Flowers for Elizabeth embroidered sweet bag: 3 – outlining the flowers and leaves

I’m starting to do the stitching on this ‘Flowers for Elizabeth’ sweet bag design from Inspirations magazine Issue 51. It requires outlining the flowers and leaves with one strand of thread in Split Stitch first, to define the areas. That’s a  lot of outlining!

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

Once I got in the rhythm of doing it though, it was really nice to do – it meant that I got a lot of colour down on the fabric early on, which is always nice to see 🙂 This area is the honeysuckle flower in the bottom left hand corner.

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

These are the strawberries, pansies, and large leaves – the leaves will be filled in with Long and Short Stitch last.

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

Once the main shapes have been outlined, the stem is then stitched. For this, I laid bands across the width of the stem, and then worked Raised Stem Stitch Band up the stem until it had narrowed quite a bit.

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

The Stem Stitch is only worked under the short stitches of the banding, not through the fabric as well. It’s also necessary to use a tapestry needle for this bit, rather than a sharp needle of any kind, so that you’re not catching any of the threads of the background fabric.

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

Once the main stem had narrowed, I continued with ‘normal’ Stem Stitch to the ends of the stem. This part seemed to take me ages….then I read the instructions again, and found that I had been using just one strand all that time, when I should have been using two! So, it looks nice and fine, but took hours and hours!!

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

Once all the stems have been stitched, though, the nice swirling shapes of this design become apparent. You can also see that I decided to replace the moth from the centre of the design with a butterfly. I hate moths – their bodies are a bit too squishy and ‘maggot-like’ for me! Butterflies are much better!

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

I’m pleased with the progress so far – next, I’ll be doing the short stems and tendrils.

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Flowers for Elizabeth embroidered sweet bag: 2 – transferring the design to the fabric

This is the beginning of my new project, the ‘Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag’ from Inspirations magazine issue 51- I’m transferring the design to the fabric. With quite a detailed design like this, I use a light box. I’ve chosen Damask fabric rather than a plain surface fabric, for interest, but that does rather make the pictures hard to see here, sorry!

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

I’ve got barely enough of the Damask fabric to make this, so I have stitched strips of cotton sheeting up the sides to make the whole piece wider, so that it can be placed in my 12 inch hoop for stitching.

I traced the design from the Inspirations Issue 51 pattern sheet, then taped that to my light box, and placed the fabric on top.

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

I used a mechanical pencil to trace over the lines onto the fabric. I can get a very accurate design outline that way. Here’s the tracing, and the fabric.

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

The design instructions say to ‘design an initial for the reverse of the bag, using elements from the sweet bag front’. Well, to be honest, that’s a bit of a cop-out on the part of the magazine! It’s not a problem for me – I’m an embroidery designer by profession – but I think many readers of the magazine would struggle with this part! A basic alphabet is provided on the pullout sheet, but it’s up to you how you place the design elements. Anyway, I designed my ‘J’ to look like this!

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

I then transferred the design onto the fabric using the light box, as before. It goes quite a long way down on the fabric, rather than being placed centrally, to allow for the drawstring section at the top of the bag later.

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

Itching to get started on the stitching, now!

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Flowers for Elizabeth embroidered sweet bag: 1- kitting up to get started

I’ve decided on my next major project now, and this week I’ve been kitting up ready to get started on it. It’s called ‘Flowers for Elizabeth: an embroidered sweet bag’.

For anyone who’s followed my blog for a while, you might remember that I’ve talked before about an embroidered sweet bag that I made from a design in Inspirations magazine Issue 36 – it’s this one (this is an image from the magazine):

Inspirations issue 36 embroidered sweet bag

It was lovely to make, but the reason I don’t have an image of the one that I made is that it got stolen from my car (along with my luggage and just about anything else ‘removable’ from the car!) while I was at a wedding reception in 2001. It really affected me, and for a long time I thought I’d have another go at stitching it, but I could never bring myself to attempt it, due to the negative memories.

