All Stitched Up! | Issue 127

2nd March 2018

Hi There,

When someone asks us how we are, it would seem all too often our reply is that we’re busy. But when did busy become a badge we seem to wear with honour?!

It’s easy to live in a daze of busyness and become so completely caught up in its cycle that we lose sight of simplicity. There are moments we find ourselves craving the silence, stillness and ‘being’ that simplicity affords, but the moment is all too fleeting and it somehow seems out of reach. But is it?

Perhaps not… with the cyclic nature of life, we love that we’re starting to see a shift back to purposeful simplicity. By choosing to live our lives by design, on purpose and more conscious of the price we pay for busyness, hopefully we’ll be led to choose simplicity with increasing frequency.

At its core, stitching is simplicity at its finest - the simple, repetitive push and pull of needle and thread through fabric.

There are times, however, we even manage to complicate the simple pursuit of needlework and find that our time spent with our needle and thread somehow reflects the cluttered, busyness of our day-to-day lives. The simplicity stitching once afforded us, somehow gets lost.

Returning to stitching simplicity may lie in our choices to be organised and conscious. To create a minimalistic work space, where everything has a place, and everything is in its place. To stitch mindfully, conscious of the simple pleasure that creating with needle and thread is what led us to stitch in the first place.

When pursuing simplicity, there’ll be a period of unrest as we redefine success by throwing away our badge of busyness and reacquainting ourselves with silence, stillness and just being. However, once we find a way to breathe through the unrest and, once again relish the richness that simplicity affords our lives and our stitching, we’ll realise it was all worth it.

Stitch It Forward
Angel Gowns Australia

We unpacked the idea of Stitching It Forward in All Stitched Up! #123 HERE with the intention of highlighting opportunities where we can use our love of everything needle and thread to make the world more beautiful one stitch at a time.

This week, we share Angel Gowns Australia:

'A charity that specialises in supplying Angel Gown Garments to families that have sadly had a baby pass away, giving families one moment of peace and beauty as they dress their baby for the very last time.'

Angel Gowns Australia have a long history of helping families throughout Australia as they 'provide services to bereaved families who have suffered the unimaginable stillbirth or death of their baby, families who are going through the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or families who are impacted by a child's life limiting illness or special needs.

From donated wedding dresses they lovingly hand craft Angel Gown Garments which are then donated to hospitals, funeral homes and directly to families through special orders. To bring a ray of sunshine into special children's lives they use the left-over tulle from wedding dresses and transform it in to the most beautiful Tutus, which are also donated to hospitals and other children's charities all around Australia.’

Angel gowns made from donated wedding dresses - image courtesy

To understand the impact that Stitching It Forward can have, families who have benefitted from the love, care and support that Angel Gowns Australia offers share their testimonials HERE.

If you've been inspired to make the world more beautiful one stitch at a time and would like to support the work of Angel Gowns Australia through the various volunteer opportunities they have available, including seamstresses, their website can be found HERE, or alternatively they can be contacted via email at

You can also support the work of Angel Gowns Australia by purchasing a memorial gift through their online store HERE.

Their gifts 'are beautifully handmade by their volunteers for families in memory of a loved one. 100% of the proceeds from the orders go back into the organisation for them to continue to provide their services for bereaved families in their time of need.'

Needlework News
AS&E Issues Now Available
If you're new to the Inspirations community, you may not be aware of the magazine series 'Australian Smocking & Embroidery'. 100 issues of AS&E were published between 1985 and 2012 by Inspirations and featured some of the world's most beautiful smocking and embroidery designs.

Printed copies of AS&E magazines are still highly sought after, and the good news is we have some brand-new stock still available.

Issues #91 and #92 have now been added to our website for purchase, with more coming in the near future. Stay tuned for updates…


AS&E Issue 91


AS&E Issue 92

Final Call - Issue #96 Kits
Our kits for Inspirations issue #96 are now no longer in production, so if there was a project you were interested in stitching, now is the time to purchase a kit before they sell out.

Inspirations #96

Knitting at the Winter Olympics
We heard a rumour that the Finnish Winter Olympic Squad were knitting at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang and after doing a little research ourselves, it turns out to be well founded!

Photograph: Eric Gaillard/Reuters

Check out the article that appeared in The Guardian (Australian Edition) HERE.

We love that they used stitching to ground themselves during competition and hope they met the challenge they set themselves of creating an entire blanket over the course of the games!

Featured Project
Stitches from the Heart by Maria Elide Melani
On the surface, the project 'Stitches from the Heart' is a gorgeous drawn thread sachet, beautifully stitched by Maria Elide Melani from Italy. Yet behind its petite, lacy exterior is an amazing story that once told gives a whole new appreciation for its name.

The Stitches from the Heart story begins in the village of Lucciano, nestled in Tuscany, Italy, where at some point in-between the two world wars, a new needlework technique called ‘Deruta Sfilato’ was born.
Deruta refers to the unique fabric used and Sfilato is a technique where the withdrawing of threads forms a grid on which the embroidery is worked.

