Home Sweet Home Workbox 47: special offer and book reprint announcement!!!

A while back, I wrote a long series of blog posts about the Home Sweet Home embroidered workbox etui set, which I made from the wonderful book by Carolyn Pearce. The book had originally been published in 2012, but within a couple of years it went out of print – just as I was starting my blog post series. So, I was very aware at the time that if people became interested enough in the project that they’d like to make their own, they wouldn’t be able to, as the book was unavailable!


However, there is now some good news! The book is being published again, and copies will be in the UK shortly.

This is the version of the house that I made:


This is the inside, showing the inner tray and some of the smalls:


This shows the inside, once the inner tray has been removed:


And here’s all the smalls I made, set out on their own:


The book will be available from Fobbles in Cumbria, for one, and Beverley, who runs the Fobbles shop, has kindly agreed to offer readers of this blog 10% off the usual price that she will be selling the book for (usually £19.99), if they email her to pre-order and mention that they saw the offer here. You’ll then get 10% off the retail price when the book is in stock at Fobbles, towards the end of October. Just email Beverley at sales@fobbles.co.uk  The offer is valid until 31st October 2016.

It’s well worth getting the book – it has fantastically detailed instructions, and beautiful pictures throughout.


Carolyn Pearce

Home Sweet Home: an embroidered workbox

ISBN 13:   978-0980876703

Publisher: Country Bumpkin (Australia)



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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 Etsy.com 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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Carolyn Pearce Home Sweet Home workbox 45: making the inner tray and attaching the roof

I’m on the home run now – completing the inner tray of the Home Sweet Home workbox from Carolyn Pearce’s book.

This is the inner tray, just after I’ve Ladder stitched the base of the outer layer in place. The panels were made in the same way as the lining of the box itself – fabric laced over mount board, and then Ladder stitched together.

Make 25

This shows the inner tray the right way up.

Make 26

I then measured the lengths I needed to cut for the lining of the inner tray (Carolyn gives exact measurements in her book, but makes it very clear that you need to measure YOUR box for exact sizes. My box seems to be almost an eighth of an inch smaller all round than hers, so every panel needs to be cut a bit smaller). This is before I Ladder stitched the inner box to the outer one – but first I needed to insert the dividers:

Make 27

The dividers are quite a fiddly bit to do. For the first (smallest) divider, the lining fabric needs to have a piece of iron-on interlining attached to one half, with the seam allowances pressed down to make creases along the straight sides, and also at 45 degree angles across the corners.

Make 28

Then the fabric is laced across the half where the mount board goes (same size piece of board as the interfacing), and the two corners mitred and stitched down.

Make 29

Then, with the seam allowances turned in, the top half is folded over the bottom half, and the rectangle is Ladder stitched all the way round.

Make 30

Then, quilting thread is put through the divider in three places with a long needle, with the lengths left about a foot long at each side, for tying off later.

Make 31

The second divider is made in the same way (but without stitching the two halves into one just yet). Three holes are made in the mount board – I used a hat pin.

Make 32

Then, three of the quilting thread ties from the smallest divider are threaded through the three holes on the second divider. I put the leftover quilting threads in a ‘thread stopper’ used for beading, to prevent the divider from just sliding off the threads!

Make 33

This is what it looks like from the other side, at this point.

Make 34

The third divider is made and attached in the same way, then the dividers, as one piece now, are inserted in the inner tray shape, and the remaining quilting threads are put through holes made in the inner tray lining walls. You need to be an octopus at this point to keep it all under control – even with my husband helping me to hold it all together we got in a muddle!

Make 35

But once all the threads are tied off tightly, it looks like this – nice and sturdy.

Make 36

But the inner tray still needs a base – and it isn’t just one base piece. The instructions call for four different pieces of base, padded and made up separately, so that each compartment has a snugly fitting base piece.

Make 37

The stripes have to match up across the whole base, which was tricky to do, but finally each piece was Ladder stitched in place.

Make 38

The roof lining pieces first had the remaining ends of the cord ties attached to them midway along each of the short sides.

Make 42

It wasn’t in the instructions, but at this point I decided to glue the knots of the cords to the seam allowances of the roof linings, to be on the safe side. I used GS Hypo Fabric Cement, which is a really strong fabric glue. You can get multi-purpose glue in a red tube from the same company, but the purple one is best for fabrics. I bought mine from Ebay.

