Mary Corbet

writer and founder


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

Contact Mary

Connect with Mary



2024 (50) 2023 (125) 2022 (136) 2021 (130) 2020 (132) 2019 (147) 2018 (146) 2017 (169) 2016 (147) 2015 (246) 2014 (294) 2013 (294) 2012 (305) 2011 (306) 2010 (316) 2009 (367) 2008 (352) 2007 (225) 2006 (139)

Chatelaine: A Gorgeous (and useful) Embroidery Kit


Amazon Books

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.

Inspirations Embroidery Kit: Chatelaine

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.

Inspirations Embroidery Kit: Chatelaine

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.

Inspirations Embroidery Kit: Chatelaine

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!

Inspirations Magazine: Chatelaine Embroidery Kit in Pink

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!

Inspirations Embroidery Kit: Chatelaine

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.

Chatelaine Embroidery Kit from Inspirations Magazine

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!

Inspirations Embroidery Kit: Chatelaine

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!


Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


(22) Comments

  1. Mary,
    Again, thanks for all the great info your blog gives us. You are so helpful.
    Thanks, thanks, & thank-you.

  2. Sigh. While the chatelaine is very beautiful, it is beyond my budget this summer. Perhaps, if it is still available, in the late fall/early winter.

  3. Hi Mary –

    This post reminded me of a question I’ve been meaning to ask you for a long time.

    Several years ago (25-30 or so), I subscribed to a needlework instruction “course” that sent out monthly a small packet of materials and instructions for a single embroidery skill. The only thing I still have from this is a small hem-stitched square that I use under a vase of flowers.

    Are you familiar with this sort of program? I would love to find something similar. (Hint, hint. :D)

    Look forward to each and every blog post you have. Thank you so much for all the work you put into them!


  4. I love Susan’s kits and have done several. In fact, I’ll be taking two classes from her at the SAGA convention in September, and I’m finishing one of hers right now. Some years ago I completed a chatelaine made with wool on cotton by another designer, then I found I hated having it around my neck! So I just take it out and leave it on the table while I stitch. I agree with your opinion on designer kits, they generally are just lovely.

  5. I will add to the chorus of thanks to you, Mary, for your wonderful website and blog.

    I want to mention that I tried subscribing this morning to the digital edition of Inspirations. I could not get it to work (and I tried everything!) and I am now asking iTunes for a refund. Others may have more positive experiences — I certainly hope so!

    1. Hi Anne,
      I’ve purchased single-edition copies at Zinno.com without any difficulty. I do have a PC, however I think the magazine is made for cross-platform. There’s a link for this on the Inspirations site (I don’t know if it is the one you tried?). Hope this helps.

    2. Hi Anne
      Please contact the people at Stitchology (who publish Inspirations) for help before doing anything else. I hope I am not too late. I had a little problem buying the kit and sent an email, and within a day I had an answer – problem solved. I have always found them to be very helpful.

  6. I have been ga ga over this project-you may have pushed me over the edge to buy it now that I am an official subscriber to the magazine.


  7. This is such a beautiful project. I have long been an admirer of Susan O’Connor’s designs. A big con for me – and I see for someone else – is the cost of the kit. I know the materials are all top quality BUT… As I have a copy of Inspirations, I shall put together my own materials (ahem, mostly from my stashes)at a fraction of the kit cost (including DMC equivalents of the threads). Some years ago I worked one of Susan’s sweet bags for a bride and you know what? There was no difference in appearance to the expensive materials as far as either the bride or guests were concerned. The bride still treasures it.

  8. Mary, Probably a daft question… what parts of this design would be particularly challenging for beginners (like me)?

    1. Hi, Elizabeth – the satin stitching with silk might be challenging, and working with the tiny gold thread. Also, working on silk can be a little different from embroidering on linen or cotton. Also, the pieces are worked on a relatively small scale, with one strand of floss, so that could be challenging, too, if you’re only used to working with heavier thread on a larger scale. But overall, the instructions in the magazine are very clear and the techniques are not too complicated, so if you practice them first, I think a determined beginner could tackle the project.

  9. I have been looking at that chatelaine kit for a while and thinking about doing it. You may have pushed me over the edge into sewing along. I may use my own materials since I really like those peachy blush colored roses best.
    I subscribe to Inspirations through Zinio which has an iPad app that is easy to use and I can download the patterns onto my iPad for easy access when I’m not on wifi.

  10. I’ve been thinking about this kit for some time myself. I’ve got so many things to do already though… But, it’s got some goldwork, and it’s beautiful, and useful, and, and…

  11. As soon as I saw this on Embroidery News a few weeks ago, I thought to myself ‘I would bet that Mary C will go for this’ and you did. I figured you wouldn’t be able to resist the rose. I am trying to work out how I can manage it too.

    As an Australian, I am very proud that we are producing such high quality magazines as Inspirations as well as their spin-off products.

  12. Thank you for sharing this beautiful kit! I’m way down in beginner-land, from which I will probably never graduate, but seeing this kit makes me want to try!
    If nothing else, I can enjoy the gorgeous pictures. I look forward to all your posts, and love the website. You piqued my interest in embroidery and have taught me everything I know about it! Thank you!

  13. Mary,
    I love your blog/newsletter and read it most days right after I read our local newspaper.
    When I saw your post on this Chatelaine kit I decided this would be a good intro for me to try goldwork. I’m not a beginner embroiderer, I’ve been embroidering all my life and have taken my craft more seriously since retiring from being a graphic artist for 30 years. I usually design my own patterns and like to experiment with stitches, so I don’t usually purchase kits. This one was so lovely and I liked your review so I decided why not try it. I purchased the kit and the Inspiration issue #89 so I would have everything in hand when I started. I started the first project in the kit a few weeks ago and I’m about 2/3 through the first piece. I’ve found a few typos in the instructions which made things a bit confusing, but I’ve already run out of the gold floss and I’m not sure there will be enough of the silk flosses left to finish the remaining pieces. I’m following the instructions and using a single strand of floss everywhere except where indicated to use two strands.

    My question to you is have you started any of the pieces in this kit and if yes, have you run into any of these issues? Especially the lack of enough floss?

    Thanks for always putting out a well written and informative newsletter. I truly enjoy reading it and appreciate your insight.


    1. Hi, Joan – I haven’t started it yet. I’ve started setting it up, but not stitching. Perhaps you could contact them and let them know about the shortage and the typos? This might help them fine tune the kit a bit. I’ll be working on it in the not-too-distant future, hopefully!

More Comments