Carolyn Pearce Home Sweet Home workbox 46: it’s finished!!!!!!!!! Photos, hints and tips, and materials list.

Well, after 46 blog posts and over a year’s stitching, the Home Sweet Home etui workbox that I have been making from Carolyn Pearce’s wonderful book is FINALLY FINISHED!!!!

Finished 1

This has been one mammoth project – I don’t think I’ve ever made such a detailed embroidered item. It’s not so much the embroidery – it’s not at all complex, stitching-wise – but the construction of the box seemed intimidating, when I started. That’s why I chose to make all the smalls first, in case I never got the courage to actually make the box itself  🙂

Finished 2

But having made all those smalls first, it did make the box much more ‘do-able’.

Finished 3

I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out. I can see me using this etui as my main one (I do actually have several etui sets, as they are my favourite thing to make).

Finished 4

Carolyn Pearce’s book really has to take the credit, though, as it is one of the best-written embroidery books I have ever owned. I am a stickler for details, and hate mistakes in books (either spelling mistakes, or instructions that simply don’t work out right!). But with this book, there simply aren’t any. Considering the complexity of the project, the number of diagrams, photos, etc., there is so much scope for one or two errors to slip through – but I didn’t find any.

Finished 5

With the final addition of the laying tool and stitch ripper set from Mace and Nairn shown below, my etui house is now completely finished.

This is the etui set as the roof is first opened up:

Finished 6

This is the space at the bottom of the box, once the inner tray is lifted out:

Finished 7

And here is the inner tray, filled with some of the smalls:

Finished 8

I have some tips, for those of you who are considering making this:

  • Read the whole book first, to get a good feel for how the project ‘works’, and to familiarise yourself with where in the book the different instructions are located (for instance, the measurements for cutting all of the fabric pieces).
  • Don’t use stripey fabric for the lining! It would have been far, far simpler to line the box if I had used a random floral or marbled small print cotton fabric, rather than the striped fabric that I chose. I chose it because Carolyn Pearce had used a striped fabric in the book, and it did look lovely, so I bought as near as I could get to what she had used. But then, all those stripes have to be matched up across all the box and lining pieces, and that can get very tricky. An all-over floral print, for example, wouldn’t need matching up.
  • When assembling the dividers for the inner tray, Carolyn suggests using ‘a long needle’ to thread the quilting thread between the panels, but doesn’t say what length. I had a three inch long needle, and that wasn’t long enough. How many needles are longer than that?! I needed to catch the tip of the needle as it emerged, and pull it with pliers to get it out, as there wasn’t enough for me to grab hold of with my fingers. So, make sure you have a VERY LONG needle for that part (a blog reader suggested a dollmaking needle would be useful for this part)
  • Measure every piece of mount board accurately before you cut it, then make a dry run before stitching panels together. Compare it to the pieces it will butt up against. My box ended up being about an eighth of an inch smaller all round than Carolyn’s, so every piece had to be adjusted as I went. Don’t skimp on this bit, or your box won’t fit together!
  • Use your stash and save a fortune! Carolyn Pearce is well known for the large range of threads she uses in her projects, and that does make them very special, but often only a tiny piece of each colour is used. Save a lot by using what you have already.
  • If you do substitute thread, make a note of when you do that. I didn’t, and it is noticeable (to me, anyway), that some of the green edging on the smalls is of different shades, and some of the flowers are not stitched with consistent shades across several of the pieces.
  • Make sure that with the thimble holder, the round base piece fits INSIDE the tubular sides, and doesn’t sit on the ‘top’ of the tube. My thimble holder ended up a quarter of an inch longer than it should have been because I didn’t make the round base small enough to fit inside the tube, and I thought it wouldn’t matter – until I put it into the inner tray of the box, when I found that it was too long to lie down, as Carolyn’s one did, in the space allotted for it. It stands upright OK, but I can’t lie it down within its compartment in the box.
  • For the tools that are kept in the roof (scissors, laying tool and stitch unpicker), lightweight ones are best, as otherwise they might pull the elastic straps out of shape, and slip sideways due to their weight, possibly pulling the lining fabric way from the mount board and distorting it.
  • When you stitch the roof onto the box itself, don’t stitch too tightly, or the roof lid won’t close properly.




