Monday, March 13, 2017

Giuliana Ricama - A Review and How-To

Last week I promised a look into Giuliana Ricama, and here it is.

I did a comparison with a copy of Inspirations magazine and found that they are about the same size, with the Italian magazine being a tiny bit bigger, but they are about the same in thickness.

It's completely packed with projects of all types of techniques. Between the March/April 2015 and January/February 2017 issue, here's just a few of the ones that caught my eye.

In just the two issues I have with me, there are enough projects to keep me very busy. I only showed you pictures of the whitework techniques (cause that's so me), but there are way more in there.
  • Embroidery (i.e. needle painting or what I call free form)
  • Lefkara
  • Reticello
  • Tulle Embroidery
  • Needle Lace
  • Hardanger
  • Assia Embroidery
  • Aemilia Ars
  • Blackwork
  • Casaguildi
  • Macrame
  • Merletto Embroidery
  • And many more including bobbin lace based on what they have shown on their website 
They have articles showcasing embroiderers. In the January-February 2017 issue, it was with the UK embroiderer Emillie Ferris. There is also a page on new books that have come out. Typical of me, I already found a book I want to get :P If you want to know what is in each issue of Giuliana Ricama, go to this link. Click any of the covers and a new page will open allowing you to digitally flip through that issue.

Now let's talk about levels and instructions. This is probably not true of all the issues of Giuliana Ricama (the March/April 2015 issue doesn't have this), but projects are given a difficulty from easy, medium difficulty, hard, extremely hard for experts only.

From what I've noticed most projects fall in the hard category. But let's put that aside for a minute, because as you know with proper instructions and enough determination a beginner can stitch and complete projects rated advanced. Which brings us to the second point: Instructions. European instructions are not the same as North American (we can include Australia here on account of Inspirations magazine) In English magazines, there is very little guess work. You have a list of materials and specific step by step instructions with pictures on how to stitch each portion of a project. In European magazines, if you are attempting a project targeting advanced stitches, they will assume you know how to do it and will only give the barest minimum of detail.

Take this project for example that my mother fell in love with it and requested. This is a table runner with a drawn thread border and a scattering of autumn leafs stitched on tulle that are attached to it. It's rated hard and there is barely a column of instructions. The only details they give you are which threads to cut for the border. For the leaves, the instructions are draw some free form leaves on parchment paper, transfer it onto tulle and stitch them. It seems that afterward, they're cut out and attached to the table runner with a stem going from one to the other. Super simple right :P

This doesn't mean there are no step by step instructions. They just prefer to keep it for the important stuff ;)

Now how did I figure all this out. What little Italian I know comes from a beginner's class in College. So I can't read Italian fluently and I'm sure many of you don't either. No worries. If you have a mobile or tablet device, Google's Translate app can help with that :)

Launch the application, configure the language you are trying to read and click the camera option. Now, you can take a picture of the text and select what you want to translate or, the faster way, simply hold the camera over the text you want to translate. Google Translate will try to translate the words. It has some trouble translating technical words that are specific to embroidery, but with a little research you can figure it out.

For example, after a bit of puzzling out, the text above turns out to be the materials list for one of the projects, another very pretty table runner:

  • Graziano is a known Italian linen. After a Google search, I found that Nuovo Ricamo is a 38 count linen (link). For this project a piece of white 70 cm x 30 cm linen is required. All measurements are in the metric system, so be careful when shopping for materials
  • DMC perle cotton #12 and 8, DMC cordonnet #80 all in white
  • DMC 6-stranded cotton in gradations of pink and green for the embroidery portion
I really want to pick a project and try my hand at stitching it to get a better idea of the instructions. I just need the time :P. For now I'm really loving this magazine. It will be a joy to read about another part of the embroidery world. I'm still waiting for an estimate of the cost but I will post an update as soon as I get it.

In other news, I got the kit for my seminar class =D more details soon.


  1. Great review and very interesting to hear how the magazines vary from country to country.
    That translation app is awesome! I use Google Translate for internet stuff where you can copy and paste the text in but that is really clever.
    Looking forward to your first Italian project!

  2. I look forward to watching you working on the project!

  3. Great review! Thanks for the tip on google translate. Haven't used it in a long time and didn't know you could use the camera feature!

  4. That does look like a great magazine. I don't think much to Google Translate though so not sure I could cope with that. I'll hold of on subscribing until I've learnt Italian! I'm really looking forward to seeing what you make though

  5. This magazine looks promising, full of interesting techniques and things that I would love to make.