Make 46

The roof linings were then each Ladder stitched to the respective roof pieces (making sure that the slightly smaller back roof piece went at the back!) all the way round, with Ladder stitch.

Make 44

Finally, the lower edge of each roof piece was Ladder stitched to the top of the walls on each long side.

Make 43

Finished! Final pictures of the finished project next time!


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Carolyn Pearce Home Sweet Home workbox 44: making the roof lining

The Home Sweet Home workbox by Carolyn Pearce is getting very near to completion, now, which is very exciting!

Here are the pieces of narrow cording that I made, as ties to attach the roof to the gable ends of the house itself. They are each about three inches long, made from two full lengths (six strands x 2) of Anchor stranded cotton twisted then allowed to fold back on themselves.

Make 17

Making sure the ends of each piece had a large knot in (to make it easier to stitch through and attach securely), I attached the ties to the outside of the box lining seam allowances with quilting thread, halfway along each gable end side.

Make 18

Then I fitted the box lining inside the box, and Ladder stitched all around the top edge (again with quilting thread), joining the box to the lining, and holding the end of the ties in position at the same time.

Make 19

Now for the roof – the little chimneys were made from a tubular green bead with a small round wooden bead on top (bought on Ebay), attached with strong brown quilting thread to the embroidered back roof panel’s seam allowance.

Make 20

On the front roof panel, I stitched two Buttonhole stitch loops, lined up with  the corresponding chimneys on the back panel, to hold the box closed when it’s all assembled.

Make 21

Carolyn recommends Up and Down Buttonhole Stitch in her book, which is probably better, as the finished buttonhole stitches don’t then twist round, but I forgot, and did ‘normal’ Buttonhole stitch instead.

Make 22

The roof lining was FIDDLY!!!! Here are the necessary pieces, set out before I started – fabric, mount board pieces, and some quarter inch wide white elastic.

Make 23

The narrow strip of lining fabric is for covering the narrow elastic. Carolyn explains a very detailed and neat way to cover the elastic in her book, which meant getting the sewing machine out. I couldn’t be bothered to do that, so I wrapped the fabric around the elastic, turned under a small hem, and oversewed it in place by hand, making sure I didn’t catch the elastic in the stitching. Worked fine for me…..

Make 24

The next part of the process is the only part of the book’s instructions that I wasn’t happy with. I tried Carolyn’s method, and it was a nightmare. This is what she suggests – then I’ll show you what I did instead!

Carolyn suggests pulling up the elastic pieces so that the fabric covering is ruched, then pinning it in place centrally on the lining fabric BEFORE you’ve attached the lining to the mount board. Then place the tool that you want to be held on the underside of the roof in place on the lining fabric, and pin through the elastic where you want the elastic to be held down, to securely keep the tool in position. Then attach little buttons at the ends of the elastic (but within the dimensions of the panel’s front), then take the tool out and stitch across where you’ve put all the pins in, on a sewing machine. Then attach the fabric lining to the mount board (even though it’ll be pulled out of shape by all the elastic and machine stitching).

You can probably tell from my description that I didn’t think much of this!

I did TRY to do it. Here’s a picture of how far I got….  DON’T DO IT LIKE THIS!!!!

Make 39

But after trying to attach the fabric to the mount board, I realised that with the elastic already stitched down, I couldn’t get the tension on the lacing tight enough, so I threw it away and started again…..

So, the second time, I laced the fabric over the mount board FIRST. Then I stretched the elastic across the board, tying one end to the other end across the back of the mount board with strong Perle 12 thread. I also stitched through the casing covering the elastic a few times at the very top and bottom on the reverse side, to stop the elastic slipping out of position.

Make 40

The completed panel looks like this – simpler, without the ‘holding down’ bits of stitching on the front, or the buttons, but it still holds the scissors in place just fine.

Make 41

For the second panel, where I want to have two tools – a stitch ripper, and a laying tool – I made just two tiny stitches in the centre of the elastic strip through to the lining fabric with cream cotton thread that wouldn’t show, before lacing the lining fabric to the mount board. That made it as easy to attach as the  first one. Then I tied the two ends together across the back of the panel as before.



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