ISSUE 189, JUNE 7 2019
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Hi <<First Name>>,
Have you ever stopped to consider your potential with needle and thread?
Potential refers to the capacity we have to develop something in the future.
If the potential for greatness lies within each of us, what is it that dictates whether we see our potential come to pass?

Whilst such debate has the capacity to take up far more space than our newsletter affords, we thought we’d try to distill it into something we can all take hold of, because when it comes to what we can each produce with needle and thread, the sky’s the limit.

The truth is that for the most part, we can have anything we want if we want it desperately enough. So, when our current stitching status quo has us questioning what’s next, it’s time to get clear on what it is we want to do. Think research, lists and some good old-fashioned pie in the sky dreaming!

Once we’ve been able to distill exactly what it is we’re aiming for, it’s all too easy to feel overwhelmed by the process of how we get from where we are to where we want to be. The antidote for this? Action steps, no matter how small they may be.

Again, there might be some research, lists and even some up-skilling required, but the good news is that when you’ve got the will, you’ll find the way!

We’d love to hear where your potential with needle and thread is going to take you. Email with the needlework ‘rainbow’ that lies at the end of your pie in the sky dreaming.
World of Needlework
The History of Muslin
Today, the fabric that we call muslin is one that we take for granted. As embroiderers, we primarily use it as a backing fabric, but it also comes in handy for wrapping the Christmas pudding or cleaning up after baby’s feed. But muslin was not always the plain weave, unbleached cotton that now carries this name.
Did you know that muslin used to be a fabric as highly prized as silk?
Economics and colonialism changed the history of muslin, but today the original manufacturers in modern day Bangladesh are still holding on to their traditional production skills.

Muslin is a woven cotton cloth which was once a luxury fabric. Although it is commonly believed that the cloth originated in the Iraqi city of Mosul, despite its name it is now understood that the cloth likely originated in ancient India. Known as Jamdani, this original form of muslin was usually brightly coloured and patterned while remaining lightweight and almost sheer.
Jamdani saris for sale in Bangladesh (source)
Weavers in Dhaka, Bangladesh, used to make this incredibly fine cloth using a method called the discontinuous weft technique. This technique required the weaver to work two layers of weft – one as fine as spider’s silk to hold the cloth together and the other forming the pattern. Each pattern motif was worked individually, using fine bamboo sticks to interlace the pattern threads with the warp threads.
Labour intensive and requiring skill and patience, it was little wonder that this fabric was so highly prized.
Working Jamdani muslin on a loom (source)
Unfortunately, during the period of the East India Company, European manufacturers all but destroyed the industry by flooding the market with factory produced muslin equivalents. Through a combination of punitive taxes on locally produced textiles and the dissolution of local and influential patrons, Jamdani muslin became uneconomical to produce and the skills were almost lost.

Thankfully, there are organisations in Bangladesh today that are encouraging local weavers to continue to practice their craft. Coupled with the UNESCO listing of Jamdani muslin on its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, there is more impetus to continuing production, albeit on a very small scale.
A Bangladeshi bride in a Jamdani muslin sari By Joy prokash roy - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 (source)
With the proliferation of mass produced and synthetic fabrics on the market today, it is important that these historical techniques aren’t lost forever. No factory can ever emulate the quality arising out of a skilled artisan. Their skills are part of our textile heritage and it’s wonderful they are being recognised and preserved.
Needlework News
Beating Around the Bush 2020 - Save the Date!
If you’re reading this newsletter, it probably means you’re passionate about stitching.
If so, you belong to a huge global group of people who dedicate hours of their life to the pursuit of all things needle and thread.
It’s who we are, it’s in our DNA. And you are part of that tribe.
Every two years members of our tribe make a pilgrimage to Adelaide, South Australia for the international needlework convention Beating Around the Bush. It’s on again in 2020 and we’d love to welcome you home.

To answer the call, hold the dates 30th Sep to 7th Oct 2020. With catalogues available from 4th Oct and registration opening on 3rd Feb 2020, stay tuned to this newsletter for more information.
New Digital Pattern | Royal Blue
Here at Inspirations Studios, we love making your needle and thread dreams come true. This week it’s Margaret Cobleigh’s turn:

‘Hi, I was wondering if you would consider making 'Royal Blue' by Trish Burr from issue #77 available as a digital download? Although I own all the issues of Inspirations magazine, I cannot find my copy of #77. I know it's around here somewhere! :-).’
‘I'd really like to stitch (and blog about) this project. It's been on my embroidery to-do list ever since it was published. By the way, I think the photo of the bird with the feathers surrounding the embroidery may be my all-time favourite image from Inspirations and that's saying something!’

