Carolyn Pearce Strawberry Fayre heart etui 7: Let’s get started!!

OK, so back in the autumn, I promised you that in January 2018, we would start a stitchalong of the Carolyn Pearce Strawberry Fayre heart etui. And now it’s January, and I’m ready (just!!), so let’s get started! This is what we’re going to be making:

Carolyn Pearce Strawberry Fayre heart etui

I haven’t had a stitchalong on my blog before, so it’s going to be slightly different from the other projects that I have written about as I’ve been stitching them – with this one, hopefully there will be more interaction from all you lovely people, and I can respond to questions, etc., if you post comments each time. Occasionally, I’ll be asking you to send me images of your progress, so that we can all have a look!

Before we actually get started, I want to explain something:


Yes, there are rules! But only a few…

  1. It’s supposed to be fun! This is not a test, so whatever skill level you are at, just relax into it, and have a go, and enjoy the process.
  2. I am not selling anything here! This is not my design – it’s by the very talented Australian designer, Carolyn Pearce. The design appeared in Inspirations magazine number 95, in Autumn 2017, and I am simply stitching that design and sharing how I do that, as I love it. I do not sell the magazines, the materials packs, the fabric, or anything else, so please don’t ask me  🙂  See the end of this post for where to buy the stuff.
  3.  Although I will try to post regularly, this blog is more for me to write about stitching as my hobby rather than a business (although I do sell dollhouse needlepoint kits, if you’re interested in those), so if there is a break of a couple of weeks, or I post about something else sometimes, don’t be grumpy with me – we’ll get back on track soon, honest.
  4.  I have no idea how long this project will take – but I estimate it will be several months. If you can’t keep up in ‘real time’, don’t worry – the posts will be here as an archive for you to come back to and work through at your own pace later.
  5.  PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, if you decide to participate in the stitchalong (even if you start later than January 2018), comment below and tell me your name and which country you are from, and a bit about yourself. I would love to know how many people are stitching this, and where you are all from!


I’ll be stitching the etui in the order that it’s set out in Inspirations magazine, as Carolyn’s instructions are so well-organised, it wouldn’t make sense to do it differently.  I’ll try to list my variations / substitutions as I go. So, I’ll be stitching the front and back hearts, then the inside pockets and smalls, then what I call the ‘dangleys’ – the three 3D items that hang from the bottom of the heart – then the assembly.


This project is not particularly difficult, but it is detailed, so make sure you read through all of the project information in the magazine, as well as on the pullout sheet, before you begin, so that you are familiar with what will be needed, and the order of stitching and assembly.

I find that it’s easier to scan in the relevant project pages from the magazine and print them out in colour, then use them a page at a time as I’m stitching, rather than trying to manhandle the whole magazine all the time.


The instructions say to cut out all the fabric pieces from the 20 x 55 inch piece of cotton/linen blend fabric before you begin. (My fabric was 20 x 45 instead, and yet I had just about enough.)  There are 8 heart-shaped pieces in total to make up the etui, and six of them have embroidery on. The pockets and ‘smalls’ are made from the same fabric as the outside of the etui, and the pull-out instruction sheet has a cutting layout guide for each type of fabric used in this project (including wadding, template plastic, etc.).

The only change I’ll be making to the cotton/linen blend fabric cutting layout is that they suggest stitching several of the smallest pieces on one piece of fabric measuring 10 x 14 inches. I don’t like doing it this way on such a large rectangular piece of fabric, as it means moving my hoop around on stitching I’ve already worked, which can crush stitches. So, instead, I cut templates for each of the pieces from interlining as Carolyn suggests, then laid them on a piece of fabric that would definitely fit in one hoop (my largest hoop is 12 inches diameter), making sure that I left enough of a seam allowance around each template. That meant that the ‘cutting layout’ ended up being a bit of a different shape to the one on the pullout sheet, but everything fitted, eventually.

Carolyn Pearce Strawberry Fayre heart etui

I then tacked around each template to transfer the shape outline, then removed the templates.

Carolyn Pearce Strawberry Fayre heart etui

There are a few pieces that need to be cut from the embroidery fabric to make the linings and so on for the pockets – the patterns for these can be transferred using the same interlining template pieces, but using just scraps of fabric, as they are not embroidered later, so the fabric doesn’t need to be large enough to fit in a hoop. Just make sure that you leave about 5/8 inch seam allowance between pieces.

Carolyn Pearce Strawberry Fayre heart etui

The instructions suggest using quilter’s muslin to back each of the cotton/linen blend pieces in the hoop that you will be embroidering later – polycotton sheeting is a good alternative, if you don’t have the muslin.


