ISSUE 240, JUNE 26 2020
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Hi <<First Name>>,
When Janine Vangool from Uppercase Magazine was asked to create a fabric collection for Windham fabrics, she was at a loss as to where to start. In light of world events, including climate change, that were weighing heavily on her at the time, she didn’t know what ‘another fabric collection could contribute’ and ‘certainly didn't want to use valuable resources for no particular reason’.

After revisiting a motto that stemmed from Uppercase issue #20, released in 2014, Janine realised she wanted to employ the same sentiment within the collection she was about to design – ‘Make it Worthwhile’.

And that got us thinking.
What is it about something that makes it worthwhile?
We thought about it a little and then did what any good philosopher would do when the answer to the question they seek isn’t easily forthcoming, we did our Googles!

Firstly, we found worthwhile is most often defined as ‘sufficiently valuable or important to be worth one’s time, effort or interest’.

From there, however, we found ourselves down somewhat of an internet rabbit hole!

According to Google, some of the many things that make something worthwhile are: learning from it, serving someone with it, teaching someone it, making a living doing it, feeding our soul with it, experiencing life more fully because of it, reflecting about aspects of life in light of it or teaching us something about ourselves from it.

Whilst it would seem there’s no singular answer to our question, what it did do was cement the fact that our time spent with needle and thread can indeed be classed as worthwhile!

Whilst we’re not telling you anything you don’t already know, in light of the time you spend with needle and thread, read the preceding list again and see just how many of them apply to your stitching and you’ll see that all those hours spent with the push and pull of needle and thread through fabric have indeed been worthwhile – and should anyone tell you, time spent with needle and thread is wasted, you can let them know that Google proves otherwise!
World of Needlework
Tools of the Trade
In recent issues of ‘All Stitched Up!’ we’ve been discussing some of the most important tools for embroidery – frames and hoops, scissors and needles. There are, however, a seemingly endless list of other tools of our trade available. Some are designed for specific techniques, while others are just handy to have nearby for those times you really need them. This week we take a look at just a few:
This unusually named tool appears to be little more than a smooth piece of metal with a not-particularly-sharp point at one end. However, if you’re a passionate lover of goldwork, there is a good chance you and your mellor are inseparable.
Designed specifically for laying metal threads, this tool can make the difference between good goldwork and great goldwork.
However, the mellor has many more uses than just a laying tool. The pointed end can be used to form sharp corners, not just with couched metal threads, but when you’re working mitred corners or turning small projects through.
The rounded, paddle-shaped end can help form smooth curves in metal thread, but it also rounds out seams – just try it next time you’re turning through a circular pincushion.

As a laying tool, the mellor helps control and straighten a stitch before you pull it tight, ensuring that the threads sit exactly where you want them. Most people use it for goldwork or Japanese embroidery, however it is ideal for getting canvas stitches to sit just right, or even ensuring your satin stitch lies perfectly.
Of course, you could achieve these tasks with other tools – the end of a pair of tweezers or a large darning needle. But the mellor is shaped precisely for ease of use and versatility and frankly, it allows you to lay threads with a level of consistent perfection difficult to achieve with a stand-in.
The word stiletto usually brings to mind a pair of shoes requiring unnatural agility to walk in, or if you’re a fan of historical crime fiction, you might know it as a thin, deadly weapon.
Luckily, the only thing the embroidery stiletto has in common with these is the shape – no contortion of the feet or crime scenes involved!
A stiletto is a tool with a sharp point at one end and a tapered body, ideal for creating holes in fabric.
It works by pushing aside the warp and weft threads without piercing them, so if you are making eyelets it is perfect. The tapering is designed so you can vary the size of the hole by adjusting how far you push the stiletto through the fabric.

