Monthly Archives: July 2016

Victorian Purse project from Victoria Sampler…a bit of a saga!

I love making etui sets, and I also love anything designed by Thea Dueck, of Victoria Sampler in Canada. So when I came across this exquisite design for a Victorian Purse etui, I knew I had to have it!

Purse 1

I bought the chart pack (it only comes as a chart, not a kit) from Sew and So. I saw it on their website just before Christmas, but didn’t get round to buying it till a few weeks ago. It saves a lot on the shipping for me to buy it from within the UK, than buy it direct from Victoria Sampler, as the shipping would be pretty steep that way.

Then I started reseaching for the bits and pieces to make the etui itself. Usually, I have enough stuff in my stash not to have to buy the accessory packs that Victoria Sampler sell separately. I have enough threads to probably open my own shop…..but with this one, it just didn’t work out like that. The design calls for Perle 12 thread in a  lovely soft pink, and narrow silk ribbon, and tiny frosted pink beads….stuff that I just didn’t have. So, when I started tracking down online stockists for these things, the price started to add up (with shipping on top, from various suppliers). Then, as I was back on the Sew and So site, I happened to see that their stock of the accessory packs were 20% off. No contest, really.

The pack has lots of lovely threads and ribbons, in pink, green and cream shades, plus some Kreinik metallic braid, some beads, and some silk twist.

This is an image from the chart pack, showing the reverse side of the purse, and the interiors of the smalls:

Purse 2

The fabric was another matter. I *thought* I had something suitable, in a box in the loft….several sortings-out later, I had to admit that I’d imagined that. So, I ordered some Jobelan 28 count Dark Rose evenweave for the pink fabric. It was half price, as it was the last piece of a discontinued colour. The greeny-beige, though, was even more of a problem, as the fabric recommended in the chart pack has been discontinued by Zweigart already. In the end, I decided to use Zweigart’s Cashel linen, Platinum shade (which you can see in the top picture). It’s got a  slightly green tinge to it, so it should work OK with the thread and ribbon shades from the accessory pack.

Can’t wait to get started on this! Thea’s designs are always interesting to do – lots of little challenges, such as stitches I’ve not done before, and the projects are really innovative…..

 

 

I’ve got more embroidery thread than anybody…..

I know that stitchers often like to talk about their stash. After all collecting fabric, thread, kits and charts can be almost as much fun as stitching!

However, when you run your own embroidery kit business, you’d think that that feeling might have to be ‘toned down’ a bit, maybe? Well, if it should, then I’m not very good at it!

Here’s what recently happened…

I was looking on Facebook, as you do, and someone in an embroidery group mentioned an online trade auction that was due to end in two days’ time. It was the closing stock of a UK distributor of needlework and knitting supplies. I had a quick look, just out of interest, you understand….and couldn’t believe what I saw. Hundreds of bulk cones of thread, the same as I use in my kits, with an opening bid that was a fraction of the trade price. So, I thought about it overnight, then started bidding the morning that the auction was to finish.

I’m not very patient when it comes to bidding, but I AM very determined. So when a few people bid against me, I used tactical bidding to still win what I wanted, at a really good price.

This is what I got – several  hundred cones of Anchor stranded cotton, which, once delivered to my home, took up most of the living room! I’ve put my sewing machine in the picture, to give you an idea of the scale of this heap:

Anchor cones 1

It took my husband and I several hours to sort them all into their colour number groups, so that they then looked like this:

Anchor cones 2

Now that they’ve been sorted properly, they will be added to my inventory in a tidy way, like this:

Anchor cones 3

I could look at them for hours! I’ve already got ideas for how I can use them for new designs, as there are some colours in this selection that I’ve never stocked before.

 

Toy chest etui by Betsy Morgan: 5 – the last few toys in the toy chest!

Here are the last few toys that I made as sewing accessories to fit inside the toy chest etui. The whole toy chest and accessories are designed by Betsy Morgan of Willing Hands. They were really fun to make!

This cute drum is only about an inch and a half high. It has wooden drumsticks, made from thin dowel and beads, stitched onto the lid.

