Victorian Pincushion on spindle stand: 5 – assembling the needlebook

I’ve embroidered and assembled the Victorian pincushion on its turned spindle stand from a chart pack from Victoria Sampler, and now I’m starting to assemble the needlebook that will go with it.

Victoria Sampler pincushion

First, I made a template of the front area of the needlebook from tissue paper by placing the stitching and the tissue paper on my light box and gently drawing the outline in pencil onto the paper.

Victorian pincushion Victoria sampler needlebook

Using the template, I cut the front and back stitched areas out (allowing a centimetre seam allowance on each) and a front and back lining piece from cream satin, again with a one centimetre seam allowance. I then cut two  iron-on interlining pieces to the exact size of the template, and ironed them to the reverse side of each piece of satin. The inner page of the needlebook was cut from white felt to the size of the template and then trimmed to be an eighth of an inch smaller all round, so that it won’t stick out at the edges when the needlebook is closed. I also cut two thick card pieces to the exact template size, to stiffen the covers of the needlebook.

Victorian pincushion Victoria sampler needlebook

I temporarily tacked the seam allowance of the satin to the reverse on both lining pieces.

Victorian pincushion Victoria sampler needlebook

I laced the front and back stitching over the stiff card with strong quilting thread.

Victorian pincushion Victoria sampler needlebook

This is the back panel of the needlebook once laced over the card.

Victorian pincushion Victoria sampler needlebook

Placing the stitching and the lining wrong sides together, I slip-stitched them together all the way round.

Victorian pincushion Victoria sampler needlebook

Finally, I removed the tacking stitches from the lining piece.

Victorian pincushion Victoria sampler needlebook

Holding the back piece, felt inner ‘page’ and front piece together, aligned carefully, I threaded narrow silk ribbon through the three eyelets. The two outer ones I tied in a small bow, and the centre one I looped through, knotted three inches from the loop, and then tied a bow at the end.

Victorian pincushion Victoria sampler needlebook

This shows what I did with the ribbon:

Victorian pincushion Victoria sampler needlebook

The needlebook can now be opened, and needles placed in the ‘page’ inside.

Victorian pincushion Victoria sampler needlebook

This is such a pretty needlebook, which can now be hung on the pincushion stand from a pin placed in the cushion pad on the top.

Victorian pincushion Victoria sampler needlebook

Now I’ve just got the ‘strawberry’ to stitch and assemble, and the whole project will be complete!


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Book review: Stumpwork embroidery designs and projects by Jane Nicholas

I have owned this book, ‘Stumpwork Embroidery: designs and projects’ by Jane Nicholas, ever since it first came out in 1998, and it is one of my all-time favourite embroidery books. It is the book that got me started on doing stumpwork embroidery.  So, although it’s definitely not a new book, it most certainly is a classic, so I thought I’d do a review of it.

SE 1

Jane Nicholas is a stickler for detail. Her stitching is so neat, it’s unbelievable. I should think the back of her stitching is as neat as the front, but she’d never let you see, I bet!

This book covers instructions for 26 different projects – from single pansy flowers, to drawstrings bags, needlebooks and more complex pictures. The photography is very clear and detailed, and there are hundreds of diagrams to show you exactly how to achieve the results that Jane describes so eloquently in her text.

The book is a large (8 1/2 x 11 inch) hardback book, with 192 pages. Each project is carefully explained, with lists of materials required, the order of work, and the patterns needed, all together (rather than having to turn to the back of the book for the pattern templates, for instance, which is common in other books). There is a stitch glossary and index at the back, and also thread conversion information. This is a useful section, as Jane realises that although she loves to use the more unusual/expensive threads such as Soie d’Alger, many people do not have access to these, so the thread conversion page gives alternatives for Soie d’Alger, Madeira Silk, Cifonda and Minnamurra thread to DMC equivalents. Very helpful! There is also a good bibliography too.

Jane’s take on Elizabethan stumpwork, updated for today, is just wonderful. Take this, for example:


Or these roundels, stitched on black and white silk:


My favourite project in the book is this drawstring bag etui set, with woodland animals and plants embroidered on the pieces:


I made the hedgehog pipkin from it a few years back.


And I have used the squirrel needlebook assembly process (but not the squirrel motif) to make a needlebook (although the design on the front is still by Jane Nicholas – but this one appeared in Inspirations magazine, as a motif for a sweet bag!).


It is not always available in the UK, but has it at the moment.  Maybe it’s on it’s way to being out of print, so if you’re interested, I’d track down a copy sooner rather than later. Embroidery books as good as this one are few and far between!