But stilettos also have other uses. Many can double as a laying tool. They can also be used to create a hole into which you can plunge your gold thread with ease.
Piercing the fabric with a stiletto
Finally, the fine point of the stiletto is ideal as an extra ‘finger’ to hold down a stumpwork slip or move a stitch aside while you get your needle in just the right place.
The humble thimble is a somewhat divisive tool with some people swearing by it and others unable to get along with it.
Although traditionally made of metal or porcelain, nowadays thimbles can be made of leather, rubber, or you can even get adhesive dots which simply stick to your finger.
The purpose of the thimble is to help you push a needle through fabric without the eye end of the needle also going through your finger.
Which finger you wear the thimble on very much depends on your own sewing practice, but it is usually the middle or index finger of your sewing hand.
Thimbles may be more suited to heavier styles of embroidery, where more effort is required to pass the needle through the fabric. However, there are many embroiderers who wear thimbles all the time.
It does take a little while to get used to if you haven’t used one before, but once it becomes a habit, your finger feels a little naked without it.
Needle Threaders and Needle Minders
We all use needles, but they can be fickle friends. Those pesky eyes can be impossible to see. And that is only if you can find the jolly needle in the first place! Enter these two fabulous tools – the needle threader and the needle minder.
Examples of needle minders (source)
Needle minders are usually magnetic, often designed to ‘attach’ to your fabric with one magnet on top and the other underneath. Once you get in the habit of dropping your needle on to the magnet between threads, you will always know where to find it.
We can’t be the only ones who absently put the needle down when getting the next thread, only to completely forget where we’ve put it a few seconds later!
Needle minders nowadays come in myriad styles, from the simple and traditional to the whimsical and unusual.
Whether it is a cute button glued to a magnet or an ornate silver treasure, needle minders are a fabulous way to save your sanity.

Needle threaders, like thimbles, enjoy a mixed reception.

Some people simply cannot thread a needle without one, whereas others hate them.
Unfortunately, the reputation of the needle threader has been undermined by those cheap versions found in every complimentary hotel sewing kit.
One use and the wire comes out, rendering it useless. However, a well-made needle threader can also be a sanity saver.

Needle threaders come in various designs. The ones made with very fine wire for pulling the thread through the eye are notoriously fragile, even the well-made ones. The secret is to hold the threader at the point where the wire joins to the body. This takes the pressure off the join when you pull the thread through the eye.
The most common form of needle threader (source)
There are also more robust threaders of various styles, but it is difficult to find one thin or small enough for a fine embroidery needle. They are ideal for needles with larger eyes, however the finer needles are the ones which seem to defy threading!
Larger needle threaders (source)
What kind of tools do you use? Are there any tools which are indispensable to you that you can’t stitch without? Or have you found other, creative uses for the tools we all have?
Every embroiderer has their own approach to needlework and every tool offers something different for each of us. What we do know is that our tools are a fundamental part of helping us master our art and for that, we sure do love them!
Needlework News
Time to Tool Up!
Now that you’ve read all about how valuable needlework tools can be, you might be thinking ‘that all sounds great, but where can one purchase them?’ We’re glad you asked and we’re pleased to say you can get some of them mentioned above right here!


You can never have too many pairs of embroidery scissors, so these elegant black scissors are a must have. Made from hot forged steel and with a pin sharp point, they are ideal for cutting fine threads and trimming away ends.
If you’ve fallen in love with Hardanger after enjoying ‘Delicate Stitches’ from Inspirations issue #106, then a pair of stainless-steel scissors with an angled blade are just what you need!

The unusual shape has been engineered precisely to get to the hard to reach corners and the fine stainless-steel construction ensures a perfect, clean cut.

A smooth, gold-plated mellor is a perfect choice for the embroiderer wanting to try out this versatile tool. It’s compact, easy to hold and it won’t catch your threads when you are laying them.

This gorgeous pewter stiletto with an ornate handle and precision point will enable to you create holes and eyelets to perfection.
With so many new tools available on our website, we’ve added a special link below so you can browse our entire range all on one page. Happy shopping!
Time to Kit Up!
Now that you can get yourself all tooled up, it’s time to get kitted up and find that perfect project to try out all your new tools.
Although we make it our mission to bring you exciting fresh and new inspiration on a regular basis, we recognise that sometimes it might be difficult to keep up.

