Carolyn Pearce Strawberry Fayre heart etui 8: starting with the front heart stems

I am currently stitching the Carolyn Pearce Strawberry Fayre heart etui as a stitchalong project. This is what I’m going to make:

Carolyn Pearce Strawberry Fayre etui

See the end of this post for all the information you’ll need to join in!

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So, at last we get to do some stitching! After all that cutting out of templates and fabric, and bagging things up for later…… I put my fabric in its ‘window’, and hooped it up, and actually got quite a bit of stitching done this week.


I’ll name the threads I use for each section as I go, but please note that I substituted a lot of threads for this project from my stash, so where I’m using a substitute, I’ll say that!


This is quite fine embroidery, and the magazine instructions say that most embroidery is worked with just one strand (i.e. one strand of Anchor pulled from the six as it comes off the skein, for instance) unless otherwise specified.


There’s guidance in the magazine instructions about which needles to use. I like to use a ‘betweens’/quilting needle (size 9) for fine embroidery when it’s with one strand, as I like the way the needle is able to be manipulated, as it’s a really short needle – just over an inch long. For two strands, I use a fine crewel needle, which has a larger eye. For the stitches such as the Hungarian Braided Chain Stitch I use a tapestry 26. For bullions I use a milliners needle, as they are long and straight, hardly tapering at all, which makes neat wraps easier to do.


First off is to stitch the wide swirling stems. These are to be stitched using Hungarian Braided Chain Stitch (using Anchor 266 substitute), which is a stitch I hadn’t done before. The Inspirations magazine number 95 does have process diagrams, showing you how to do it, but I found this video on the Needle ‘n Thread website by Mary Corbet which makes it even clearer what you need to do (Mary’s website is fantastic, if you haven’t come across it before!).

Hungarian braided chain stitch video

The stitch is like a double chain stitch, and makes a nice strong braided outline for the more delicate embroidery. It helps to stitch this using a fine tapestry needle (I used a size 26 tapestry), so that you don’t keep piercing the loops of the stitches as you weave the needle around them.

Carolyn Pearce Strawberry Fayre etui

The line is outlined on both sides with stem stitch in dark green (Anchor 269 substitute) and then metallic copper (Madeira metallic 20 weight, shade copper 428 substitute, as I couldn’t find the Au ver a Soie anywhere!). When using the metallic thread, I found that although the thread itself is fine, and *could* be threaded through the betweens needle, the thread kept shredding – it’s actually a black core thread with copper foil-type stuff wound around it, which is not that strong, although this is sold as a machine embroidery thread. So, I switched to a large-eyed crewel needle, so that the needle made a large hole in the fabric with each stitch, and the metallic thread could then go through the fabric easily, stopping it from shredding. Keep your stitches short for this outlining, as coarse long stitches detract from the swirly effect.

This is one of the swirls, part-way through adding the metallic thread outline – the top edge is still to be done:

Carolyn Pearce Strawberry Fayre etui

The fine stems are worked in whipped chain stitch  – make sure that your chain stitches start at identical points on each side of the heart (i.e the two curves at the centre top need to go from the wide swirl into the centre, from each side, to the top point, and not all the way across in an upside-down V), as even when whipped, that slight difference would notice. The inner edge of the thin stems are outlined in stem stitch in the dark green, and the outer edges in light green (after whipping them), giving a shadow effect.

Carolyn Pearce Strawberry Fayre etui

Having stitched the basic outlines of the thin stems though, I decided to stitch the fine curly tendrils (using Silk ‘n’ Colors Pond Scum substitute), as the pencil outlines for those were starting to disappear, and I wanted to get them stitched while I could still see them! Then I went back to the thin stems and finished off the whipping and outlining.

The tendrils are worked in stem stitch, with really small stitches, to keep the curves nice and neat.

Carolyn Pearce Strawberry Fayre etui

That little lot took me about fifteen hours! I’m really enjoying this – the stitches are interesting, and no one area has to be worked on for so long that I get bored with it. The next bit to stitch is the carnation on the left of the heart.

What do you think of it so far? Are you joining in with this? Have you progressed further on your own already? Comment below!

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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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16 thoughts on “Carolyn Pearce Strawberry Fayre heart etui 8: starting with the front heart stems”

  1. Oh this is looking lovely Janet, you’ve got off to a good start! I love the nice rope like effect of the Hungarian Braided stitch and I remember Mary’s tutorial video on that stitch. Haven’t tried it yet but it looks nice to work. I think I’ll be referring back to her stitch fun series whilst I work Home Sweet Home, for some of the more complex stitches. Although I’m finding you were right regarding the stitching difficulty level: I have been working on a practice sampler before starting on the design and so far they are fairly straightforward. Do you think the Etui project is a step up stitch wise? And I searched all over for the Au ver a Soie metallics as well with no success … I’m beginning to think they are a myth! 😄 In the end I chose some Kreinek very fine braids in similar colours, although I think they are probably still slightly heavier than the AVS, so I’ll have to look at the Madeira metallics. Anyway, the etui is looking fabulous so far … that’s a good 15 hours you put in there! 👍🏻😍

    1. Thanks Kathryn, yes, Mary Corbet’s videos are such a help. If anything, I think the Home Sweet Home had some more difficult stitches in than this etui. There were some in HSH that I didn’t want to attempt, as they looked too fiddly, whereas in this project, I think they’ll all be OK to attempt. Maybe the Au ver a Soie is easier to get in Australia, where Carolyn is? Certainly not in the UK! 15 hours sounds like a lot, but when I get settled for an evening’s stitching, I don’t get up much….!

