Where Stitchers Gather etui by Victoria Sampler: 6 – stitching the smalls

I’ve finished stitching the main pocket of the ‘Where Stitchers Gather‘ etui  by Thea Dueck of Victoria Sampler now, and I’ve really enjoyed stitching it.

Where Stitchers gather embroidered etui pocket

Now it’s time to make the three smalls, to go inside it.

I first stitched all the designs on one piece of fabric, carefully measuring out the spacing.

Smalls for Where Stitchers gather embroidered etui

I completed the scissor fob first, by gathering the stitched fabric circle over a round piece of mount board (2mm thick), padded a bit with a layer of thin wadding. Then I did the same with a second mount board circle, using the deep red silk the same as I’d used for the lining of the etui pocket. I stuck them back to back, and slip-stitched around the edges to make one disc. Then I made a very thin cord out of some DMC Perle 12 as shown below, and tried it first around the shape to make sure it would fit, and leave enough to frizz out the ends last, to make a tassel. I stuck the cord around the edge very carefully, a bit at a time, using PVA glue.

Scissor fob for Where Stitchers gather embroidered etui

Here’s the completed scissor fob, attached to my cute little rose gold scissors.

Scissor fob for Where Stitchers gather embroidered etui

This is the back, showing the deep red silk side.

Scissor fob for Where Stitchers gather embroidered etui

I made the scissor pocket in a similar way, using stiff interlining instead of the mount board though, so that the scissor pocket is soft to hold. I laced the two sides together through the long back stitches that I’d stitched round the very edge of each piece.

Scissors pocket for Where Stitchers gather embroidered etui

Lastly, I made the needlebook. This, too, is soft, and not stretched over mount board, but stiff interlining.

Needlebook for Where Stitchers gather embroidered etui

I’d half thought to stitch the date on the back, but in the end, when I got to that stage, I forgot, so it’s blank!

Needlebook for Where Stitchers gather embroidered etui

The inside pages are made from doctor flannel, held in place up the centre with a line of running stitches.

Needlebook for Where Stitchers gather embroidered etui

Here’s the completed project, with all four pieces:

Smalls and Where Stitchers gather embroidered etui

It was a gorgeous project to stitch – not too simple, with a few challenging bits (the hardanger!!! Cutting those fabric threads!!), but also with some simple cross stitching so that most of it  was completed quite quickly.

Smalls and Where Stitchers gather embroidered etuiAs ever with projects by Thea from Victoria Sampler, the design was great, the instructions in the chart booklet were clear, and the accessories pack with the threads and beads was full of interesting things to work with. This is well worth stitching, and has the added bonus of being something useful when you’ve finished it, so you can get lasting enjoyment from using it every time you sit down to stitch.


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Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring 2: How I tackle large cross stitch projects

This is  what I’m stitching at the moment – the Lavender and Lace ‘Celtic Spring’ cross stitch design.

I thought I’d explain this week about how I tackle large cross stitch projects such as this one, as I think that being organised makes it much easier to attempt a design this big (it’s about 18 inches high by 9 inches across on 28 count fabric, just for the stitched area, and the Autumn one in the same series took me about 90 hours of stitching).

Spring 1

With a design this big, I always use a rectangular rotating frame to mount the fabric on – it keeps the fabric taut (very important when I get to the stage of adding the beads), and it means that I can rest the frame comfortably on my Stitchmaster floor frame, so that I am in a comfortable position while I’m doing all that stitching!

I’ve been getting very committed to doing at least a couple of hours on this each evening, and if I tried to do that with the fabric in a hoop, holding it with my left hand and stitching with my right, I’d have a frozen shoulder by now, and my chiropractor would be telling me off!

You can see from this image that I have scanned in the chart and printed it out onto white paper (the original chart is a large piece of beige paper), and I’ve then coloured in the page with coloured pencils. To my brain, it’s easier to tell different colours apart than different black and white symbols.

I have several needle minders holding down the chart paper – not because they’re necessary, really, but because I love needle minders!

