There are some hand embroidery kits available on the market today that I like because I like the project itself – and then there are some kits I like because I like the materials. And there are some kits I like because I like the project and the materials – and this is one of the latter. The project enticed me because it is a needlebook. The materials enticed me because of the threads…
I’ve made several embroidered needlebooks in my life, but I’ve never been satisfied with my less-than-professional finish. This particular kit, I surmised, would be worth the investment, because I was certain I would learn to make a nice, finished needlebook. That was the first thing that caught my eye about the kit – the look of the needlebook. Once I read the description of the kit, I knew it would be almost a perfect match for me: the threads are Au Ver a Soie’s Soie d’Alger, a thread a really love working with!
The name of the kit is “Nicole,” and it is a limited edition needlebook kit distributed by Access Commodities. I bought the kit through The Mad Samplar, justifying it for all the reasons above, plus the fact that I could make the needlebook up as a nice gift for Christmas.
The cover of the box doesn’t quite display the finished needlebook to its advantage – you can see the finished needlebook on The Mad Samplar website, in their new needlework shop. The description on the website reads:
“This is the second in a series of French Needle Maid Needle Books. The design was inspired by the 18th Century French Reproduction fabric procured for the lining of the needlebook. In ‘reverse’ fashion, the line and embroidery color choices were based on the fabric…“
I liked the fact that, when I opened the box, everything was wrapped in matching tissue paper. Right off, I figured this was a rather classy kit. And you might be thinking that, for the price tag, it should be classy! I agree… but wait. Look what’s in the kit, and then let’s talk price again.
So far, so good – instructions abound! There are two sets of instruction for the needlebook: one is a general little booklet that covers the question of constructing the book once it is embroidered; the other focuses on this particular needlebook, and contains specific counts and patterns for the book.
Everything is printed nicely – and this little booklet will be a gem to keep for any future needlebook projects.
The instructions are accompanied by diagrams and are very clear. After reading through both sets of instructions, I did not have any questions about what to do to create the needlebook.
For fabric, the kit contains a piece of 34 ct Wren Wing linen, a piece of cotton lining (the French Reproduction fabric mentioned above), and two pre-cut squares of heavy interfacing.
Included are seven full 5-meter skeins of Soie d’Alger. There’s no way the embroidery will require this much thread – it’s a generous amount, and a real sell point for me.
There’s a full spool of Londonberry Linen thread in black, and a full spool of Soie 100/3 from Au Ver a Soie, in black as well. Also included are two lengths of silk ribbon (pink and black) for finish work, buttons, needle felt, and three needles.
Now, let’s get back to the price tag. I surfed around online to get some prices, and added up the retail cost of just these threads. Depending on where you buy them, the threads alone will cost a minimum of $31.45. That’s more than half the cost of the kit right there. I’d estimate that the supplies in the kit, retail, would cost me a minimum of $40. Between the designer, the middle-people (the store that sells it and the distributor) there’s a balance of $18.50 to be split.
I think that’s a pretty good deal, then, for the kit, even if the first look at the price tag made me gasp a bit.
This isn’t the type of purchase I would make every day (hahahah – or every month… or probably more than even once a year!) But given my excuses above (yes, yes, I suppose they are excuses!), I’m glad I bought the kit, and I’m looking forward to working it.
One thing I wasn’t aware of was that the monogram alphabet does not come with the kit. It is an old Sajou alphabet, and it can be found in a number of places online, I think. I haven’t looked for it yet, but it looks familiar. I may even have it in a book somewhere, myself. But, this didn’t really both me much, ‘cuz guess what??
Oh, I forgot to mention… I’m not stitching this design! ???? What??? I paid that much for a kit, and I’m not even stitching the design that goes with it???!!! That’s right – I’m going Surface on this one instead of counted, using my own monogram. I’m going to keep the general look of it, with the stripes down the side, and the little bunch of flowers on the back – but I’m going to work everything in surface stitches. I think the roses are begging for bullions, as are the little buds in the fancy stripes. And the monogram? Well, I haven’t decided on stitches for it yet. I’ll let you know when I get there! Of course, I’m keeping the color scheme. The colors all work together so well – I would be daft to change them!
So here’s another little work in progress. I’ve started setting up the fabric and basting in the areas for stitching… I’ll show you as I go along!
Ok – tell me something! Was it silly of me to pay the price for this kit? What do YOU look for in a kit? Am I NUTS?! (Ok, maybe you shouldn’t answer that one!)
Enjoy your Monday!