Carolyn Pearce Home Sweet Home workbox 1: getting started

I love embroidered etui sets. They’re beautiful, and practical, at the same time. When the book ‘Home Sweet Home: An Embroidered Workbox’ by Carolyn Pearce was published a couple of years ago, I had to buy it. But since then, it’s kind of languished on my bookshelf. I have read through it several times, and I even got as far as buying the fabric for it, but what was putting me off actually starting it was the thought of making those little windows on the front. Daft, I know. I just didn’t like the method used – you had to use a kind of Bondaweb to fuse organza or something to the house wall fabric first, and then work a complicated honeycomb stitch to make the window bars. So, I kept putting it off, until….eventually, I picked up the book again and felt the time was right TO TACKLE IT!!!!

[EDIT April 2016: This series of blog posts expanded into a huge series of 46 posts. Please see the final one for a list of hints and tips for making this workbox.]

Home 1 If I could just get motivated enough to start, look what I could make!

Home 2

This is the inside of the completd box, as shown in the book – the lift-out tray has compartments for all the tools to fit in. Home 3 So, I got on with it, and made a copy of the supplies list so that I could write all over it, as I collected together all the bits and pieces that I’d need to complete this project – lots of lovely things, including cloisonne beads, emery powder, brass bee charms, waste canvas, sequins, and tiny beads. Home 4 Then I looked at the thread list. Now, for anyone who has made any of Carolyn Pearce’s projects before, you’ll know that she just LOVES using lots of different types of threads, all in the same project. This is great if you’ve got a huge bank balance, as many of the specialist threads aren’t cheap, and she uses *lots*. But many of them are only used for one type of flower petal, or the legs on a caterpillar. I’m not joking here – these aren’t major colour choices, these are details. So, I decided that rather than spend a fortune and buy in exactly what it said on the thread list, I’d raid my stash. After all, that’s what a stash is for, isn’t it? I got all the boxes out one rainy Sunday afternoon, and spread everything out on my kitchen table. I store my specialist threads by vague colour groupings, in various boxes and drawers. It looked like this – quite yummy, colour-wise, but a bit messy! Home 5 Then I went through every colour choice of Carolyn’s, and tried to make a suitable substitution from my stash. Home 6 It took me four hours, but was great fun, and I ended up with these as my final selection: Home 7 Then I made tracings from the design sheet of all the design elements for the house workbox itself, and all the individual items to go in the workbox. Home 8 Using a lightbox, I transferred the marks from the tracings onto my fabric with a sharp pencil. The fabric is a cotton/linen blend from my stash – I needed about half a yard, 54 inches wide (Carolyn allows huge amounts for fixing the fabric in a hoop – I could have managed with much less fabric really). This is the needlebook cover – I have only transferred the absolute minimum of markings – the rest of the elements I’ll place by eye as I go. Home 9


Now I’m really motivated to get on with it and start stitching something!


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24 thoughts on “Carolyn Pearce Home Sweet Home workbox 1: getting started”

  1. I have all the materials which I got from the USA. I might get motivated to start with you and follow you trying to keep up. Look forward to your progress.

  2. I’m looking forward to watching your progress on this lovely project! My book is still sitting on my coffee table where I put it when it came in the mail. Maybe you will inspire me to get going on it 🙂 Have a wonderful day!

  3. I have that book too but, like everyone else here, it seems, have never started it. I’m looking forward to watching your progress.

  4. I’m so glad to see this project started. I have everything to start the project. The one thing I don’t have are the tiny blue flowers for the side of the box. What did you decide on?

    1. Yes, I couldn’t buy those, either, so I’ve decided to do the forget-me-not flowers out of 5 French knots in a circle, probably stitched in Perle 5 thread, with a number 11 seed bead in the centre.

  5. How exciting! I look forward to seeing your progress on this project. Thanks for sharing these early beginnings!

    I too have the book but I barely have time to do ‘the more serious kind of stitching’ these days. Perhaps when my little ones are a bit older. Or who knows if I might be able to squeeze in one of the smaller accessories of this project and do a mini (semi) stitch along with you using whatever materials I already have on hand :-).

  6. So impressive! I bought it all as a kit (a very expensive kit) but it is still sitting on a shelf. I seem only to embroider for others and this project will definitly be for me!

  7. I am a very recent follower of your blog. I don’t have the book, but I am going to follow you along as you conquer that beautiful box. I am also reading thru your earlier posts and projects. I love everything you have made.

  8. I have this same project book that my husband gave me one year as a gift, because he knows I have a secret passion for all kinds of etui. This project is big, and I will have to wait until I’m retired (about 2 years) to start mine. I will enjoy following along in my book and watching yours develop. You have become a beautiful embroiderer. Go for it, girl!

    1. To be honest, I was getting to the stage when I thought that I would be retired (whatever that means when you’re self-employed!), before starting this project. My reasoning is that it isn’t really one big project, it’s lots of small ones, which kind of makes it more do-able 🙂

    1. The book that it features in was published by Country Bumpkin publishing (who produce Inspirations magazine), but I don’t know if they still do a kit for it, so you’d need to Google them and enquire, I suppose. It was a really expensive kit, though, as so many threads and embellishments feature in the project, and most stitchers have a lot of things they could substitute from their own stash 🙂

  9. What is a lightbox? So far I have tried pounching and also a transfer pencil which I really didnt like so if there is another option which you think is good I would love to know

    1. I’ve written about light boxes briefly here: A light box is a box with a clear or slightly opaque glass top, with a light bulb underneath. You put your tracing on the glass, and your fabric on top of that. The light shines through to the fabric, making the lines of your tracing easy to see. Then, you draw over them with a sharp pencil, to get the design on your fabric. The method works with all but the darkest fabrics. You can buy all kinds of light boxes, or make your own, or even adapt the idea and tape your tracing and fabric to a window, so the light from the sun illuminates your design, as I did here:

  10. I made this sewing box last year, in total it took me about 6 months. I also used threads from my enormous stash, I live in the USA so a lot of the threads are unavailable. It was a painstaking project but so much fun. I am a bit of a perfectionist so I enjoyed all the fine details. I am thrilled with the end result and have it on display in my living room. My husband helped me with the measuring of all the boards for the walls etc. that was a bit tricky. Best of luck!

  11. Thank You Janet, I’ve just found your blog and now I’m motivated into getting started with the sewing box, mind you I’ve managed to source all the threads and material over the past number of years….so now I’ll hopefully get my skates on and attempt to start this project, mind you like many other embroiders I have a number of projects I’m wishing to do….lol..
    Again Many Thanks. Christine.

  12. Do you have a list of the threads that you used for your Home Sweet Home workbox? I am having trouble finding the threads to use.
    Any help would be appreciated
    Thank you

    1. Not really, sorry. If you read through all the posts (and there’s over 40, now!), I mention some of the threads I used as I went along, but I used them from my stash, and I often changed my mind from my original list, once I actually came to use the threads. Some of my stash threads had no label on, as well, as they were so old, so even I don’t know what I used, sometimes.

  13. What a fantastic blog. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us. Got the book and came across your blog by mistake.

    1. I used my stash for most of the threads for this project, so I didn’t buy much from the materials list. Most thread brands are still available, but if not, a substitute would work fine. The box wasn’t hard to make, but it was time-consuming …I think it took me about three days to assemble it altogether. But the instructions are very good.

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