A 17th-century leisure pastime, stumpwork is a raised and padded embroidery used for pictures, mirror frames, and work boxes. Elaborately ornate figures are crowded on white satin backgrounds and decorated with a variety of colored stitches. Many have winsome movable parts: bird and butterfly wings, flower petals, doors that open, curtains that draw. Surviving pieces share similarities in fabrics and themes, which suggests they were available in kits or peddled by traveling designers. Muriel Baker offers a full sampling of the originals and directions for duplicating several projects--nowadays clear nail polish replaces paper cut-outs in transposing the design to canvas. But her opening pages on British history, characterizing the 1642-60 period as ""happy times in England"" when the ""social order was based on equality of opportunity and great freedom,"" are embellishments of a more dispensable kind.