All Stitched Up! | Issue 142

15th June 2018

Hi There,
‘You never say yes to anything’.

It was these six simple words that Shonda Rhimes (the creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal and executive producer of How to Get Away with Murder) embraced for one year as she took on the challenge to say yes to everything that scared her. Her book, ‘Year of Yes’, chronicles her journey.

Hearing her speak of how life transforming this challenge was, it made us wonder how many opportunities we’d missed out on because we haven’t always said yes to what’s come our way.

Whilst it’s not possible – or even close to wise – to say yes to everything that comes our way, what about those opportunities that are designed to challenge us and take us out of our comfort zone?

Are we missing out on some life changing experiences because we’re too anxious to simply say yes to what lies before us?
When it comes to life – our stitching included – maintaining our status quo will always be the path of least resistance. It may be familiar, well-worn and comfortable, but it will rarely be life changing.

Perhaps it's time to declare our own 'Year of Yes' as we step outside the familiar and challenge ourselves to be everything we can possibly be, and who knows, maybe we'll look back over the year and declare it to be our most transformative yet?

We can’t wait to hear where your ‘yes’ takes you!

World of Needlework
Feed Sack Sewing
Gone are the days when we bought our flour, rice or animal feed in cotton bags or sacks. Some of us may still own the odd cotton flour bag, but paper and plastic have taken over completely. However, the humble feed sack was once a mainstay of a family’s wardrobe, resulting in a fascinating sartorial and social history.

We are encouraged to recycle as much as possible nowadays, but not so long-ago recycling had little to do with environmental concerns, rather it was sheer necessity. In the United States during World War II, recycling was often how families would clothe themselves and the cotton feed sack played a vital role.

The use of feed sacks for making clothing and household textiles began in the early 19th Century. At that time, cloth packaging began to replace tin and wooden boxes for animal feed and foodstuffs such as flour. Early on, these bags were made of heavy canvas or burlap, but by the 1920s cotton bags were being used, a versatile and easy to use fabric perfect for repurposing.

Initially, the bags were white cotton with the feed manufacturer’s logo printed on it. However, when bags began appearing with stripes or gingham print, the creativity of the thrifty housewife came into its own. A feed bag would be unpicked and cleaned, then the fabric used to make clothing, toys, towels or any one of a multitude of household necessities.

Feed sack manufacturers soon caught on and began to commission artists to produce attractive prints.

Manufacturers soon realised products were being purchased based on the pattern of the fabric, rather than the content inside the bag itself.
As such, competition began in earnest resulting in a plethora of different fabric prints and styles.

During World War II when textile production was limited to mainly military purposes, pattern books and advertisements encouraged the use of feed sacks for sewing as a patriotic duty.

Feed sacks were produced in a wide range of patterns and colours (source)
After the War, traditional fabrics were soon widely available again and, despite feed sack manufacturers creating sewing competitions to encourage women to continue using their products, paper packaging was far more economical. By the late 1960s, feed sacks were all but a memory.

Feed Sacks book by Linzee Kull McCray (source)
The beauty of these utilitarian items has been celebrated in an amazing book by Linzee McCray, published by Janine Vangool and her inspired team at Uppercase. This volume is part history, part vintage textile eye-candy and is the definitive guide of this lost resource. Beauty from simplicity, born out of necessity. It cannot help but give us pause. To learn more about the book, visit their website HERE.
Needlework News
All That Glitters – Alison Cole
If you like to stitch sparkly glittery things in goldwork or stumpwork then Alison Cole is your gal! In her book ‘All That Glitters’ Alison combines these two techniques to maximum effect.

Laid out with clear diagrams, colour photographs and hints and tips, this book features a text book of requirements and techniques as well as a project section with 10 of Alison’s spectacular designs. Printed copies are now available to purchase from our website.

Little House Pins
Premium quality product in gorgeous packaging. Need we say anything else?

How can anyone resist these super cute bottles of pins? Made in Japan by Kinkame from the finest metal and finished with small glass heads, these pins are perfect for detailed and intricate work – oh and for decorating your sewing room! Now available on our website in red or white.

