Book Review: Secret Garden Embroidery

Catch our interview with contemporary stitcher What Delilah Did in issue 15? She inspired us to get cross-stitching this month – and here’s the results! 


This month, we spent some time talking to Sophie Simpson, aka What Delilah Did, about how we could look to add some extra detail to our home sewing with cross-stitch in celebration of her brand new book, Secret Garden Embroidery going on sale. 

Well this beautiful book was a bit a of a hit at Love Sewing HQ, so we set Bethany Armitage the challenge of tackling a project from the book, and giving her verdict. Here’s the results! 
We don’t all sit at home stitching in our farmhouse kitchens surrounded by freshly baked goods and hand-picked wildflowers but, with a book like this, we can certainly pretend!

Sophie Simpson – the brains behind the enchanting What Delilah Did blog and online shop – is back with her third book, Secret Garden Embroidery. At first glance, it appears to be a beautifully designed collection of cross stitch and embroidery projects, based around the theme of an English country garden. But delve a little deeper and, as you work your way through the flowers and wildlife-inspired designs, a story unfolds. The fictional excerpts of Miss Merriweather’s garden diary bring the projects to life and add a great big dollop of charm to this pretty little book.

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One pretty little idea from the book

As a beginner to intermediate stitcher, I found the materials, equipment and stitching guides at the start to be really useful. When making pretty items for the home or jazzing up clothing and accessories it’s not always very attractive to stick to boring aida, so showing the reader how to stitch onto waste canvas and work with other materials such as felt was a big help. Plus, there are handy diagrams outlining how to complete every stitch you’ll need to finish the projects. The book doesn’t assume too much knowledge and would make a fantastic gift for someone looking to try needlecraft or wanting the inspiration to take their skills further.

The projects are quite diverse and seem to get larger as you move through the chapters, but not too difficult. Patience is often the difference between a good stitcher and a great one after all… Beginning with the ‘bud’ level there are smaller projects such as insect buttons and a daisy chain bracelet, then ‘blossom’ contains a lovely set of alphabet bunting and a pretty little bird sachet. Finally, ‘bloom’ (see what she’s done here?) features a stunning rose sash belt, a bold framed hare portrait and an eye-catching trio of butterfly hoops. There’s a real mix of projects and I think they would suit stitchers of any age. Although it might look rather traditional, changing up the colour palette allows you to adapt the patterns to suit your taste.


Bethany gets to work on her lacewing butterfly design 

Armed with some rusty orange DMC thread (976), I thought I’d give Lacewing Butterfly 2 a go. The cross stitch chart was simple enough to follow and, while it may have taken a little longer than my usual hoops, it was totally worth it for all the compliments it has received so far! I love the leafy interior to the wings and the fact that you cans still make an impact with just one colour of thread. Attached to the back of the book is an envelope with some of the larger patterns in it and I think next on my list is the Miss Millicent Hare Picture. All that’s left to do is to find a farmhouse kitchen to hang it in!

To see more stitched designs from Bethany, visit or follow her on Instagram at


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