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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Home Sweet Home: An Embroidered Workbox – Book Review


Amazon Books

Embroidered boxes fascinate me. And I suppose this isn’t a unique fascination – plenty of other people have been fascinated by the embroidered box over the centuries!

Carolyn Pearce, in her new book titled Home Sweet Home: An Embroidered Workbox, creates a charming embroidered workbox that is not only lovely to behold, but functional (and fun!) as well. Today, I’d like to show you the book and share my impressions of it with you. If you love embellishment, embroidered boxes, and enticing needlework accessories, I think you’re going to like this book!

Home Sweet Home: An Embroidered Workbox

Home Sweet Home is published by Country Bumpkin, the publishers of Inspirations Magazine as well as the A-Z Series of needlework books (as well as lots of other beautiful needlework books). Typical of Country Bumpkin’s books, Home Sweet Home is a combination of excellent instruction (step-by-step, with plenty of photos along the way) and delightful “eye candy.” Even if you weren’t out to learn from this book, you couldn’t help enjoying it just for the beautiful scenery!

But the book is all about learning – and if you’re going to learn, it’s always more pleasurable to do so in beautiful surroundings, right?

Home Sweet Home: An Embroidered Workbox

The book is a project book, and while it concentrates on a specific project – this captivating cottage workbox outfitted with nine different needlework accessories, each of which could stand alone as a needlework exercise – the book covers so many techniques both in embroidery and finishing, that it is instructive and very worthwhile, even if you aren’t planning on making this particular workbox. The techniques can be applied to myriad other projects – and that’s what I like about this type of project book. While it may seem to be teaching you to make only one thing (or in this case, 10 specific, related things), it’s really teaching you much more! The concepts covered in the book can be applied to all kinds of needlework endeavors.

Home Sweet Home: An Embroidered Workbox

The book begins with the Needful Information for creating the cottage, including the basic information on supplies and preparation for stitching. In this section, there’s information on transferring the designs and general information about embroidering the box and constructing it. This is the overview of the project – the details come later.

Home Sweet Home: An Embroidered Workbox

Then, we get to the specifics – stitches & threads! Oh wow! Talk about variety! There are 55 stitches on the list for the box. There are 21 different types of thread, working out to 63 skeins overall. And of course, there are diverse beads and sequins in the line-up, too! All of these elements work together to create the abundant details that make the house box so charming.

Home Sweet Home: An Embroidered Workbox

Then, we get to the nitty gritty – the instruction. Breaking the house down into its different parts, the author walks the stitcher carefully around the house, one panel at a time, teaching all the elements of embroidery and embellishment that decorate each side of the house. She follows a specific order of work, with each type of stitchery and embroidered element diagramed and explained.

Home Sweet Home: An Embroidered Workbox

Each side of the house is different! And the techniques that make up each side of the house are different, too. The whole house is like a cornucopia of variety, color, and fun technique. There’s no chance (none, I tell you!) of finding yourself bored with this project! I love this little orange tree, with its fruit-filled basket beneath, the oversized bee, the various charms that accent it and add life to the scene. Sweet!

Home Sweet Home: An Embroidered Workbox

The author breaks down each scene on the box, making it into its own little sub-project. Threads and techniques are listed, followed by instruction in a specific order of stitching. I appreciate this clear, logical layout. And the whole book is arranged this way, including each of the accessories projects.

Home Sweet Home: An Embroidered Workbox

This side of the house is my favorite. I think it’s the snail – though it might be the peas. Or the ladybug. Or the gecko! Oh – yes, it’s the gecko!

Imagine making the whole house workbox and having it on display in your home! People would be completely besotted by it. You can’t help wanting to turn it around and around and study all the little details!

Home Sweet Home: An Embroidered Workbox

After all the embroidery is complete for the box, it’s time to get into the actual construction of it. Here, you will not be disappointed! With a series of clear diagrams and explanations, Carolyn shows you how to make your work into a box and how to construct the lift-out tray that goes inside the box.

If you’ve got a hankering for making an embroidered box, this part of the book is invaluable whether you’re making this particular box or not. There’s good information in here on construction.

Home Sweet Home: An Embroidered Workbox

We can’t forget the accessories! There are nine stitching accessories covered in the book: an emery block, a needlebook, a pincushion, a scissor keep, a spool holder, a tape measure cover, a thimble holder, a beaded thread counter, and a cover for a thread cutter.

Each accessory project unfolds in the same manner as the box: requirements, order of stitching and complete instruction, and then finishing work.