I mount most of my fabrics in hoops, in what I call cotton fabric ‘windows’, to save wasting the cotton/linen blend fabric, and so that I can use large hoops to do the embroidery, as that is more comfortable for me. To do this, I cut a paper template first to the size of the fabric for what I’m going to stitch, then place it on my embroidery fabric and allow about an inch all round, then cut the fabric out in a square or rectangular shape. Then I take a large piece of cotton fabric (leftover from my dressmaking stash, or old sheeting – anything strong but non-stretchy will do. Men’s handkerchiefs are good!), and centring the embroidery fabric on the cotton one, tack the embroidery fabric half an inch in from its edge, matching grain lines of both fabrics.

Then I carefully cut away the cotton fabric from the centre (from the reverse side), leaving the embroidery fabric with a ‘window frame ‘ of cotton around it. This makes it much easier to mount in the hoop, and saves wasting a lot of the ‘posh’ fabric. The ‘windows’ can be used indefinitely – I have a huge stash of them of various sizes, from previous projects, with the dimensions marked in the top right-hand corners, to make finding one of the correct size quicker! For this project, I cut the window fabric 16 by 16 inches, as I’ll be using a 10 inch hoop.

With this project, the fabric we’ll be embroidering is actually two layers each time, due to the backing of quilter’s muslin. To deal with two layers with this method, I simply tack the backing fabric to the embroidery fabric after having transferred the design, and before I fix it into its ‘window’, and proceed with the double layered fabrics being treated as one. It’s simpler to do than to explain, honest!!


So, using one of the 10 x 10 inch fabric pieces,  and before backing it with muslin or placing it in its ‘window’, I traced a heart shape from the pullout sheet onto medium interfacing, pinned it to the fabric, and tacked around the edge to transfer the shape without having to draw on the fabric.

Carolyn Pearce Strawberry Fayre heart etui

Six of the eight heart shaped pieces will be embroidered, so I made six of these.

Carolyn Pearce Strawberry Fayre heart etui

To transfer the details of the design of the heart and the smaller pieces, I used a light box, and first traced the design from the pullout sheet onto dressmaker’s tracing paper with a Staedtler Triplus Fineliner in black.

Carolyn Pearce Strawberry Fayre heart etui

Then I taped the tracing to the light box, placed the fabric on top and taped it in place with masking tape, and drew over the tracing lines with a sharp pencil (not a permanent brown pen, as they suggest in the magazine, as that’s far too scary!! As long as the fabric doesn’t get rubbed too much while you’re stitching, pencil will be fine).

Carolyn Pearce Strawberry Fayre heart etui

As you’re transferring the design, occasionally turn the light of the light box off, and check that you have transferred every line, and that your tracing lines are showing up properly. It’s easy to miss one, and better to correct it now, while the fabric is on the light box. Place the pullout sheet with the tracing designs next to the light box as you trace, so that if you’re not sure where a line should go, you can check the original without lifting the fabric off the light box.

Note: On the main front heart design, there is a stem line missing on the lower left hand side, but it’s easy to see where it should be, as it mirrors the one on the right!

[EDIT: I noticed, after starting to stitch the carnation on the left, that the design on the pullout sheet doesn’t have the carnation placed correctly – it is too far over to the right, so it is too close to the swirling stem. Try to adjust for this as you make your tracing!! ]

Carolyn Pearce Strawberry Fayre heart etui

Once the design was transferred, I could then back it with the muslin, tacking around the previous line of tacking half an inch away to prevent the two fabrics slipping/bagging, and also around the very edges of the fabric ‘sandwich’. It’s helpful to use a different shade of sewing thread to do this, so that it’s clear which is the heart outline, and which is the tacking thread for the two fabrics, to prevent nasty cutting mistakes later on….

Carolyn Pearce Strawberry Fayre heart etui

Then it could be mounted in its ‘window’, and the cotton backing carefully cut away from the reverse side. Then the whole lot could be mounted in a hoop. I’m using a ten inch hoop for the large hearts, and a twelve inch hoop for the fabric piece with all the smalls on.


Although it can seem tedious, I find it is better to cut out all of the fabric, interlining, wadding and plastic stiffener pieces now, at the beginning, and store them in resealable plastic bags, with a note on to identify things. This took me all of one Saturday….!

