Craft book review: Folk Art Needlecraft

Folk Art Needlecraft

If we had a magic carpet, we’d travel from 14th-century France to Uzbekistan via India, Sweden and Spain, picking up stitching ideas as we went. Luckily, Clare Youngs’ Folk Art Needlecraft does just that without the need for anything fancier than a needle and thread. Read on for the the full review of Folk Art Needlecraft 

Stitch-expert Clare is fascinated by the textile traditions of different countries, many handed down from generation to generation, from the bright weaves of Guatemala and Mexico to Japanese indigo fabrics decorated with sashiko stitching. In her new book, Clare’s created 35 projects influenced by some of the most beautiful and ancient motifs from around the world.

Craft book reviews: Folk Art Needlecraft by Clare Youngs

35 projects influenced by some of the most beautiful and ancient motifs

Folk Art Needlecraft is divided into five chapters: ‘Bags and Purses’, ‘For Children’, ‘Pillows and Throws’, ‘For the Home’ and ‘Gifts and Accessories’. The first chapter includes the book’s cover star, Hamsa Zip Purse. The hamsa, or hand design, is a symbol of protection, and Clare’s design (inspired by her own favourite silver pendant) features hearts, leafy stems and loops stitched with white embroidery floss on sky-blue cotton. Other first-chapter projects include the picnic bag, made from sturdy linen with an understated diamond motif, while the make-up bag is a riot of hot pink stitches making up a sweet, swirly heart.

For the little ones in your life, make super-cute bird and beastie softies, inspired by the kantha embroidered quilts of India and Bangladesh, and lovely baby hats made from alpaca wool with an Inca-style embroidered bird.

‘Pillows and Throws’ includes a grey felted Reindeer pillow and the Indian Peacock Chair Pad which is a rainbow mix of felt appliqué and colourful stitching.

A mix of traditional and contemporary ideas to suit any level of stitcher

Every project has large photographs and illustrations. There are also detailed instructions on how to stitch, trim and press seams, and mitre corners, as well as step-by-steps and diagrams for every possible embroidery stitch. The only downside is that the stitch guides and templates for each project (some of which need enlarging on a photocopier) are at the back of the book, necessitating flipping of pages.

The mix of traditional and contemporary ideas in Folk Art Needlecraft would suit any aesthetic and any level of stitcher. While it would have been interesting to hear more about the history and mythology behind all the designs, this book is a vibrant and colourful guide to global style. Pack your passports, let’s go!

Buy Folk Art Needlecraft by Clare Youngs


Mollie Makes issue 46 digital subscriptionFor more folklore inspiration and craft projects, dip into Mollie Makes 46 where we make paper-cut postcards, lino-print tea towels and embroidered headband, plus we pick the best folklore homewares and fashion accessories from our current wishlist, take a look.