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Customising Clothes with Embroidery (Paperback)

15 fun projects to inspire you to upcycle the clothes you already own

Photographic Books Colour Books Arts and Crafts White Owl

By Connie Mabbott
Imprint: White Owl
Series: Crafts
Pages: 112
Illustrations: 150 colour illustrations
ISBN: 9781526784469
Published: 17th December 2021

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Start embroidering your own clothes with inspiration from Connie’s book full of detailed embroidery projects that will have you captivated by the technique of free-motion embroidery. Starting with simple ideas that can be done in an afternoon to get you warmed up, and moving onto more complex, detailed projects that will keep you busy for weeks! Finished pieces like tops, denim and accessories will inspire you to start decorating your own clothes and fill your wardrobe with totally unique, upcycled pieces that no one else owns.

The book is split into four parts, each with a range of embroidery projects to get you inspired to either patch up that old top with a hole or stain, or create something outstanding on that staple denim jacket you’ve been wanting to customise for ages - Don’t throw away something just because it’s no longer new!

The book will cover all skill levels - from easy patches using straight lines, to big pieces with lots of colour and shading for maximum impact and detail! There’s something for everyone to start with before challenging yourself and progressing onto more advanced designs.

Each project will contain beautiful imagery of the design process from start to finish, showing how an embroidered garment is created from the initial thought processes and drawing stages, right through to the stitching techniques and the finished pieces.

“Just because something has lost its appeal, or has a small hole... doesn’t have to mean it has to be thrown away and replaced with something new,” writes designer Mabbott in her on-trend debut. She kicks things off with an overview of tips and techniques for both hand-stitching and embroidering with a sewing machine, then offers a list of necessary tools and materials, including scissors, thin needles, beads, and an embroidery hoop. As for the projects, there’s a leafy monogrammed “houseplant initial jumper,” a designer-inspired “snake clutch bag,” a charming “embroidered fluffy coat,” a fun “cutwork denim top,” and a “daisy cardigan” that’s spiffed up by adding flower stitches onto the buttons. Mabbott shines in the free-motion stitch projects, in which designs are done directly onto clothing instead of patches: the simple line-drawn flowers against white blouses are eye-catching and original. Step-by-step photos accompany each project, and Mabbott’s can-do attitude shines: “Once you’ve got the knack of working with materials like this you will be able to customise anything.” This is just right for crafters ready to ditch fast fashion.

Read the full review here.

Publishers Weekly

Embroidery seems to be making a comeback and I am here for it. It has always been one of my favorite needlearts and embroidery on a garment or accessory will ensure I take a look. I love this book. Not only does it provide embroidery patterns but also knitting patterns which I was not expecting. There are many photos which is a necessity to me. The basic supplies and stitch instructions are clear and the stitch instructions have photos which again to me is required. Beyond the provided patterns there are photos of other projects to provide more inspiration. I highly recommend.

NetGalley, Pam Straight

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Great book about making more out of your clothes, embroidery and slow mindful crafting. I really like it and I think it would make a great gift for anyone just starting out or growing confident with embroidery, or if you’re looking for new ideas on how to use your skill.

NetGalley, Katie Smith

As featured in

Simply Sewing

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

There are some fabulous projects in this book and good information to give that old item a fresh new look.

NetGalley, Leyla Johnson

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Are you looking to take plain pieces of clothing and make them more "you"? This book has great ideas on how to make things unique. This book is full of ideas and instructions that are easy to use. If you are looking for ideas and how-to's, then is is a book you should pick and and use!

NetGalley, Terri Ladage Randolph

Connie Mabbot draws on nature as her inspiration for her free-motion embroidery patterns and adds her passion and creativity, often using upcycled materials. One positive the covid pandemic has brought about is a resurgence in handcrafting, thankfully. I started embroidery at the age of six and my passion (obsession?) has only grown from there. There is something so special about lovingly making things by hand...and receiving them, too. Connie's book contains new-to-me information and tips in creating fifteen patterns. Her goal is not only to supply embroiderers with patterns and techniques but to inspire to branch off and create our own.

Connie discusses materials and equipment and moves on to the simplest patterns, alphabet patching. Then come gradually more and more challenging projects (in the instructions for each she includes skill level, materials, equipment and colours). My favourites are the sunflower, skirt and cutwork. I love that she uses what she already has, re-purposed. Loads of possibilities!

NetGalley, Brenda Carleton

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

An excellent book for upscaling and adding personal touches to your clothes! This well written book offers step by step instructions for embroidering vintage or previously worn clothes, giving them a second life and extra panache. Instructions include detailed lists of materials needed. The introduction was charming, and the author's personality really comes through.

