Stitch It Simple: 25 Hand Sewn Projects to Make and Share by Beth Sheard

Beth Sheard is a textile designer, and her book Stitch It Simple has 25 projects than anyone can work out from their sewing machine. Ranging from simple greeting cards to a basic quilt, it has craft and home projects you'll actually love to use and give away.

These projects and patterns for accessories and home decor are guaranteed to work well for sewing novices and produce fun, fast, beautiful results. Created for new-to-sewing crafters who have little or no experience in hand stitching or using a sewing machine, each project offers clear instructions and everything readers need to stitch something they are sure to love. With a wonderful passion for sewing featured on every page, readers will soon discover just how gratifying sewing can be.

Basics Covered

For those that need the brush up, and for those that have no experience at all, Sheard goes over the basic stitches: oversewing or slip stitch, hand stitching, applique stitch edging, running stitch, satin stitch, cross stitch, blanket stitch, and French knots. Applying fusable web, the envelope back on your pillowcases, and binding edges are also covered.

Projects Overview

25 different projects to make for yourself or share, including lampshades, stylized chair cushions, table runners, embroidered slippers made of felt, and more. A little something for everyone, and the instructions were all clear and understandable - start to finish. The illustrations and color photographs were clear as well.

Book Information

Disclosure: The book was provided by the publisher and any opinions are my own. Affiliate links help support the site. :)

Renee Shelton.

How to Place a Zipper in a Skirt

Great video tutorial for putting in a zipper. Even if you already know how, it's a good brush up if you haven't done it in a long time. :)

Renee Shelton.

Dancing Sewing Patterns

Crossed Stitches in Needlepoint and Their Examples

These stitches are as the name suggests, and consist of multiple or single stitches crossing each other, in either straight or diagonal styles.

Examples of Crossed Stitches: 

  • Crossed Stitch: A basic crossed stitch has an ‘x’ shape design over an intersection: one stitch diagonally left followed by another stitch over the same intersection going right. It is best worked by finishing each cross before moving on the the next, instead of working all similar direction stitches in a row and going back over and crossing them later. An Upright Crossed Stitch or Diagonal Upright Crossed Stitch has the crossed stitch pattern with a ‘+’ design, starting with a 2-mesh stitch horizontally crossed over with a 2-mesh stitch vertically. It is best done in a cross going up/down/up/down rather that straight across. A Diagonal Upright Crossed Stitch has the stitches continuing at an angle down the canvas, and consists of 2- to 3- mesh stitched, depending on the desired look. 
  • Fern Stitch: This gets its name from the neat vertical rows it makes on canvas. It consists of a diagonal stitch consisting of about 2 intersections with the cross just at the bottom intersection. Rows are finished with a small Crossed Stitch at the ends. 
  • Plaited Stitch: This is similar to the Fern Stitch, except that the rows are overlapped at the top, making cross points at the top and bottom.
Renee Shelton.

The Main Stitches Used in Needlepoint

What is Needlepoint? 

Needlepoint as a whole is stitches done in a counted fashion. The American Needlepoint Guild, an educational non-profit organization, defines the term as “any counted or free stitchery worked by hand with a threaded needle on a readily countable ground.” You can do free form stitches on the countable canvas giving whatever you are making as unique as any other art. And with the different yarn colors and textures with which to work your stitches, the possibilities are boundless.

Needlepoint has many, many different stitches that make up the term, which is why it appeals to so many: variety is the key. Many different stitches can be used on any given pattern. Some stitches allow you to show off your wool or decorative yarns to their best advantage while others are quick and make for nice backgrounds. Deciding on what to use for your next sampler or which to use for a particular effect is made easier once you know the basic categories of the stitches. I classify the stitches into four main categories: Straight, Diagonal, Crossed and Decorative. Over 40 of the more popular stitches are mentioned or described below.