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The drum is decorated at the back with soft silk ribbon, laced up the seam, and then tied in a bow.

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The drum is lined with silk fabric. The drum is actually a container for a small cylinder of beeswax, which is useful to wax your threads with before stitching with them (waxing cuts down on static, and controls curled threads). The wax cylinder has metal ends, so that your fingers stay clean!

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But this next accessory is my absolute favourite! It’s a box about two inches square, with counted thread patterns all the way round.

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On the base, I embroidered my initials and the date.

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When you release the loop on the red bead, a little jack-in-the-box pops up! He’s on a spring, and has a ruff made of fine silk ribbon. In the instructions, it said to make the head from a piece of the checked silk fabric, so that it would just be a ball of fabric. I felt that he needed to have a face! So I made him from white cotton, and embroidered his face on once he had been attached to the spring (not easy!). The head is actually a container for emery powder, used to clean needles – to use it, you push the needle in and out of the fabric a few times, and discolouration is removed.

To be honest, I haven’t actually tried using it, although I did fill the head with the emery powder. I am worried that if I did poke needles in and out of his face, he might end up looking as if he’s got a bad case of blackheads  🙂IMG_2658

So, here is the whole toy chest, with all the accessories displayed around it. This took me about four months’ worth of my spare time of concerted effort to get finished. About half of that was the assembly of the pieces.

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It’s a really lovely project to do, and I’m so pleased with it – it’s one of my favourite possessions. It was due to getting withdrawal symptoms from finishing this etui set in 2012 that I decided to start the Carolyn Pearce Home Sweet Home one!

If you ever get the chance to take one of Betsy Morgan’s workshops, do make the most of the opportunity. Her designs are so creative, and her instructions are very detailed.

As I’ve said before in this series of blog posts, Betsy doesn’t sell these items as kits direct to the public, but instead you buy the whole project pack as part of the workshops which she offers, which last from a couple of days to a week, depending on the item being made (of course, you don’t *finish* the item in a few days, but Betsy shows you all the steps you’ll need to do, and you get the chance to practice, and ask questions, and get started at least!). Betsy is from the USA, but has been over to England a couple of times. In October 2016 she will be offering classes as part of the Beating Around the Bush stitching event in Adelaide, Australia, organised by Inspirations magazine.

 

 

Toy chest etui by Betsy Morgan: 4 – needle case and pincushion

This lovely little needle case is part of Betsy Morgan’s Toy chest etui. I made it in 2012. It’s a holder for a packet of needles (which slip between the back sections of the silk lined case).

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The front is cross stitched with variegated silk thread, and the back is checked silk fabric, with a pocket incorporated in the hinge seam.

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When it is open, it looks like a paint box. Isn’t it pretty? The pattern at the end of the initials and date on the inside of the lid is a slot, reinforced with the stitching. Inside the slot, you can keep a flat metal needle-threader. The project pack comes with both the needle-threader and a beautiful enamelled charm of a paint palette, to attach to the end of the cord on the needle-threader.

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This is the paint box seen closed, with the needle-threader just poking out:

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Another accessory in the toy chest is this pincushion, shaped like a book.

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The edges of the ‘pages’ are stitched in rows of backstitch, in white. The cover is stitched in cross stitch and counted thread stitches. Each stitched panel of the pincushion is reinforced with fabric stiffener (a bit like petersham), stuffed lightly, and then slipstitched into a book shape.

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These designs are by Betsy Morgan of Willing Hands, and form part of the Toy chest etui set. She doesn’t sell these items as kits, but you buy the whole project pack as part of the workshops which she offers, which last from a couple of days to a week, depending on the item being made (of course, you don’t *finish* the item in a few days, but Betsy shows you all the steps you’ll need to do, and you get the chance to practice, and ask questions, and get started at least!). Betsy is from the USA, but has been over to England a couple of times. If you get the chance, go and have a look at her other items, and list of course dates on her blog. In October 2016 she will be offering classes as part of the Beating Around the Bush stitching event in Adelaide, Australia, organised by Inspirations magazine.