Carolyn Pearce Strawberry Fayre heart etui

There are cutting layouts on the pullout sheet for the interlining, quilters template plastic and wadding which can all be cut now and stored. It will make the assembly later a much less messy process, and far quicker. OK, so it’s boring. But you know it makes sense  🙂

After all that, we should be ready to start stitching…. with these!!!!!

Carolyn Pearce Strawberry fayre heart etui

Now, that’s much more interesting, isn’t it? Lovely colourful threads, dinky little beads, grosgrain ribbon, metallics….. now we can actually get started!!

Comment below if you’re going to be joining in with this…..

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  ***  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~


The Strawberry Fayre design, plus the complete list of materials, appears in Inspirations magazine number 95The publishers do sell a full materials pack  (not including the mother of pearl ruler though!), but it’s rather expensive, so if you can use your stash, and just fill in with bits and pieces, then so much the better! The magazine is published in Australia – if you live in the UK, as I do, it is cheaper to buy a back copy from Manor House Magazines, and save a lot on the shipping. 

To read about this project stitchalong from the beginning, start here. The post about which FABRIC to use is here. The post about the THREAD SUBSTITUTIONS that I made, plus WHERE TO BUY the threads and beads, etc., is here.

To look up all the posts in this series in the sidebar, see under the CATEGORIES list, under: Embroidery / Full size (others’ designs) / Strawberry Fayre heart etui, or use the SEARCH BOX at the top of the blog, and search for ‘Strawberry Fayre’ to get a list of all the posts (but it’s in reverse order, sorry!).


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.


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60 thoughts on “Carolyn Pearce Strawberry Fayre heart etui 7: Let’s get started!!”

  1. Oh I have enjoyed reading your extremely detailed post, Janet! I’m not actually going to be joining the stitch-along (although I do want to work this design eventually and I will be following your progress avidly!) but I am about to start the Home Sweet Home workbox project which you also inspired me to try. 🙂 I have finally gathered all the materials for that, and I have just treated myself to a lightbox, so I was fascinated reading about your transfer and fabric prep process as that is the stage I am at with HSH. I agree on batching the cutting out process, so I will definitely be following your example in that respect. Plus the grip seal bags for storing all the project bits and bobs is a super idea. Logged for future reference! 🙂

      1. Ah thank you! I’m glad to hear that because it’s my first real surface embroidery project. I’ve done a little bit of silk shading and basic stitches, so this feels like the ultimate stitch sampler for me! 🙂 But I’ve got my stitch dictionaries and extra fabric to practice on, so it’s good to hear that it’s the scale rather than the stitches that is the challenge with HSH. Thank you for the encouragement! 🙂

      2. You can always substitute simpler stitches for more complicated ones, too. Chain stitch is always useful as a ‘thick line’ one, when more fiddly stitches are suggested.

    1. Kathryn, I would love to see your postings as you proceed on Home Sweet Home. I have the book but have not started collecting supplies as I keep getting involved in projects at my stitching groups. I plan to do both as soon as I clear a little space and will be following and keeping Janet’s blogs on Strawberry Fayre. Thanks, Janet, for doing this. Very best, Charlotte

      1. Thank you Charlotte! It does take rather a lot of gathering to collect everything together for HSH. I found Janet’s posts on the workbox so encouraging and insightful, it’s those posts plus the book review by Mary Corbert that gradually persuaded me to try this project next. You will find the back catalogue of Janet’s posts here So Helpful when you start, but you can find me on Instagram as @thevoyageofthedrawnthreader. I’ll be setting up a Facebook page with the same ID shortly for those who don’t do IG, and if you’re in the UK I will happily share where I found any of the kit you might be hunting for. All the best with your SAL projects! 🙂

  2. I’m Beth, from Utah, USA. I plan to work this design in the near future, but will be following along. I have a lot of prep work to do, I see😊

  3. Hi Janet! I’m Elizabeth from the UK. I’m not 100% certain about joining in, but I very well might.

    However, I’ll be making huge changes ranging from the design and colour scheme to the size and usage. I have zero use for an etui, but I do need a manicure set, which will be smaller. I also don’t really go for the colours and I would choose other flowers etc, but the general outline is good for me. We’ll see….

  4. Mary Patricia Barry, Cape Cod, MA, USA. I am stitching along and using more silk than on the House. I started a little stitching already on the front heart but am excited to read every word of your post! (Thought you might have had second thoughts!). Thank you

  5. Hi Janet,
    I’m Barbara from San Francisco and have been waiting eagerly for your post. I too spent a day cutting and bagging so am ready to stitch along with you. Many thanks for doing this as it’s so reassuring to watch and work with others.
    Regards Barbara

  6. Hi Janet,
    Thank you for allowing us to follow along with you. I live in Brisbane, Australia, and am looking forward to stitching this with others. I purchased the kit – and you are quite correct when you say it is rather expensive- so I was a bit reluctant then, to start on my own and make a mess of it!!!
    It is Australia Day here today, so I plan to start this afternoon. Thank you.