  2. I’m up to where you are, except that my tendrils still need stitching. I can’t find anywhere instructions for the forget-me-not leaves, they look as if they are single lazy daisy stitches. I too went to Mary’s Instructional video for the Hungarian Braided Chain, as she gives more hints and tips than the Inspirations photos, but found a #9 Crewel just fine, but used a tapestry needle to whip the chain stitches. I’m using Kreinik 215C cord for A and it looks exactly right. I found that he fabric had to be quite loose in the hoop, compared with Stumpwork, in order to work the Hungarian Braided Chain. I’m also finding that the 8” recommended hoop is quite tight size wise for this design, and had to move it side to side for the outside scrolling lines, but won’t need to again now those are done. I got my DH to flip the designs right to left so I only had to trace once, and sent for the Sublime Stitching transfer pen Mary Corbett reviewed and gave the thumbs up to, and I’m very glad, it gives a nice fine line, and doesn’t disappear into the fabric like pencil does, which is my bugbear as the fabric also becomes dirty from the smudged lines.

    1. Hi Jeanette, I couldn’t find any mention of what to do with the forget-me-not leaves either[EDIT: there’s one sentence on page 55 of the magazine!], but they do look like single lazy daisy stitches, so that’s what I did. I’m doing my stitching in a 10 inch hoop with a ‘window’ because I hate stitching right up to the edge of the hoop. It’s quite a large design for an 8 inch, I think.

    2. Thank you for the tip about flipping the designs (is ‘DH’ darling husband?!), and re the Stitching pen.
      🙂 Jo

  3. Hi Janet! I’ve been stitching along with you and really enjoying the process! Lots of different stitches to keep it interesting. I started with the back heart,though, just to get some practice in. Also, I resorted to heavy chain instead on Hungarian braid. It is effective though not quite as fancy.

    I ordered the kit since sourcing is hard where I live. It seems complete but I must say I was surprised at how skimpy some of the amounts are. And only one needle of each one recommended!

    Looking forward to seeing your progress.

    1. Any kind of chain stitch makes a good substitute for the Hungarian braided chain, so that’s fine – just enjoy what you’re stitching 🙂 I’ve heard from other people that the kit for this project is a bit skimpy in places, which is a shame considering the high cost of it!! Needles cost pennies – there’s no excuse for that.

  4. Thanks so much for posting your photographs – yours is looking lovely already Janet. I am still working the hungarian braided chain with the Gumnut Stars in 2 strands which I am finding a little challenging! The forget-me-not leaves just get a small sentence in the first paragraph on page 55 of the magazine- work small detached. chain leaves using F.

  5. Wow, you ladies are very knowledgeable and experienced. It’s going to be fantastic getting to this project, with your collective really helpful tips.
    I was trying hard to attempt to keep up! But having not even achieved the cutting out outlined in the previous blog, and mentions of 15 hours stitching in this blog, I’ve reluctantly had to accept I best leave this beautiful project till I have more time. Trying to keep up while juggling all that life’s also thrown up since the start of the year is feeling too ambitious. (I don’t want to break Janet’s first rule by not having fun or enjoying the process!).
    For my future info, can we still post queries we may have in the future, Janet, or do you only handle them in reasonable real time? (I already wanted to ask, relating to your previous blog, what’s interlining?!)
    Many thanks, and it looks beautiful so far.
    🙂 Jo

    1. Hi Jo, I realise that I’m stitching quite fast for some people’s lifestyles, but the blog posts will hopefully be available for years, so you can refer to them at your own pace if that’s easier 🙂 You can ask questions whenever you come across a post that raises issues for you – I get an email whenever someone comments, so I can easily add my answer to your question, on the relevant blog post’s comment list, as and when they arise. If a question raises a point that I think deserves a whole new blog post, I might even do that as well ! By the way, I don’t expect to do anything like 15 hours of stitching per week……

      Interlining is a non-woven fabric that goes by the name of Vilene in the UK. It can be a sew-in type of fabric, or sometimes iron-on. It’s thin, usually, like a J-cloth!

  6. It really is best to have time to devote to this as it is ADDICTIVE! I find myself pledging to work for an hour and the next thing I know 6 hours have passed! I’m really enjoying some new-to-me stitches and find the variety quite effective. Lots of new fill in stitches which keep things interesting. But that adds to the addiction issue!

  7. Hi Janet, it’s Cynthia!
    I just want to say it looks awesome!
    My threads and fabric have been calling my name since I first put them together. I can’t wait to start stitching, but I’ve got to finish up a list of tasks first…
    It looks like this may be my summer project. Until then, I will live vicariously through you!
    Thank you for sharing!

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