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The Collector: Stitching for Style by Nelle Weymouth Link

Many of you were interested in learning how I did the hand detailing on my mimosa dress recently.

The technique came from this wonderful vintage book called Stitching for Style by Nelle Weymouth Link.

I’m a sucker for books that focus on small details, and this one is pretty stunning. Published in 1948, this book is entirely illustrated with line drawings depicting fabric manipulation techniques you can do by hand.

These first few diagrams show how the Rose Trellis design is done, which is what I used on that particular dress.

The actual stitching pattern is relatively simple. As I mentioned, the only real challenge is figuring out how many you can fit in a defined space, and how much fabric will be gathered up.

Here are several other flower-themed ideas from the book (columbine, cyclamen, narcissus). If you’d like to see how to do all of these, it’s worth hunting down a copy of the book.

These “battlement tucks” are different from most of the smocking and smocking-esque techniques shown.

These “cobblestones” are perhaps my favorite. They look like fish scales to me.

There are so many more ideas in this book, it was hard to choose just a few. I’m planning to try the “narcissus smocking” above on a dress I’m working on. And Caitlin has been playing around with a couple of the techniques not shown here, so look for a couple tutorials soon.

Stitching for Style can be found on Amazon, but I suppose it’s rare because it’s currently very expensive. Check your local library!

Sarai Mitnick


Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.



July 5, 2012 #

Thanks for sharing this technique! The book is a real treasure! Can’t wait to see your next dress with the narcissus stitching.
PS. I am sure everybody is trying to hunt down this book now :)


July 5, 2012 #

If that book is hard to find, another book that gives step-by-step instructions, and also has very nice photographs is: The Art of Manipulating Fabric by Colette Wolfe. It’s also sold on Amazon, and it’s a great resource. I bought it and I love it!


July 5, 2012 #

Yes, that is an EXCELLENT book. I have it as a recommendation in my own book. There are a million ideas in there.


July 11, 2012 #

I want to buy that one, too! The illustrations are lovely. But I haven’t got around to it yet, and so for now I’ve been flipping through the online Google Books preview version of it. …Yeah, I really should just go out and buy it.


July 5, 2012 #

Thank you so much for sharing this! What an eye-opener, so pretty – and thanks, Holly, for the alternative book title.


July 5, 2012 #

So rad!!! I love decorative smocking and shirring!


July 6, 2012 #

Brilliant! Thanks so much for this. I have to say, I find it oddly exciting (not TOO oddly, though)!


July 6, 2012 #

Wow! Thanks so much for these, Sarai! I love smocking and this is way better than the stitches I know:).

Oklahoma Mom

July 6, 2012 #

This book looks great…


July 7, 2012 #

I actually have this book sans the dust cover. Got it for a buck at the local library sale. Nice to see one of the designs actually worked up.


July 7, 2012 #

Wow! I didn’t know a book like this existed (shaking the dust off my eyelids from under a rock in Hungary…) thanks for showing us all that it is out there, and very beautiful at that!


July 23, 2012 #

I love what you did from that book. I found it some 30 (!) years ago, but it was cover-less and crayon marked. In the mid 80’s I used the Columbine on my wedding dress. The challenge for me with that book was that there was no information on how to apply the details to a garment, only the stitching itself. After years of searching on and off, I found the companion book : “Precision Draping” by chance in an antique bookstore. For two such amazing books, I’m surprised that they rarely get any mentions in sewing blogs.

Jocelyne Garneau-Saucier

July 31, 2012 #

Very very interesting. Thank you.

St-Eustache, Québec


June 13, 2013 #

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone would simply reprint these books…even if only as an e-book? …sigh…