Stumpwork Embroidery: designs and projects by Jane Nicholas.

Milner Craft Series

192 pages

ISBN 186351 208 X (Hardback)

£19.99 / US$24.95



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Carolyn Pearce Home Sweet Home workbox 25: assembling the needlebook

Now that the embroidery on the needlebook from Carolyn Pearce’s book ‘Home Sweet Home: an embroidered workbox’ is complete, I just need to assemble it. Here are the materials I need, all gathered together:

Needlebook 18

I’ve found, over the years, that it saves me loads of time if I get everything ready, cut out, and put out neatly before I begin, rather than have to leave something half way through assembling it to go and rummage for the next item. In this picture above, you can see the card shape (scored for the spine), the interlining to back the embroidery, the striped lining cotton fabric, and the doctor flannel for the needle pages.

Needlebook 19

I stuck the interlining to the cardboard with double sided tape.

Needlebook 20

The interlining was deliberately cut too large at first, and then trimmed down, leaving about an eighth of an inch overhang, to allow for a bit of padding around the very edges of the needlebook.

Needlebook 21

The interlining for the cotton fabric was iron-on. After attaching it to the cotton, I pressed the seam allowances over, including the corners (ironed at a 45 degree angle).

Needlebook 22

Then I tacked them down.

Needlebook 23

The embroidery was laced over the card shape with Perle cotton number 12 – I find that this is very strong , thin thread, and perfect for doing this.

Needlebook 24

I stopped lacing each side about 3/4 of an inch from each corner, to give me enough to fold in each corner and mitre it after doing the lacing.

Needlebook 25

Carolyn Pearce suggests stitching the doctor flannel pages to the cotton lining fabric using a sewing machine, but I couldn’t be bothered to get mine out for such a small bit of stitching, so I did mine with hand-sewn backstitch. The doctor flannel is carefully cut with the inner pages a little bit smaller than the outer one along the short sides, so that when the needlebook is finally closed, the pages line up neatly.

Needlebook 26

To disguise the central line of backstitch, I worked a line of Coral stitch along the centre.

Needlebook 27

Then I placed the lining wrong sides together with the embroidery on its card, and slipstitched around the edge.

Needlebook 28

Finally, I worked a buttonhole stitch loop at the centre of the front right hand edge of the needlebook, and attached an 8mm cloisonne bead to the centre of the back edge.

Needlebook 29

This is the back of the needlebook, once finished.

Needlebook 30

Above, you can see the needlebook standing open, to show the pages for the needles, and below, you can see how trimming the doctor flannel to slightly different sizes works – when closed, the edges match up really well.

Needlebook 31

Lovely, isn’t it?


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Carolyn Pearce Home Sweet Home workbox 24: ladybird and small flowers on the needlebook

I’m not usually very keen on embroidering insects. After all, they’re, well….INSECTS!!! Yuck!!  But somehow ladybirds don’t seem to be quite so ‘insect-like’, so I’m OK with embroidering them, which is just as well, really, as Carolyn Pearce loves to scatter ladybirds among her designs. This one shown below features on the back of the needlebook which forms part of the Home Sweet Home Workbox etui set (described in Carolyn’s book).

Needlebook 14

To make this specimen (which is only about half an inch across in real life), I first worked split stitch around the edge of the round body shape. Then I worked two layers of satin stitch padding (each layer at right angles to the one beneath), then finished with a final layer of satin stitch – all worked in Gloriana silk. The head is four straight stitches. The legs are straight stitches too. I think I made these a little bit too long for a ladybird, but never mind. The little dots on the ladybird’s back are tiny seed stitches.

Needlebook 15

The ladybird hovers above wild flowers worked in granitos stitch for the blue flower at far left, lazy daisy stitches for the daisies, raised cross stitch for the anemones, French knots for the blue flower buds and straight stitches for the grass.

Needlebook 16

This is the whole needlebook panel (front and back), with the main embroidery finished.

Needlebook 17


To complete the embroidery, I worked a border of chain stitch in dark green Anchor stranded cotton (two strands). Carolyn explains that to have the chains going in the right direction, you need to start at the bottom left corner and work along the bottom and up the right hand side, then start again at the bottom left and work up the left hand side and along the top to the right hand corner again. She recommends whipping the chain stitches, but I didn’t bother to do that bit. Finally, I edged the chain stitch with stem stitch worked in Kreinik Very Fine Braid.

I’m really pleased with this so far. Now I just need to assemble the needlebook.


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