Home Sweet Home: An Embroidered Workbox

As I mentioned way up there somewhere, each accessory is a stand-alone project. Being quite a bit smaller than the box itself, they require fewer materials and they work up a lot faster. They would make gorgeous gifts!

Home Sweet Home: An Embroidered Workbox

Finally, there are two elements in the back of the book that are particularly handy. The first is the stitch dictionary. Not every stitch in the book is covered here – just the more obscure stitches and techniques. At the beginning of the book, the author suggests, if you are not familiar with the more basic stitches, having access to a good stitch dictionary (like the A-Z of Embroidery Stitches – I’ve reviewed the second A-Z of Embroidery Stitches here, if you’re not familiar with the series). The stitch dictionary in Home Sweet Home is presented in step-by-step photos, with little hints and tips for getting each technique right.

The second element worthy of note in the back of the book is the lift-out pattern section. If you’re familiar with Inspirations Magazine, you’re familiar with these lift-out patterns. All the patterns are here, in an easily traceable format.

For an animated look at the cottage and accessories, you may want to check out the Home Sweet Home video on YouTube.

So, that’s Home Sweet Home by Carolyn Pearce! It’s quite the fascinating book – and such a lovely, fun project! I don’t really have any cons to list for the book. It does what it sets out to do, well and beautifully.

Where to Find It

In Australia (and ships worldwide), you can find Home Sweet Home here through Stitchology. If you’re ordering outside Australia, check the shipping rates! They’re often pretty high on books. But if you have a wish list from Stitchology, or you have stitching buddies who want to order stuff from there, you can always take care of it all in one fell swoop, which will help spread out the shipping costs.

You can also find Home Sweet Home through the following book affiliates:

Worldwide with free shipping, Home Sweet Home is available here through Book Depository.

In the US, you can pick it up through Amazon, here.


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(67) Comments

  1. Good Morning Mary! Is that the smell of coffee percolating or a book give-away? LOL If the latter, prepare to be inundated! It’s wonderful to see cartonnage is alive & well outside of France. Awesome detail!

  2. Ohhhhh! I LOVE, love, love this! Thank you for reviewing it for us!!

    I got a copy of her book “The Embroidered Village Bag” last year, but have been too chicken to start it. 🙂

    I’ve put this new one on my Amazong wish list already, and have vowed that in 2012 I am going to go through your tutes, and practice, practice, practice then start my bag! Hopefully then I can make this one, too!

    Mary, you have inspired me once again, not to mention provoking me to get with it! lol (In the nicest possible way!!)

    Thank you!!

  3. Mary, you are such a tease!!I’d already fallen in love with this book from a single illustration, now I’m positively drooling in anticipation. I’ve bought some of the box books you’ve previously reviewed, and have put my hand up to request a Home Sweet Home through Jan at Wooly Thread. Now I’ll just have to wait, but I know what I’m going to be doing over Christmas!!


  4. Thank you for this great review, Mary. I have a copy on order from The Wooly Thread and am really looking forward to having it in my hot little hands. Your in-depth coverage of the various portions of the book has just made me more excited about receiving it.

  5. Hi Mary!

    I loved your review of this forthcoming book. It’s right up my alley as I collect boxes and can’t wait to get my hands on it. I look at it as a way to sharpen my stitch skills as well as learn new ones. Looks like a win win to me!

  6. What a lovely project…something I would love to do along with my daughter during her summer holidays next year.

    I have been trying to get her interested in embroidery…she is more inclined to craft, so this would be just perfect.

    Thank you Mary for the exposure to great needlework opportunities!

  7. OMG Wow and just so excited and waiting to get my hands on this box.Made the village bag and that was just wonderful so know this will be just as good.Book on order and just waiting with my hands behind the letter box.Thank you again for this review.

  8. I think my Christmas break project will be making an amazing workbox. But I will design my own! This one is gorgeous but it is giving so many ideas of my own I have just got to try them out.

  9. I have to confess that it makes me feel proud to be Australian when I see the quality of books like this (in stark contrast to when our politicians open their rather too-large mouths). Country Bumpkin is outstanding in the quality of their publications and even though I may never do this whole project, I will probably buy the book just because. I also have most of the A-Z series which I believe are all worth having. (The ones I don’t have relate to those techniques I have no interest in, eg smocking.)

  10. Home Sweet Home Book Give Away

    Oh what a wonderful book. I can’t wait to start making my cottage. My favourite parts are the accessories, though I love the rabbits on the sides of the cottage.

  11. I’m a beginner and I’m excited that I have a chance at this book! Not only is the cottage adorable but there are so many things you learn on the way to making it. I can see where you would the techniques could be used on a lot of other projects too.
    By the way the video made me want it more!
    Thank you!

