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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Inspiration from Inspirations


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You’ve probably gathered that I have a tiny weakness for good needlework books. I really do. And I’m weird about them, because, whether or not I use them as they are intended to be used – i.e. to stitch a project from, to learn a specific technique – I always read them.

I like to read needlework books like other people like to read novels. I read needlework books from cover to cover. And I get a lot of pleasure out of doing so. I also learn a lot.

There’s always something to learn from a needlework book, and reading one from cover to cover is kind of like a treasure hunt, wherein you gather up little morsels of knowledge, little surprises about approaches, techniques, designs, color choices that you never considered and that make you say, Wow. What a neat idea! or Golly, why didn’t I ever think of that?.

Inspirations Magazine Issue #95

Throughout the years, there’s only been one needlework magazine, though, that I consistently read cover to cover, and that’s Inspirations. If you aren’t familiar with Inspirations magazine but you’re pretty avid about stitching, you might want to take a look at it!

I’m really lucky to have all the issues of Inspirations, and I love pulling out random copies now and then, just for a little bout of inspiration. Especially if I’m heading out as a passenger for a drive, I’ll grab any old copy to troll through while riding along. And if I’m going on a long road trip and there’s the promise of idle hours, I might grab three or four copies and sneak them into the car for entertainment.

So, yeah. I have this ongoing infatuation with the magazine, and I never get tired of it!

But the reason I’m writing this today is that the current issue has recently arrived, and here I am, twitterpated over it. This issue – #95 – is particularly good, and I wanted to highlight a few things (and one in particular) that caught my eye.

First, obviously, there’s the cover project shown above. As far as needlepainted birds go, this one is lovely – and, as you would expect, you’ll find the pattern and instructions for stitching it inside the issue.

Inspirations Magazine Issue #95

Probably the project that tugged at my little stitching heart strings the most, though, is this one. It’s called Strawberry Fayre and it’s by Carolyn Pearce.

Carolyn Pearce is the author of Home Sweet Home: An Embroidered Workbox, a book that takes the stitcher step-by-step through creating a charming embroidered workbox that looks like a cottage and all the accessories to go with it.

You can find my review of Home Sweet Home here. It’s a lovely book that’s still available, and it’s worth adding to your needlework library – not just for all the embroidery techniques covered in it, but for the finishing techniques as well.

But back to this project! Strawberry Fayre is an etui, or an ornamental case for holding stuff – in this case, needlework supplies.

Inspirations Magazine Issue #95

The heart-shaped case unfolds to reveal all these little pockets, tabs, and even a little pincushion for holding needlework tools and supplies. Each little doohickey inside is embroidered as well, so each is like a little mini project. And then they’re all finished together into the larger etui, so they can hold your tools in style.

Inspirations Magazine Issue #95

The strawberry and floral elements, the color and stitching schemes all work together. They coordinate well with the Home Sweet Home project, too, so there’s lots of mixing and matching that could go on between the two projects.

Inspirations Magazine Issue #95

You’ll find instructions for a little matching pinwheel and thimble cover to go along with the etui, too.

Inspirations Magazine Issue #95

And you’ll find instructions for all the little elements that make the whole finished collection – including instructions for the little Dorset button on the outside of the heart…

Inspirations Magazine Issue #95

…and the instructions for all the stitches used on the project.

It’s a gargantuan spread of pages for the one project! The whole thing is rather enticing.

Gaaaaaah! I wish things like this wouldn’t be quite so enticing!

I think the whole project is enchanting!

But then, I like strawberries. And I like flowers. And I like stitching. And I like stitching tools. So what’s not to love?

If you are game for a project like this, you can either use the materials list in the magazine to collect all the materials yourself, or you can buy the kit, which is currently available on the Inspirations website here. I’m suspecting they probably won’t last long. I think it will be a popular project! And while the kit seems pricy, the materials list for the project is pretty long – lots of threads, lots of other bits and pieces. Incidentally, if you’re in America, the currency conversion rate is in your favor right now.

Inspirations Magazine Issue #95

Another project that caught my eye and set my sparkle-loving heart palpitating is this purse by Margaret Lee.

