Something Just a Little Bit Different

I must admit that like a lot of other people, I do sometimes spend rather too long scrolling through Instagram admiring all the beautiful imagery and entertaining reels. Recently some beautiful images of hand embroidered book covers popped up and I thought to myself “I’d like to try something like that.”

The ones I saw featured beautiful floral designs stitched directly onto the cover of vintage books.  I didn’t want to try something the same for a couple of reasons… primarily because that would be copying somebody else’s work which is not good.  But secondly, working a design in this way I knew wouldn’t be possible anyway as my fingers simply aren’t strong enough to stitch directly through the cover of a book.  And there my thoughts came to a halt for a while until, when rummaging through my bookshelves, I came upon my old Observer books.

If you’re not from the UK you may not be familiar with these little books…

They are a series – I think there are around 100 or so – of pocket sized guides that were published in this country between 1937 and 2003. They were aimed at children and covered topics such as hobbies, art, history and wildlife. Whilst some are rare and valuable most, like mine, aren’t and you can find them both online and in second hand bookshops for just a few pounds.

It was when I found my old books that an idea popped into my head – why not embellish the plain covers (originally they would have had paper dust jackets that have long since been lost) with embroidery relevant to the subject of the guide?  To begin with I chose two titles… Pond Life (below) and British Wild Animals….

Rather than embroider directly through the rather thick and stiff card of the cover I decided to stitch my design on fairly closely woven cotton (it’s actually an offcut from the printed panels for my Wheel of the Year design – you can see the design showing through from the reverse).  Then with the help of a little Modge Podge to seal the stitching I cut out and glued my design to the cover, adding some extra elements in the form of watercolour bulrushes….

And here is the finished book.  I was very pleased with how it all worked out and how securely the ducks are adhered to the book cover – I would certainly never have been able to stitch them directly to the cardboard.  I’m always looking for new ways to use embroidery and think these little books would make lovely gifts – if you can bear to part with them that is!  I’m now working on the British Wild Animals design…

Featuring a pair of badgers.  Both designs will be included in the June Bustle & Sew Magazine, with full details of how to create the book cover.  Any extra elements, such as the watercolour bulrushes will also be included ready to print, cut and stick.  I hope you like them!


Are you kidding me?! These are gorgeous!!!! I love this idea SO much. I’m imaging a children’s book for baby shower. Gardening book for a neighbor. So creative.


Thanks for your lovely comment Pamela. I think book covers are addictive! I’m having to try very hard to stop myself doing another as I have lots of other sewing I should be getting on with x


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