The good news is for those playing catch up, we still have plenty of kits available from past issues of Inspirations magazine.
Even if you didn’t get a chance to buy a kit when the magazine came out, if that special project has been whispering to you, we might just have it available, ready and waiting to be stitched by you. Click below to find out.
Inspirations Calendar | July Project
How is it almost July already?! Although the year is racing by, July’s calendar project is one you should take your time over.

‘Gillian’ is a hare worked in exquisite blackwork diaper patterns. However, rather than simply making use of different weights of black thread to represent shadow and light, she is stitched in gorgeous colour and sports a sinuous botanical pattern across her lithe body.
'Gillian' was incredibly popular when she first appeared in Inspirations issue #97. Maria del Valle Olivera designed this fabulous creature, gazing elegantly back over her shoulder, ears cocked but with an unconcerned expression on her regal face.
Perfect for both counted embroidery and surface embroidery lovers alike, Gillian combines both techniques in this unique project.
Inspirations Issue 97
3D Embroidered Art
Sometimes, you have to look twice at a piece of embroidery to convince yourself it is actually stitched. This is how we felt when we saw the incredible works of Japanese textile artist, Pieni Sieni.
Specialising in beaded embroidery and felt work, Pieni Sieni has imagined a series of floral wonders and created them with such accuracy it takes your breath away.
And just to make this artist’s achievements more stunning, she is a self-taught embroiderer.

If you want to see more of her work, visit her website HERE which, although is in Japanese, you can still enjoy all the gorgeous images. Or check out her creations on Instagram @pienikorvasieni
Featured Project
An Introduction to Random Stitch Embroidery
Recently we launched Margaret Lee’s highly anticipated book ‘The Art of Chinese Embroidery 2 | Intermediate Level’ her second in this series. If you haven’t yet seen it, prepare to be amazed by the fascinating technique of random stitch embroidery which Margaret reveals for the first time in this book.
Margaret is an internationally celebrated designer, teacher and author, not just because of her unrivalled skill in her chosen techniques, but because of her true passion and wonderful, warm personality which is revealed in her books and all of her work.
Margaret has dedicated much of her life to preserving the art of Chinese embroidery and, uniquely, pioneering ways to teach these techniques to the western world.
This second book, 'The Art of Chinese Embroidery 2 | Intermediate Level', builds on the fundamentals Margaret introduced in 'The Art of Chinese Embroidery 1 | Foundation Level' which she recommends you work your way through first to help build an understanding of the techniques she uses.
Copies of Margaret’s first book have been hard to get hold of due to its popularity after selling out for the third time, but we’re pleased to announce it’s now finally back in stock so you can follow the journey that Margaret wants to take you on.
When you meet random stitch embroidery in 'The Art of Chinese Embroidery 2', you’ll be encouraged to start by following the detailed tutorial in the book to stitch a pair of apples. This tutorial provides the perfect introduction to random stitch embroidery, allowing you to understand the technique and see the effect that the stitches have on the overall finish.
When working through the tutorial, you might find yourself asking what the difference is between Chinese embroidery and threadpainting.
This is a common question, so we wanted to try and offer a simple answer.
The first difference is in the thread you use. Chinese silk results in pieces with a particular sheen, unmatched by any twisted thread equivalent. Furthermore, as the silk is seemingly endlessly divisible, it is possible for you to create the finest of stitches from the hair-thin filaments.
In addition, the technique varies as well. Probably most importantly, threadpainting requires you to split the previous stitches. Chinese blending stitch, closest in appearance to long and short stitch, has you work the stitches into the previous row without splitting the threads.

Finally, Chinese embroidery requires a level of formality to achieve the desired results. With long and short stitch, you’ll frequently hear teachers or designers encouraging you to ‘let yourself go’, allowing you to place stitches wherever you feel within certain rules of direction. In contrast, Chinese techniques are planned and structured in ways specific to the design and the desired effect.
Random stitch embroidery, the predominant subject of 'The Art of Chinese Embroidery 2', provides something of a bridge between the two, allowing a measure of freedom within the careful techniques required. The results, however, are incredible.

