ISSUE 246, AUGUST 7, 2020
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Hi <<First Name>>,
We’re not sure if you’ve taken note of the date on today’s newsletter, but it’s 7th August.

They say time flies when you’re having fun, and whilst it’s also suggested that the older we get, the faster time seems to go by, we’re definitely siding with the having fun theory here at Inspirations Studios as we consider ourselves anything but old!

Although much of 2020 will not be regarded as ‘fun’ as we look back on a particularly uncertain year thus far, we’ve been buoyed through it all by our love of needle and thread. A love that has taken on a more prominent role than ever before, and amongst many other adjectives that can be used, we’ll always consider our time spent stitching as fun.

And so it is, that the year has flown by regardless and we now find ourselves on the home stretch.
We’re not sure what this means for you, but for us it’s meant re-evaluating how we’ll spend our time throughout the remaining months of 2020.
What was it we set out to achieve at the onset of this year and how close are we to achieving it? Is there an area we need to double down on so we see ourselves reaching the sometimes lofty goals we’d set at the outset of the year? Has the unexpected arrival of COVID-19 meant that some of what we thought we’d do has now changed and we have a gap that needs filling?

For us, having to postpone our Beating Around the Bush convention until 2021 has meant there’s a gap – and a rather large one at that – which now exists in our calendar for 2020. Whilst some of our team were hoping that meant a quieter conclusion to the year, it turns out it will be anything but as there’s a LOT going on at Inspirations HQ!

Our Christmas edition of Inspirations magazine, issue #108, and Volume 3 of our book series, A Passion for Needlework, are almost ready to be shipped from our printer, both of which will be launched in October.

In addition to all that, issue #109 has been photographed and our Graphic Designer is now weaving his magic on yet another beautiful issue of the magazine. We’ve also just begun production on another two books that will be going to print before the year is out - all that and with only five months left on the calendar!

What about you? Are you as surprised as us at how quickly this year has passed? What do the remaining months of 2020 have in store for your needle and thread? We’d love to hear all about it, so email us at
World of Needlework
Left-Handed Stitching
Recently we received an email from a reader asking us about left-handed sewing tools. It caused a discussion here about which tools could be used easily and which offered more of a challenge depending on whether a stitcher was left or right-handed.

With International Left Handers Day coming up next week on the 13th August, we wanted to join in the celebration and specifically talk about all the left-handed stitchers out there.
Before we begin, we need to disclose that none of us are left-handed here in the office, so we’re not writing from a position of experience. However, we know many wonderful left-handed stitchers, so some of the things we talk about come either directly from them or from our own experiences with them.

Left-handedness is something that appears in approximately 10% of the population. Unfortunately, because that number represents a minority, many things are not set up with left-handers in mind.
However, luckily there is far more knowledge and acceptance of everyone’s differences nowadays, so left-handers aren’t quite as left out as they might once have felt.
We know of a stitcher who, as a child, was forced to ‘overcome’ her left-handedness as it was seen as something she was doing ‘wrong’.
She spent many painful and uncomfortable years trying to learn to be right-handed! We would hope that things are different today than they were 50 or 60 years ago, although the one good thing that came out of that horrible situation was that this lady is now very cleverly ambidextrous.
Nevertheless, left-handed stitchers are often faced with scissors they can’t hold and stitch instructions that don’t make sense. This is not to mention teachers who want to help their left-handed students but find it hard to flip their guidance around.
In terms of scissors, there are left-handed scissors now widely available. Sewing scissors, namely the type with a large and small loop for the handle and a very clear top and bottom blade, are generally the biggest problem. If you are left-handed there is a good chance you already own a pair designed especially for you, but for organisations or teachers who have scissors available for their members or students to use, having at least one pair of left-handed scissors available is important.
As for embroidery scissors, a good quality pair should work equally well in whatever hand you use, as both blades are designed to be sharp and effective. Most of the other tools we use – needles, threaders, mellors and hoops – work whichever way they are flipped, although some cheaper hoops, with the screw on the right, aren’t as smooth when the top hoop is turned upside down to move the screw to the left.

As for stitch instructions, even we are aware that the photographs in our magazines and books show the workings for right-handers. One piece of advice we found was that, if an image was too difficult to translate, a left-hander could scan it and then flip it over in a simple image editing program. Someone else suggested looking at the image in a mirror.

However, from the left-handed stitchers we know, many of them are very adept at being able to imagine the instruction reversed. It is a skill they’ve developed when faced with little other choice.
Many left-handed stitchers would probably already be aware of Yvette Stanton’s wonderful book The Left-Handed Embroiderer’s Companion. It has become something of a bible for left-handers and we’ve seen many occasions where the book has been quietly brought out during a class to help the stitcher ‘get’ the stitch. However, if you’ve not come across it before, this book is fantastic for students and teachers alike.
Plenty of teachers have found ways to get around the differences in dominant hands. Some have learnt to do stitches with both hands so they can demonstrate either way. Others, especially those teaching crochet or knitting, have tried to get their students to sit opposite them in order to copy, just as you would in a mirror.