The ‘grime guard’ along the bottom edge is an elasticated rectangle of fabric with casings made along each long edge, with elastic threaded through in one loop, so that I can hook the ends of the elastic over the vertical bars of the frame and protect the bottom roller from any dirt while I’m working on the cross stitch.

Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring cross stitch

What really saves me a lot of time when I’m working on a piece of embroidery with many colours is that I use one needle per colour – so I use one of these, which is a LoRan needle holder – a plastic triangle (like a Toblerone!), with a foam centre to poke the needles into, and a removable paper strip that has the black and white symbols for this project drawn on. You get about a dozen strips with the needle holder, and refills are available too, but if you’re careful you can rub the symbols out and re-use the strips a couple of times, as they’re made from quite sturdy card.

You can just about see that towards the left hand end of the bottom row there is a yellow pearl-headed pin – I use this to mark the place of the needle that I’m using at the moment, so that I know where to replace the needle when I’m finished stitching (when shades are similar, it’s easy to get confused!).

Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring cross stitch

I keep all my skeins in this – my lovely embroidered workbox. I did the stitching for this about twenty years ago, and my husband made the box. I love using this! It’s about ten inches by seven by three – big enough to keep whole skeins in, plus scissors, etc.

Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring cross stitch

This is it when it’s open. Very simple inside – I didn’t want lots of compartments that nothing really fitted into – just one space.

If you’re REALLY OLD, you might recognise what I keep my supply of tapestry needles in – it’s a black and green plastic canister for 35mm film, for a very old camera! I’ve never found anything better than that for my needles ….

When I start a large project, I also make cards listing the shade name, number, and add a tuft of the thread so that I can cross-check this with the skeins I’m choosing.

Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring cross stitch

Of course, I also need some embroidery scissors! I’m kind of addicted to buying scissors, so with each new project that I start, I exchange my scissors for a different pair from my collection. I bought these ones from Mace and Nairn, about five years ago. The scissor fob is from the Carolyn Pearce ‘Home Sweet Home Workbox’ project that I described on here a couple of years ago as I made it.

Embroidery scissors with scissor fob

So, that’s all the stuff I use…how about you? What can you ‘not do without’ when you’re stitching?


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Toy chest etui by Betsy Morgan: 2 – scissor case and fob, thimble rattle and hobby horse

Here are some of the sewing accessories from the Toy chest etui set by Betsy Morgan of Willing Hands that fit inside the toy box (see my previous post). I really enjoyed making these.

This is a scissor case made with pictures of an Amish woman on the front, and an Amish man on the back, in the style of Amish dolls. The Amish don’t make images of people, so these faces are left blank intentionally, as those on their dolls are.


The scissor fob is like a pencil case. The ‘box’ part of the case is a basketweave pattern in counted thread stitches. The reverse of the pencil case has a space to put the stitcher’s initials and the date.


This is a baby’s rattle. It has a wooden handle, which is cleverly  fixed into the drum through circular layers of cardboard that have been covered with silk.


The handle is held in place inside the rattle by a kind of tiny cotton reel. A thimble goes inside the rattle, and if you shake it gently, it does actually rattle!


It was really fiddly to get this assembled, but it’s come out really neatly, in the end. Betsy’s instructions are very good!


This is a hobby horse, and the stick is a laying tool. The head shape is double-sided, with a space in between for the laying tool to go. The mane is made from loops of soft silk ribbon.


The whole thing is only four inches long.


The designs are by Betsy Morgan of Willing Hands, and form part of the Toy chest etui set.  She doesn’t sell these items as kits, but you buy the whole project pack as part of the workshops which she offers, which last from a couple of days to a week, depending on the item being made (of course, you don’t *finish* the item in a few days, but Betsy shows you all the steps you’ll need to do, and you get the chance to practice, and ask questions, and get started at least!). Betsy is from the USA, but has been over to England a couple of times. If you get the chance, go and have a look at her other items, and list of course dates on her blog. In October 2016 she will be offering classes as part of the Beating Around the Bush stitching event in Adelaide, Australia, organised by Inspirations magazine.


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