Utilising their newly invented technique, the villagers of Lucciano set about producing exquisite Deruta Sfilato pieces that became so popular, their work was sold and exported throughout the world until the 1960's when demand decreased to the point that, until recently, the technique had all but disappeared.

Maria Elide at work

Enter our heroine of the story; Maria Elide Melani. Born and raised in the 1960's in a town only 16kms (9 miles) south of where the rise and demise of Deruta Sfilato took place, Maria Elide knew nothing about this history, yet would become a talented needlework artisan and teacher in the local area.

In 2010 one of Maria Elide's students showed her a cushion made by a local elderly seamstress using a technique she had never seen before.

Curiosity led her to the re-discovery of the lost art of Deruta Sfilato and after years of studying and learning the technique herself, Maria Elide is now its greatest champion, ensuring Deruta Sfilato lives on once again.
A lost tradition is now in the hands of a new generation, ready to pick up where the previous one left off.

In fact, Maria Elide's commitment to the cause is so great, she sent in an unsolicited sample of her work and her story to our editor, who instantly fell in love with both the technique and Maria's Elide's designs. And so it is with great fanfare that we present the Inspirations debut of the technique Deruta Sfilato and its greatest advocate Maria Elide Melani with the aptly named project, 'Stitches from the Heart'.

Whenever we have the privilege of introducing a brand-new technique in Inspirations, the first project is usually something on a smaller scale, like a sampler if you will. In this way you can try it out to see if you like it, before committing to a bigger, more time-consuming piece.

Stitches from the Heart is a true weekend project - you can learn Deruta Sfilato, begin and complete this entire sachet in only a weekend. How do we know? As this was a completely new technique even to us, our assistant editor Ellaine re-created her own Stitches from the Heart in order to produce the dozens of step-by-steps included in the magazine, and she did it in less than a weekend! Not just because she is that good (which she is!) but due to the unusual combination of using 9 count fabric (instead of 32/36/40 count) and the withdrawing of the threads, which result in a very, very open weave to stitch on.

Unlike other Italian lace techniques, this is still very pretty but less intricate in its needlework, meaning it works up quite quickly and feels a bit more like weaving, where you stitch under and over, working a grid while following the pattern.

Deruta Sfilato is definitely a technique worth trying - quick and easy to learn, fast to work up and with a wonderful redemptive story to boot!
Make Your Own Stitches from the Heart

Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions

Stitches from the Heart by Maria Elide Melani is a charming little sachet, in shades of blue and white; the perfect introduction to the technique of Deruta Sfilato, drawn thread work from the heart of Italy.


Inspirations Issue 97


Stitches from the Heart

Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit

The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Stitches from the Heart includes everything you need to re-create this charming sachet: Fabrics (light blue 9 threads/cm Bisso linen imported from Italy, navy cotton homespun - both unprinted), threads and needles.


Stitches from the Heart – i97 Kit

Looking for more Blue and White?
Symphony in Blue

Symphony in Blue by Deborah Love is a stylish Deerfield embroidered cushion - perfect for any home.


Symphony in Blue

Wild Swan

Wild Swan by Janet Donelly is a beautiful egg ornament using the traditional technique of temari.


Wild Swan

Sitting Pretty

Sitting Pretty by Phyllis Maurer is a Kogin style embroidered chair pad or cushion.


Inspirations Issue 62


Sitting Pretty


Harmonies by Deborah Love is a graceful Deerfield design stitched with a fanciful bouquet of flowers and bordered with cotton edging.


Inspirations Issue 88

What Are You Stitching?
Your Attention Please
We interrupt this week's What Are You Stitching? with an important announcement:

This week we're putting out the call for more. More photos, more stories more projects and more of your fabulous stitching to share with the needlework community. Old, new, not yet finished, it doesn't matter what it is, we want to see it. Your project might just be the spark to ignite someone's stitching mojo, so email in photos and a bit about yourself to:

Now, back to our normal program….

Blue and white - a simple, yet timeless colour combination often celebrated on ceramics, clothing and textiles, however this week we celebrate the stitching that has this colourway woven into the designs.
Alexandra Durazzano | USA
‘My paternal grandmother was from Naples and stitched her own trousseau - sets of bedlinen, bath towels, napkin holders, napkins and tablecloths - all with her own monogram stitched in different styles. Growing up in Milano I developed a taste for beautiful, refined objects, but it was textiles that always caught my eye.
I was just fascinated as to how hands could produce such delicate beauty!
In my early twenties I learned how to make linen tablemats using Cutwork Technique and Blanket Stitch from a magazine. I still have them and this is a cot sheet I made for a baby boy.'

Alexandra, it’s amazing how your stitching has come full circle – from your grandmother’s trousseau and your love of textiles right through to you creating such delicate beauty with your own hands!
Joke Koolschijn | Netherlands
In All Stitched Up! #124 HERE we shared Joke’s Christmas stitching, but this week it’s her simple, yet striking colour combination that caught our attention…

‘I have no favourite stitch because I am learning so many new stitches! Hopefully after all my learning at lessons, workshops and courses I will be skilled enough to restore historic needlework pieces for museums.