Although, having had left-handed sewing teachers, we’ve found ourselves stuck with pins on a few occasions because when they’ve pinned our work, we’ve not realised till it’s too late that they do it the other way!
Luckily, we stitchers are wonderful people and moments such as these give us something to laugh about together.
Most of us will have had a giggle as we bump elbows with our opposite-handed stitching companion and then happily swapped around seats to make our stitching sessions more comfortable.
Are you a left-hander? What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them? What has made your stitching life easier? We’d love to hear about your experiences, as all of your stories increase the richness of our own journey and the wonderful diversity of people who practice it along with us.

News Just In

For anyone interested in Yvette Stanton’s book The Left-Handed Embroiderer’s Companion referenced above, we have some good news. Copies of her ultimate step-by-step stitch dictionary for left-handers are now available to purchase from our website. Click below to buy your copy today.
Needlework News
Designer Mini Cards by Jo Butcher
As convenient as it is to dash off an email or send a quick text, there is really nothing like receiving a hand-written card. A thank you note, an expression of love, or even just a card to say ‘I’m thinking of you’ is worth so much more than its digital equivalent.
And then there’s the added Wow! factor of sending someone a gorgeous mini card featuring stunning artwork by talented designer Jo Butcher.
We instantly fell in love with Jo’s range of mini gift cards with each pack including eight cards 8cm x 8cm (3 ¼” x 3 ¼”) in four of Jo’s beautiful designs, accompanied by enough delicate little envelopes to ensure that every thank you you’ve always meant to say can now be said.
We’re sure we’re not alone in wishing that more people took the time to send handwritten notes – so let’s start the trend! Imagine the joy when your recipient opens the tiny envelope to see Jo Butcher’s beautiful work and discover your words of love expressed inside.
With two different sets to choose from, Jo Butcher Designer Mini Cards are now available from our website.
Inspirations #91 | Digital Patterns
For anyone who has fallen in love with a project that you really, really want to do, only to find it’s from an issue of Inspirations magazine which is now out of print, help is at hand.
The team here at Inspirations is continually working behind the scenes to release out of print projects as digital patterns.
LEFT- ‘Spring Delight’ by Margaret Light RIGHT- ‘Home Sweet Home Beehive’ by Anne Davies
With all our printed stock for Inspirations issue #91 now sold out, we’re pleased to announce the release of your favourite projects from issue #91 in digital format for your stitching pleasure.
LEFT- ‘Warm Welcome The Blanket’ by Susan O’Connor RIGHT- ‘Warm Welcome The Bears’ by Nancy Lee
Choose from designs such as the gorgeous little Warm Welcome | The Bears that accompany the monogrammed Warm Welcome blanket, the hugely popular Nicola Jarvis’s Bijou bullfinch and the delightful Home Sweet Home Beehive silk ribbon pincushion.
And for that special little arrival, you can now download the pattern for Oh Baby!, an exquisite linen baby gown finished with delicate drawn thread work.
LEFT- ‘Hana’ by Merrilyn Whittle RIGHT- ‘Oh Baby!’ by Claudia Newton
Perhaps the best part about digital patterns is the instant gratification – a few simple clicks and before you know it, you can download and print your favourite project from Inspirations issue #91, all ready to start stitching.
The Original Workshirt
Nowadays, if anyone thinks of smocking, it is generally associated with royal baby outfits and gorgeous little dresses. But smocking was originally utilitarian, as some of these stunning examples from the West Berkshire Museum in the UK show.
Detail from an original farmer’s smock (source)
Not only were smocked garments traditionally worn as workwear by shepherds and farmers, they were almost exclusively made for men.

Favoured for their durability, stretch and reversibility, smocks were a staple in many men’s wardrobes during the 19th and early 20th Centuries.
19th Century painting showing a man in a smock (source)
While fashions do change, there perhaps aren’t many fashion styles that have switched so dramatically. Will any 21st Century men’s fashion styles be primarily worn by beloved newborns in 150 years’ time?!
Intricate smocked detail on a traditional garment (source)
You can read more about the fascinating history of the 19th-century male smock frock by clicking HERE.
Featured Project
Sea View by Jo Butcher
So many exquisite embroidery projects to do, but so little time! It is a lament heard over and over and, like the child reaching for the largest piece of cake, it is all too easy to underestimate just how long a project is going to take and how difficult it is going to be to finish it.
So, it really is a breath of fresh air when a stunning project comes along which can be completed in a relatively short period of time. Even though Sea View by Jo Butcher is ‘quick’ to stitch, it is still a breathtaking piece of work as are all her wonderful stitched landscapes.
Her mastery comes in no small part from the fact that she brings together two skills: embroiderer and watercolour artist.
Painting your ground fabric isn’t something that many of us think of doing. Perhaps it is because we fear we won’t be able to achieve the effect we want as we’re not comfortable with a paintbrush.
Or perhaps it is because we’ve always believed that our art is made with needle and thread which is different to that rendered in paint. Jo’s work should prove to us than when the two are brought together, magic really is the result.
If you’re starting with blank fabric, in this case a medium weight calico or muslin, Jo offers simple and clear instructions on how you can create your background. You only need two colours – blue and yellow. We all remember art class at school where we learned which colours to mix to create others. For Sea View, all of the colours and hues derive from yellow and blue so it really is difficult to get it wrong.
Once you’ve mixed your colours, the time has come to start painting. Just remember, it doesn’t have to be absolutely perfect. This is the background after all. The highlight of this exquisite little piece will be your stitching, so you can relax and have fun with the paint.
We’ve heard from many a stitcher who had never painted on fabric before and once they tried, their confidence was unlocked allowing them to experiment with other projects. After all, Jo’s wonderful designs give us the perfect opportunity to give it a try.
You might surprise yourself at how easy it is to meld two artistic forms together to create a work that is totally unique.
That said, if you prefer to skip the painting part, you can purchase our Ready-to-Stitch kit which has the fabric already pre-printed for you.
This way you’ll know that the hues are just right and the horizon line and grass fronds are precisely where they should be.
Sea View is the perfect project for so many reasons. As well as offering the opportunity to try your hand at painting, it also asks you to let go of the need to copy Jo’s piece precisely. You get to simply stitch the sea grasses and flowers wherever you feel, using the model as a guide but building up your stitches in your own way to achieve depth and movement.

