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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Modern Crewel – An Inspirations Embroidery Kit Review


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If you subscribe to Inspirations Magazine, you might be a lot like me!

When each issue arrives, I give it a preliminary glance because I just can’t wait to see what’s inside it. But then I set it aside until I have time to really savor it. I usually do this over a long and lingering lunch or a couple cups of afternoon tea. I go through the whole issue and I read everything. I even read the ads!

And often, I find myself drooling over the projects. There’s always a few projects in each issue that really grab me. I want to embroider them. Now! And while that’s not always possible or even practical, sometimes, I come across projects in the magazine that I definitely want to stitch with my own hands.

For me, the best approach to having everything ready when the time is right is to order a kit.

I love the fact that Inspirations offers kits for the projects in their gorgeous embroidery magazine! We’ve chatted about the advantages (and some disadvantages) of embroidery kits recently, and in an effort to help you find good embroidery kits available today, I’ve been reviewing some of my favorites lately.

Today’s review is an Inspirations kit – specifically, for Modern Crewel, a project designed by Susan Porter and featured in Inspirations Issue 90.

Modern Crewel Inspirations Embroidery Kit

Modern Crewel is not a crewel embroidery kit, actually.

The project includes many stitches that are found in crewel work, and it imparts, on a smaller scale, a hint of what crewel embroidery looks like, but it’s worked in cotton fibers.

What do you think grabbed me with this project?

Modern Crewel Inspirations Embroidery Kit

Yep! The colors! I think they’re fun!

While I work with blues and greens frequently, I don’t normally work with these blues and greens, and rarely do I combine them.

The turquoisey blues and bright yellow-greens – they’re modern, they’re bright, but they’re also light and airy.

When I first saw the combination of colors on the project in the magazine, it took me by surprise and immediately attracted me. Then, the design and the smaller scale of the project drew me in. I really love it!

Modern Crewel Inspirations Embroidery Kit

The kit comes with all the threads necessary to complete the project, in full skeins and twists. There are ten shades of DMC floss and four specialty overdyed threads.

Modern Crewel Inspirations Embroidery Kit

You’ll also find all the fabrics necessary to complete the piece – in this case, a gorgeous linen ground fabric in natural, with cotton muslin for backing and wool felt for padding.

If the design features beads (this one does) or specialty items, they’re included as well.

And all the needles necessary to work the embroidery on the particular project are also included. In fact, I really like the way Inspirations does their needles. They include a printed chart of “actual size” needles, broken down in different types of needles, and each needle for the project is stuck in the appropriate place on the chart

Modern Crewel Inspirations Embroidery Kit

Inspirations kits don’t include the instructions for the project, and the designs are not pre-printed on the ground fabric. The instructions and the design are found in the corresponding issue of the magazine.

As long as you have the appropriate issue of the magazine along with the kit, you’ll have everything you need to get started right away on the project.

I like to photocopy the project pages in the magazine and bag those up with the kit components, so that I have everything condensed in one project bag and so that I can keep my magazine in good shape. With the photocopied pages, I can mark notes on them, fold them up small to reveal just the sections I want, and in general, not feel too bad about messing them up a bit!

Where to Find Them

You can find Inspirations embroidery kits through Inspirations Magazine’s website, out of Australia.

For US readers, this involves overseas shipping, but good news! Right now, you’re only paying about 74 cents on the Australian dollar.

With the current exchange rate, it’s a great time to subscribe to Inspirations magazine, if it’s on your wish list (they have both print and digital options). It’s a gorgeous magazine and definitely a must for embroidery enthusiasts. I really think it’s the best embroidery-related magazine on the planet! Subscribers also get a 15% discount on kits, which is a nice bonus.

Coming Up!

I’ll be showing a few more kits in the future. One is…well, to die for. When you see it, you’ll know it’s a project I couldn’t pass up, it’s right up my alley.

I’ve also got a little surprise for you, in the give-away arena. Because, you know, I gotta spread the kit-love!

I’m also working on a new little project of my own. I keep hinting at it – I promise I’ll show it to you soon!

Do you have any particular embroidery designer whose kits you’ve wondered about, but not purchased yet yourself? You’re welcome to drop me a line with any questions. If I’ve encountered them, I’ll share my thoughts.



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(37) Comments

  1. Hi Mary. I too fell in love with this design and asked for it as my birthday present. It arrived in my New Zealand mailbox this week. Yippee! Although I’ve got projects stacked up waiting for attention I think this one will jump the queue. It’s just to gorgeous to resist. I look forward to hearing about your progress.

