All Stitched Up! | Issue 141

8th June 2018

Hi There,
As much as we all love to stitch, if we’re completely honest, there are particular aspects of stitching we love a lot more than others.

For many of us, the stitching itself is what we love. The preparation for the stitching… well, not so much!

While some people relish the processes involved with fabric preparation, design transfer and framing up, many of us find the discipline of such tasks somewhat tedious. After all, there are only so many hours we can devote to our stitching, so why spend our time preparing when we could actually be stitching?!

As tedious as these processes may be, however, I think we’d all agree they add a level of excellence to our stitching and the time we invest in preparation actually pales into insignificance compared to the number of hours we devote to the stitching itself.

So, it might be time to accept Denzel Washington’s advice that we have to ‘Do what you gotta do so you can do what you wanna do.’
This week we aim to make the process of framing up a little easier with some helpful advice and a product or two that may be just what you need. So, read on as we help you get to ‘what you wanna do’ in a much timelier fashion.

World of Needlework
The Scoop on the Hoop
When taking up your needle and thread, there is a handy saying to keep in mind: Pay Attention to the Tension! This applies to both the tension of your stitches, and the tension applied to your ground fabric. This week we’re taking a look at the humble embroidery hoop, and the role it plays in bringing a bit of tension to stitching!

Purpose of a Hoop
Put simply an embroidery hoop, or frame, is a tensioning device.
Its role is to hold the fabric firmly while the stitches are being worked, enabling the embroiderer to use the taut fabric to tension the stitches properly and avoid unsightly puckering.

To Hoop or Not to Hoop

Embroidery hoops are best used when working with stitches that use the ‘stab’ method, that is when each stitch is made using two movements; taking the needle to the back of the fabric, pulling it through, and then returning to the front.

In comparison ‘sewn’ stitches are worked in one movement; the needle goes to the back of the fabric and then returns to the front in one action. This technique is also known as ‘skimming’ or ‘scooping’ and for stitches like chain, stem, back and running stitch, is a fast and effective way of working. However, when working with ‘sewn’ stitches, the use of a hoop is not advisable as the surface tension of the fabric will be compromised to enable the needle to pass in and out easily.

Which Hoop?

Hoops are most commonly available in wood and plastic and the quality varies depending on the materials used and the skill of the manufacturer.

A checklist when shopping for a quality hoop includes laminated timber that is well finished to ensure you don’t encounter splinters. Brass fittings are also preferred as they are much stronger than white metal as the brass does not bend when the hoop is tightened and is key to maintaining a high level of tension.
You should also ensure your hoop has a slot in the end of the tightening screw to allow fastening with a screwdriver to give you a drum tight surface to work on.
Optimising Your Hoop

Like most tools, you’ll get the best results from a hoop when used correctly. For example, if you find yourself tensioning your work using your finger because the hoop has become slack, something has gone wrong!

Take the time to put the fabric in the hoop carefully; tightening both the hoop and the fabric gradually until you have a firm, even surface. Ensure the weave of the fabric remains true as any distortions will become very obvious when the hoop is removed. Only pull the straight grain of the fabric, not the bias as it will stretch and distort the grain. Once the fabric is taut, use a screwdriver to tighten the clasp as much as you can so the fabric is held firmly.

Interested in Learning More?

The above article is an excerpt from the book A-Z of Embroidery Stitches 2 published by Search Press, which features a ‘Getting Started’ guide to needlework including needle charts, introduction to threads, detailed information about hoops plus step-by-step guides to over 145 different stitches. Printed copies are available to purchase from our website.

Needlework News
Hooping it Up
Hoops are an essential piece of kit in any embroiderer’s tool box, and to ensure we practice what we preach, this week we’ve added some of the finest quality hoops available on the market, to ensure you have what you need to create the world’s most beautiful needlework.

Nurge hoops are manufactured to the highest standards using laminated beech timber with brass clasps featuring slotted and hexagonal tightening heads to enable maximum tension.

Nurge Embroidery Hoops

Klass & Gessmann hoops are lightweight but very durable and renowned for their exceptionally smooth finish. Manufactured in Germany, they are constructed of beechwood, then triple glued, finely polished, and equipped with a brass adjusting screw.