So, although there is so much to stitch and so little time, here is one piece which can be completed and on the wall before you know it. But the things you’ll learn and the satisfaction it will bring long outlast those wonderful hours spent stitching it.
Sea View offers complete freedom, designed precisely to let your inner artist fly. It’s no wonder we love it as really, isn’t this what embroidery should be all about?
Make Your Own Sea View
Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions

Sea View by Jo Butcher is a peaceful scene of grasses and flowers overlooking the ocean.
Inspirations Issue 107
Sea View
Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit

The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Sea View includes everything* you need to re-create this delightful scene: Fabric with pre-printed background, embroidery threads and needles.
Sea View
Due to popular demand Sea View kits are currently sold out. The good news is that more stock is on its way. The not so good news is that due to sourcing lead times and current delivery delays there is an expected wait of 4-6 weeks. Thank you for your patience.

*Please Note: To cater for flexibility of purchase, instructions are not included with our kits. For step-by-step directions on how to create this project, please refer to the magazine/digital pattern.
Looking for More Jo Butcher?
Summer Days
Summer Days by Jo Butcher from Inspirations issue #101 is a delightful garden in full bloom with busy bees flying to and from their wooden hive.
Inspirations Issue 101
Summer Days
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders Fields by Jo Butcher from Inspirations issue #99 is a glorious meadow scene filled with red poppies and golden wheat.
Inspirations Issue 99
In Flanders Fields
Woodland by Jo Butcher from A Passion for Needlework is a charming scene of foxgloves amongst birch trees.
A Passion for Needlework | Deluxe
How to Sew a Meadow
How to Sew a Meadow by Jo Butcher from Inspirations #83 is a charming stitched meadow worked onto a painted background.
Inspirations Issue 83
What Are You Stitching?
Some of you may remember our publication the Australian Smocking & Embroidery Magazine (affectionately known as AS&E) which ran from the late 1980’s right through to its final 100th issue in 2012. While AS&E may no longer be in production, that doesn’t mean everyone has stopped smocking. It is always lovely to see people still practicing this gorgeous technique, so this week we’ve brought you a few smocking stories to enjoy.
Anne Shields
‘Beginning on 1st March, I smocked and sewed two dresses. One is from AS&E issue #72 and the other is from AS&E issue #73.’
‘Both of the dresses have been made with attached slips. Not bad for an 82-year-old!’
Your smocking and construction are both immaculate, Anne. We hope that the lucky recipient of these adorable dresses was as thrilled to get them as you were to sew them.
Lorraine Bradley
‘I am attaching photos of my pink and white check dress from AS&E issue #74 - Little Bo Peep by Julie Graue.’
‘This has been a UFO for a few years however during lockdown/isolation this dress has finally been completed. It is supposed to have sheep appliquéd around the hem but as far as I am concerned this dress is done!’

It is perfect just the way it is, Lorraine. Isn’t it funny how you just know when the project is finished, even when sometimes the instructions tell you otherwise.
Joan Clark
‘Here are the photos of the two dresses I’ve made for a baby due this month. I love smocking and it was such a shame when AS&E magazine finished. I never really copied the smocking designs exactly. I prefer to put my own touches to them.’
‘I have four granddaughters and none of the mums want smocked dresses, but if a friend of theirs is having a girl they ask for them then!’

These dresses are beautiful Joan and while your granddaughters may not be wearing them, it’s lovely to hear you’re still getting an opportunity to make them for other lucky recipients.

Have you smocked anything recently that you’ve been particularly proud of? Or have you just started smocking after receiving the wonderful news that a new family member is on the way? No matter which, we’d love to see it. Send us a picture of your work and tell us a little bit about the project and your stitching journey to
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This Week on Social
This pillow is too beautiful to ever lean back on! By mellow-stuff mie
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‘The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.’
~ James Taylor ~
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
© 2020 Inspirations Studios

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