What Is a Stitch Guide Like?

Lots of folks are curious about stitch guides.  What are they exactly?  What do they cost?  Where do you find one for that canvas you want to stitch?  The answer to the last question is easy--you browse here!  Costs and the layout vary.  There is no standard format, so what you will get varies from absolutely basic notes to a chatty guide with lots of tips.  However any stitch guide gives you a list of stitches and threads to use in various places in the design.  

Many shops do free guides if you buy a design and threads from them using a format similar to this:

Free Guide from Fireside Stitchery (Page 1 of 4)

This is from Fireside Stitchery, which kindly sent me an image of what they use. This is page one of a four page guide, by the way.   Thanks, Betsy!

All stitch guides will list the materials you need but not all have stitch diagrams.  Most will diagram unusual stitches but not the basics like tent stitches.  Some will list the stitches and tell you what page they are located on in this or that book.  Julia Snyder usually works this way, for example, referring folks to page X in this or that book she's written.  The most famous stitch guide writers may charge more but not have elaborate guides.  You are buying their expertise and time.

To help answer this question, I have collected guides for you to look at or read about in the links below.  Note that some stitch guides have photos of the finished piece but many do not.  A great many stitch guide writers don't have the time to stitch each piece they have done a guide for.  They are using their experience to pick stitches without having the time to try them out.

I suggest you look at stitched models of all sorts of pieces, trying to find a style that matches your own leanings.  That way you will be working with someone whose tastes are a bit like yours.

First up, a review of Amy Bunger's stitch guides and a brief explanation on why you can't buy them from her without buying the canvas and/or thread kit with the guide.   (And Amy's not the only one impacted by folks copying guides to give to all their stitching buddies.  Many shops require an additional purchase before you can buy a guide from them.)

Amy's also written a bit about stitch guides in this August 2018 newsletter for her shop.

Here is a review of one of Beverly Churchill's guides for Melissa Shirley's Vintage Pears canvas, a classic design with a classic treatment.

Here is a review I did of one of Robin King's stitch guides.

Needlepoint.com also did a review of some of Robin's guides.

Associated Talents offers free stitch guides on their website for many of their smaller ornaments.  The guides aren't very long or detailed but the end result is fabulous!

CBK also has some free stitch guides on their website for some of their many canvases.  These vary in style and layout because they are from a lot of different stitch guide writers.

Palma Seljan has also created quite a few free stitch guides.  Some have been posted here and some are available at Needlepoint Nation group on Facebook in the Files section.  Palma's guides are very basic: a table that says use this stitch and thread in this spot.

Here's a basic free guide for a small Melissa Shirley Halloween "cracker" design by Palma Seljan.

This article reviews Kimberly's guides for her own designs.

Louise's Needlepoint has a nice article here about various types of stitch guides and what their shop guides are like.

Pricing varies from $5-$150 usually but custom guides cost more since they are priced according to the hours involved or the number of pages.  Ruth Schmuff explains why guides take so much time beautifully in this essay.

Hopefully this answers some of your questions.  I have all the contact information I can find for all the stitch guide writers I know about in another tab.  Most are happy to answer questions, although it may take them a bit to get back to you.

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