How does the embroidery design inspiration process take shape?

A doll’s house miniature carpet (called ‘Judith’) designed at the ‘right’ time!

I was thinking about how I actually start designing, today, as I can sometimes go for weeks without any inspiration, and then, like buses, several ideas come along at once.

The embroidery design inspiration process, for me anyway, is a strange thing. I can be inspired by so many things for my doll’s house embroidery kits – colour schemes, historical artefacts, shop window displays, nature – almost anything, really. But one thing that I know now DOESN’T help, and that is to push an idea out when it isn’t ready. In the past, I have felt pressured to perhaps ‘get four designs out this month’, or something like that, and forced myself to sit down at the computer and produce something. But it simply doesn’t work like that, so I don’t try any more. With writing, I can do it, but with embroidery, it has to come of its own accord.

Also, I have noticed that my design spurts are linked to my hormones! Not to put too fine a point on it, there are times of the  month when I can design stuff that I’m really pleased with, and times when what I design is only fit for the round filing cabinet on the floor. Unfortunately, though, part of the ‘hormone effect’ is that the rubbish that I design at the ‘wrong’ times, seems fine for a few days, until common sense returns and I can see it for the drivel that it is. I have noticed that colour schemes, in particular, are affected by the hormone effect – shades that look strange together look vaguely alluring when it’s the wrong time for me to be trying to design. It’s a bit like having cravings for foods which don’t go together, I suppose!

This doll’s house miniature carpet (called ‘Tanya’) was definitely designed at the ‘wrong’ time! It has since been discontinued.

When I am designing a ‘good one’, though, the test that I apply is quite simple – I keep on tweaking the pattern until I start to get the itchy feeling of  ‘I want to start stitching this one NOW!!’  Then I know it’s finished – if I keep going, I’m just going to overdo it.


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What is the well-dressed Sufi wearing at Dance Camp?

People doing Dances of Universal Peace in the Big Top at a Dance Camp
People doing Dances of Universal Peace in the Big Top at a Dance Camp

In August of this year, I went to Dance Camp for the first time, in Dorset. It was quite an experience! 300 or so people camping in a field, cooking in groups of around 20 around open fires, and doing Dances of Universal Peace in ‘Big Top’ tents for several hours every day. Other things to do included yoga, harmony singing, drumming, meditation…

It was all good stuff, even when it was raining sideways!

One of the things I realised, once I got there, was that I’d brought totally the wrong kind of clothing. OK, I had the waterproof coat, plastic overtrousers, thermal socks, and so on (after all, this is ENGLAND in the summer 🙂  ), but one thing I didn’t have was ‘suitable’ wellies. I had remembered to bring my boring old navy blue gardening wellies (‘just in case’, ha ha) – and I ended up wearing them for most of the week – even INSIDE the tent, sometimes (I kid you not). However, I noticed that many of the other women were wearing the lovely, brightly coloured wellies that are available now, to go with their bright and jazzy clothes. That made my boring old blue ones seem even more…well, boring.

So, when I got home, I searched online for something more interesting to wear, ready for next time. Now, the problem I have is that, for an adult, I’ve got tiny feet. I take size 2 (33.5 in Continental sizing; size 4 in US sizing). That’s SMALL. So small, in fact, that it’s become such a problem to get shoes to fit me that a few years ago my husband started his own business, importing specially made shoes in small sizes, to try to cater to this market, and stop me moaning at the same time! (It worked – I’ve  got several dozen pairs of lovely Italian shoes, now. And I don’t moan. Much.)

So, to buy wellies in small sizes is not easy. My husband has no supplier to try. No online (or offline, for that matter) shoe shop sells adult wellies in a small size – there’s just not enough of a market. Still, I thought, if it’s jazzy patterned wellies that I want, children’s ones will do fine. They’ll be a bit short in the leg, but that’s OK. I started looking by doing a Google image search, and couldn’t believe my luck.

The Sufi emblem - the 'Heart with wings'
The Sufi emblem – the ‘Heart with wings’

Now, for people who don’t know, the Sufi ’emblem’ is a heart with wings, and many people who do Dances of Universal Peace, such as me, are following the Sufi spiritual path. So, when I came across these Western Chief cowgirl wellies, I was really pleased! They might not have been designed specifically with Sufis in mind, but the logo on these definitely looks like the Sufi one to me!

