Book review: Inspirations magazine index for the first 100 issues

For those of you who collect the wonderful Australian embroidery  magazine ‘Inspirations’ – either with a subscription, or just the occasional issue – this recent release from the publishers for an index for the first 100 issues will come as a welcome addition to your collection.

Inspirations magazine index world's most beautiful embroidery

At first, I was a bit put out that the index costs almost £20 – as much as a ‘proper’ embroidery book! And this is ‘just’ an index….except it isn’t – it’s far more than that, really.

I remember around 1999, Inspirations brought out their first index, which was for the first 24 issues – I think I’m right in thinking that it was just a free supplement to an issue of the magazine itself:

Inspirations magazine index world's most beautiful embroidery

It was pretty, in their usual style, but only had 16 pages, and was really just one list of projects and stitch diagrams, all listed together, with the occasional illustration to jazz it up.

Inspirations magazine index world's most beautiful embroidery

This new index for 100 issues is something else entirely! For one thing, it’s beautiful – really nicely produced, with lots of clear photos of all the projects, and magazine covers. 148 pages altogether!

And it covers a lot of subject areas, so you can use the index for looking up things in all kinds of ways:

Inspirations magazine index world's most beautiful embroidery

In the main part of the index, the cover for each issue is shown, as a visual reminder, and then all the projects for that issue are listed, with  a quick note about what the main technique being used is, and which page it is on in the magazine.

Just browsing through this main section made me realise how many lovely projects there are that I’d still like to stitch!

Inspirations magazine index world's most beautiful embroidery

There is a good section at the back, of projects by type (so, if you wanted to make something for babies, or a doorstop, for instance, you could track down a suitable project here). There’s also an index of designers, so if you want to see all the projects, for instance, that Carolyn Pearce has done for the magazine over the years, then see this section to look them up.

Inspirations magazine index world's most beautiful embroidery

There’s also a technique index, and it’s amazing to see how many types of embroidery have been featured over the years. There’s even an index of the step-by-step how to’s for particular stitches, which is really useful.

One section which is very useful is where they list the errata (there’s bound to be some in a magazine with this much detail!). This section includes reprints of charts, or parts of designs if necessary, or just a description if it’s a little thing that needs correcting.

If you don’t own the full set of back issues, you might think that this index is of no use to you….however, although many of the back issues are now sold out – especially the early ones, which, when they pop up on Ebay occasionally, sell for a lot of money – many designs are available as digital downloads from the website now, so having the actual back issue is becoming less and less of a problem.

The publishers plan to gradually release most of the projects from the 100 issues as digital downloads, sold separately (rather than a whole magazine’s worth!). Many are already available on their website, but if you look one up in this index and then find it isn’t available yet as a download, contact them, as they say they could probably fast-track the one you want to make it available  🙂

Inspirations magazine index world's most beautiful embroidery

Originally published in late 2018, this index sold out really quickly – it’s been reprinted, and is back in stock now (April 2019). Available from their website HERE.


Dollhouse Needlepoint newsletter sign-up invitation


Teacup pincushion 2: a quick but cute embroidery project

How to embroider the teacup pincushion

This teacup pincushion was stitched in various surface embroidery stitches, which I didn’t plan in advance. It depended partly on which thread I chose at the time, and the look I wanted. I planned it to be quite simple, but not boring to do!

Teacup 6

The whole motif is about three inches across. I outlined the leaves and petals first with split stitch with one strand, and then stitched the flower leaves in vandyke stitch. The berry leaves were padded first with satin stitch worked from tip to base, and then another layer of satin stitch worked over the top, up to the tip and down the other side, following the angle of the veins of each leaf. You can see, in the picture below, some of the leaves are completed, and some have just the outlining and base layer of satin stitch done.

Teacup 7


Teacup 8

The flower petals were stitched in long and short stitch, with straight stitch highlights using the darker pinks. Fly stitches in dark pink were worked around the tips of some petals for contrast. The flower centres are a French knot. I stitched the stems in stem stitch, and the ‘floating’ little leaves near the pink flowers are individual lazy daisy stitches.

Teacup 9

For the berries, I outlined the shapes with split stitch, filling them with satin stitch (in case the beads didn’t cover the fabric completely, and also to give a slightly padded look). Then I stitched on a mixture of clear and frosted glass beads for the berries, very close together, so that they ‘heaped up’ on top of each other, to look more rounded. I used six shades of beads, both frosted and clear, to make realistic berries.