  12. I’m just crazy about this book. Everything from the addition of charms and buttons to the various techniques and threads just knocks my socks off. My favorite parts are inside the box. I’ve looked at all the pictures over and over again and I just don’t think she has forgotten a single thing. I would, of course, need to add some Brazilian embroidery in some places!

    Mary C.

  13. Mary, what a beautiful description and review of this book! The pictures are great and most of all the organization of materials and directions are concise with ease of reading. This is quite and accomplishment and takes lots of work to complete. The whole idea of making a needlework box is fascinating. I don’t know about you, but my work box is close to my heart. Beth J Floral City FL

  14. Wow! Is this an instruction book, or what?!? Imagine that little house and accessories having 55 stitches and all those threads. That would be a new thing to me. I get stuck on the same 3 or 4 stitches and reusing the same thread colors. I love that little house and I think the motifs would be cute on dish towels too. I would have to make that sweet pincushion. I own very few needlework books and this one seems to have alot of information that could be used for many projects.
    Thanks for the review. It is always nice to see what is on the inside of a book and to have an honest assessment on it.

  15. What a lovely dream to think of owning this book. I love the project explanations that make each project seem doable. Thanks, Mary, for the world of beauty you discover for me with each post.

  16. I would love to own this book. The little details use techniques that would be helpful to learn not only for this project, but applicable in many other ways.
    Gayle Schipper

  17. By far and away – the instructions. The step by step, taking each element in turn. That is what appeals most. It matches what I learn each time I turn to this site and need to research how to do a stitch. Once I figure it out, I come back to read again to improve quality and technique. This book sounds like the perfect way to expand my stitch “vocabulary” while working some very delightful project. Taking everything one step at a time, and work toward mastery!

  18. I like the pincushion near the center of the first picture. I’m starting a collection of pin cushions that I have made, be it needlework (embroidery, hardanger, crewel, and crocheted). So much prettier than the red-orange tomatoes.

  19. What an exciting book! I am absolutely motivated to attempt one one of these exquisite projects! Thank you for the terrific review. BTW i love the pin cushion.- Lucia

  20. This looks like a lovely book. Even if you didn’t want to make the house, the images are charming on their own and could be used on a myriad of items. The diagrams look excellent.


  21. The embroidery really would renew my embroidery skills that I haven’t used in a long time! I love a challenge and it would be hard to choose which design to start on first!

  22. I just love this book, as I live in England UK I have to wait untill April 2012, I have tried to pre order via amazon but there is no guarantee.
    I have already bought the fabric and will be so upset if I can not obtain a copy of this book.

  23. I’ve just Pre ordered this from Amazon, can’t wait to get stuck in. Its so different & will make a gorjuss present for a stitcher, something totally unique.

    Hurry Hurry amazon I want to get started like yesterday lol.

  24. Have you reviewed the Embroidered Village Bag book? I want to get both of these books. If I missed a review, please let me know.

  25. Yesterday I ordered the Needlework System 4 floor stand. When I receive my floor stand I would like for the Home Sweet Home to be my first project. I can not find anyone selling the kits in the USA. Do you know of anyone? I don’t have any hoops yet to do this little cottage. What would you suggest I get? Since I don’t have the book yet, I don’t know what size the cottage is. Could you give me a good starting point as to what size hoop, or Q-Snap or what I should use?

  26. Hi Mary

    I have just subscribed to your newsletter.

    I’ve just ordered a similar cottage box to make from Brenda Ryan in Australia. If anyone interested her website is http://www.brendaryan.com.au. It’s called Harriet’s Cottage. She also sells the gorgeous Cottage Garden Threads.

    Thanks for a really useful website.


    1. Brenda,
      What an adorable box. Have you received the kit yet? If so, were you pleased? I almost ordered it yesterday, but I didn’t think there was enough information about it. I assume you would need the threads and it would be nice if a thread list was available. I would guess they are using their own threads. If you want, I would really like you to post a response. I think this is really cute.

  27. hi !
    i want to buy this book i live in Pakistan how do i buy it plz do let me know ,ur work is amazing
    thank u so much

  28. I like the very comprehensive information you give on the book.
    It has been translated in French by Éditions de Saxe. I Think i Will buy It, Since It seems to be à wonderful project.

    1. It is strange. I checked amonth ago and it was available. Now I verify and could no longer find it. I only found the French translation.

    2. I checked Wooly Thread and they do not have it either.
      Amazon: they have the title but they do not have any right now.

