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!

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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…..

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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.


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A new supplier of half cone sticks for stumpwork embroidery

A few months ago, I wrote a series of blog posts about a stumpwork bride’s bag that I was making, that featured foxglove flowers made out of needlelace worked over a half cone stick.

A half cone stick in use, tacked to the fabric to hold it in place while detached buttonhole stitch is worked in rows across it.

I explained that I’d bought my half cone sticks years ago, and that they weren’t that easy to get hold of, now. I subsequently did some research, and found a few stockists. But recently, a woodturner called Bruce Bassett who lives in Utah contacted me for advice, as he’s been asked to make some half cone sticks to add to his range of lacemaking tools, a few of which he recently began selling on Etsy [ EDIT November 2013: the Etsy shop is no longer active – please email Bruce instead – see below]  and the items he’s come up with are really lovely. Look!

They are available in five sizes, and the finish is really smooth.

He also sells a couronne stick (sometimes called a ring stick or hedebo stick), for making round needlelace cup shapes and flowers and for other uses in bobbin lace making.

The couronne stick.

PRICES, and  SHIPPING/HANDLING COSTS (for within the USA, and also worldwide):

For the half cone sticks, the price depends on the size: the smallest one is US$9, the three medium-sized ones are $10 each, and the largest one $11.  Add $4 per order for shipping within USA, $6 elsewhere.
The full set of 5 half cone sticks costs $40 plus $4 shipping within USA, $6 elsewhere.

The couronne stick is $20 plus $6 within the USA, $8 elsewhere.
The complete set of 5 half cone sticks and the couronne stick costs $56 plus $6 within USA, $8 elsewhere.

To purchase, email Bruce with your requirements, and he can send a Paypal invoice. With the half cone sticks, two small holes can be drilled in the foot end if required, so that the stick can be tacked to your fabric more securely if wanted, for no extra charge – just mention that you’d like that to be done when you email him with your order.

To contact Bruce, send an email to

His ‘snail mail’ address is:

Bruce Bassett
420 Heather Road
Orem, UT 84097

Tel: (801) 226-5267

I don’t make any money from this blatant advertising blog post! But I would like to think that by helping him get started with these lovely needlework tools, he can become more widely known for the wooden tools that he has such a skill for making, and more stitchers can make beautiful embroidery using them.


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Where to buy half cone sticks for needlelace embroidery

When I was making my Elizabethan bride’s bag recently, and posting photos on this blog, several people contacted me to ask where they could buy the half cone sticks from.

I used the half cone sticks to form the 3D shapes for the foxglove flowers and the bluebell flowers on the second side of my bag. I’d had the sticks for several years, but never used them before making this project. But now that I have, I can see me using them a lot more often, as the results are really good.

The sticks are temporarily tacked to the fabric, and then lifted up detached buttonhole stitch is worked over a base thread, row upon row, until the half cone shape is covered, then the stick is removed. I have tracked down various sizes of half cone stick, which are available from several UK websites (and I should think it wouldn’t be a problem for them to ship overseas, if necessary).

The type I own myself are available from Stitch Direct, and come in a set with a hedebo ring stick (to make circular needlelace rings, for flowers, etc). The text on their website says:

Hedebo Stick and Half Cone Set

The Hedebo stick (also known as a ring stick) is tapered with a range of diameters for producing cup like petals. The half cones are perfect for bell shaped flowers and create a wonderful three dimensional effect. The set contains one 7 tier Hedebo stick and two half cones, 1 inch (2.5 cms) and 1.5 ins ( 3.75 cms) long, not including the handle. Made from mahogany from a sustainable source these tools are light and will never rust or tarnish.

The set of three costs £18.73.

Set available from Stitch Direct

Viking Loom of York sell a half cone stick on its own for £4.50. No dimensions are given. The text on their website says:

Use as a template to stitch over to make a 3D flower shape.

Half cone stick from Viking Loom

The Guild of Needle Laces  sells several different designs and sizes, singly, for £5 each. The text on their website says:

Half Cone Sticks or ‘Shoes’: Small, medium and large. Tapered or rounded ends. Please state your preference.

These are used when making stump work flowers. You work your stitches over the half cone and remove the half cone when the stitches are finished. This gives you a raised effect.

These are available singly from the Guild of Needle Laces

They also sell a ‘Raised Embroidery Set’ for £20. The text for this says:

This set includes a brass stiletto, medium ring stick and five half cone sticks of various sizes.

Raised embroidery set from the Guild of Needle Laces

Another really good one is Needlepaws –  a UK business which (from the look of the items shown) manufactures some of the items mentioned above, so maybe try them first, as they also sell direct to the public. For instance, they sell five sizes of half cone stick for £5 each, to these dimensions:

Large –   45mm x 13mm

Dumpy – 28mm x 12mm

Medium – 32mm x 10mm

Stumpy – 18mm x 12mm

Tiny  –    17mm x 7mm

Five sizes, available from Needlepaws

They also sell lots of other wooden needle lace and embroidery tools, so they are well worth a visit, even if you’re not looking for half cone sticks just now. Their range of hedebo sticks is wide, and they also sell stilettos and thread palettes.

Postage needs to be added to the prices of all these products, for all companies listed above, depending on the total value of your order. I don’t get any commission for recommending these products and websites, I just think they should be more widely known about  🙂


EDIT 26 July 2012: Thanks to Elmsley Rose for alerting me to this extra supplier, in Australia – Alison Cole Embroidery sells a set of two half cone sticks and a hedebo stick for AUS$25.


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