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:
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…
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
ORDER OF STITCHING
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.
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
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.
CUTTING OUT THE FABRIC
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.
I then tacked around each template to transfer the shape outline, then removed the templates.
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.
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.
THE ‘WINDOW METHOD’
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!!
TRANSFERRING THE DESIGN
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.
Six of the eight heart shaped pieces will be embroidered, so I made six of these.
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.
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).
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!! ]
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….
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.
OTHER FABRIC PREPARATION
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….!
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!!!!!
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…..
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The Strawberry Fayre design, plus the complete list of materials, appears in Inspirations magazine number 95. The 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.