Note: For the purposes of description, I define a 2-mesh stitch encompassing two rows or columns of canvas. A 2-intersection stitch is one that crosses two cross points or intersections of canvas.
The numbers can change, and it therefor increases or decreases the number of canvas points. For example, a 4-mesh stitch has a stitch running across 4 lines of canvas and 1-intersection stitch has a diagonal stitch covering only one intersection point.

The Four Main Categories of Needlepoint Stitches 

  • Straight Stitches (Bargello, Brick, Gobelin, etc.) 
  • Diagonal Stitches (Continental, Byzantine, Mosaic, etc.) 
  • Crossed Stitches (Crossed, Fern, Plaited, etc.) 
  • Decorative Stitches (Eyelet, Looped, etc.) 

Renee Shelton

Hand-Stitched Home by Susan Beal

Hand-Stitched Home could be entitled: Everything You Wanted to Know About Pendleton Wool, And Then Some. Along with some pretty great projects (Nesting Boxes, Jacquard Cube Ottoman, Stylish Shawl), you'll get the history of Pendleton wool and the beginnings of The Arts and Crafts movement, and the Pendleton Woolen Mills company timeline, too.

Author Susan Beal lays out the book in seven chapters beginning with the basics, and gradually moving from the home to favorite accessories: About Pendleton; Tools, Materials & Techniques; Modern Home Basics; Pillows and Upholstery; Blankets and Beyond; Go-To Accessories; Favorites to Wear. The last section has all the patterns and wool resources, including the Pendleton Mills timeline and metric equivalents.

The full color pictures in Hand-Stitched Home give appreciation to the many patterns available, and the illustrations give clear instruction on how to assemble the projects. Each project contains a difficulty level, techniques that will be needed, and any notes necessary to finish it. And since plaids are such an important part of Pendleton wool design, Beal gives advice on working with both wool fabric, and dealing with color palettes and plaids throughout.

From Chapter 5's "Square-Within-a-Square Plaid Quilt:
Choosing Your Color Palette: This project is very customizable and could be made with a mix of plaids and solids, vintage and new fabrics, or any other configuration you like. I recommend restricting your color palette a little for overall harmony, using you focus plaid to set the tone, and collecting plaids with those colors in mind. I included plaids with all kinds of blue, green, rust, gray, brown, tan, and cream tones, avoiding strong, eye-catching colors that didn't feel like a good fit. This quilt  would also be stunning in an intentionally bolder palette, different from my calm lake house tones.

A very useful sewing book on many levels, along with a little textiles history, too.

Book Information:

  • Hand-Stitched Home: Projects to Sew with Pendleton & Other Wools by Susan Beal
  • Taunton Press: 2014
  • ISBN13: 9781621138709

  • Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher and any opinions are my own.

    Renee Shelton.

    Handbag Workshop by Anna Mazur

    How do you sew the perfect handbag? By knowing all the techniques to construct one, and having a good pattern for fabrication. All that and more can be found in Handbag Workshop: Design and Sew the Perfect Bag by Anna Mazur.

    Mazur begins the handbag journey by distinguishing the five different handbag silhouettes: rectangle, square, oval, ellipse, and cylinder. The basic tools and sewing techniques include describing a handbag's foundation and such things as pockets and zippers.

    Handbag Projects: Beginning, Intermediate, Advanced

    All the handbag projects are graduated from the more simpler handbags (Security Pouch, 1940s Hobo Wristlet) to bigger projects (Cross-Body Sling Bag with Tablet Pocket, Ostrich with Fur-Lined Mini Shopper). The patterns for all the handbags are located at the back of the book, and instructions are step by step in the chapters.

    For anyone wanting to create the handbags in the book, all the tools are there for success. For anyone who wants to make a reproduction of their favorite bags, this would make a pretty good start as Mazur cleverly goes over all the popular silhouettes making the reader able to do so.

    Book Information:

  • Handbag Workshop: Design and Sew the Perfect Bag by Anna Mazur
  • Taunton Press; 2014
  • ISBN13: 9781621137771
  • Paperback, 208 pages.

  • Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher and any opinions are my own.
    Renee Shelton.