Most of the designs are geared towards a young demographic, and I think this book can help those interested in sustainable fashion and personal expression.

NetGalley, Cindy Coe

Lots of great ideas and love the focus on using clothes already in your wardrobe/bought second-hand. Instructions are simple and well laid out.

NetGalley, Niamh Barclay

Some embroidery can often transform a piece of clothing from plain to wow. I love embroidery and enjoyed looking at the possibilities in this book.

NetGalley, Flora Fung

The layout of this book was great, and the directions were very clear. The projects were creative, and you would be able to apply it very easily.

NetGalley, Katie Sauer

Customising Clothes with Embroidery is a lovely book written by someone with a real passion for her craft. There are lots of projects and ideas to help you start embroidering your own clothes and make them uniquely your own. Some projects are very simple and can be done in an afternoon so it is suitable for everyone. It is a great book for our times when upcycling, make do and mend, and not wasting anything are a big focus in todays world. It is a book full of joy and fun and there is something for everyone. A great place to start the craft of embroidery.

NetGalley, jc Cross

I love the idea of upcycling and customizing old clothes, or plain clothes, with unique and imaginative embroidered designs, and some of the projects in this book are very attractive. There are detailed instructions that guide you through beginner to more advanced techniques, including creating patches that are then sewn on to clothing, and projects that involve stitching straight on to the clothing.

NetGalley, Cam M

It's nice to see embroidery and other fibrecrafts enjoying a renaissance of sorts. In times past, people would learn these skills as a matter of necessity, handed down from generation to generation in the family. That's no longer true, so crafters must turn to other sources of instruction. The internet (youtube, ravelry, et.al.) and other social media channels are good sources of instruction, but for not-strictly-visual learners like me, books are still vital. I learn better if I have a book sitting in front of me and if I don't feel like I constantly have to pause the video to figure out what I'm doing.

It's also very nice to see people being more aware of the destructive habits of fast fashion and disposable clothing. It's cool to be able to repair, enhance, and upcycle clothing into something beautiful and custom-made. This book is full of good tips for turning basic clothing into something unique and wonderful.

The book has a logical and easy to follow layout. These projects utilise both machine (straight foot and free-hand) and hand surface embroidery. The tutorials are arranged in progressive difficulty from simple introductory designs to much more complex. The author does a good job of introducing and explaining techniques and equipment in accessible and understandable terms. Tools and supplies will be readily available in most areas.

The tutorials are arranged thematically: basic embroidered lettering (3 introductory projects), free motion onto patches (to sew onto base items later), free motion directly onto items, and an advanced (and gorgeous) denim jacket project. All of the projects are easily customisable depending on readers' own needs and taste. Each tutorial includes a bullet list of materials in a sidebar, suggested skill level, step-by-step direction, and clear colour process photos of the project.

Four stars. This would be a good selection for public or school library acquisition, home sewists, makers groups, or gift giving.

NetGalley, Annie Buchanan

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A lovely book full of very inspiring projects that are explained step by step.
The explanations at the start of the book would easily enable anyone new to this technique to have the confidence to try.
All in all a great addition to a sewing library and a lovely present for anyone who enjoys sewing.

NetGalley, L F

Can't wait to try some of these projects !
Fully explained with lots of information on craft supplies needed and where to source them.
Very up to date and modern patterns and ideas. You need a sewing machine for most of the projects but I suppose with a little ingenuity you could do most of them by hand with good results.
Especially liked the t-shirt ideas as they added personality to the most basic of garments. A great present for your crafty friends.

NetGalley, Karen Hammond

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I really get excited to see young people practicing some old arts and crafts. However this time I’m intrigued as well as the author covers embroider, but from a machine focus. I’m more an old school gala and sew by hand, but I really enjoyed reading this book and seeing her process for creating and sewing on a machine. Definitely some could designs and a lot of heart went into this book. Give it a read and see for yourself.

NetGalley, Cindi Austin

About Connie Mabbott

Connie Mabbott is an embroidery designer maker based in Birmingham. Originally from North Wales, Connie moved to Birmingham to study textile design and fell in love with embroidery after her first introduction to the skill at university. She graduated with first-class honors in embroidered textiles in 2015 and after gaining experience working for Hawthorne & Heaney and The Couture Company, set up ‘Lint & Thread’ in 2017, a brand focusing on well made, detailed and colourful embroidered fashion.

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