Well Margaret, we agree with you on all counts. It is a terrific project that is no doubt on many of our to-stitch lists, and the photo really is fabulous, in fact it appeared in the Inspirations 2014 wall calendar as the image for April.

Best of all, your wish has been granted and Trish’s sublime, threadpainted splendid fairy wren is now available as a digital download.
Royal Blue
Alla’s Menagerie
A couple of months ago we released a series of digital patterns from the Golden Oldies era of Inspirations magazine (issues #1-#41). One of these projects was Rosalina & Manfred by Alla Akselrod from issue #38 and at the time we mentioned there is an entire menagerie by Alla consisting of 11 different projects.
This week we have an update for you - 7 of the 11 projects are now available as digital downloads.

So far, we have a swan, elephant, cat, rabbit, a pair of mice and two bears all ready to start your own stitched menagerie.
For those who are interested in collecting the complete set, we’ll let you know as soon as the remaining projects are released. In the meantime, you can browse Alla’s projects currently available as digital patterns using the link below.
Browse Alla’s Menagerie
Featured Project
Flights of Fancy by Nina Burnsides
Butterflies, with their vibrant colours and myriad designs lend themselves perfectly to embroidery. But let us share with you a few facts about these wonderful creatures. As well as there being around 17,500 species of butterfly in the world today, butterflies can be found on every continent except Antarctica. Their delicate wings are made up of thousands of tiny, transparent scales, and, as they are cold blooded creatures, require sun and warmth in order to fly.
This is why you’ll often see butterflies with their wings out, soaking up the sun like mini solar panels, heating themselves up enough to flutter away.

But like a warm breeze or the summer sun, butterflies only live for a very short time. Some of the smallest only live for a matter of days. And adding to this ethereal quality is the fact that even the largest butterfly only weighs approximately 12 grams, while the smallest barely registers on any scale.
The needlework designer Nina Burnsides has understood how light, delicate and transitory the butterfly is. Her striking pieces in Inspirations issue #102 both capture a moment in time when a butterfly alights, rests momentarily, and then flies off without anyone even registering its presence.

In Transcendent Touch, the butterfly lands on the wrist of a child as it holds on to the hand of its parent, so fast that the child doesn’t even have time to unclasp its hand for a better look.
Flights of Fancy | Transcendent Touch
In Soft Landing the butterfly rests momentarily in a woman’s hair, perhaps exploring whether the shimmering pearl may contain nectar, before disappearing again. The woman, her back turned, doesn’t even know.
Flights of Fancy | Soft Landing
By contrasting the simple, black line drawings with the vibrant colour of the butterfly wings, Nina has highlighted the beauty of the natural world.
Working the drawings in stem stitch using two strands of black thread, a perfect backdrop is created. Once you’ve eased yourself into the project, you can then tackle the butterfly itself, working the wing slips separately and then arranging the creature as you wish, imagining where it would have landed if it had of been real.
Flights of Fancy is the perfect project to appear at the end of Inspirations Issue #102 as it gently but unobtrusively introduces the human hand and head into the world of nature which has filled the rest of the magazine. But it is done with the lightest of touches, something we all need to take to heart.
We co-exist with nature, but we should not dominate nor destroy it. As custodians of the natural world for future generations, our visibility should be no greater than the line drawings acting as support and backdrop, and our impact should be lighter than a resting butterfly.
The Safe Way to Pin a Butterfly
‘Soft Landing’ is the latest release in the Inspirations Enamel Pin Collector Series. This stunning swallowtail butterfly pin is inspired by the design ‘Flights of Fancy’ from issue #102. As always, these enamel pins are available in limited quantities, so order yours today.
Soft Landing Enamel Pin
Make Your Own Flights of Fancy
Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions

Flights of Fancy by Nina Burnsides is two exquisite designs of stumpwork butterflies delicately resting on head and hands in contrasting line embroidery.
Inspirations Issue 102
Flights of Fancy
Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit

The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kits for Flights of Fancy include everything you need to re-create these beautiful studies: Fabrics (unprinted), interfacing, wool felt, wires, beads, embroidery threads and needle.
Flights of Fancy | Soft Landing
Flights of Fancy | Transcendent Touch
Looking for More Butterflies?
Flutter by Yvette Stanton from Inspirations issue #70 is a sheer curtain with delicate shadow work butterflies.
Serenade by Gisèle Carrières and Kathryn Borel from Inspirations issue #62 is an elegant study of flowers and a butterfly.
Inspirations Issue 62
Butterfly by Catherine Laurençon from Inspirations issue #85 is a splendid threadpainted study of a butterfly with shimmering wings of turquoise, blue-violet, tangerine and garnet.
What Are You Stitching?
Nina Burnsides’ ‘Flights of Fancy’ from Inspirations #102 featured above, contrasts the vivid colours of stumpwork butterflies with the sparse outlines upon where they’re perched. Inspired by the striking contrast she produced with needle and thread, we searched through our What Are You Stitching? files for similar projects created by the Inspirations Community.
Annette Rich
‘After reading a nostalgic email from Mary Corbet recently about a 1920's style traced linen tablecloth, I thought I’d share some of my stitching.’
‘These designs are not only fabulous decoration for practical use in the home, but a great simple introduction to Fancy Work as well.’
Annette, we love that you’ve taken us on a trip down memory lane to the Fancy Work of ‘old’! It’s amazing how timeless, yet effective, a black and white line outline can be when it’s embellished with rich colour.
Darcy Walker
‘I just completed my second module for the RSN Certificate. I have been in Williamsburg studying with the brilliant tutor, Helen McCook - just named British Embroiderer of the Year!’
‘Fabulous tutor and brilliant in goldwork. I took a photo of my beloved poodle, Jean Pierre, and used it as inspiration for my stitching.’
Darcy, what gorgeous contrast you’ve created between luxurious goldwork and the negative space of your background fabric! We love that you’ve been able to celebrate your beloved poodle with needle and thread.
Tawney Carter
‘I wanted to share a few pictures of finished projects I’ve completed in the last two weeks. I can hardly believe how much the stitching bug has come back after such a long hiatus!’
‘In October of last year, I found out that I was going to need open heart surgery to fix a defect I was born with. I always knew someday I would start to have symptoms, but I was hoping it would be much later in life. The stress of preparing for such a major surgery completely sucked all inspiration out of me and the recovery has been difficult to say the least.’
‘In February I was able to take a short class with Alison Cole and she 100% inspired me to not only work on technique but also to experiment with my own style. And these pictures are the result. The outline embroideries were free patterns that I drastically changed and then embellished.’
Tawney, the contrast you’ve been able to achieve in your stitching is every bit as striking as Nina’s! We hope you’re well on your way to a full recovery and that your time spent with needle and thread is helping you through what must be an incredibly difficult time.

Have your needles and threads stitched something with striking contrast? We’d love to see it! Email photos of your work along with a few details about your stitching journey to
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Small World
Small World by Rose Andreeva is a delightful miniature garden scene with a handsome snail approaching a strawberry plant.
Inspirations Issue 102
Small World
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Praying Mantis
Praying Mantis by Lesley Turpin-Delport from Inspirations #36 is an amazing textured insect.
Praying Mantis
An elegant twig of dainty, fan-shaped gingko leaves by Julie Kniedl from Botanica.
Botanica | The three-dimensional embroidery of Julie Kniedl
Autumn Leaves
Autumn Leaves by Monique Johnston from Inspirations issue #97 is an embellished doorstop featuring a harvest of acorns, blackberries, rose hips and maple leaves.
Autumn Leaves
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Al Fresco
Al Fresco by Louise Spriggs from Inspirations issue #77 is a stylish contemporary cushion with bold leaf motifs.
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This Week on Social
Something fun to make
Queen of Hearts by Kim Beamish
‘Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential.’
~ John Maxwell ~
What's On
Stay informed of upcoming needlework events taking place all around the world in our new What’s On page on the Inspirations Studios Website HERE.
If you’re holding an event or would like to suggest one to be added, we’d love to hear about it. Email us the details at
© 2019 Inspirations Studios

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