTER - Winter Tree of Life, 12 Christmas Tree Decorations, Foliage Trio, Robin Clock 

The Charts

About the Author

About Melanie Couffe

Melanie Couffe started her career as a language teacher and was an avid cross stitcher in her spare time. She started her cross stitch design company, Tom & Lily Creations, while on maternity leave and has been an independent creative entrepreneur ever since. She has also developed her own range of hand-dyed stitching fabrics and threads. Melanie is a qualified colour therapist and colour is an integral part of her life and business. Melanie was born in Wimbledon in the UK and now lives in the south of France.


Embroidery Magazine - July/August Issue

It's not surprising that Melanie Couffe should choose to present us with a colourful modern twist on a traditional technique, given that she runs Tom and Lily Creations, a design company centred on hand-dyeing Colour Gems threads in a cornucopia of colours. But blackwork? For Melanie, it is the geometry of the designs that attracts her.

The useful 'History of Blackwork' section at the front of the book, very concisely lays out the story of this technique. Henry VIII's first wife, Catherine of Aragon, brought the technique with her from Spain. Originally the designs used black silk thread on white linen and were added to collars, cuffs and sleeves. Today, blackwork, which features the main stitches of back, stem and chain stitch is worked in any colour, usually on aida fabric or evenweave, or on linen. 

With useful stitch, materials and technique guides, and advice on reading blackwork charts, Melanie provides a plethora of projects. Arranged by season, they range from a tulip-design pin-keep and a bee pendibule (a pendulum-like hanging heart) to a hedgehog autumn purse. Melanie now lives in Perpignan in the south of France, from where she runs her business, which also sends out three types of subscription boxes every month across the world. She says: 'I have an intense relationship with colour and it is an integral part of me and the DNA of my business. Colour makes me feel alive and full of energy and this is what I try to put into my designs, fabrics and threads. My motto is "colour is life".'

Customer Review

I love this book, it is really beautiful. The introduction shows the enthusiasm and passion that Melanie Couffe wants to share and it is infectious. The background and instructions are clear and informative.

I have been stitching for a long time and have felt blackwork becoming more popular and modern recently and this book certainly adds to that movement.

I love the layout and seasonal themes in the book. I wanted to do a little bit so I could review the pattern layout. My plan was a jellyfish as I am drawn to all things marine. As soon as I started I was hooked. I painted my own fabric for the first time and before I knew it I had a whole aquatic bookmark which you can see here.

The patterns are clear and not too small. I didn't have any of the amazing threads used (although I may invest as they look gorgeous). This wasn't really a problem as part of the ethos and joy of the book is experimenting with your own colour palette.

The size of the projects are very variable which is perfect to match to the time you have. Some of the larger patterns have a motif like style which could lend itself to seasonal samplers for example. It's a great book for all levels as the possibilities are endless. Next stop tulips.

Customer Review

This book is so inspiring. As with all Search Press books it has plenty of clear photos and diagrams. This makes the techniques easy to follow. Within minutes of opening the cover I couldn't wait to get started, over the first weekend of reading it I completed the designs pictured here.

The book is laid out according to the seasons, there are several projects for each including a tree which is included in all seasons so you could put them all together as a set.

I found the blackwork designs so relaxing to stitch as, once you get the hang of it, there's no need to constantly refer to the chart.

The designs can easily be used in other projects and I look forward to using them in some of my own. Overall this book is definitely worth reading it is both interesting and inspiring.

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