  2. I live in Minnesota and am a huge fan of Inspirations magazine–I splurged a few years back on a subscription only to have two of the magazines never delivered. They blamed the US postal service and the US postal service blamed them. The company refunded for one of the magazines per policy but not the second. I now purchase only from retailers in the US. Hopefully their shipping is better or perhaps they have added a tracking option given how expensive the magazines are.

  3. I do the same with each issue as you do! I glance at it, then read the whole thing thoroughly, in small bites. I just love it. However, that project doesn’t appeal to me, maybe it is just a bit too modern for my taste. They do have wonderful kits, I sometimes buy one or two from their stand at the SAGA Convention market, when I happen to attend. I get me subscription from the Wooly Thread, here in the US. It’s much easier than ordering from Australia.

  4. Dear Mary

    Modern Crewel is a lovely kit I just love the thread colours and the design a great project to get your sewing hands into, really bright summery colours. I do like Inspiration magazine they have some lovely projects in them and as you say it’s the best embroidery magazine on the market. I look forward to your progress on the project and seeing the lovely colours combined together. Thanks for sharing with us the Modern Crewel kit and for letting us know about it. I hope you have a great weekend.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  5. How fun! As I am new to embroidery (but not cross stitching) and after reading your previous article about buying pre-made kits vs putting everything together yourself, I know I would be better off just buying the kit. I don’t have a stash to pull from – yet.
    I would be interested to know the average length of time it takes from ordering a kit to receiving it, as well as three magazine. I know they are at the mercy of the postal system, that’s why I say average.
    I was also going to ask if this is a quarterly eye candy/ magazine, but I will just head over to their site to read up. Do you have a link Mary, like the Amazon book links that would give you a little kick back? I’d like to support your lovely website if I can. 😉

  6. I LOVE Inspirations Magazine! I used to be able to pick it up at my local Barnes & Noble, but no longer for the last couple of years as they stopped carrying it. A subscription always seemed just too expensive. I did check your link and find that it is now possible to get a digital subscription now. Not my favorite way to read this magazine, but it seems it is better than not getting it.

    I have sent them a question in regards to whether the digital subscription disappears after a point in time. I have seen other digital magazines that you only get for 6 months and then poof they are gone. For the price of the digital, I would be rather unhappy to see it go away since, it can take time to decide if you are going to make anything out of the issue and then if you buy a kit that needs the magazine instructions, etc. you might be up a creek. I will report back if they respond to me. I didn’t see anything that indicated you wouldn’t get to keep the issue until you deleted it, but figured it is better to be safe than sorry.

    I do like you idea of printing a copy of the instructions, etc. out of the magazine and keep everything bagged together. I will have to try that. My SIL was over last night with a question about quilting and I was able to send her home with a print out of the particular page in a book to help her out rather than sending the book home with her about 500 miles from here. Some technology is wonderful.

  7. Dear Mary,

    I have often looked at the work of Chatelaine (Martina Rosenberg). Have you ever worked one of her designs?

    Thank you for any and all information.


  8. Mary,
    I couldn’t believe today’s article as I opened your email. At exactly the same time I was opening my kit, which I had ordered weeks ago. Must be meant to be lols. I can’t wait to get started and am enthralled by the threads. The colours are amazing and I’m really pled there is a range of textures too. Will you be working on this soon? Will there be a stitch along?

  9. There’s your pomegranate Mary! The colors are way different from your usual palette, though. Do you plan to work this one yourself?

  10. Hi, Nick – I like graphic designs like that, but I don’t do a whole lot of counted work. I’ve got one big piece of counted work up on a frame right now, which will probably take me years and years (and years) to complete, so it’s probably going to be the only counted work figuring into my rounds of stitching for a while. But I looked up her designs – I think they’re neat and they look fun!

  11. I love this design, and as I went to look at other kits on their site, I found that you can subscribe digitally, for less than the print edition – so the postage which has before made the magazine so very expensive in the US, is not a factor. I think that’s great – plus, you only need to print off what you actually want to stitch, and don’t need to worry about storing your back issues anywhere. More and more, I prefer this option to magazines.

  12. Ai meu Deus! Eu amo tudo que vocĂȘ borda, e qualquer dia vou comprar tudo que publica, beijos de uma fĂŁ.

  13. Aaaaaaargh!! Too gorgeous, and I’m still rehabbing my hand….and I have another grandie on the way(don’t know if it’s a nephew or niece yet) that I have to make a quilt and a crocheted baby blanket for….

    So beautiful, though…

  14. Hi Mary –

    This project took my breath away when I saw it. I love Susan’s design–the colors, the textures, the curving lines. It took my breath away, and I ordered the kit. How could I not!?!

