Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Estense Embroidery - new book!

At long last there is a second book on Estense Embroidery from Elisabetta Holzer of the cultural association RicamArte of Ferrara. This book is worth the wait since her first book in 2007.

The manual is over 200 pages and weighs in at 1.8 lbs! Elisabetta is not kidding around about it being a "manual". There are 36 embroidery stitches, 8 drawn thread corner treatments, 10 trimmings, 4 frames, 15 filling stitches, 3 borders, 2 decorations, cording and 7 delicious projects – plus photos of other ideas and suggestions for further combining all the stuff that has been diagrammed.

And there are a lot of diagrams.
I know.
I did them.
Did I mention there are a lot of them?

The explanations include drawn diagrams which feature the paths of the working thread showing through so you can tell what's happening on the back of the work, along with a colour photo of the front and back of the stitching.

Sample stitch instruction page

Great pains have been taken to make this manual comprehensible. It is jam-packed with colour photos of examples of ways to execute and combine the stitches, techniques and colours that make up Estense Embroidery.

Il manuale completo del Ricamo Estense [The Complete Manual of Estense Embroidery] is the fruit of several years of labour. Everything has been stitched and tried out and then improved and re-stitched. When I was doing the diagrams I had three fabric doodle cloths going. If I didn't understand something Elisabetta listened and in some cases reworked her instructions, diagrams and/or photo sequences because she reasoned that if I were confused, other stitchers might be too. More often though, I didn't have any trouble working the stitches because Elisabetta's precise step-by-step photos and diagrams are very, very clear.

Hours and hours have gone into the study of the colours used in Estense Embroidery. Taking her inspiration from the ancient Ferrarese graffito ceramics of the 14th to 16th centuries, Elisabetta has found that for the most part Anchor thread colours work the best but she has studied which DMC colours might be substituted and provided a list so that you can start embroidering that much sooner, not having to figure out the conversions for yourself.

There are many things that I love about this manual but one of the top things has to be the explanations for how to turn the corners for all 8 of the drawn thread corner treatments.

Sample corner treatment instructions

Among the 7 exquisite projects (I want to make all of them!) is the exceptionally lovely bomboniera from the 2009 Italia Invita exhibit.

All projects have instructions for the embroidery, the construction and the finishing. Text is in Italian.

For those of you not familiar with Estense Embroidery, I wrote a bit about it here.

You can see a preview of some of the pages on the publisher's website. To order, send them an email and tell them you want to pay with PayPal. Otherwise you can get if from Tombolo Disegni, send them an email to order.


  1. Sara' uno dei niei primi acquisti quando saro' di nuovo 'operativa'.

  2. Is there an English translation?

  3. The text is in Italian and as far as I know there are no plans for an English version this time.

    1. I have her first book and love it. With that as an aid in translation, do you think I would be able to follow the instructions?

  4. bravissima Janine!! gli schemi sono eccezionali!!

    ciao Margherita