This is my Christmas haul….some fantastic embroidery books!

Every year at Christmas, I give the ‘Christmas Elf’ (also known as a ‘husband’) some ideas of what I’d like for Christmas. This system is foolproof – this way, I always get things that I love (and so does he – there’s a female Christmas Elf who collects ideas of what he’d like, too!).

This year, I had a bumper crop of gorgeous books:

Embroidery and patchwork books

This first one is one that I knew had to be on my Christmas list as soon as I saw it first advertised, back around September.

Passion for Needlework

It’s the new Inspirations book ‘A Passion for Needlework 2: Factoria VII’. This features twelve designs from a variety of designers who also create designs for the Australian ‘Inspirations’ magazine. The book is the second in what is now looking to be a series of volumes, fortunately – this is stitching eye candy at its best. The book is very well produced, the photography is wonderful, and I’m tempted to start on one or two projects right away! This is one of my favourites from the book, which I am itching to stitch:

Embroidered etui set

And these gorgeous little stumpwork pots are calling to be stitched too:

Stumpwork floral pots

One thing that I wasn’t very keen on with this book was the settings that the photography had been done in – a converted bacon factory in Australia, which is now a home, but it’s been decorated in the, admittedly, popular ‘industrial’ decorating style. But I hate that! The actual embroidery, in many of the images, seems a bit ‘lost’. Like this one:

Passion for Needlework

I don’t like to have to play ‘hunt the embroidery’ when I’m looking at a picture in an embroidery book……

This next book has been on my Amazon wishlist for a couple of years, but never got beyond that:

Stumpwork embroidery book

I think that’s because although the embroidery is great, I’m not personally very keen to stitch things all in white, so the cover was putting me off. But on Pinterest a few weeks ago I saw an image taken from one of the projects inside the book, and then I ‘upgraded’ the book from ‘maybe one day’ to ‘yes, now!!’

It’s got some gorgeous stumpwork projects in it – really creative stuff. This complements Jane Nicholas’s style very well (Jane is Australian, and has a lovely neat stumpwork embroidery style, doing mainly botanical studies). I’m looking forward to trying some of these projects, too. This is my favourite so far:

Stumpwork embroidery book

The book has a long section at the beginning covering all sorts of ‘how to’s’ – very good detail.

Stumpwork padding

I also received a couple of patchwork books, as I have a huge interest in making American Civil War-style mini quilts at the moment, using reproduction fabrics from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.


This book is by two really good quilt designers – Jo Morton and Kim Diehl. They both showcase designs based on the same blocks throughout this book, showing how a designer can be influenced in very different ways, when using the same basic elements as another designer.

This is my favourite design from this book. It’s one of Jo’s:

Jo Morton quilt

The other quilting book is a very new one:

Patchwork and quilting book

This book uses a novel idea – the author took one ‘layer cake’ of fabrics (that is, a pack of 40 co-ordinating fabrics, each ten inches square), to see how many projects she could make out of it (plus the backing fabric).

These are all quick little projects, so I want to get a few of these done soon, such as this one:

Patchwork mug mat

I’m hoping to share more of my attempts at patchwork and quilting on this blog during 2019.

Finally, I also got the latest Johanna Basford colouring book ‘World of Flowers’. If you haven’t seen this, you’re from another planet! I want to work on this one on the right hand side first:

World of Flowers

So, as long as I get some spare time (Ha!! What’s that?!), I should have some good things to be working on during the coming year  🙂


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Finished Embroidery: an embroidered ‘Rose Cottage’, designed by Carolyn Pearce

I’ve just finished making this little embroidered cottage (it’s about three inches high). Isn’t it lovely?! The design appeared in Inspirations magazine, Issue 35 (published by Country Bumpkin, in Australia, quite a few years ago, now), but I’ve been meaning to make it ever since I first saw it.

The cottage  is made to have a pincushion for the roof. The button loop under the doorstep is so that the house lifts off the base, and you can store something like a tape measure or thimble inside.

As usual with Inspirations magazine’s projects, the instructions are really detailed – lots of diagrams, a pull-out sheet with the designs on, and full thread lists. Carolyn Pearce likes using lots of different threads in her projects, but I changed them to be almost all Anchor threads, as I own a full set (as I use Anchor threads in the kits that I sell on my website). I used 3mm wide silk ribbon for the roses, as I didn’t have the 2mm that Carolyn recommends in the article – so my roses are a bit ‘oversized’!

The flower borders all around the house were lovely to stitch – very small impressions of different types of early summer flowers, but each recognisable – daisies, bluebells, lavender, and so on. Almost all of the embroidery was done using one strand of Anchor cotton, with stitches such as French knots, blanket stitch, stem stitch, fly stitch and colonial knots.

I’d been unsure as to how successful the ribbon roses would be, as I haven’t done much ribbon embroidery, and this was very small scale stuff. Also, the fabric I was using was quite fine silk, and I wasn’t sure how much ‘pulling around’ it would take, if I had to tug ribbon through it repeatedly. Actually, it worked really well, and I think the roses have come out great. It’s an unusual stitch – a combination of a colonial knot, worked about an inch and a half away from the fabric, and then the needle is run through the remaining ribbon back to the fabric surface before taking the needle to the reverse, so that ‘concertina folds’ are made in the ribbon – this makes the petals of the rose. The roses are very effective, and very cute! I can see me using this stitch on other projects, now.

The assembly was a bit tricky, to put it mildly! The tube that makes up the sides of the house has to be lined with wadding and backing fabric, then a layer of plastic inserted between the layers to stiffen the structure. Considering this house is only two inches in diameter, that’s not easy!

The ceiling design is gathered over a padded plastic circle, then slip-stitched onto the top of the walls. Then I gathered a length of olive coloured silk near to the edge, using a piece from along the selvedge so that I didn’t need to hem it, and slip-stitched that onto the top of the walls too, finally gathering up the centre to finish the roof (stuffing the space with wadding to make the pincushion first). Carolyn suggests using wire-edged ombre ribbon in the article, but I didn’t have any of that, but I was pleased with my substitution. The stitched model in the magazine has ribbon roses on the top of the roof as a decoration, but I like mine plainer.

The base is made from two circles of fabric gathered over padded plastic – one has a spray of flowers the same as those on the ceiling, and the underside has my initial ‘J’ embroidered in tiny back stitch with French knots.

To join the two circles together, I used palestrina stitch around the edges. This worked successfully until I got to the ‘hinge’ part, where the instructions say to make a ribbon hinge to join the house to the base, then work palestrina stitch aross the join. Hmm, well, you try it! It’s not the neatest part of this project, so I’m not going to show you a close-up photo of it. Not surprisingly, I think, even the stitched model in the magazine isn’t shown from the back, so I suspect that that part of the project is very hard to do neatly (or perhaps that’s just me justifying myself!).

This project took just over a week of  ‘spare time’ to make. The assembly took about the same length of time as the embroidery did. I haven’t decided yet what I’ll keep in the cottage, but it will have to be something, special, I think, to do it justice.


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