When I am stitching I feel Zen - it is like a form of meditation for me

Regards, Joke.’

Joke, we love your passion for learning and that the ‘simple’, meditative quality of stitching is still so apparent for you!

Kathryn Nielsen | Australia
‘I learnt to cross stitch nearly thirty years ago and although I stopped for about fifteen years, I took it up again about ten years ago. I've been with the Guild for five years now and have learnt numerous types of embroidery - Crewel, Hardanger, Sardinian Knotwork, Wessex Stitcheries, Chicken Scratch, Sashiko and many more.’

‘I started this cross stitch two years ago as something I can do while at the Embroiderer's Guild Queensland meetings. 

Being one colour has made it reasonably easy to do while chatting with the ladies.
I find myself favouring counted work, hence this long-term project.  It will be a cushion cover and the pattern and colour remind me of wallpaper my parents use to have in their lounge room many years ago.  I have been told I have to finish it for the Guild's exhibition in June - I'm sure it will get done by then! Kathryn Nielsen.’

Your piece is a true definition of the term ‘Stitch & Chat’ many of us stitchers would be familiar with - multitasking at its best! Kathryn, we have no doubt it will be finished by June and look forward to seeing the finished cushion.

Suzi Bloemker | USA
‘When I read the first newsletter of 2018, and saw the word adventurous, I decided that's how I would describe the projects that I have been working on over the past two years! I have been working on pieces that use techniques that I have never done before and they have all been through my local EGA Chapter in Naples, Florida. This piece is called Florida Palm, designed and taught by Gail Sirna.’

‘This piece was a challenge for me, as I had done very little needlepoint prior to this, but I must say that I enjoyed it! My favorite parts were the ones that gave everyone the most problems - the Herringbone Stitch on the right-hand side, the scallops on the left and the Smryna Cross.

I also liked the palm tree trunk (Plaited Stitch) which used a flat thread called Sea Grass. Florida Palm uses a unique combination of stitches and colors and fits right in with the Florida ‘look’. I liked the difficulty of some of the stitches, but was happy to be done with it! Will I do needlepoint again? Looks like, as I'm going to a class in April - wish me luck! Suzi.’ 

Suzi, you have risen to the challenge of needlepoint beautifully and we look forward to seeing what your next adventure with needle and thread creates!

We’d love you to share more of your blue and white stitching with us! Email photos of what you’ve created with needle and thread along with a few details about your stitching journey to

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Slow Stitch


Slow Stitch: Mindful and Contemplative Textile Art by Claire Wellesley-Smith demonstrates how a less-is-more approach can produce stunning textile art that is more personal and meaningful.


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Make Your Own La Fauvette

Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions

La Fauvette by Catherine Laurençon is a gorgeous threadpainting of a European warbler amongst reeds and grasses.


Inspirations Magazine 97


La Fauvette


Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit

The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for La Fauvette includes everything you need to re-create this beautiful bird scene: Fabric (unprinted), 22 embroidery threads and needles.


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Les Hirondelles

This Week On Facebook

A stunning little bag


Just look at this amazing owl by Trish Burr. Follow the link we have shared to read the story behind this masterpiece.


“Make it simple, but significant”
~ Don Draper ~
What's On
RSN Exhibition

The Royal School of Needlework’s Embellishment in Fashion

Royal School of Needlework
Hampton Court Palace Surrey, UK

Follow the Thread

Blue Mountain Embroiderers’ Exhibition

Braemar House and Gallery
104 Macquarie Road Springwood, New South Wales

The Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries
Art Gallery of NSW | Upper Asian Gallery
Art Gallery Road, The Domain, Sydney
Shoreline Stitchers’ Showcase

Shoreline Stitchers’ Showcase | A Judged Needlework Exhibit & Boutique

South Coast Botanic Garden
26300 Crenshaw Blvd Palos Verdes, California

1 to 4 MAR
Knitting & Stitching Show

The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show

Olympia London
Hammersmith Road London, UK

Needlework Show & Sale

2018 Woodlawn Needlework Show & Sale

Woodlawn & Pope-Leighey House
9000 Richmond Highway Alexandria, Virginia USA

7 MAR to 6 MAY
Circle Exhibition

Jeanie Baker's Circle Exhibition

Bundaberg Art Gallery
1 Barolin Street Bundaberg, Queensland

10 TO 13 MAR
Stitches from a Golden City
St Patrick’s Hall
Dawson Street South Ballarat, Victoria or 0407 817 025
7 MAR to 6 MAY
Breaking Traditions
The Embroiderers’ Guild, Victoria Geelong Branch | Breaking Traditions: A decade of adventure

The Shearer’s Arms Gallery

202 Aberdeen Street Geelong West, Victoria
17 TO 22 MAR
Grampians Texture 18
Halls Gap, Victoria
Quilt Convention & Expo

The Australasian Quilt Convention & Expo

Royal Exhibition Building
9 Nicholson Street Carlton, Victoria

14 TO 21 APR | 10:00 TO 4:00
Unchartered | Textile & Mixed Media Works from Collective Notions

Steps Gallery

62 Lygon Street Carlton South, Victoria

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