Welcome Blanket Update
In All Stitched Up! #123 (HERE) we shared Rosío Torres’ involvement with the Welcome Blanket Project.
The Welcome Blanket Project creates handmade blankets as a gift to welcome new refugees and immigrants to the USA in celebration of their arrival.
At the time the story was published, submissions for this worthy cause had closed, but we’ve just heard that they are embarking on a new stage of the project and are once again calling for us to Stitch It Forward!

The Welcome Blanket’s new project host will be MODA (Museum of Design Atlanta) and will form part of their ‘Making Change: The Art and Craft of Activism’ exhibition from 3 Jun to 9 Sep 2018. Welcome Blanket are again looking for blanket donations, so if you’re up for some Stitching It Forward, more information can be found at their website HERE, with submissions closing on 25 Aug.
Featured Project
Roses and Old Lace by Alison Cole
Alison Cole is the golden girl of goldwork. Over her many years of stitching, designing and teaching this intricate technique, she has wowed and dazzled us all with her passion and skill for the fine art of goldwork. When combined with her other great love of stumpwork, she consistently creates truly beautiful pieces as is aptly demonstrated by her latest project in Inspirations #98 ‘Roses and Old Lace’.

In between her hectic teaching schedule and running her own newly finished design studio and shop in country Victoria, Australia, Alison kindly caught up with us to have a chat about Roses and Old Lace.

Hi Alison, thanks for making the time to catch up, we hear you’re crazy busy!

Yes, crazy busy indeed! I’ve just been away having a wonderful time in the UK teaching for Phillipa Turnbull’s Lady Anne’s Needlework Retreats, then off to teach in Canada for their seminar ‘Bridging Stitches’ on Prince Edward Island in July, then looking forward to seeing everyone from Inspirations at Beating Around the Bush in October.

Clearly no rest for the uber talented! Now, we’ve been admiring your project Roses and Old Laces in Inspirations #98 and would love to know a little behind your inspiration for the design.

In the lead up to me teaching at the ‘Stampeding Stitches’ in Calgary a few years ago, I designed this piece specifically for that event and as the rose is the Provincial flower of Alberta, Canada, it provided the perfect inspiration.

Can you talk us through some of the intricacies of the piece, the aspects of the design where you added some of your trademark inventiveness… we know they’re in there!

Well one of the unusual techniques I used was where I wanted to use Gilt 4 Ply Bright Gimp for the stems, but also wanted the stems to taper, so I decided to separate the plies of the thread and take two down earlier than the remaining two to make the stem appear to taper. This is not something that is usually done with this thread, but worked out well.

Also, the stamens have been created using a goldwork thread in an unconventional manner by couching and stretching the Rough Purl rather than sewing it on like a bead.

Very nice! It all looks amazing. Now one can’t help but notice the exquisite piece of lace behind the rose, where did you find such treasures?

The original lace used in the project was a vintage lace purchased from a passementerie shop in Paris that was closing down.
I bought the whole card and was disappointed that there wasn’t more. When I was coming to the end of the card I contacted the store L’uccello in Melbourne and they managed to track down some more vintage lace that was exactly the same which was wonderful!

Now we have to ask… we noticed the rose is in the form of the letter C, do you try and sneak in your initials A or C into as many designs as you can? Kind of like how rappers are now adding their names into the lyrics of their music whenever they can!

LOL! No - that is not a letter C as such, it’s just a C scroll shape, not done for ‘Cole’ but it did tie in nicely with ‘Calgary’ who I stitched it for!

Thank you, Alison for sharing the back story to this wonderful design, we are huge fans of your work and can’t wait to see you at BATB in a few months.

Classes with Alison
If you too would like to see Alison at Beating Around the Bush, there are still places available in some of her classes.

Beating Around the Bush 2018

For more of Alison’s stunning designs, to see when she is teaching next or even to enquire about visiting her new studio/shop, you can check out her website HERE.