  7. I too have been looking forward to following in your footsteps. I’m inexperienced at this kind of embroidery although I’ve sewn in various ways most of my life. I plan to do the preparation this weekend. Another Brit joining this international set. Haven’t managed to source the beads yet but hope to do this as we go along. Thanks for doing this Janet.

  8. Hi Janet
    , I’m from Auckland New Zealand and am looking forward to having a reference point.
    This is a rather daunting project so will be pleased as the kit was expensive. Not sure I’ll be keeping up but glad to see you will archive the process.
    Kind regards,

    1. Hi Jan, Yes, I’m aware the kit was expensive!! But at least you got everything in one place (except for the mother of pearl ruler, I believe). The blog posts will be archived by title (‘Strawberry Fayre’) as well as in date order, so you can follow the project any time.

  9. Hi Janet,
    I’m from Melbourne, Australia. I bought the kit soon after the magazine arrived in my mailbox last year. I can’t start at the moment as I’m going through a home renovation, but I’m sure following along with your progress will inspire me to get started as soon as it’s possible. Good luck!

  10. Hi Janet!
    I am looking forward to following your progress on this delicious project! I won’t be working on it…. yet. I still have Home Sweet Home to finish. Hopefully I will be inspired to get back to it soon! Thank you so much for sharing your stitching experiences and helpful hints!

  11. Hi Janet, I’m Michelle from Ohio, USA. I look forward to taking this stitching journey with you. I want to finish this project then I’ll move to start Home Sweet Home. Let’s have fun and enjoy every stitch.

  12. Hi Janet,
    I intend to have a go at following along. I bought the kit. I’m in Perth, Western Australia, (originally from UK). I’ll try to follow your instructions this weekend to get all the cutting prep done. It’s definitely the bit I’m least confident about, as not familiar with what’s muslin, interfacing, etc!!
    I may fall behind with this project, as I get a very sore neck from too much focusing downwards, but am keen to try! Thank you for doing all your really helpful blogs, Janet.

    1. Hi Jo! I get a stiff neck too, if I’m not careful. I find that a floor standing frame to rest my hoop on, and a chair at the right height, so that I’m not leaning forwards (but the frame is leaning towards me!), is what really helps.

      1. Thanks for those tips, Janet. I got myself a 3-in-1 OttLite (with clip for holding the pattern, I think, but I use it to hold the hoop and it does help), but I just have to moderate my embroidery to short bursts. 🙂

  13. Hi Janet! Jeanette here in Sydney, New South Wales. I’ll be stitching along with you. It will be fun with so many people embarking on the same project.

  14. Hi Janet,
    I have been working of the prep for sometime. I had to buy more fabric because tracing with the brown micron pen I had was awful. I realized too late that it was too thick. I switched to a black one .005 and sure hope it doesn’t show after I embroider.
    Like so many of your fans, I too had started collecting the Home Sweet Home pieces because I had planned to do that when you announced that you would be working on this. Since I had the issue I decided to put the other project on hold and join in the stitch-along for Strawberry Fayre.

  15. I bought this kit directly from Carolyn a few years ago, and it’s been in my stash waiting to be stitched. This is a good of a time as any to start. I’ll just add it to the list of six or seven other SALs I’m staring this January. The fabric preparation looks pretty involved; way more work than I’m interested in doing, but I’m sure it will be easier in the end. Will be fun to start this one.

  16. Kathy from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Planning to give this project a try – taking baby steps. I’ve got the magazine with pattern photocopied and the fabric so far. Guess I need to find the quilters plastic.

    1. Hi Kathy, Yes, the quilter’s template plastic is one of the components of this project that can’t easily be substituted. But at least it’s not difficult to get (in the UK, at least).

  17. I’ve used a so-called ‘permanent’ marker brown thin pen before to trace a Jenny McWhinney baby blanket I did last year, but it wasn’t a Micron brand (like Jenny’s instructed had recommended!). I went with the one the local Quilting shop recommended. They were terribly sorry when I returned, but it was too late. It smudged over the wool from my hand heat and the hoop. I then tried washing it out after I’d finished my embroidery (after testing a scrap bit with the pen and embroidery) and it helped a little. People told me you couldn’t really see the smudging, but I knew it was there on the finished project – great shame.

