You might have noticed I’ve been reviewing quite a few hand embroidery kits lately.
Back in April, we discussed designer’s embroidery kits – that is, embroidery kits directly from the designer, as opposed to embroidery kits that you might find at a big box craft store or similar.
Since then, I’ve been reviewing some kits that I plan to work so that you can get a close-up look at them and maybe make a decision on whether you want to work any of them, too.
You see, I love kits. I might design my own stuff, but that doesn’t keep me from loving other people’s designs and the kits that come from them. I consider stitching someone else’s kit almost like eating dessert. Dinner may be really good and it certainly sustains you, but dessert – ahhhh. Dessert! It’s a source of decadent pleasure!
I always feel a bit luxurious when I work a kit. I suppose it’s because all the really hard work is already done – I just have to sit back and enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labor while I indulge in the pure pleasure of stitching.
Today, I want to show you a kit involving silk embroidery with some tiny gold accents. The finished products are gorgeous and useful embroidery accessories.
The kit is called Chatelaine, and it’s another kit from Inspirations Magazine (Issue #89), this one designed by Susan O’Connor.
Chatelaine is a collection of embroidery accessories – a needle book, a pin keep, a scissor sleeve – worked on silk satin in silk threads with little gold accents.
Besides producing accessories that are Really Pretty, this kit is a great way to experience several techniques that you can apply to your own future embroidery projects:
1. Silk on silk embroidery.
2. Simple goldwork accents.
3. Finishing techniques.
The kit comes with everything you need to complete the three accessories: fabric, silk, gold and cotton threads, ribbon, glass head pins, mother-of-pearl thread rings, goldwork spangles, silk satin ground fabric, Scottish felt for the needlebook, interfacing, and needles.
The silk threads used in Chatelaine are Au Ver a Soie’s Soie d’Alger, which is a stranded spun silk. You work with it in much the same way you’d work with stranded cotton, but it is oh-so-much-more than stranded cotton!
Au Ver a Soie is positively my favorite source of silk threads, and I love working with Soie d’Alger. It’s an exquisite thread for satin stitch, long and short stitch, line stitches, chain stitches – and with the soft sheen of silk, it’s one of those threads you just can’t help falling in love with.
I could wax on and on about my love for this thread, but I’ll refrain for the moment. I’m currently working on a project that’s entirely Soie d’Alger, so we’ll revisit the subject shortly, anyway.
Suffice it to say, I was so glad to see my favorite threads on this beautiful project!
Incidentally, if you’re more of a pink roses kind of person, you’ll be happy to know the kit comes with a pink option, too!
These mother of pearl rings can actually be used in a number of ways, when it comes to embroidery. For this particular kit, they’re used on the twisted cords that hold the various accessories together.
But you can also use rings like this to inside in a needle book or “hussif” (a needlework tool roll or book), hitching small skeins of embroidery thread through the ring for neat storage.
I’ve had a bit of an infatuation with these rings for a while, and I think the way they’re used on the Chatelaine kit is Mighty Clever!
If you’ve never tried goldwork embroidery and it intimidates you, this kit is not heavy on goldwork. There’s a tiny gold thread used for accenting and some spangles (flat gold o’s) to sew on, and that’s it. Just enough to give a bit of sparkle here and there!
That being said, the kit is not a beginner’s kit. If you’ve been embroidering for a while, though, but haven’t ventured into silk on silk embroidery, you’d probably be ok with the kit. But if you’re a flat-out beginner, I wouldn’t go with this particular kit, unless you’re super-duper determined.
Pros & Cons
The pros and cons, in a nutshell:
The quality of the materials in this kit is excellent. I would like to have seen a heavier silk thread in place of the perle cotton, though. I’m not a huge fan of mixing cottons and silks in this type of project. The cotton is used for the cording. A good twisted silk would not only be stronger, but it would fit with the rest of the materials better. I’ll probably find a substitution for the cotton when I work the project.
The ground fabric is buttery and beautiful. And the silk threads are exquisite. I tend to prefer full skeins of threads in kits, but I understand that it can become cost prohibitive when dealing with silks.
I love the fact that all the “minor materials” are included – i.e., the interfacing for finishing, the Scottish felt for the needlebook. I don’t like it when I purchase a kit and have to go scouring about for the finishing materials.
There are no instructions with the kit, which is always the case when purchasing kits from Inspirations Magazine – they make their kits to go with the projects in their magazines, just like Hazel Blomkamp and many other authors make kits to go with projects in their published books. I have no problem with that. The instructions for this kit are included in Inspirations issue #89.
Where to Find It
You can find Chatelaine available here, through Inspirations Magazine out of Australia. It’s available for pre-order right now (it’s wildly popular, so they’re having to re-stock).
You can find the pink version of Chatelaine here.
If you need to order Inspirations issue #89, you’ll find it available here through Stitchology, but if you’re in the US, you might want to save on extra shipping costs and order it through Nordic Needle instead, where individual copies are still available.
If you’re in the US, remember that the currency you see on the website is Australian. The US dollar is a bit stronger than the Australian right now, so the price will be less when ordering from the US. Shipping runs around $15 Australian.
Eventually, I’ll be working this kit. I have a whole kit list developing, and I’ll share progress on the projects here on Needle ‘n Thread, in case you’re working them, too.
My plan is to try a rotation schedule on projects I want to stitch just for pleasure, that don’t have a deadline.
I’ve heard from many readers who work projects on a rotation schedule so that they don’t get bored with any one particular project. I’ve never tried working in rotation in any organized, scheduled way, but apparently, it works. I’m going to give it a go and see if it really makes a difference in project progress and creative outlook!
I’ll let you know!