There is a very detailed supplies list in Carolyn’s book, but not everything is available now (the book was published in 2012). I tried to keep a list of what I used, as I went along, which I’ve copied below. Occasionally, I changed my mind part way through, but this list should help you get started.

The fabric for the outside of the box is a cotton/linen blend of beige fabric which I bought in a local dressmaking shop a few years back. It is tightly woven, and quite flexible (not stiff at all). The striped cotton fabric was from the same shop, but it can still be found on Ebay, along with many other suitable small print cottons. I would actually recommend that you don’t use a striped fabric, though, as it’s a nightmare to match up the pattern.

The evenweave for the outer roof is 28 count Jobelan in Tartan Green ( a 19 x 27 fat quarter is plenty) from Sew and So.

The roof tile effect was stitched in Lizbeth Leaf Green Dark crochet cotton #20 thread number 20-676, from Fiveways Arts and Crafts online shop.

I used 2 x 7mm green nephrite cylinder beads for the chimneys (Ebay), plus 2 x 4mm round wooden beads for the chimney tops (my stash).

Oranges in the basket – Mill Hill number 02093 Opaque Autumn orange seed beads.

For the ‘pea wall’ of the house, I used Mill Hill Petite seed beads 42037 Green velvet, and the same beads for the beaded edging on some of the smalls.

2mm green sequins were very hard to find – I found some on in the end, in a bag of mixed colours and sizes, which I paid a lot for, and used less than 20!

The needlebook needed 4″ x 12″ of doctor flannel in ivory, which I bought from Australia (!), as nowhere in the UK had any. And I bought the last half a yard that they had. I hope you have better luck! Felt would make a good substitute, and be a lot cheaper.

The brass bee charms were found on Ebay – 12 for £2.70 (smaller ones than Carolyn suggests).

The tape measure itself I bought on Ebay for £1. The bee charm for the tape measure cover is from Susan Clarke Originals, and cost $4 plus shipping from the US, but I love it anyway, despite the cost!

The ‘Clover’ thread cutter was from Ebay.

The 8mm Cloisonne beads were from Magpie Jewellery – used for closures on several of the smalls, and on the tassels.

The 4.25 inch gunmetal colour scissors are made by Hemline, and were £7.50 from Ebay.

The stitch ripper and laying tool were a set from Mace and Nairn, and cost £17 for the two. A bit pricey, but beautiful  🙂

Here’s a list of the threads I used as substitutes for Carolyn’s list in her book – almost all are from my stash, and some were unlabelled, so I can’t tell you what I used (sorry!). Some are duplicated in the list, but appeared on different smalls, so I reckoned that was OK. Where DMC and Anchor are listed, I am referring to their stranded cotton range (usually using two strands each time):

A Petite Treasure braid PB02 gold

B Kreinik very fine braid 002V gold

C On The Surface ‘gunmetal’ shade metallic thread

D Kreinik very fine braid 002V gold

E Anchor 095 soft violet

F Anchor 097 antique violet

G Very fine wool from my stash – medium khaki green

H Anchor 1026 Light blush pink

I Silk N Colors 1037 Light purple blue

J Anchor 300 Light old gold

K Gloriana Silk ‘Fresh Snow’ white

L Silk N Colors 1055 Rose brown

M Silk N Colors 301 Medium rose brown

N Cascade 3830 Rose brown

O Dark green stranded cotton from my stash

P Silk N Colors 047 Olive green

Q Silk N Colors 047 Olive green (again)

R Anchor Light pinks 391, 1016 and 892 (instead of a variegated thread)