    I much prefer the idea of using pencil for this project!

    1. Hi Jo, I’ve always been too wary to use anything ‘permanent’ as a drawing tool when I’m going to be stitching over the top, in case my stitching doesn’t cover the lines. But smudging as well….oh dear!

  18. Hi Janet. I’ll be following along, hoping to pick up some good techniques. I too am working on Home Sweet Home. I have finished half the roof and the bottom label. I am working on the side with the strawberries and caterpillar. I decided to do the easiest parts first, since I am a beginner. I am on IG as marlise_gross if anyone wants to see my (slow) progress.

  19. Oh, it will be much fun to see you stitch the project! And hopefully you spur me on again. I have a hard time with some of the threads and stitches. I am stitching from the original kit. So, I am kinda in your stitchalong too and cover my progress irregularly on my blog. Oh, and I am based in Germany.

  20. I’ve been looking for a non-hurried project as I torture to hand embroidery after a long absence. I bought the kit as sourcing is difficult for me, living in the boondocks! I would like to substitute a vintage linen from my stash. It is lighter in color and weight than the kit. Do you think this will work?

  21. I didn’t mean to say torture! I meant to say “return”. Handwork is anything but torture for me! I’m doing some preliminary practice work, starting with Hungarian braid! Just got to get into that rhythm. I keep reverting back to reverse chain. I’ll get it!!!

  22. I am here watching and enjoying your posts. I have the kit, Yes it was expensive but an easy way to go because there are no embroidery shops where I live in North Carolina. I hope to get started soon, my life is crazy busy right now. Thank you for the detailed pictures. Thank you for your inspiration. I have so much to learn.

    1. Hi Mary Ann! I think with this project, even though it is expensive, the kit is a very good way to go – apparently, it has 75 components in it. That’s a lot to source on your own!

  23. Hi Janet,
    I am in Toronto, Canada and will be starting Strawberry Fayre soonish. I didn’t get the kit (might have been better if I had) and am still waiting for the last few supplies to arrive in the mail. I find this project very daunting — I am very experienced with cross-stitch and many specialty stitches used in it, but surface embroidery is utterly and completely new to me.

    A note about my experience with the template plastic. I quilt but had not bought template plastic for many years. Used to be I could walk into any of the many quilt shops in my city and buy it no problem. Fewer quilt shops now of course but even at the online shops I had difficulty sourcing it. I bought two unsuitable (as it turned out) substitutions online before I buckled and got the right thing from Amazon.

    – Carolyn

    1. Hi Carolyn,
      I’ll be going through all the stages in a lot of detail, so don’t worry – and you can ask questions in the comments if you need to. It’s actually not too difficult a project, but it’s detailed. I think that’s the difference. I too had difficulty getting the template plastic, here in the UK. It seems that a lot of craft materials are getting harder to source, these days.

  24. Hi Janet, I’m Marie from North Carolina. I’m super excited and super nervous as I start this project with you. Thank you for leading us.

    1. Hi Marie! Hope you enjoy stitching the etui. Take your time with this – as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, this is a detailed project, but it’s not difficult when broken down into stages.

  25. Hi Janet,
    I am just now cutting the fabric and hope to jump in towards the end of April. April you ask? I have another project to finish and a trip to take first.
    HATED the fabric in the kit, too dark. A friend told me that you can bleach linen and it will lighten up. Not this fabric, the bleach ate the linen, which tells me that it’s not 100% linen. I went to Joann’s Fabrics, bought a lovely piece of Antique White Linen and am in the process of cutting. On my trip, I will take a couple of the small pieces to work on, just to give it a whirl.
    Thank you Janet for putting the blog out there. It’s nice to know that we’re not alone.
    Kathleen in New Mexico, USA

    1. Hi Kathleen, let me know how you get on – people are joining at all different times, and it doesn’t matter when you start, actually, as the blog posts will still be here for you to refer to when you need them 🙂

  26. Caitlin from Massachusetts in the US. I just bought the downloadable instructions for this (it’s December, 2018) and was delighted to find you’ve already finished and blogged about the whole project! It will be incredibly helpful, and I’m already using your recommendations to source all the materials. Can’t wait to get started!

    1. Good luck with itI It’s a lovely project to make, and very unusual. Carolyn is a great designer. I’d recommend reading all my blog posts first (if you can face doing that!) as some of my amendments came about through doing what the magazine said, and realising that they didn’t work…..

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