ISSUE 243, JULY 17 2020
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Hi <<First Name>>,
In a Do Lectures recent email, David Hieatt spoke of a lesson hard learnt.

To make a long story short, in his late teens David found himself picking daffodils for a penny a bunch. That meant that if he was able to pick 5,000 daffodils in a day, he would earn £5 for his efforts.

Whilst he became proficient at the task before him, it wasn’t long before the toll of such physical work became apparent and after reviewing the economics of his days, he realised it was actually costing him £7 a day for the food that would fuel his efforts to earn only £5.

Needless to say, David moved on from that job, but not before declaring that:
‘easy ain’t a good teacher!’
After reading his email, our thoughts turned toward the time we’ve spent with needle and thread only to realise how true his words really are.

Sure, there are lessons we’ve learnt when the stitching was easy, but the ‘true’ lessons that we’ve been taught through needle and thread are when the stitching was anything but easy!

Sometimes it was the size of the project, the difficulty of the technique or the intricacy of the design that became our teacher, but when we managed to persevere through it all, we learnt that we were far more capable than we ever thought possible.

From there, life lessons such as patience, persistence, resourcefulness and tenacity flowed, and are but a few that come to mind.

How about you? What are the life lessons you’ve been taught through needle and thread? Email, we can’t wait to share in your lessons learnt.

And just remember, when the stitching before you feels impossible and the lessons too hard learnt, let the words of Audrey Hepburn encourage you, ‘Nothing is impossible, the word itself says 'I'm possible'!’
Have Your Say
Sharing Your Stories
When we wrote our introduction for All Stitched Up! issue #239, reminding us all that everything we do has a story behind it, we were overwhelmed by the number of responses we had from people who wanted to share their story with us. Every one of them was so personal, it was such a joy for us to read, so this week we wanted to share just a few extracts from them for everyone to enjoy:
Lana Lipsett
‘It is both a virtue and a vice that I have endless curiosity and drive for knowledge in all areas of my life. Embroidery is no different.

Currently I have kits for at least eight different embroidery techniques. I don’t know what possesses me except my curiosity and available funds. What I may not have is sufficient time and eyesight.’

Lana, we are quietly confident that your drive is definitely more virtue than vice! The drive to try new techniques is why we all constantly improve day by day. It is the story of who you are, and something to be very proud of.
Evelyn Little
‘I started this project back in February 2019, and finally finished it during lockdown. My passion is stitching, but I wrote a poem to express this moment and this project.’
‘Cos friends and I can’t get together
Been stitching here, hell-bent for leather.
Have sewed every day
So now I can say...
“I’ve done it. I’ve finished the feather!”

Design’s by Jen Goodwin, my word
To think of more talent. Absurd!
With needle and thread
I just did as she said

But I’m glad it was not a whole bird!’

Such talent you have Evelyn both with needle and thread and with words! Expressing one’s story in poetry is something people have been doing for millennia, and it is as impactful now as it was in the past.
Nancy Duncan
Nancy has also written her story in the form of a wonderful poem, here are some extracts:
‘Beads, bones, seeds, and stones
Beauty borne out of necessity.
Ivory, shells, pearls, and quills
So began the World of Embroidery!

A symbol of wealth, a voice of history
The Needle and Thread reveals
But in the heart of the maker, there's no escaping
A sense of wonder she feels...

She holds in her hands the Passage of Time
And stitches with each breath she takes.
A world perhaps not so different from then.
Because Beauty is what She Makes.’

Just like Evelyn you really have a way with both needle and thread and with words! You have truly made something beautiful with each and we thank you for taking the time to share them with us.
Sue Dawson
‘When I was about six years old, all I wanted to do was dressmaking. The day after my fourteenth birthday I started work, hand sewing beautiful gowns.

I worked for ten years, until we started our family. Then I worked from home, specialising in wedding and bridesmaid gowns.

In the 1980s I could no longer lift the weight of a wedding gown so I turned to embroidery. I have enjoyed it so much I can’t imagine not being able to pick up a needle.’

We love that the ebbs and flows of one’s story reflect those of life, but as Sue’s story shows, one true passion threads through it all.
Robyn Wright
‘In mid-April my adored husband died from a massive stroke, so while I am stitching Trish Burr's Charleston there is a constant narrative of our lives quietly writing itself as my backstory.’

We’re so sorry to hear of your loss Robyn, it’s comforting to know the repetitive quality of stitching encourages us to meditate on our story, and can be of huge benefit through all kinds of moments, especially times of grief.
Carol Meadows
‘Like many others, I learnt to sew at the feet of my mother and grandmother.

My mother made most of my dresses, which had large hems that could be let down annually. Usually that was my grandmother’s job when she came for Christmas.

My Grandma would also do any other sewing that my mother saved up for her like turning the sheet sides to the middle or reversing the collars and cuffs of my father’s shirts.

