My oak sewing box

I was going to do a blog post this week about all my favourites doll’s house and miniatures websites, so that you can use it as a ‘basic resource’ when making and collecting for your own doll’s houses, but I have realised that that’s quite a mammoth task (as I have dozens of ‘favourite websites’), so rather than rush to get that one ready (I want it to be good!!), I’m going to give you a ‘stitchy blog post’ this week:

People have asked me what kind of tools and equipment I use day-to-day when I am doing my embroidery, so this week I’m going to talk about one of my favourite things. Whenever I start a new project, I collect together the threads and so on that I’m going to use, and put them in my project box. This is what it looks like:

Box 1

This is a box lid design by Sheila Marshall that I stitched about ten years ago, with goldwork highlights and some beads. I love it!

Most of the embroidery is long and short stitch, with some needlelace filling stitches for textural interest. Many of the shapes are outlined in various thicknesses of gold thread, couched in place with silk thread. Tiny gold seed beads are scattered over the background to fill the spaces.

Box 2

When I saw the design in the book ‘Elizabethan Needlework Accessories’ by Sheila Marshall, I really wanted to make it, but the box she had used for the version in her book had been specially made for her. So, I asked my husband to make me a similar sized box with an aperture lid for my birthday, to put the stitching into.

The box is beautifully made out of oak. It measures 10 inches by 6 by 3 high.

Box 3

I specifically asked him not to make the interior into lots of little compartments, as I find that although they look useful, nothing ever really fits properly. I’d rather have just one compartment.

Box 4

This is the book that the design is from. It was published in New Zealand in 1998. For several years it was out of print, but you can now get it on Amazon again here for around £13.  There are several other books in the series by the same publisher (Dick Georgeson), and they’re all very good. I’ve made several things from all the books, and they’re gorgeous. The stumpwork petal bag on the cover of the book is something I loved making a few years back.

Box 5

One small change that I made to the design was that I added a little bee from a companion piece in the book (to make a pinwheel), which was just too cute to leave out.

Here’s a picture of my box, alongside the picture from the book of Sheila’s one. Similar, aren’t they?!

Box 6

It’s one of my favourite things that I have ever made  🙂



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Book review: “Elizabethan Needlework Accessories”, by Sheila Marshall

Elizabethan Needlework Accessories by Sheila Marshall

This wonderful little paperback was first published in 1998 in New Zealand by Georgeson Publishing Ltd. It has been out of print for a while, which I felt was a great shame, but it has come back into print in the past couple of years (it’s available from Viking Loom of York, if you feel the need to get your own copy!).

The book gives detailed instructions for how to make seven very creative projects. They include a needlecase, a button box, a thimble holder in the form of a free-standing kingfisher, and my favourite – a petal hussif (the design featured on the cover).

I have made two items from this book so far, and if time was more abundant, I’d probably make everything in this book – that’s quite an unusual thing for me. I’m usually quite picky about what I’ll give my time to. But this book has such lovely projects in it!

The book starts with the practicalities of what kind of frame to use, and how to transfer the designs on to the fabric. Then, the various stitches are explained. Some of these are quite unusual ones, such as extended picot stitch and single brussels stitch. The diagrams are very clear, though, as is the text.

Stitch diagrams

The projects list clearly at the beginning what you will need to buy to complete each one. Thread numbers are given so that you could work each design in DMC rayon or stranded cotton, Anchor stranded cotton, Au Ver a Soie D’Alger or Au Ver a Soie Perlee, depending what you like to stitch with. I like Anchor best, so the items I’ve made from this book have been stitched with that, and they have come out very successfully. Sometimes, Kreinik braid or other finishing highlight threads are suggested, but they are never crucial to the design – in fact, Sheila Marshall says several times throughout the book that you can substitute whatever you have to hand, if you prefer.

The designs are printed at actual size,  so are easy to trace off. I found the assembly instructions particularly well thought through – especially for the petal hussif, which has a complicated construction.

The centre pages of the book show all the projects close up, in colour. I know this is a limitation of book publishing sometimes, but I’d have preferred the colour images to be alongside each project, as I needed to keep flipping through the book from the instructions to the photo as I was making each item, but that’s a small criticism really. Black and white illustrations are given elsewhere in the book, and these, along with the stitch diagrams, are very well drawn and helpful.

Instructions for the Petal Hussif (on the right you can see part of the design to be traced off)

This is a book that I return to a lot – the stitches are useful for other projects when you want an interesting textured stitch, and the photos are very inspiring. The petal hussif from this book is one of the best things I have spent time making – although, be warned, it took me over two months of evenings to complete! It made  a change to make something that was so much BIGGER than the doll’s house scale items that I stitch when I’m designing new kits to sell from my website (the bag might not seem big to you, but I’m used to stitching on 32 count silk gauze, for items that are maybe an inch or two high when finished!)

The Petal Hussif that I made, alongside the book
The Petal Hussif when open, showing the inner pockets and drawstring inner bag

This book is the second title in the Elizabethan Needlework Series published by Georgeson Publishing Ltd (by various authors, not all by Sheila Marshall), and they’re all worth buying.

Title: Elizabethan Needlework Accessories

Author: Shelia Marshall

Publisher: Georgeson Publishing Ltd

ISBN: 0 473 14977 5

Price: around £12.95


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