  29. I had seen the French translation of the book on the website of Les éditions de Saxe.
    I wanted to buy it in English, but since it wasn’t available, I bought it in its French version last week.
    Have anyone done it yet, or at least started it?
    I think I will have to make some adjustments since I am not sure I will be able to get all the products listed in the book here in the province of Québec (Canada).

  30. I got in contact with my local embroidery store a few weeks ago, and they called me today to say that it’s back in print, and that they’ve put a copy aside for me! I’m so excited!

  31. I ordered this book after reading your blog 2 years ago. I had fun just looking at it. I now have time to start my project but looking at the list of threads, I am wondering if I will be able to find everything I need here in Montreal, Canada. Where do you suggest I can buy things if I cannot find them locally.
    Thank you for your nice blog and daily newsletter.

    1. I haven’t found the threads yet. Patricia at L’atelier de Pénélope, in Québec city will try to order the threads for me.
      Before that, I sent 2 emails to Country bumpkin to see whether they sell a kit for the threads, but they did not even take the time to answer my mails.

  32. Anybody else find the cost of the threads for this project a bit prohibitive. I don’t use a huge amount of silk thread as most of the things I make tend to need fairly frequent laundering. I might get round to making it as some point but there will be a lot of substitution of thread so it will not be a lookalike. Feeling a bit bluergggh about starting it atm so will consign it to the bookshelf.

  33. I do hope that this book is republished soon! I am very desirous of making a house box box to keep my sewing accoutrements in. I shall look forward to hearing about the republishing in due course.
    Chris Dobbins

  34. I love this book. Mary, I love your website too. You have clarified so many details regarding stitches with your tutorials videos, and a myriad of other subjects. I may drop everything else to stitch the cottage workbox. My favorite needlework tool? The needle. Obviously we wouldn’t have this art without one, or many.

  35. I meet with a group of ladies at Martha’s Heirloom Shop in Mason, Ohio. The group of 6 did this amazing project as a class. Four years after we started (with LOTS of other projects done in between!) we’re all at different stages of completion. It turned out to be an EPIC project – very time consuming – but SOOOOOOO worth the effort! Even after personally making each tiny stitch, I’m still mesmerized by the detail of this project!!!

  36. I think this is a great project. Is there anything out there featuring an Old village Christmas/Holiday theme?
    By that I mean little individual buildings, Church, shops, etc.
    Love this website. Frantoria

  37. Hi Mary,
    Earlier in the week, Wooly Thread offered Home Sweet Home for sale, but when I checked today, it had disappeared from the website. Do you know what happened and if it will be offered again?

  38. Hi. I knit and Crochet then I embroider but reading Piecework has opened a new door for me in embroidery. I have not embroidered since grade school. It was a must back then for us to learn domestic science. Lol. I have been up late trying to find the best site for embroidery and easy instructions then I bumped into you. I am so happy to have come across this site that has inspired me so much. I am now ordering my book and the last kit for the Home Sweet Home workbox from the Stitchology site. Again, thanks for helping people like me rekindle the embroidery fire.

  39. Is this project a reasonable one to take on as a novice stitcher? There would be no time limit for completions.
    Warm regards,

    1. Completely novice? mmmm… it’s a big project, and some of the techniques are a little complicated, but the instructions are good. I think if you’re determined, you could do it – enthusiasm goes a long way! And it’s nice that they are lots of small satisfying projects in one larger finished project.

  40. Hi, Mary, and Happy Thanksgiving!

    I just received this book in the mail a couple of days ago from the Book Depository in the UK (the very nice 10th Anniversary Edition with three additional smalls in the collection). Not being much of a surface embroiderer, I debated long and hard, but after reading your review a while back, I fell in love with this project.

    That leads me to something I would like your recommendation on. Unlike most of your readers, I DON’T have a thread stash to draw from. As a lace-maker, I stick mainly with cotton and linen threads in white and ecru. (I *might* have one or two partial skeins of embroidery floss around here somewhere. . .) Some of the threads in the list are rather pricey and difficult to find, and there are So Many of Them. I’m tossing around the idea of making more than one of these little workboxes, so the thread won’t go to waste, but I’m wondering whether the results would be just as satisfying if I just stick with similarly-colored regular cotton embroidery floss. Do I owe it to myself to experience silk thread this once? Thoughts?

  41. Hi Mary,
    Just wanted to tell you that I ordered this book back in 2021 and just finished my Home Sweet Home house and all the accessories 18 months later. I loved the book and I have learned so many new techniques. From how to construct a structure, to adding more dimension to my embroidery, all has helped me build my skills and find my passion. There’s lots in this book for every embroiderer.

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