This is one of the many projects featured in Margaret’s new book, The Art of Bead Embroidery: Japanese Style, and the project is detailed in this issue of the magazine as well.

I’ve had my little eyeballs on this book since I saw it announced, and I’ve pre-ordered a copy to review for you. It isn’t here yet.

Right now, the book is available from Australia through Stitchology, here, as well as through Margaret Lee’s website here.

For those who want to avoid the overseas shipping from Australia, the book is available here through Book Depository, with free worldwide shipping.

I was glad to see another on of Margaret’s projects in this issue of Inspirations! While Margaret’s beaded fob in Inspirations issue #91 tickled my curiosity, this particular project has really heightened my anticipation for the book!

Margaret’s other book – The Art of Chinese Embroidery, which I reviewed here – is stellar, too.

Inspirations Magazine Issue #95

Back to Inspirations 95, there’s this project. Darn it!

Another weakness: bunnies in embroidery. I don’t know why. I have A Thing for wascally wabbits!

I think this interpretation is so endearing and so … calm? The combination of the embroidered and stumpwork flowers around the rabbit, which is more like a sketch, has a lightness to it that’s pleasant and pretty.

And the rabbit’s expression is adorable – like he was just startled up from a little nap in a sunny meadow.

Where to Find It

So there you have it. Inspirations #95. It’s a good one!

You can always subscribe to Inspirations if you’re interested, here – it’s a great way to get an inspirational fix four times a year! They have both a print and a digital option. The digital option will save you a bit on each issue (and you can still print the patterns and everything from it at home, if you want), but the print issue will arrive all nice and glossy in your mailbox just on the day you need a perfect little pick-me-up. It happens to me every time – just on the day when I’m in a slump, there it is!

If you are looking for an individual copy of this current issue, you can find it through the following sources:

It’s available here through Stitchology in Australia.

For those in the States who want it a little faster, The French Needle has it available here.


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(23) Comments

  1. I love Strawberry Faire so much that I ordered the kit the day after my magazine arrived. As you say, it’s a bit pricey, but after looking up costs of various threads and beads on multiple websites, I realized it is a very good price, especially when I add in the comfort of knowing that I’ll have everything needed right there, right now.
    I subscribe to Inspirations via The Wooly Thread; they also offer individual copies. I have an idea this one may sell out quickly!

  2. Oh, Mary, Mary, Mary! So many wonderful things to see here. My mind starts flying off in many different tangents as to the possibilities and inspirations that a book like this provides. Could I please have more years in my life, hours in my day and better eyesight so that I can complete them all. Tell me how I can bring all these tangents down to a few projects that I could realistically complete and still keep the pie in the sky ideas documented. Then, too, I’ll need a cook/housekeeper and a gardener/handyman to give me time to pursue my hearts desire. Mary, it is so wonderful to have these ideas spinning in my head.

  3. Hi Mary,
    I always look forward to your newsletters and, like you I have every issue of Inspirations. I couldn’t believe my luck when I spotted Strawberry Fayre in Issue 95 I thought all my Christmases had come at once. I had seen images on the internet for some time but couldn’t identify the creator. There is also a similar, but with less complex embroidery, heart-shaped etui in one of the earlier issues of Inspirations. I made the earlier one and still love it and use it frequently. I love to make useable and decosrative items!
    Cheers and thanks, Anne

  4. You might have read my Facebook post from yesterday in which I also praised Inspirations. It is a very good read and is true to its name.

  5. Mary, you are a fiend! Since I discovered your blog, I have bought several books (including “The Magic Process: Embroidered Cats: Hiroko’s Style” direct from the author in Japan—what a treasure!), some threads, downloaded some patterns…and just today you’ve ‘forced’ me to buy Carolyn Pearce’s “Home Sweet Home” book AND #95 of Inspirations magazine. Your reviews are great…thorough, enthusiastic, and tempting! I think i’ll be extra glad that i decided to buy “Home Sweet Home” because her previous village bag book on Amazon is only available from third party sellers starting at almost $90 and going up to more than $1000! (I kid you not!) .