Western Chief cowgirl wellies, with what looks like the Sufi emblem, to me!
Western Chief cowgirl wellies, with what looks like the Sufi emblem, to me!

Can’t wait for next year’s Dance Camp now, so that I can show them off 🙂


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Finished embroidery – look at this beautiful doll’s house embroidery stitched by my customers!

My customers often send me photos of their stitching, and I love seeing them. My customers are so creative, it’s great to see the many different ways people can use the embroidery kits to make their doll’s houses come alive. This week, I’ve uploaded a new batch of images to the Customers’ Gallery page of my website. Here’s a taster of what you’ll see there:

A beautiful georgian style doll's house belonging to Sue from Berkshire
A beautiful georgian style doll’s house belonging to Sue from Berkshire

Sue from Berkshire owns this beautiful house, and has been making the soft furnishings for it for several years. The house was lovingly made by her father, with great attention to detail.

The doll's house bedroom, with a William Morris needlepoint carpet
The doll’s house bedroom, with a William Morris needlepoint carpet

This cosy bedroom features the needlepoint carpet called ‘Carole (pastel)’. It measures about 8 inches by 5.

The 'second bedroom' with a needlepoint carpet and a wallhanging
The ‘second bedroom’ with a needlepoint carpet and a wallhanging

The wallhanging to the left is based on the William Morris tapestry ‘Orange Tree’, and measures almost four inches square. It is stitched in Anchor stranded cotton. The carpet is stitched in Appleton’s crewel wool.

Janet B from Birmingham is a very keen stitcher, and owns several doll’s houses. Here is a picture of the bedroom in one of her doll’s houses. Isn’t the teddy cute?

A pretty bedroom in shades of pink, with lots of detail
A pretty bedroom in shades of pink, with lots of detail

The most recent photo I’ve had sent to me is from Susan C. She made a ‘hobby room box’, in contemporary style, and filled it with miniature versions of the hobbies that she enjoys – such as miniatures (obviously!), knitting and using her computer. She used one of my chart packs to create her own colourway of one of my carpet designs (this one is called ‘Josie’). I think it’s come out beautifully, and really sets off the room.

A hobby room in miniature
A hobby room in miniature

Aren’t my customers a talented bunch?!


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Embroidery ‘Work in Progress’ – my hand embroidered ‘shlama’ bag


‘Shlama’ hand embroidered bag, in progress (front panel, 5 x 8 inches)

I have been working on this bag on and off throughout the summer – I’m just about to have another spurt of activity on it, so I thought I’d post a couple of images here, before I do that.

The fabric is a golden yellow shot silk, which I’ve backed with cotton batiste, to strengthen it, as areas of the stitching will be quite dense. I’m using Anchor stranded cotton for the stitching (two strands most of the time, and just one for the finer details), with Kreinik braid for the gold outlining. When the embroidery is completed, I’m planning to add tiny beads and sequins, and possibly a beaded fringe, in colours that echo the stitching.

‘Shlama’ embroidered bag detail, showing gold braid couching

The motif was inspired by an Indo-Persian panel on a building, which I have ‘coloured in’  in deep jewel shades. The word embroidered in red along the base of the front panel reads ‘shlama’, which is Aramaic (the language Jesus spoke) for ‘deep abiding peace’. The word is read from right to left. The ‘dots’ indicate vowels. When it’s finished, the bag will have a drawstring about an inch down from the top.

This Aramaic word is ‘shlama’ – it means ‘deep abiding peace’

I haven’t yet decided what to embroider on the reverse of the bag – I may leave it plain, or I may stitch just the barest outlines of the main design again, simply outlined in split back stitch.

I want to use the finished embroidered bag to keep my MP3 player in. This might seem quite a large bag (5 x 8 inches) to keep an MP3 player in, but that’s because I want to be able to keep notes in it as well. I tend to use my MP3 player to listen to guided meditations and body prayers, so I need an index of what I have stored on the MP3 player, so that I can choose a relevant one – brief titles aren’t enough. So, I intend to make an inner pocket for the bag, so that the notes can be kept separate from the player itself. I haven’t yet worked out quite how to assemble the bag to incorporate that, but I’m sure it’ll work, somehow 🙂 !


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