My other Grandma taught me how to embroider. She had been a court dressmaker in London, and although I don't think she made anything for the Queen, she had an amazing wardrobe that she had made for herself.

I wish I had asked more about her life and her job, but although I didn’t know much about her past, I remember her message: ‘If a thing is worth doing then it is worth doing properly.’
This usually meant ‘perfect’ or it had to be unpicked!
But she also insisted that being yourself, having your own standards and beliefs about life was the most important gift your life gives you. Copying what your friends do was not good enough.’

Such a fascinating and rich introduction to needlework Carol, it’s also fascinating to see how one’s personal story often includes the stories of many others who have influenced us or touched our life.

Thank you to everyone who sent in their stories. We feel honoured to receive such personal narratives and hope that in sharing them we can encourage others to think about their own stories too.
Needlework News
Inspirations #107 Out Now!
When the world around us is chaotic, it is really important to find a moment of tranquillity. Giving yourself some space where you can meditate, regenerate and enjoy serenity is so important for our well-being.
And right now is the perfect time to enjoy the new issue of Inspirations magazine, filled with projects dedicated to your stitching serenity.
Little did we know that when we produced Inspirations issue #107 earlier this year, and gave it the title ‘Stitching Serenity’, how important that theme would become to us all just a few short few months later.
To begin your quest for serenity you might consider stitching Jo Butcher’s peaceful ‘Sea View’, a tiny yet perfect ocean landscape. Or meditate on the gentle colour changes in Catherine Laurençon’s exquisite blooms. Renette Kumm has designed the perfect tote, adorned with colourful succulents, just right for carrying your stitching and a book to your favourite, peaceful place.
Inspirations issue #107 also features a traditional candle screen decorated with an intricately designed bird by Hazel Blomkamp. What could be more relaxing than being in a cosy room glowing with candlelight? Add to it Anna Scott’s beautiful crewel cushion ‘Sweet Repose’ for additional comfort, and then further illuminate your space with the delightful, whimsical creatures dancing around Taetia McEwen’s ‘Sunbeams’ lampshade.
Serenity is also achieved through meditation, and Maria Rita Faleri’s project ‘Caterina’, worked in the unique but simple Catherine de Medici stitch, is ideal for achieving that state. Finally, capture the tranquillity of the garden by stitching Fiona Hibbett’s floral heart design ‘Tranquil Thoughts’ bursting with pansies and an adorable fluffy bumble bee.
Set aside an hour or two, find that serene space just for you and let the noise and chaos of the world subside as you take in all the serenity of this new issue of Inspirations.
There is nothing quite like the sublime pleasure of choosing which beautiful project you will stitch next.
Inspirations issue #107 is out now.
#107 Kits Out Now
Serenity comes from minimising stress, and a perfect way to achieve that is to have everything you need for a new project ready to go and at hand.

And that’s exactly what we’ve done for you with every project from Inspirations issue #107 now available to purchase as a Ready-to-Stitch kit.
Once you’ve chosen your project, your next hardest task is to find the most comfortable space to open your kit, thread your needle and begin.
Browse Kits from Issue #107
#107 Digital Patterns
If you just can’t wait to get started, all of the projects from Inspirations issue #107 are available to purchase as individual digital patterns. Just click, purchase, breathe… and begin.
Browse Digital Patterns from Issue #107
New Book | Jane Austen Embroidery
Jane Austen Embroidery is a new book by Jennie Batchelor and Alison Larkin which successfully demonstrates that the author of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘Emma’ was not just a talented writer, but also a skilful embroiderer.
Bringing together Regency fashion, history and contemporary embroidery patterns, this book marries Austen’s needle and pen into one elegant publication.
Alison Larkin kindly wrote in to let us know how the genesis of this book was pure serendipity. Originally a biology teacher, Alison set out to be a full-time embroiderer some 7 years ago. Through a friend who was the Chair of Trustees at a museum in Whitby, Alison was invited to undertake a project to create a replica of Captain James Cook’s waistcoat, which had originally been stitched by his wife, Elizabeth.
This project led Alison to start researching 18th and 19th century costume embroidery. Through social media, she met Jennie Batchelor. Jennie was involved in research around The Lady’s Magazine, a publication from the 18th and early 19th centuries which was one of the first periodicals to publish regular embroidery patterns.
Alison and Jennie managed to uncover a number of original patterns from The Lady’s Magazine, and together they reproduced and modernized them. Combining these reworked patterns with a rich history of the period, including Austen’s own connection with the patterns and styles, the two have produced a fascinating and unique book.
If you’ve ever swooned over Mr. Darcy or dreamed of Empire Line dresses and beribboned dance cards, then this book is just for you. With a perfect balance of practical projects and engaging history, Jane Austen Embroidery is available now.
The RSN Embraces Online Learning
The COVID-19 lockdown has caused everyone to rethink how they do things, and the Royal School of Needlework was one of the many institutions that needed to come up with new ways to teach their courses.
RSN Tutor, Angela Bishop, working with her Australian students (source)
But thanks to technology, the willingness of RSN staff and tutors, and three Australian embroiderers who offered to be ‘guinea pigs’, a successful trial of teaching the Certificate and Diploma modules online has just been completed.