Klass & Gessmann Embroidery Hoop (12”)

The Art of the Hoop
Now that we’ve taken a look at the humble embroidery hoop - learning about its role in bringing a bit of tension to our stitching and shopped ‘til our hoop hearts are content, we went to the web to find creative ideas for hoop art that might just change the way you see this traditional embroidery tool and found a fabulous article from Mollie Makes that does just that!

Nina Dyer has collected 20 Hoop Art Ideas that will challenge the way you see and use the humble embroidery hoop, elevating form over function, and you can check them out HERE.

Now even the non-stitchers amongst us have a reason to own a hoop, or two… or more! If you’ve taken the humble embroidery hoop and used it in a way we’re yet to uncover, we’d love to see it. Email us photos of your hoop art to

Featured Project
The Frog Prince by Victoria Laine
Frogs. Love them or loathe them, they have made quite a name for themselves throughout history.

Served as a famous delicacy in French restaurants, popular in Australia as a theme for desserts (chocolate frogs and frog cakes), read about at bed time in children’s story books as a trapped prince, trying to cross the road safely in the popular 1980’s self-titled video game ‘Frogger’ or immortalised as a puppet courtesy of Kermit The Frog, the PR agency responsible for the rise and rise of the charismatic green jumping amphibians, deserves high praise!

So, when it was time for Inspirations to do our bit and include another frog inspired design in the magazine, Victoria Laine rose to the occasion and created ‘The Frog Prince’ for issue #98 to help keep the green dream alive.
The Frog Prince is an endearing little frog coin purse, in two different sizes.
Worked in needlelace on a wire cordonnet, each frog is highlighted
with gold purl and lined with silk.

Victoria’s inspiration for The Frog Prince actually dates back to the 16th and 17th centuries, when frogs were basking in popularity.

Elizabethan decorative coin purses were quite the fashion back in the day. Worn hung by a cord from the waist, these intricate and imaginative designs traditionally borrowed from the natural world (like frogs!) and were often given as gifts, filled with gold coins.

In keeping with style of the era, Victoria has used the technique of needlelace to adorn her frogs with the most magnificent looking skin. To achieve this, you work detached corded blanket stitch over a wire cordonnet, a very traditional stumpwork technique.

The legs of the frogs are wire wrapped in stranded cotton and there are even toes as part of the design included on the end of each leg.

While both frogs are essentially the same design other than their size, you will also notice the needle lace pattern for the skin differs slightly and the smaller frog benefits from some added bling thanks to sequins on his back.

Both frogs are finished off handsomely with gold pearl purl couched around the edges and are given sparkling beads for eyes, so they can keep a watch for approaching princesses in search of their lost prince.

Victoria has certainly done the amphibian world and the needlework world proud with her Frog Prince duo, and we think these little guys will go a long way to ensure frogs remain as popular as ever for years to come.
Make Your Own | The Frog Prince

Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions

The Frog Prince by Victoria Laine are two fun frog purses created with embellished needlelace, inspired by historical designs.

Inspirations Issue 98

The Frog Prince

Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit

The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for The Frog Prince includes everything you need to re-create the large frog: Fabrics (unprinted), adhesive film, fusible webbing, beading wire, paper-covered wire, knitting wool, embroidery threads, metal thread, beads and needles.

The Frog Prince | Large Fro

The Frog Prince | Small Frog

Looking for More Victoria Laine or Frogs?
Black Beauty

Black Beauty by Victoria Laine from Inspiration #95 is a beautiful rose study in shaded blackwork.

Black Beauty

Inspirations Issue 95

Delicate Touch

Delicate Touch by Victoria Laine from Inspirations #86 is a captivating blackwork strawberry given dimension with shading techniques.

Delicate Touch

Delciate Touch

Inspirations Issue 86


Leapfrog by Avril Ambrose from Inspirations #66 is an exquisite goldwork picture featuring two cheeky frogs.


Still Water

Still Water by Madeleine Ferland from Inspirations #49 is a charming pond scene combining stumpwork and surface embroidery and featuring a resident green bullfrog.