  6. Thanks you. I just subscribed. This is the needlework case I have been trying to find a pattern for. I didn’t know what to call it. Great timing. Can’t wait to do this project. Maybe a group project?

  7. I bought this issue just for the Carolyn Pearce project as well! I’ve been collecting the materials for the Home Sweet Home project (almost ready to start that) so it will be a while before I make the necessaire … but it is lovely to look at in the meantime. And it’s another whole heap of materials so I think the kit will be a very good idea! 🙂

  8. Oh dear, you chose the projects that I’ve been drooling over. As soon as my hardcopy arrives so I can get the subscriber code, I’m ordering both Strawberry Fayre for me and the bunny to make for my brand new grandson. I considered buying the materials on my own, but it is so difficult to source things in Italy, such as cloth covered stem wire which I’ve been looking for for the last two weeks, that I’ve become a kit fan.

    As for Inspirations, it is the best magazine. I get Italian embroidery magazines, and they’re lovely, but rarely have projects I’m particularly interested in, unlike Inspirations. I started as a digital subscriber and my only criticism of that format is that you don’t get the patterns, only the article and the instructions. This didn’t work for me so I recently subscribed to the print version.

  9. I bought the digital copy one time and I couldn’t see where the patterns were. So I don’t know if you get the patterns with the digital copy.

    1. I looked all over for the patterns and finally found at the top of each article is an arrow to download the PDF. Sometimes I amaze myself at how slow I am…

    2. The download link is towards the end of each article, within the context of the article. If you’re seeing some kind of image for a download at the top of the article, that’s an ad served up by google and has nothing to do with the article. Just so you know!

  10. A kindred soul here Mary – I read embroidery books for fun too. Glad to know I’m in good company! I have the Home Sweet Home book and dream of someday making one for myself. Now I must add this copy of the magazine to my list of things to covet!

  11. Mary,
    I love your blog and your sense of humor. This issue of Inspiration has rekindled my love embroidery. But, alas, the magazine is pricey. I searched and found a digital edition on Zinio for $8.00. It’s not as fun to peruse through the pages on a digital but at least it is affordable. Well, I am off to rummage through my stash for threads to make the lovely Etui.

  12. Hi Mary, thank you so much for reviewing Inspirations magazine #95 last week. I got so much interested in the Strawberry Fayre that I bought the magazine! I love crafts, cross stitch is my therapy. However, reading your article I got the desire to do this project. Being a novice in embroidery, I do not like to spend almost $300.00 for the kit, but to experiment first if I am able to do everything that is called for. First, I would like if you or anybody could help me in embroidery supplies: where can I order via online (I do not have a local store) fabric for embroidery (does it have a count number like cross stitch fabric?), fabric for finishing? I can find common threads: DMC, Gloriana, Au Ver a Soie, but not the other brands that are called for – I suppose that is OK to substitute, no? Also, I can find the beads. Thank you so very much for everything that you do for all of us!! Happy stitching Everyone!!!

  13. I love Inspirations Magazine but never had enough to buy a subscription and so depended on my local Barnes & Noble magazine section to get one if they had one the day I was there. Sadly they haven’t carried it for several years now – Boo-hoo. I love those magazines. I found my first one at a yard sale and was smitten. It is one of a very few magazines that carries more than counted cross stitch. I finally got the cash together to get a subscription to Stitch magazine just in time for them to change the type of content they carry. Now most of the projects aren’t anything I would even be tempted to do. So we are down to Inspirations for hand embroidery that is ‘real’ embroidery, not just doodling designs.

    One of my dreams is to come upon a yard sale of grannies stuff where the kids selling her things don’t truly comprehend the value of the magazines and I can buy the entire set for $5 or something as low as that. I have had run into those tyes of sales once in a while.

    1. I, too, couldn’t afford the subscription for years! However, the clever folks at Inspirations now allow people to buy one magazine at a time! It comes to about $18 (U.S.). They contact you several weeks before charging your account, so you have time to opt out if money is short.

  14. Hi- Love reading your blog, but there seems a little error here. Hana from issue 91 of Inspirations is not by Margaret Lee – it is Merrilyn Whittle. Also Hanabatkake is not in Margaret Lee’s book it is an additional project.

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