Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Needlebook Embroidery Kit Unboxed


Amazon Books

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!

French Needlbook Series Book 1

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.

French Needlbook Series Book 1

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…

French Needlbook Series Book 1

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.

French Needlbook Series Book 1

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.

French Needlbook Series Book 1

Everything is printed nicely – and this little booklet will be a gem to keep for any future needlebook projects.

French Needlbook Series Book 1

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.

French Needlbook Series Book 1

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.

French Needlbook Series Book 1

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.

French Needlbook Series Book 1

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.

French Needlbook Series Book 1

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!


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(17) Comments

  1. I think the price on this kit is actually very reasonable for it's content. When I find something that draws me I don't necessarily let the price stop me if I can calculate the cost of the kit vs the cost of buying the components separately and the time it takes to do that. I love kits that are complete…….I don't have to supply anything except my time and skills. Sometimes I am drawn to a kit because of the combination of colors not necessarily the design and am always open to modifications. I think your purchase was brilliant and am going to go in search of one at the The Mad Samplar for myself.

    Brenda S

  2. I don't think you are crazy at all. There is a lot to be said for someone else doing all the leg work of gathering the materials, preparing the materials and having the materials all in one place. As you said, the threads alone are a major portion of the kit price, then the fabrics and other supplies would have easily made up the rest of the cost. I belong to an embroidery club that involves a kit 6 times a year. I love it. We won't talk about how many have been completed. But they stand ready when I am.

  3. Well…I've never bought a kit of any kind, so I can't really speak on that part of it. The price just floored me–that's probably why I don't buy kits! *grin* I'm a miser!

    It is a truly lovely kit, and going surface with it seems to be a very elegant alteration which would be a very neat alternate to include in the instructions, actually….

    I'd definitely like the look of satin stitch for the monogram, though. With such lovely threads, what else would do them justice? 🙂

  4. Mary, nice kit! I am looking forward to seeing what you do with it.

    I don't think the price is that bad given what you get for the money.

    I do have a question, though, for you (and your readers). I've been putting kits together for a class I'm teaching for the local EGA chapter and I put whole spools of thread and such in the kits because it was easier to include entire spools rather than sit around (for hours) and cut appropriate amounts of thread for the project. Would you rather pay more (perhaps significantly more) for a kit and have entire spools/skeins of thread or have a less expensive kit with appropriate amounts of thread?

  5. Mary you're not NUTS ! Beauty and/or value is in the eye of the beholder, i.e. one who can appreciate it…Right on Girl! Judy in Pittsburgh

  6. It does seem a lot to pay at first glance. I probably wouldn't put out that much money unless it was a project that I would make several times using their pattern. Then I would feel I had got my money's worth!
    Answering the previous message, as a participant in classes, I would rather have the right amount of thread, etc. for the class and pay less. But I also teach, and it's a big job to get the kits ready when you measure out the lengths of silk ribbon and embroidery thread.

  7. Hi, Mary! If the materials would be around 40 and you paid around 60… what the heck, it saved you lots of time! Time you can use to embroider, by the way. Sometimes I feel guilty for spending "so much" money on something I really like and then I regret not buying it – and most of the times I can never find it again. And this is a limited edition! Just say it was your (first of many) Christmas gifts to yourself and call it a day.

  8. I don`t think you are nuts at all! This is a lovely kit. It would make a wonderful gift for a stitchey friend…imagine their delight at unwrapping that pretty tissue paper and finding such a wealth of materials!

    My kit experiances have not been so good. My major beef is the size of the linen…I like sampler kits to provide at least 3 inches of extra linen beyond the design edge. Most have 2…and once I got a kit that had only 1 inch margins. I sent back the material and they cut me a larger piece and sent it no charge, but not without some grumbling. I would much rather pay more for a kit with complete skeins and lots of materials than pay less and run short…esp the threads, because I live in the back of beyond with no LNS. I even have to order DMC floss on the net. I also like to change designs around a little (or a lot) and the extra thread makes it possible to do that. Also, you have to allow for errors in instructions. I recently ran short of thread in a kit for just that reason…stitches were supposed to be done with one strand when the instructions said two. The project was kitted by a shop owner, so it wasn`t her fault at all, but I still ran out of thread.

    Whew! Didn`t mean to be so long winded there! Enjoy your kit…I look forward to seeing your changes in the stitches!!

  9. Mary,
    I enjoyed the review and would love to have one in my kitty had I been a U.K or U.S citizen. From the Indian point of view, this kit is only for the filthy rich or the embroidery obsessed. If we convert it to our currency, this one will amount to 2000/- which will pay for an average Indian's monthly grocery 🙂
    After the Trish Burr purchase,I've tightened my purse strings. Hmm…may be next year.. 🙂

    Best regards from India,

  10. Mary, spending money on needlework supplies is NOT wasting money. It is a hobby that must be fed, since needle artists cannot be separated heart and soul from their craft any more than a fine painter or poet could be departed from their core spirit.
    Mary – do women in general ever suffer their men, their husbands and sons, to scrimp on THEIR expensive hobbies? By comparison, threads are a pittance next to car stereo equipment, and golf country club fees!
    That said, I want to add, we needleworkers are also by nature-"cheap", so we chastise ourselves when we make indulgent purchases. And its' not fair to the merchants, the needlearts heritage, nor fair to us.
    Repeat after me "It's OKAY to occasionally spoil myself"!

  11. I think you did very well to snap up that kit. As you said, considering you get full spools and skeins, the price is terrific, especially if you know you like and will use the threads.

    The needle book itself looks amazing – very 'finished' and professional looking.

    Kits can be wonderful to experiment with. All the work is done for you with colour coordinating, gathering all the supplies, etc.

    As for the reader that asked for opinions on whether or not class kits should include full spools – I say YES! If I'm already taking the class, then I'm already interested in the technique so having extra thread/floss/fabric/etc. is simply a great way to stash build 🙂 Of course, if doing this bumps the price up *significantly*, then I'd prefer just the basics. Depending on how much extra work it would be, perhaps offering both options could work well.

  12. I have a regular job and can afford to buy that kit, but still that kit is quite expensive.
    Knowing you can design it yourself, because you are a talented needleworker, and knowing you know how much it is to look for the threads ourselves, having our own favorite colors add that personal touch to the design.
    A finished bought kit is not worth as much as that which you have designed,kitted and finished yourself, despite the materials having the same price. After so many years, your stitching knowledge is far wider than most kitting companies out there.
    I think you should be the one selling wonderful kits. 🙂

  13. If you like something why think about the price. Besides if you don't get it then who knows if it will still be there when you want to buy it. My motto is buy it when you see it. I believe that if you love what you do you don't think twice about how much you spent just have fun with your new project.

    Oh I could think of plenty of other things to spend on. How could you pass this up.

    Happy Stitching Robin

  14. I definitely agree with Laura when she said it's okay to spoil yourself occasionally. How many items do we do without over years?
    Good buy Mary – enjoy.
    Thanks for the first of your lessons on the initial. I look forward to the rest.
    I like your personal input of how the fabric or threads work for you.

  15. Hi Mary,
    If it doesn't break the bank, why not indulge. I find that if I stop myself from buying something I really want, it stays in my mind, and then when I finally decide that it's ok to spoil myself…. it's gone – can't be found any more.
    So go for it. Think also of all the pleasure you will be giving to all your fans as we follow your progress on the needlebook.
    Thank you – your blog is the first thing I go for every morning.

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