Favourite textile and stitching books: Drawn to Stitch

I’ve bought quite a few books on textiles and stitch in recent years, because of doing the City & Guilds courses. There are a few that I keep going back to because I like them so much, and one of my favourites is Gwen Hedley’s ‘Drawn to Stitch’. This is a ¬†Batsford publication, although at 144 pages, it’s a little bit longer than the more usual Batsford book. Drawn to Stitch - Gwen HedleyIt’s perhaps these extra pages (I think Batsfords are more usually 128 pp) that gives the book its feeling of substance and solidity. Sometimes, with this format of book, even if I like the author’s work and the photographs I feel slightly disappointed because there just doesn’t seem to be enough….well… content. Not so with this one; it’s a bit of a Tardis in that there’s even more once you get into it than you thought there would be.

As the title implies, the book aims to demonstrate how you can use observational drawing as a basis for the creative process. The first couple of chapters discuss tools and methods of mark making, including suggestions for some more unusual materials, altering backgrounds, dyeing, printing, paper weaving and so on. The largest section of the book is in the third chapter which includes many demonstrations of Gwen Hedley’s own creative process, working from a source of inspiration, through drawings and samples, to a finished stitched piece of work. These are mostly pieces abstracted from a natural or man-made source, such as weathered wood, crumbling masonry and even graffiti. You don’t often get to see an artist’s creative process illustrated so comprehensively.

At intervals there are inserts of a page or two on other artists, some of whom were new to me, often illustrating their use of drawing in their work. This feature makes the book even richer as it provides a contrast with Gwen Hedley’s own work and helps to illustrate the vast potential of drawing in creativity.

Every time I dip into this book I seem to find something new. If you haven’t seen it, do have a look. If you’re doing a course such as City & Guilds you may find it really useful in helping you develop your own work.