How fortunate we are to have people like Margaret who are so dedicated to making these wonderful techniques available to all of us. Now is the perfect time to start developing this new skill, guided by Margaret’s gentle yet expert hand.
Make Your Own | A Pair of Random Apples
Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions

Begin your random stitch embroidery journey with the project ‘A Pair of Random Apples’ from the book 'The Art of Chinese Embroidery 2 | Intermediate Level' which is a tutorial design featuring an enticing pair of random stitched apples.
The Art of Chinese Embroidery 2
Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit

The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for A Random Pair of Apples includes everything* you need for this beautiful instructional exercise: Pre-printed fabric, silk embroidery threads and needles.
A Pair of Random Apples
*Please Note: To cater for flexibility of purchase, instructions are not included with our kits. For directions on how to create this project, please refer to the book ‘The Art of Chinese Embroidery 2’.
Looking for More Chinese Embroidery?
Kits | The Art of Chinese Embroidery 2
Ready-To Stitch Kits for the projects featured in 'The Art of Chinese Embroidery 2' are now available for purchase. Click below to browse the range.
Browse Kits | The Art of Chinese Embroidery 2
Back in Stock | The Art of Chinese Embroidery 1
Margaret Lee is among the world leaders in the art of Chinese ‘Su’ embroidery, one of the world’s oldest and most admired embroidery styles. Her first book 'The Art of Chinese Embroidery | Foundation Level' is an immaculate ‘how to’ study and introduction into this unique embroidery style.
The Art of Chinese Embroidery | Foundation Level
What Are You Stitching?
Whether you use Chinese embroidery, threadpainting or maybe a combination of the two, the results one can achieve are marvellous. This week we have a range of projects to share with you that demonstrate just how adept our readers are at tackling these types of techniques to produce beautiful, floral masterpieces.
Tracy Shum | Magnolia
‘I have been stitching for around 10 years. Crewel, Luneville and Chinese silk embroidery are my favourite styles. This magnolia is embroidered purely using silk thread worked mainly in long and short stitch.’
‘Stitching is like meditation to me. It allows me to completely relax and concentrate on each stitch. It is the best activity I use to spend my ‘me time’ and allow myself to reflect on what happens day to day.’

The sheen on this magnolia is gorgeous, Tracy. It is little wonder, when you’ve achieved such a state of concentration, that you’ve produced exquisite results.
Amalia Cunha | Floral Arrangement
‘I found this old Elsa Williams kit on eBay. The threads in the original kit were extremely old and unappealing wool, so I improvised! Instead, I used DMC embroidery floss, a little creativity and here is the result.’
‘I have learned most of my stitching from reading and watching videos. Trish Burr, Phillipa Turnbull and so many other talented artists have been a great inspiration. There is so much more to learn, so I’m very excited about future projects.’
Your stitching, your creativity and your enthusiasm are just wonderful, Amalia!
Sonia Bisighin | Pansies and Dog Roses
‘I am pleased to share some photos of my latest embroidery projects.’
‘These pansies and dog roses have been created using needle painting and some filling fancy embroidery stitches. They are my own work and design’

Beautifully designed, and beautifully stitched too. Your colours and blending, Sonia, are so incredibly lifelike.
Dora Edwardes
‘I stitched this piece, Briar Rose, for my wonderful friend as a Christmas gift.’
‘My friend has supported me through some very tough times and whilst not perfect, it's the first project I've embarked upon since my retinol vein occlusion diagnosis some four years ago.’
‘I've gone from excellent vision for close stitching to blurry in one eye. Completion of this labour of love is my success story.’

You should be doubly proud for completing this project despite your challenges, Dora. It’s a perfect choice to demonstrate your appreciation for your friend after all their support.
Claude Andree Leclef | Nasturtiums
‘To light up the grey days of winter at home here in France, I embroidered these bright nasturtiums by Catherine Laurençon, from Inspirations issue #93.
They’re glorious, Claude Andree. The brilliant colour would brighten up the darkest of days.

Have you created a project using Chinese embroidery, random stitch embroidery or threadpainting? No matter which style or technique suits you best, we’d love to see your work. Send us some pictures along with a bit of information about your stitching journey to
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‘Persevere. Nothing worthwhile is easy.’
~ Barak Obama ~
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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