But Inspirations magazine featured a few other sweet bags over the years, and this one particularly caught my eye. It’s from Issue 51 (about 2006, I think). It uses paler colours, but the overall look is the same:

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

So, as you can see from the skeins alongside the magazine, this is the one I’ve decided to stitch! I’m going to stitch mine on a piece of damask tablecloth fabric that I bought in an antique shop years ago. I’ve got all the called-for threads, and I’ve even found some tiny 3mm gold sequins to attach around the embroidery itself.

This is another wonderful design by Susan O’Connor, who has been designing for Inspirations magazine for years. I love her designs, and have done several of them in the past. This one should be great fun!

If you’d like to stitch it, although the magazine is no longer available as a back issue, the pattern for the sweet bag itself is available to buy as a digital download from here: https://www.inspirationsstudios.com/product/flowers-for-elizabeth/

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Book review: Inspirations magazine index for the first 100 issues

For those of you who collect the wonderful Australian embroidery  magazine ‘Inspirations’ – either with a subscription, or just the occasional issue – this recent release from the publishers for an index for the first 100 issues will come as a welcome addition to your collection.

Inspirations magazine index world's most beautiful embroidery

At first, I was a bit put out that the index costs almost £20 – as much as a ‘proper’ embroidery book! And this is ‘just’ an index….except it isn’t – it’s far more than that, really.

I remember around 1999, Inspirations brought out their first index, which was for the first 24 issues – I think I’m right in thinking that it was just a free supplement to an issue of the magazine itself:

Inspirations magazine index world's most beautiful embroidery

It was pretty, in their usual style, but only had 16 pages, and was really just one list of projects and stitch diagrams, all listed together, with the occasional illustration to jazz it up.

Inspirations magazine index world's most beautiful embroidery

This new index for 100 issues is something else entirely! For one thing, it’s beautiful – really nicely produced, with lots of clear photos of all the projects, and magazine covers. 148 pages altogether!

And it covers a lot of subject areas, so you can use the index for looking up things in all kinds of ways:

Inspirations magazine index world's most beautiful embroidery

In the main part of the index, the cover for each issue is shown, as a visual reminder, and then all the projects for that issue are listed, with  a quick note about what the main technique being used is, and which page it is on in the magazine.

Just browsing through this main section made me realise how many lovely projects there are that I’d still like to stitch!

Inspirations magazine index world's most beautiful embroidery

There is a good section at the back, of projects by type (so, if you wanted to make something for babies, or a doorstop, for instance, you could track down a suitable project here). There’s also an index of designers, so if you want to see all the projects, for instance, that Carolyn Pearce has done for the magazine over the years, then see this section to look them up.

Inspirations magazine index world's most beautiful embroidery

There’s also a technique index, and it’s amazing to see how many types of embroidery have been featured over the years. There’s even an index of the step-by-step how to’s for particular stitches, which is really useful.

One section which is very useful is where they list the errata (there’s bound to be some in a magazine with this much detail!). This section includes reprints of charts, or parts of designs if necessary, or just a description if it’s a little thing that needs correcting.

If you don’t own the full set of back issues, you might think that this index is of no use to you….however, although many of the back issues are now sold out – especially the early ones, which, when they pop up on Ebay occasionally, sell for a lot of money – many designs are available as digital downloads from the website now, so having the actual back issue is becoming less and less of a problem.

The publishers plan to gradually release most of the projects from the 100 issues as digital downloads, sold separately (rather than a whole magazine’s worth!). Many are already available on their website, but if you look one up in this index and then find it isn’t available yet as a download, contact them, as they say they could probably fast-track the one you want to make it available  🙂

Inspirations magazine index world's most beautiful embroidery

Originally published in late 2018, this index sold out really quickly – it’s been reprinted, and is back in stock now (April 2019). Available from their website HERE.

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