List of threads for the pincushion

In case you’d like to make something similar to mine, here is a list of the threads I used (where known):

Rajmahal 94 Soft gold – flower centres

Silk N Colors 1057 Once upon a rose – pale pink flowers

Silk N Colors 1056 Mayfair – highlights on the pink flower centres

Gentle Art 0511 Country redwood – flower petal tip highlights, berry satin stitch and attaching beads

Oliver Twists Fine Cotton 001 – berry leaves

House of Embroidery Perle 12 (dark variegated green – exact shade not known) – berry stems

Silk N colors 9713 Desert moss – pink flower leaf stems, and fly stitches around the yellow French knots used for the flower centre

Gloriana silk floss (variegated green – exact shade not known) – leaves on the pink flowers

Beads used (all by Mill Hill):

Frosted 62056 Plum

Frosted 62032 Bright red

Antique 03033 Metallic maroon

Glass 00367 Wine

Frosted 60367 Dark red

Glass 02034 Deep orange


How to assemble the teacup pincushion

When the embroidery was finished, I cut the fabric to the diameter of the cup plus 2 inches all round. Then I worked a line of running stitch around the edge of the fabric with Perle 12 thread as it’s very strong, pulling up the thread to gather the fabric into a puff, and stuffing with ‘2 ounce’ quilting wadding pulled apart into small pieces just before backstitching to close off the fabric ball. I wanted the pincushion to be quite hard, and not ‘deflate’ when I started to use it, so I used quite a lot of wadding. This part got quite complicated (one of those times when you can’t take photos, as you don’t have any hands left to operate the camera!

I had tested the ball of fabric in the cup for the estimated finished height before fastening off the thread end, as some teacup pincushions I’ve seen have looked a bit strange if they sit far too low or far too high in the cup! From ones I had seen online, and descriptions on other blogs of how to finish these teacup pincushions, I had planned to put a line of PVA glue inside the bottom of the cup and halfway up the sides, and push the ball of fabric into the cup, settling it straight and holding it for a while until the glue had ‘grabbed’. In the end, the fabric ball sat very tightly in the cup, so at the moment I’m not planning to glue it in. I’m not sure yet, but I may glue the cup to the saucer to prevent the cup being knocked off the saucer, as it rattles a bit when I’m using it.


Teacup 9a

This was a quick project, and I wouldn’t have thought of doing it if I hadn’t seen that image on Facebook, but it’s  a really lovely little addition to my ‘sewing smalls’ collection.


Dollhouse Needlepoint newsletter sign-up invitation


Teacup pincushion 1: a quick but cute embroidery project

In January of this year, I saw this image on the Facebook page of Inspirations Magazine, by Country Bumpkin publications (in Australia). I don’t know if this is a project from the magazine, or just an inspirational picture that they had found online somewhere, but I thought it was a very nice idea.  I got tempted to ‘do a little browsing’ on Ebay, and found that there are hundreds of cup and saucer sets being sold (not just complete sets of china, as I’d expected).

Teacup 5

So, I started to narrow down my search for something similar to the image I’d seen on Facebook. There were lots to choose from, but I knew I wanted something that would be simple to translate into an embroidery design, so that helped to keep me focussed. The design I settled on was Royal Stafford ‘Fragrance’, and the cup and saucer set cost me just £4.

Teacup 1

With such a simple design in shades of mainly pink and green, it was easy to choose threads from my stash. I’ve got loads of pinks and greens! I decided to use a white cotton drill fabric, also from my stash, which I’d originally bought from Chawla’s website (based in London). It cost £4.95 per metre in 2012, is 60 inches wide, and the code is GT395-02. It’s a good, tightly woven fabric, so I didn’t need a supporting fabric like a muslin behind it. I used what I think is the reverse of the fabric as the side to stitch on – that is, I didn’t use the side with the diagonal ridges, but the smooth side instead.

I drew round the top of the cup onto plain paper, and planned my design – making sure it only extended to within half an inch of the cup’s rim, so that the design wouldn’t get lost in the shaping of the pincushion itself when I fitted it into the cup. I used one motif based on the pink flowers, and one based on the spray of berries, and repeated each one three time in a circle.

Teacup 2

Here are the threads and beads I chose to possibly use:

Teacup 3

I cut a piece of the cotton drill fabric 14 inches wide to easily fit an eight inch Susan Bates hoop, although the motif itself is tiny. It makes it easier to stitch it in a  large hoop, and definitely allows me enough fabric for finishing.

Teacup 4


I’ll work out the stitches to use as I go – it shouldn’t take long to get this one finished!


Dollhouse Needlepoint newsletter sign-up invitation