A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I’m going to start stitching the amazing Strawberry Fayre heart etui design by Carolyn Pearce, which has just appeared in Inspirations magazine issue 95 (September 2017) , and that I had the idea of doing it as a stitch-along, for anyone who’s interested – and quite a lot of you are!
I’m thinking of starting the stitching on this after Christmas – towards the end of January, probably. But that doesn’t mean that I’ll leave it till then to start collecting the materials together – in fact, I’m doing that bit now!
This project has quite a lot of threads and beads in it. Inspirations magazine is selling a materials pack for the project, so you could simply buy that….but it’ a bit pricey! It’s 241 Australian dollars / £142 / US$193, plus shipping. However, that does mean that you would get absolutely EVERYTHING that you need (except the ruler) – even after just a quick scan through the list of what’s required, I realised that some of the items would be difficult for me to get here in the UK, as our needlework industry has virtually collapsed these days, and we don’t have much choice here. Buying things from overseas can work out very expensive, shipping-wise.
Anyway, I’ll go through the process that I have followed to start collecting the materials up – you might want to use my checklist, or make your own. Let me know in the comments if you have a different system!
What I do first with a detailed project like this one, is to scan the Requirements page from the magazine. Then I print it out, cut it up, and tape each column of materials to a sheet of paper so that I have one column of materials to match to at a time, and I can make comments alongside. This is easier than keying it all into Excel, and means I don’t make any mistakes and leave something crucial out!
Then, the time-consuming part is that I read through all of the instructions for the project, and mark on my list where each colour of thread, type of bead or construction material is used in the project, as the requirements list itself doesn’t tell you. This took me several hours. It’s then much easier to see if, for instance, a colour is used for just a tiny detail, or if it’s used for major design elements (you might even need to buy multiples skeins of one colour, if that is the case). I don’t list EVERY instance of where a thread is used, just the first time I come across it, so that I can look at the magazine images and gauge what the shade actually is, and estimate how often it’s used. One person’s ‘avocado’ is another person’s ‘moss green’, for instance!
Then I go through my stash, to see what I can substitute with. I love this bit. I don’t mind spending ages on this stage. I took a whole Sunday choosing the threads and beads for this. Mostly, I chose Anchor stranded cotton, as I use that for my dollhouse needlepoint kits, so I have the whole range of skeins already. The magazine article suggests DMC for much of it, so if you have that in your stash, you can easily use those threads. I keep all my Anchor skeins in shallow trays, stored in a vintage wooden cabinet, so when I’m choosing threads for a project, I get all the trays out and spread them around – here they are, on the rebounder in my conservatory. The rebounder makes a good table for these, and at least it’s getting some use doing this, as it certainly doesn’t get me jumping up and down on it much!!!
The article gives a list of which types and sizes of needles you’ll need, but bear in mind that if you substitute threads, you might need different sizes of needle.
I’ve decided already that I won’t make the beaded ‘dangles’ for the scissors and ruler in this project, so I’m not collecting materials for those (which are listed separately in the materials list, fortunately, so they are easy to spot if you also want to leave those out).
Although this project has a three inch mother of pearl ruler as one of the sewing items in the etui, I have found it impossible to buy one in the UK so far. Inspirations magazine must also be having trouble sourcing these, as their materials pack doesn’t include one. If anyone knows of a website or shop that actually has one (rather than saying they do, but they are actually out of stock with no hope of ever having any again!), please let me know. Otherwise, I think I might substitute a bodkin for the ruler, or maybe a laying tool of some kind.
I also read through all of the construction/assembly instructions (including the pullout sheet) at this stage, so that I am really clear about how all the construction materials are used. Sometimes, you can make simple substitutions here, such as using cardboard, which is easily available, instead of acetate sheet, which maybe isn’t.
From reading through the instructions, I have already decided that I’ll probably slice the acetate stiffener for the inner heart shapes in two, and join them with masking tape or something, to make a flexible hinge, as I don’t like the suggestion in the instructions of IRONING the fold of the fabric/acetate sandwich. Ironing acetate, sandwiched between embroidered fabric that took you hours to stitch?! Wouldn’t that melt it? Too risky for me! That’s why it is so helpful to read everything now – it gives you time to work out solutions to possible problems.
Having selected all the threads and beads that I could from my stash (and written my choices in the left hand column on my sheets), I was left with some things that I need to buy – these are marked with an arrow in the left hand margin on my sheets, as soon as I realise that my huge stash has failed me! I can then search online for the products, and make substitutions again if things aren’t available. With the beads, I found it impossible to find a supplier of the Matsuno size 15 beads in the correct colours, for instance.
This is how far I’ve got with the threads and beads from my stash:
At the moment, I’m waiting for interesting little parcels to arrive from various suppliers, so I’ll show you what I’ve ordered once they have arrived.
And I still need to decide on the fabric – probably a back to front way of doing things, but I’m only after a cream cotton-linen blend, which should be quite easy to co-ordinate things with. I need a trip to a fabric shop for that….
Are you interested in doll’s houses and stitching? Then why not visit my website, where you can buy doll’s house needlepoint kits to make all kinds of soft furnishings for one-twelfth scale dollhouses. There are over 280 kits to choose from, plus chart packs, fabric project packs, tutorials, and lots of eye candy to inspire you! Kits are available on 18 and 22 count canvas, 28 and 32 count evenweave, and 32 and 40 count silk gauze, so there’s something for everyone – from beginners to experts.