Carolyn Pearce Strawberry Fayre heart etui 30: how to make a needlelace berry

I am currently stitching the Carolyn Pearce Strawberry Fayre heart etui as a stitchalong project. This week, I am explaining how to make a needlelace berry to use as a closure on the etui. See the end of this post for all the information you’ll need to join in!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  ***  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is what we’re aiming for this week – this is the image from the Inspirations magazine number 95. It’s the little berry on a cord that is used to wrap around the Dorset button to keep the etui closed.

Carolyn Pearce Strawberry Fayre needlelace berry

It starts as a semi-circle of felt. You stitch a small seam up the straight sides to make a small cone of felt, and then run a gathering thread around the top curved edge.

Carolyn Pearce Strawberry Fayre needlelace berry

You’ll need to have a piece of twisted cord ready before you stuff the cone with a small piece of wadding and draw up the thread, because the cord needs to be stitched inside as you go. So, make the cord first with two x one metre long lengths of Perle 8 green. The instructions say to make a half hitch cord, but I found that too lumpy, so I made a simple twisted cord the same as for the thimble holder (see blog post number 25 for that). Thread on the gold bead cap before making a large double knot at the end that will be inside the berry, so that it won’t slip out, and make sure that the ‘neat’ end of the cord is the correct length (you won’t be able to trim this neatly later, it must be correct now!). I made mine 4 1/2 inches from the top of the actual berry to the neat end, so allow more to go inside the berry and be knotted. There’s a temporary knot near the neat end in the image below, but that’s only to stop the bead cap falling off! You’ll undo this later.

Place the knotted end of the cord inside the berry, draw up the gathering thread and stitch across the opening, making sure you stitch through the cord as well, several times. Squish the berry into a proper berry shape at this point. It’s very small – about half an inch long.

Carolyn Pearce Strawberry Fayre needlelace berry

Then comes the fun part – covering the felt berry shape with needlelace. To do this, first lay a base layer of vertical stitches down the outside of the berry from the top to halfway down the side, using one strand of a metre length of Silk ‘n’ Color 1055 Cherry Field (substitute) with a sharp needle. Then change to a tapestry needle and continue with the same thread, making detached buttonhole stitches under each of the vertical stitches, going round and round. After the first row, you’ll be stitching into the loops of the previous buttonhole stitches, not the vertical ones. Increase until you reach half way down, then start to decrease, until the whole berry is covered.

Carolyn Pearce Strawberry Fayre needlelace berry

The sepals are then worked in Lazy Daisy stitch in Anchor 268 (substitute) around the top (I found the needlewoven picots that the instructions suggested just impossible at this scale!).

Carolyn Pearce Strawberry Fayre needlelace berry

Push the bead cap down tight to the berry top, then knot the cord just above it, holding it in place. The neat end of the cord will be stitched to the V of the back heart later (not now!!).

Carolyn Pearce Strawberry Fayre needlelace berry

Put it aside somewhere safe, as you won’t need this for a while, and it’s very small…..

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  ***  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~


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. 

EDIT: The materials pack from Inspirations, and the magazine from Manor House in the UK are not available any more as at March 2018 – I don’t know if any more stocks will be available now, unfortunately. The publishers may bring out a digital pattern pack later, which they sometimes do with popular projects from their magazines, but we’ll have to wait and see…..

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!).

I’d be interested to see images of how your project is progressing – please email large, clear, well-focused images to  Please bear in mind that any images sent may be used in this blog and/or social media such as Facebook or Pinterest.


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.


Dollhouse Needlepoint newsletter sign-up invitation


Five-sided box 12: the completed box – eventually!

Once I’d hit the snag of the box lid of my five-sided box not fitting, I decided to divert my attention for a while by finishing the sides of the main box while I thought about what to do.

I made short lengths of cording with two lengths of Gloriana silk the same shade as the tassel, and glued it in sections to the seams of the panels with PVA glue. When the glue had dried, I trimmed the cording flush with the base.

5 box 49

My ‘aha’ moment about the lid was to make another fabric covered pentagon, half an inch bigger all round, and stick the first one to the second one. Looks like it was supposed to be like that all along, doesn’t it?!

5 box 50

I had planned to make a fancy hinge made out of needleweaving, but I was getting bored with it now and wanted it finished, so I did a simple thread join instead, which is much less noticeable than a needlewoven one would have been.

5 box 51

So, here’s my finished box, measuring about seven inches across at the widest point, and about five inches high:

5 box 52

5 box 53

5 box 54

5 box 55

The fabric I used is cream linen from Chawla’s, a really good fabric shop based in London, but their website if wonderful too. The fabric cost £5.95 per metre in 2012, 54 inches wide , code LN550.01 . It’s really good for embroidering on! The lining fabric is a fat quarter from a bundle of yellow toned cottons on Ebay in 2013. The cardboard for the panels is from a Cheerios box! The most expensive component for this project was the threads, but they were all from my stash. The tassel and cording used about 3/4 of a skein of Gloriana silk, so that’s about £4, but other than that it was a cheap project to do.