S  Silk N Colors 1015 Rose pink

T Colourstreams Uluru silk

U – didn’t use a thread for this

V Colourstreams Uluru silk

W DMC Perle #5 935 dark avocado green

X – didn’t use a thread for this

Y Silk N Colors 110 Light khaki green

Z Anchor 1026 Light shell pink

AA Anchor 403 Black

AB Anchor 8581 Pewter grey

AC Rayon thread from my stash – Fuchsia pink

AD DMC 612 Taupe


AF Silk N Colors 1043 Cornflower blue

AG Anchor 0359 Chocolate

AH Fine wool Medium khaki green from my stash

AI Oliver Twists 004 Dark green grey

AJ DMC fine wool 8369 Medium green grey

AK Rajmahal rayon thread 104 Rosewood

AL Appletons crewel wool 185 soft brown

AM DMC fine wool 18224 Dark pecan

AN Didn’t use this shade

AO Didn’t use this shade

AP Appletons crewel wool 762 Rust brown

AQ Appletons crewel wool 181 and 183 blended

AR Silk N Colors 047 Olive green

AS Fine wool from my stash Medium dark khaki

AT Anchor Marlitt 894 red

AU Anchor 1041 Very dark pewter

AV Anchor 342 Light blue-violet

AW Cascade Colours 9325 Blue violet

AX Anchor 893 Red

AY Rajmahal 421 Green earth

AZ Stef Francis overdyed thread Mauve from my stash

BA Silk N Colors 063 Holly berry

BB Anchor 398 grey

BC Gentle Art Grecian gold 0460

BD Dark grey green stranded cotton from my stash

BE Fine wool light green from my stash

BF Rayon silk thread Light violet from my stash

BG Impressions 5123 Olive green

BH Anchor 1027 Antique mauve

BI Rayon thread from my stash Dark antique violet

BJ Lisbeth Leaf Green Dark crochet cotton #20  number 20-676

BK Kreinik very fine braid 002V


BL London Bead Company 601 Silver lined brown

BM London Bead Company 601 Silver lined brown (again)

BN Mill Hill 02093 Opaque autumn orange

BO Mill Hill 275 Pink

BP Green velvet seed beads from my stash

BQ Instead of using flower shaped beads, I stitched five French knots in a circle for these instead

BR 2mm green sequins, bought from Etsy


Here are my positive and negative (very few of those!) comments on the project, now it’s completed:


The whole project is not as complex as it looks, and all aspects of the processes are very clearly explained.

The smalls can be made as one-offs, and would make great gifts.

The more unusual stitches are explained at the back of the book, with clear photos for each stage.

You learn new skills – I had never used a curved needle before, thinking it would be difficult. Now, I’d like to ladder stitch everything in sight, using a curved needle! The seams are virtually invisible.

There are unusual sewing accessories in this project that I haven’t come across before, such as the thread cutter cover and the emery block.

It’s simple to substitute threads from your stash, to make this project quite cheap to do. Most threads are only used in very small amounts, so leftovers from other projects can be substituted very successfully. I estimated that the whole project, including the fabric, scissors and laying tools, cost me less than £50, because I used stash threads most of the time.

It’s absolutely beautiful when it’s finished!


At the moment (June 2016), the book is out of print. There are plans to reprint the book – for up to date info, contact the publishers, who are also the publishers of Inspirations magazine in Australia (used to be Country Bumpkin – now called Create in Stitch).

Even though I bought the book as soon as it came out in 2012, some of the recommended supplies were already unavailable, even then. So, be prepared to make substitutions – although it’s a good reason to raid your stash for the odd piece of special thread!

The only part of the project that I found really tricky was the roof lining, where I was supposed to stretch fabric-covered elastic across another piece of fabric, and then lace it over a piece of mount board. I found this bit too difficult (unless you’re an octopus), and devised my own method.

Finished 9

So, if you’ve ever fancied making this, I would whole-heartedly suggest you give it a go!


Book details:

Carolyn Pearce. “Home Sweet Home: an embroidered workbox”. 100 pages. Published by Country Bumpkin (publishers of Inspirations embroidery magazine) in 2012, in Australia. They are now called Create in Stitch, and the book is currently out of print, but may be reprinted during 2016. Contact them for updates. ISBN-10: 0980876702 ISBN-13: 978-0980876703.


Now I’m going to go and have a look at my stash, to choose the next thing to make……


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46 thoughts on “Carolyn Pearce Home Sweet Home workbox 46: it’s finished!!!!!!!!! Photos, hints and tips, and materials list.”

