Slow Stitch

Textile Art Book Reviews

At Mr X Stitch we love to review textile art and embroidery books for you. There are so many great books to discover, packed with needlework inspiration and textile techniques, so we dive into each book to find out what’s good, what’s bad and let you know why you should pick it up.


Slow Stitch: Mindful and Contemplative Textile Art by Claire Wellesley-Smith is an important explanation of the power of deliberate slowness in your creativity. It covers several themes, including repairing with stitch, the cultural context of stitch and the value of considered reflective practice.

About The Author

Claire Wellesley-Smith is a writer, artist and researcher based in West Yorkshire. Her artwork is grounded in nature, both in the community engagement themes of her work and the material processes she uses, such as using plant dyes and natural fibres. She places high value on using recycled materials, and the power of restoration.

Who Is The Book Aimed At?

Slow Stitch isn’t a lightweight book for beginners; its focus is on the meditative, philosophical aspects of the creative process.

This book will resonate with stitchers who can appreciate the value of slowness and deliberate intention in creating art. It doesn’t require any set skill levels, and indeed it would provide a newcomer with a sound base for building a conscious art practice.

"A much needed guide to adopting a less-is-more mind-set, valuing quality over quantity"
“A much needed guide to adopting a less-is-more mind-set, valuing quality over quantity”

What’s In The Book?

Slow Stitch is divided into four parts:

  • Slow
  • Materials and techniques
  • Cross-cultural activity
  • Contemplative

These facilitate a layered approach to the topic, and while each section can be read by itself, Claire offers you a journey through the subject, should you wish to take it.

Slow Stitch by Claire Wellesley smith - content list
Even health projects are covered!

What Makes This Book Special?

If you’ve ever tapped into the power of slow creativity, Slow Stitch will resonate with you. Claire explores a range of ways in which this deliberate process can repair ourselves as well as our clothes. Her approach is thoughtful and her message is a strong one, but she doesn’t drive the point home with force; much like the practice she espouses, it is gently presented to you.

Slow Stitch by Claire Wellesley Smith describes how to create a stitch diary or journal.
Smith highlights the idea of a journal, yet she doesn’t write the diary for us…

Smith’s passion for upcycling and making good of existing items is integral to the book and she provides ideas for those items that are “too precious to use” and “stored for a future purpose”.

Textile techniques like Kantha and Boro are included in the mix, which is a recognition of the cultural importance of these techniques – another reason to keep these methods going!

Slow Stitch by Claire Wellesley smith - using what we have as textile art tools rather than purchasing new products.
Admit it, we are all hoarders…now we have an excuse!

It’s not just slow stitching that is the focus; we learn how to create pieces from scratch, by dyeing our fabric with plant based dyes. In this instances, Slow Stitch contains plenty of photos to help you get to grips with these new techniques.

Anything Wrong With This Book?

If you’re brand new to needlework , this book might be a bit advanced, as the techniques included require an amount of prior knowledge. But it does provide a healthy foundation for a mindful creative practice.

Slow Stitch by Claire Wellesley smith - plant dyeing instructions
The Make Do and Mend Ethos includes plants and natural fibres.


Slow Stitch is an important book for anyone who wants to take their creative practice more seriously. It explores the power of mindfulness on numerous levels and expresses thoughts and feelings that come to mind for all of us when we are making. It is clear that Claire Wellesley-Smith has developed a thought-provoking thesis and this book is a great explanation of her perspective.

Packed with fascinating insights and elegant photography, it’s a great addition to your library, and an ideal gift for the craftspeople in your world.

Slow Stitch: Mindful and Contemplative Textile Art by Claire Wellesley-Smith is published by Batsford. Grab your copy now!

If Slow Stitch is something that’s important to you, you might also want to check out our review of Sashiko & Boro – Japanese Mending Techniques.

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