Still Water

Have Your Say

In Issue #138 of All Stitched Up! (HERE), we talked about the seasons and how their arrival can sometimes dally.
Well, what a difference a few short weeks can make!
For those of us living in the Southern Hemisphere, we are no longer relishing the seemingly never ending sunshine and warmer weather that was somewhat uncharacteristic of this time of year and we are now reaching for a jacket and umbrella as we leave the house each morning. But those of you in the Northern Hemisphere would know that the end to your very long winter has indeed hastened and spring has finally sprung.

Again, we thank Jette for an update on the seasons in her place of stitch…

‘You were so kind to show a winter picture of my garden at Easter in Issue #138. Now in the last half of May it is so beautiful! We have had summer temperatures the whole month and my wisteria is at its peak. I enjoy very much sitting on my terrace embroidering while I smell the sweet flavor. I love it so much I even made one in miniature. I hope one day I will be able to make an embroidery of it too.’

Jette, we love the creativity you’ve brought to recreating your favourite season and place to stitch in miniature and can’t wait to see the embroidered version!
What Are You Stitching?
Inspired by Victoria Laine’s frogs, this week we’ve gathered up the wildlife from our ‘What Are You Stitching?’ files to share the other creatures that have been brought to life with needle and thread.
Karen Friscia Zoback | USA
‘This pair of turtles were so fun to stitch and their shells are made from alligator leather.’

Karen, we love that you’ve taken such a unique approach to your stitching and have incorporated alligator leather into your turtles’ shells! They make for a realistic and textured piece.
Pascale Michaux | Belgium
‘I am very proud to show you my fall embroidery, stitched thanks to the advice from my fabulous teacher Christiane Paris.

This piece was embroidered from a pattern I bought in France at les Alphabets de Toulouse.’

From the colours of the threads right down to the fabulous squirrel who’s busy squirrelling away acorns for winter, your stitching captures fall just beautifully Pascale!
Pauline Fozard | Australia
‘I have recently become interested in long and short stitch thread painting and have attempted some of Trish Burr's birds. I enjoyed making them but need a lot more practise so thought I would try to work with a photo of my son's dog. I am looking forward to trying more projects but wish I could do a workshop with Trish as I think her work is amazing. I love receiving your newsletters – it’s very interesting seeing what other embroiderers are working on.’

Pauline, what a fabulous way to practise - not only have you refined your skills to a point that you’re now well and truly ready to tackle another of Trish Burr’s designs, but you’ve created an extraordinary keepsake of your son’s best friend!
Ria Sintnicolaas | Holland
‘I am from Holland and I love embroidery! I love big cats and for fun, I stitched an elephant in the colours of spring.

Every week I enjoy admiring the beautiful stitching from all over the world that is shared in All Stitched Up!’

Ria, we love that you have two sides to your stitching personality – realistic and whimsical. In each instance, your stitching is precise and captures each animal beautifully.

Has your needle and thread brought some wildlife to life? We’d love to see it! Email us photos of your creature along with a few details about your stitching journey to date to

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This Week on Facebook

 We could not find the original designer so if anyone knows who did this amazing embroidery please let us know, spectacular.

 Stunning Lillies by Nina!

' What you want won’t always come easy, but if you work hard and don’t give up you will get there. '
~ Anonymous ~
What's On
The Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries
Art Gallery of NSW | Upper Asian Gallery
Art Gallery Road, The Domain, Sydney
Jan Taminiau | Reflections Exhibition
A major exhibition on the work of Jan Taminiau

Centraal Museum
Agnietenstraat 1, 3512 XA Utrecht, The Netherlands

9 TO 24 JUN
Affinity | Cross Currents
Zig Zag Gallery
50 Railway Road, Kalamunda WA
Glen Hall | 0419 931 676
16 TO 23 JUN
50th Anniversary Exhibition
The Embroiderers’ Guild of Queensland
149 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley QLD or 07 3252 8629
20 TO 24 JUN
The Point of Stitch
The Embroiderer’s Guild NSW

Craft and Quilt Fair Sydney 2018
International Convention Centre, Sydney

Alice Springs Beanie Festival

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