  1. Congratulations! It looks wonderful as a completed set, and each piece is so detailed and beautiful. I’ve really enjoyed seeing the progress you’ve made on this over the months, it’s very inspiring!

  2. An amazing achievement. And it looks so well made. I am planning to print, in colour, all your articles on this house to have it all together. I might still have some questions to ask about the roof. It looks beautiful.

  3. This set is stunning and each piece is a work of art. I’ve so enjoyed reading about its construction and celebrate the fact that you have completed this challenging project…it’s really very beautiful!

  4. I really enjoyed reading your blog about this project – and the result is so lovely! Your detailed assessment at the end is really good and helpful. Can’t wait to see what you do next!

  5. Wow! Thanks so much for sharing this journey on your blog. I always looked forward to your posts and your continued progress.

  6. Thank you for sharing this amazing (and beautiful!) journey. I’ve learned a lot by following your posts, and will put to use many of your hints and suggestions. I may even jump in and start a Home Sweet Home project! Congratulations on the lovely finish. And thanks again for the many informative posts.

  7. As you have been working this project I have fallen in love with it to the point where I’ve purchased the book, fabrics, part of the threads and beads. I’m almost ready to begin. I hope mine looks half as lovely as yours. Well done!

  8. Your finished house is lovely! Maybe a doll needle would help with the stitching needing a long needle. I have already decided to use a flowered fabric as know the lining up of the stripes could be a nightmare! Well done have so enjoyed your blogs over the weeks and months.

  9. That is amazing . Thank you for your help with this project . I don’t know if I will ever finish mine .

  10. Awesome work! I am part the way through this, my mum bought me the book when it first came out & I’m very glad that when I substituted threads I wrote them in the book. While I have stitched the accessories, I really need to attack the house itself so I can get my threads ‘back’. I’m planning on using your tips for construction, that part is scary.

  11. What a stitching marathon and beautiful achievement! It has been delightful following along with your progress through the project this year, and so helpful reading your insights into the process and the adaptations you made along the way. In spite of the need to substitute the unavailable materials, I do hope the publishers do reprint this beautiful book … I will definitely be in the queue to buy when they do! Thanks for sharing your project journey with us. 🙂

  12. This is such a stunning project! Both the smalls and the etui are beautiful, but the effect of them all together is simply gorgeous. Thank you for sharing your notes on the process.

  13. Thank you for sharing!! I have the book and the materials, you certainly have made me feel confident that I can manage this project!

  14. It looks fantastic, you must be so proud. I have printed off the post to file your helpful tips along with the book in case I ever tackle this myself. Well done.

  15. Just stumbled upon this post and I wish I could’ve followed along with your updates on this project! The finished box looks gorgeous!

  16. I love your finish,beautiful work. When the book came out my Hubby gave it to me as a gift. I have kitted some fabric,threads but can not get all so seeing yours I`ll look through what I have and make a start. 🙂 Happy stitching.

  17. Beautiful!! Since the book is back in print, I have thought about getting it but wanted to see how difficult it would be and how much time it will take. Thank you for all of your information. Your stitching is gorgeous!!

  18. Am awaiting delivery of the book from Amazon, thank you so much for listing the supplies (can make a start on sourcing them) and thanks also for your invaluable advice on tackling the project!

  19. What a wonderful project and what a fantastic job you made of it. Thank you for sharing this. Your comments and hints on what to do and not to do is a terrific help and makes this daunting project look ‘do-able’. So I have just bought the book from the Book Depository and plan to give it a go soon.

    Like you, I will be working without the kit and substituting as much as possible. Again your extensive list of subs is invaluable. You really are very generous with your knowledge and experience and I just want to tell you how much people like me appreciate it.

    Kind regards,

    1. Hi Carol,
      Thanks so much for the compliments! I just love stitching, and I want other people to be doing it too, so if I can help to explain the ‘tricky bits’, more people might be tempted to have a go!!