The online environment always poses its challenges, but all three students loved it. We should know, as a member of the Inspirations Team was one of the keen embroiderers involved!
Deep in concentration…
With a bit of fine tuning, this step should soon open up many more opportunities for international students to study with this venerated and historical institution.

And now it’s time for yours truly to get back to unpicking that jolly blackwork project which isn’t quite right, in time for the assessment deadline!

To find our more, you can read the full story HERE.
Featured Project
Virgin Queen’s Stitching Wallet by Betsy Morgan
Most people are aware that Queen Elizabeth I was also known as the Virgin Queen. During her reign, the exquisiteness of her taste gave rise to a characteristic Elizabethan style. Unfortunately for her contemporaries, the Queen enacted a series of sumptuary laws dictating who could wear or display particular colours, patterns and fabrics. It is very likely that the best of Elizabethan style was reserved for the most privileged.
Fortunately, no such rules apply today. We have full access to all of the colours, designs and motifs, many of which have been translated into embroidery using those precious remaining samplers and items of clothing which remain from the period.

It’s lucky for us that not only can we stitch them, but we can display them without any fear of Royal punishment!
Betsy Morgan has utilised that wonderful Elizabethan style in her beautiful etui, named for Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen. She’s taken all of the motifs familiar to us – the borders bursting with strawberries and strawberry blossoms, the intricate twists and repeating shapes, and the cornucopia of leaves, flowers and acorns, and combined them into another of her beautiful and practical stitching accessories.
The Virgin Queen’s Stitching Wallet from the book ‘Willing Hands’, when folded up, is both compact and neat. The tops and sides are adorned with colour and the elegant twists and turns of Betsy’s interesting floral combinations.
And then, thanks to Betsy’s characteristic clever construction, the wallet opens out displaying an array of stitching accessories designed to fit neatly within.
Matching perfectly, the set contains a needlebook decorated with blackwork, a scissor fob and two useful hexagonal thread winders.

The needlebook is secured with a ribbon, and the thread winders are perfectly sized to fit into the hidden side pockets of the etui all ensuring that when the wallet is closed, nothing will fall out.
As well as the included accessories, the wallet also has pockets for other important items, all of which will fit snugly inside.
Despite Elizabeth’s draconian fashion decrees, the period also produced fascinating ways to carry essential items. Hidden pockets in voluminous skirts, discrete bags designed to be read as allegories and tiny coin purses were all created to allow the wearer to carry fragranced objects, hidden treasures and secret things.
It is in this very tradition, steeped as it was with both elegance and function, that the Virgin Queen’s stitching wallet can be placed.
As a place to store treasured things, as well as an object to admire, we can’t help but be grateful to Elizabeth for inspiring such precious, stitched delights.
Make Your Own Virgin Queen’s Stitching Wallet
Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions

Virgin Queen’s Stitching Wallet is a stylish folding wallet etui decorated with abundant floral and fruit designs.
Willing Hands
Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit

The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Virgin Queen’s Stitching Wallet includes everything* you need to re-create this delightful etui: Fabrics (unprinted), interfacings, interlining, felt, buttons embroidery threads, ribbon and needles.