This is the book where I got the motifs from:

5 box 1

It’s a beautiful book, and if you’ve got space for the blanket that the book shows you how to make, in wool, then make that. If not, use the motifs as I did, for something completely different!!


Dollhouse Needlepoint newsletter sign-up invitation


I got my wallhanging back…for a while!

In 2010, I wrote on this blog about a large wallhanging with a Zen Buddhist saying on it which I’d stitched for a Unitarian Chapel that I used to attend – the blog post is here . In that post, I explained in detail how it had taken almost a year to make.

The wallhanging measures about three feet by four, and is stitched on linen with Appleton's crewel wool for the floral areas, and Anchor stranded cotton for the lettering
The wallhanging measures about three feet by four, and is stitched on linen with Appleton’s crewel wool for the floral areas, and Anchor stranded cotton for the lettering

Even when I wrote the original blog post, I had already stopped being Unitarian, and my dilemma at that time was that the Chapel still had the wallhanging. Recently, though, I heard that the Chapel is probably due to close, as there is now no regular Minister and the congregation has dropped to just one person! And he’s 82 years old. So, I contacted ‘the congregation’ and asked him if it would be possible for me to have the wallhanging back. I really didn’t like the idea of the wallhanging languishing in a damp building for ages, not being seen at all. Surely, I’d be able to find somewhere better for it?

Each letter was outlined in back stitch, padded with stem stitch, then satin stitched across the stem stitch padding
Each letter was outlined in back stitch, padded with stem stitch, then satin stitched across the stem stitch padding

Hanging 2a

I got it back within days, fortunately. It did seem strange to have it back in my possession, when I’d never thought I would have it (or, possibly, not even see it again). So, then I had the issue of deciding what to do with it. I certainly didn’t want to just roll it up and store it in my loft, as that was as daft as leaving it in a building that no-one uses any more. I tried placing it against the wall of my living room, to see if it would work to hang it there, but it just looked completely out of place – it’s very big (about three feet by four), and was made for a public space – it just looked silly in a living room!

For the flowers, I used stitches such as French knots, coral stitch, buttonhole stitch, stem stitch, seeding, satin stitch and trellis couching
For the flowers, I used stitches such as French knots, coral stitch, buttonhole stitch, stem stitch, seeding, satin stitch and trellis couching

Then I remembered a couple of friends, who are Universal Sufi, the same as me and my husband. They have a large house in Germany, which they run as a khankah (a Sufi house where people come to study, and to dance). They have large ‘public rooms’ that I thought might be suitable. So, I emailed them and asked if they’d like it, but also made it clear that if they thought it wouldn’t be suitable, then I wouldn’t be offended – I didn’t want them to have to take it under sufferance! But they said,’Wow!’ when they saw the pictures I emailed them, and so, a few weeks ago, I delivered the wallhanging to them. It now has a new home in a place where it will be really appreciated, and the spiritual phrase on the wallhanging will hopefully inspire lots of people. It might even tempt someone to start embroidery – you never know!

Hanging - 5

Each letter took about an hour to stitch
Each letter took about an hour to stitch

Hanging - 7

Hanging - 8


Dollhouse Needlepoint newsletter sign-up invitation



Celtic Autumn in alternative colours – 7

Over Christmas, my routine for stitching got a bit disrupted, not surprisingly.

LL - 24 Celtic Autumn beading

However, I pressed on with my Celtic Autumn when I could, and it’s now FINISHED!!!

In total, the cross stitching took me 72 hours, and the beading another 11 hours, so 83 hours altogether. I’d expected the beading to take a lot longer than it did, as people on various forums have complained about that part ‘taking years’, ‘putting them off finishing the design’, etc. But I got it all done in one concerted effort during a weekend where not much else got done!

LL - 25 Celtic Autumn beading round hem

Various threads had been suggested for attaching the beads, on the forums. I chose to use Anchor stranded cotton (one strand), in as close a shade as I could find, from the shades I’d already used for the cross stitch. I avoided the temptation to use ‘invisible thread’, as some had suggested on forums, as a wary stitcher had also posted that when you get to ironing your work when it’s all done, invisible thread might melt, as it did with her stitching, and all the beads will fall off! Incredibly disheartening, I should think, as there’s 1250 beads to stitch on in total.

I managed to find a lovely ‘walnut effect’ picture frame in a local shop, for only £8, so I got on with it and framed the piece quickly (see my previous post for how long I can sometimes take to get things framed).

LL - 26 Celtic Autumn framed

I’m really pleased with how this has come out. It was a big design to tackle, but after taking a short break to make a couple of  ‘sewing smalls’, I’m already eyeing up the other Celtic Lady designs, to see which one to make next.


Dollhouse Needlepoint newsletter sign-up invitation