  20. Janet, I really hate to bother you about a project you finished so long ago, but I really need help and don’t know where else to turn. I’m about to begin stitching this and I am unsure about the sew-in interfacing for the house pieces. Is it just being used as a template? Or am I to sew in the interfacing to stabilize the linen for the embroidery. The instructions really aren’t clear at all about this. Thank you so much for your time. Shannon

    1. I only used them as templates. I didn’t sew them onto the linen as a stabiliser. The house panels will be strong enough when they are laced over the mount board pieces. They don’t need interlining as well. I think using interfacing as a template is one of Carolyn’s ‘signature’ methods. It is actually a good idea, as tissue paper is too delicate, and you can still see through the interlining enough to trace details, etc. But I agree with you, it’s not that clear from the instructions in the book that you don’t actually incorporate them into the finished house.

  21. Thank you so much, Janet! You are so kind to take the time to reply. I was going to make Strawberry Fayre, til I saw how repetitive the stitching was and I was afraid I wouldn’t finish something that repetitive. I think this one will keep my interest going long enough for me to finish (fingers crossed!). I’m planning to stitch in lieu of many of the buttons, I like the look of stitches better. I will be following your posts as I go through every step, along with the book, just to make sure I’m doing things properly. As I’m sure you know, when you search this project online, 95% of the images out there are yours! That includes Pinterest! You should be quite proud! Again, thank you for the time to respond to my question. Have a wonderful weekend!

    1. Thank you – yes, it was a more interesting project, stitching-ise, than Strawberry Fayre, although I think Strawberry Fayre stuns people more than this little workbox. The book for the workbox is an amazing feat to have produced – over 100 pages of detailed instructions, and all those little diagrams!!

      I’m aware that most of the pictures online are of my version. I think the publishers need to learn a bit of Search Engine Optimisation 🙂

  22. Wow, thank you for posting, hoping you can help, as I have been searching for my copy of the book to get the supply list and I cannot seem to find it, and like you I plan on using some of my stash but need the information below if you happen to know, I would greatly appreciate it.

    In the USA what is the mount board you make the house from? How much yardage for the outside and the lining and finally what if any are the special buttons for the project. I will be in Australia soon, is there anything I should buy for it while I am there?

    Thank you so much

    1. I used 2mm mount board for the house walls. I’m in England, so I’m sorry but I’ve no idea what you’d need to buy in the US. You really need the book to look up the other things you need to know – it’s a great book, and very detailed, but my blog posts are just extra info for people working from the book.

      1. Create in Stitch in Australia sells the charms and other materials, as well as the pre-cut cards. I bought my Home Sweet Home Card Pack from them online (sold as a separate item). I am also in the UK. You can read the description of what cards are pre-cut in their website.

      2. I think in the US, mount board can be found in picture framing stores and is cut to go around pictures

  23. Thank you for your reply, I have the book….somewhere, I think it got put in a box in the laundry room while we were remodeling, as I haven’t seen it since.

  24. Hi Janet I’m in the middle of making the small bits for the house. I bought the kit and just wondered when making Beehive Thread. Utter cover how do you get 4 threads through the holes of tiny beads. Did you use beads on your thread cutter

  25. Hi, Janet! I just received my copy of the Home Sweet Home book (10th Anniversary edition with three additional smalls!) and then discovered your blog. I’ve been starting to locate all of the materials, but I’ve run into an issue. Many of the threads in her list are expensive and/or difficult to find (at least in the U.S.). Unlike most (I presume) of your readers, I’m a lace-maker (almost exclusively white or ecru), not a surface embroiderer, so I have no stash of embroidery threads to substitute from. Will I be disappointed with the results if I stick with basic DMC embroidery floss/Mouliné for the project? Should I at least try to incorporate some of the silks, wools, etc.?

    1. DMC will give a really good effect – don’t feel you have to go for all the fancy threads. Carolyn is well known for using loads of different threads in her projects, but then a lot of thread manufacturers give samples to designers because they know they will get a lot of sales if the designer uses them, and then all the stitchers use them too. But they’re not essential. Maybe the only motifs I’d use a fine wool like Appletons crewel wool on is the little bunny on one of the house panels, and maybe the snail shell, but other than that, DMC is fine to use.

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