    It arrived this week (Carmichael, California, USA). When I realized what the package was, I gave a bit of a shout and might have danced a bit of a jig.

    Isn’t it wonderful to have something so beautiful to look forward to?

  15. I already received a reply concerning a digital subscription to Inspirations magazine and how long we would have an issue in our possession (some magazines disappear off your ereader 6 months after you receive it).

    Here is what they said:
    “Please keep in mind that your magazines purchased with Zinio are available to download anytime you would like through our various reader apps. They will not expire or be deleted and you have access to re-download them anytime you need. ”

    That is excellent news considering you could be in the middle of a project and have your magazine (say Family Circle or whatever) disappear! Disaster! It looks like the digital subscription is within the prices of a regular magazine here in the US. I would prefer the paper one, but can’t afford it and like the one lady said, it becomes a problem when they don’t arrive.

  16. I see what you mean about that crewel kit. As soon as I saw it, I thought I needed to make it too. Just beautiful.

  17. Hi Margaret,
    I have had the same problem several times. I live in Texas. I finally got so frustrated I cancelled my subscription to them. It just about killed me to do it!

    However, you can get this magazine in the U.S. The Wooly Thread in Yakima Washington carries it. They get a large supply for their customers and then ship them out here in the states. I think they don’t get lost shipments because they order so many at one time. Can not loose a large box like you can one magazine. Hope this helps .

    Barbara L. in Texas

  18. I like kits too and I have been very good about resisting this one. I really like the Tudor Rose design that was in Inspirations. Love the magazine and their kits!

  19. Those colours & that design are fantastic! Now I will have to find a copy & order this kit. Absolutely love it. It’s more advanced than anything I’ve done so far, but you’ve gotta start sometime. The needle chart sounds very helpful.

  20. Why do you tempt us so? I’ve been working with those same cool green/blue colors with touches of yellow to finish decorating my family room. That piece would be a perfect addition. I’m just getting back into simple cross-stitch after several years without handling a needle and do not think I’m quite up to such a detailed project yet. I MUST search for that issue of the magazine to hold for later.

  21. Never having done crewel embroidery before, this kit spoke to me and I ordered it. I love it, but can you tell me if their transfer method is normal for crewel. I’m almost done, but there has to be a better way!!


  22. I tried ordering the Schwalm work kit but the shipping was more than the kit. I love Inspirations but this is a problem.

  23. Could you please tell me an equivalent weight here in the US for the perle 10 and Perle 40 referenced in the Inspirations instructions for the Modern Crewel pattern?
    Thanks for your help.

  24. I have just ordered the kit Mocern Crewel from Inspirations, I kept looking at the lovely colours, and finally decided that I couldn’t live without it, the colours and stitches are just to die for.

  25. i love the design of this kits, Jacobean style is a favorite of mine. I like this idea of using DMC threads. These are my favorite color combinations so I was very drawn to this design.

  26. I love the magazine but really how many can you have. I just buy the ones I want. I have a couple of series and my book shelves can only take so much.

    I do like the new page setup. Easy to use and for an old girl like me that is a plus.

    Thanks as always for a great little site and your wonderful inclusions and instructions.
    Always look forward to your chats.

    Re the open eye needle. They are very good to sew with and definitely thread…but they are not for me. Because, as I sew and I find I have gone off the line by 1 or 2 threads it is my habit to bring the needle eye back through the hole I just made and this needle can get hooked up. Using the point you can still grab the ground threads as well. I can recommend them for anyone who doesn’t do what I do. They are nice and sharp.


  27. I bought all tha inspiration mags
    from the beginning and still have them,they stopped selling them in the shops so I have not had them for some time. I am 85 but still love my embroidery and would love to get the magazine again.I will try and get it somehow but I think I may need a little help. Thank you for you help and advice. I love the latest kit. I have to have kits as we are in the country and I do not get out so have to buy on line,. it is so nice to haave your advice, Thank you so much,. God Bless Love. Marjorie.xx

  28. how do I order Inspirations magazine and crewel kits? What kind of fabric do I use if I want to make my own designs to embroider?

    1. Hi, Rosalie – you’ll find links in the articles about this project for purchasing this kit and the magazine. If you go to the review for the Modern Crewel kit and read through that article, it directs you to both the magazine and the kit. As for fabric, I prefer linen, but really, you can work hand embroidery on pretty much any fabric!

  29. Felicitaciones.!!!!!!!!!

    Hoy encontrĂ© tu pĂĄgina….Muy interesante…Gracias por compartir tus conocimientos. Soy de Argentina, Rosario Provincia Santa Fe…

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