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.]
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. 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. 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! Then I went through every colour choice of Carolyn’s, and tried to make a suitable substitution from my stash. It took me four hours, but was great fun, and I ended up with these as my final selection: 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. 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.
Now I’m really motivated to get on with it and start stitching something!