Due to popular demand, kits for Virgin Queen’s Stitching Wallet are currently sold out. The good news is that more stock is on its way… the not so good news is that due to the sourcing and delivery lead times, the wait is expected to be a couple of months… however, to secure a kit from this allocation and avoid missing out you can place an order using the link below:
Virgin Queen’s Stitching Wallet
*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 book.
Looking for More Elizabethan Designs?
Flowers for Elizabeth
Flowers for Elizabeth by Susan O’Connor from Inspirations #51 is an exquisite sweet bag depicting some of the favourite garden treasures of the Elizabethans.
Flowers for Elizabeth
Sweete Bag
Sweete Bag by Victoria Laine from Inspirations issue #99 is a stunning Elizabethan sweet bag featuring flower and bird motifs.
Inspirations Issue 99
Sweete Bag
Plums and Honeysuckle
Plums and Honeysuckle by Susan O'Connor from Inspirations issue #57 features plump purple plums and sweet golden honeysuckle.
Plums and Honeysuckle
Elizabethan Sweetbag
Elizabethan Sweetbag by Susan O'Connor from Inspirations issue #36 is an exquisitely embroidered sweet bag.
Elizabethan Sweetbag
What Are You Stitching?
Every stitcher loves their tools. Usually we love them so much, we spend many pleasurable hours creating stitched accessories to accompany them – scissor fobs, etuis, needlebooks and pincushions. As such, you’re going to love the stitcher’s accessories and etuis featured in this week’s showcase:
Anne Shields | Sewing Box
‘I always drew pictures as long as I can remember. At five I began to knit. At seven I designed clothes for my cut-out dolls. I then went on to sew my first apron from an old dress of my mother’s. I made my first winter coat at thirteen, modelling it at my high school home economics fashion show.’
‘From that time on I made most of my own clothes and eventually my children’s. After my children left home, I added needlework of various types to my accomplishments, learning from members of a teaching Stitchery Guild which fortunately has Barbara Kershaw as a member.’
‘Isolating from the virus has given me time to complete a sewing box with a matching project bag I started in 2009.’
You’ve had a long and very productive stitching career, Anne. We love your sewing box and project bag and can’t wait to see what you turn your hand to next!
Graciela Aubey | Maria Katarin’s Reticule
‘We all make mistakes!’
‘As you can see, I finished Betsy Morgan’s Maria Katarin’s Reticule from Inspirations issue #103. The third panel was the first one I embroidered and as I was finishing it, I realized it I had stitched it upside down!’
‘I spent more time unpicking it than it took me to stitch it the second time!’
Nevertheless, I love the project. I am from Mexico and it really spoke to me.’
We feel your pain, Graciela! We know that sinking feeling so well, when you realise that all of that work you’ve put in is now going to have to come out. But what a wonderful result. It was well worth all of the unpicking.
Jenny Craft | Strawberry Fayre Etui
‘I have always enjoyed stitching and started as soon as my legs were long enough to reach the pedal on mum’s sewing machine. After years of patchwork and having finally retired I joined the Mollymook branch of the Australian New South Wales Embroiderers’ Guild.’
‘This active group has a great respect for education and members gladly hold courses in their speciality. I tried many types of embroidery with this group but love surface stitchery most of all (no counting required!).’
‘Over five years ago, I participated in a workshop with Carolyn Pearce to stitch her Strawberry Fayre etui. Thanks to the encouragement of a friend, I finally finished it.’
‘I also enjoy the construction aspect of Carolyn’s projects and have completed her Home Sweet Home workbox as well.’

These are two enormous projects, Jenny. To have completed both of them is a feat in itself. Well done on such an exquisite job!
Julie Self | Strawberry Fayre Etui Reimagined
‘I wanted to make the Strawberry Fayre etui by Carolyn Pearce for my eldest daughter’s 40th birthday. However, I knew it was beyond me now, after several strokes which have affected my mental capacities and made my hands clumsy.’
‘So instead I made a variation of the etui with a ‘hearts and insects’ theme. The problem was trying to think how to attach some of the lovely sewing accessories I found. There were four very sharp things, and a lovely little wooden sewing tool.’
‘I’m in the process of making beaded ‘strings’ for them, but they need some sort of pockets. I’d be happy to receive any suggestions!’

What a wonderful reimagining Julie! Perhaps some of our readers might have some suggestions if you haven’t already found the solution. Your ability to make such beautiful things despite your difficulties is just wonderful.

If you have an etui, sewing box or any other sewing accessory of which you are particularly proud, we’d love to see it. We love these things as much as you do! Send photographs and some information about your sewing journey to

Projects Featured in This Week’s What Are You Stitching?

If you’ve been inspired by the projects showcased above, the good news is that the patterns, complete with step-by-step instructions, are available for each of the designs:
Strawberry Fayre
Home Sweet Home
Maria Katarin's Reticule
Maria Katarin’s Reticule
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You May Have Missed
Delicate, waxy flowers contrast with the ripe, yellow citrus fruit in this stunning Lemon by Julie Kniedl from Botanica.
Festive Fruit
Festive Fruit by Denise Forsyth from Inspirations issue #96 is a selection of fabulous strawberries made from linen textured with pulled thread embroidery.
Inspirations Issue 96
Festive Fruit
An Apple a Day
An Apple a Day by Julie Kniedl from Inspirations issue #103 is an irresistible red apple in three-dimensional embroidery.
An Apple a Day
Inspirations Issue 103
An Apple a Day
An Apple a Day
An Apple a Day
Fruit of the Vine
Fruit of the Vine by Maria Rita Faleri from the Handpicked range is two bunches of luscious grapes formed with clever knots.
Fruit of the Vine | White Grapes
Fruit of the Vine
Fruit of the Vine
Cherries by Julie Kniedl from Botanica is four luscious red cherries with a bright green leaf.
This Week on Social
Delightful design by @elisi_emekisi⁠
By Ukrainian artist Vladimir Denshchikov
‘Some things cannot be taught; they must be experienced.’
~ Roy T Bennett ~
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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