Make Your Own Roses and Old Lace

Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions

Roses and Old Lace by Alison Cole is a dainty combination of raised silk embroidered roses highlighted with goldwork and gold lace.

Inspirations Issue 98

Roses and Old Lace

Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit

The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Roses and Old Lace includes everything you need to re-create these stunning pink roses: Fabrics (unprinted), felt, kid leather, metallic gold lace, paper-covered wire, embroidery threads, metal threads and needles.

Roses and Old Lace

Looking for More Alison Cole?
The Embroiderer’s Little Book of Hints & Tips

This handy book from Alison Cole is full of tips from over 30 years of experience, where Alison has written down advice on everything from setting up your workbasket through to framing and photographing your completed work.

The Embroiderer’s Little Book of Hints & Tips

Strands of Gold

Strands of Gold by Alison Cole from Inspirations #73 is a richly textured goldwork study with teal and paua shell highlights.

Inspirations Issue 73


Clematis by Alison Cole from Inspirations #78 is a magnificent stumpwork of trailing blooms with goldwork stems and dragonflies.

Inspirations Issue 78

Honey Bee

Honey Bee by Alison Cole from Inspirations #90 is a gorgeous goldwork study of the industrious honey bee.

Inspirations Issue 90

Have Your Say

In All Stitched Up! #139 (HERE) we started two new conversations thanks to Norah Jackson and Sara Faddy. This week we continue these conversations as we start to fill Norah’s travel itinerary to Ireland and give Sara a starting point with her CWA’s ‘journey’ to Lithuania.
Kelvin Martin | UK

‘In answer to Norah’s question, she should contact The Irish Guild of Embroiderers as they may be able to help. If she’s there at the right time, I’m sure they would even welcome her to a morning stitch session - I know our local South Cornwall Branch would!’

Lionel Fifield | UK

‘Dublin has very few craft shops, but there is one in Blanchardstown Shopping Centre called Inspiring Ideas. There is also a company called Murphy Sheehy in Donnybrook which I am told has lots of fabric. Hope you enjoy your trip,’

Rosemary Hart | Ireland

‘In Dublin there is Trimmings in Capel Street, Hickeys in Henry Street as well as Easons which are located throughout Ireland. In Cork there is a shop called Vibes and Scribes in Bridge Street which is probably the best of them all. I hope this is useful.’


Agnė Zemugne | Lithuania

‘I was very surprised, but very glad at the same time to read that Sara is interested in Lithuanian embroidery and that they plan to study our heritage for a year. I could write so much, only I wouldn’t know where to start!

In short, although Lithuania looks like a very small country, embroidery here differs from region to region and was influenced by our neighbouring countries.
In the region near the Baltic Sea, this part of Lithuania was once known as Minor Lithuania and belonged to Prussia. Here, one could find pieces reminiscent of Schwalm. In the region of Vilnius, our capital, we have drawn thread embroidery that we call Peltakis, but in our local dialect it is also called Merežka (pronounced - Merezhka). We also have a form of Whitework, called Adinukė which has some similarities with Broderie Anglaise). Wishing you a nice day.’

Kelvin, Lionel, Rosemary and Agnė, we thank you for being part of the All Stitched Up! community and for continuing the conversations!

What Are You Stitching?
This week we feature the work of stitchers who have said yes. Yes to new techniques, new opportunities and new adventures with needle and thread…
Mary Gervase | USA
‘I have been so inspired by the work of those in the Inspirations community over the past two years! I had fiddled around with one embroidered piece while in college, but never finished it and, in fact, gave it away. I decided to take the craft up again two years ago when my husband and I planned an 8,000-mile (12,875 km) road trip in our little truck camper and I couldn't stand the thought of sitting for that many days and not accomplishing anything!’

‘So, I came up with the idea of trying a cross stitch as I could stitch a design that was pre-drawn. I chose to do a picture my friend drew of a scene from Tibet. I found cross stitch was not a good fit for me, so on the trip I started an embroidery and that set the ball in motion! I drew and traced artwork that I was passionate about onto cotton and started from there.’

‘Next we took a 9,000-mile (14,485 km) road trip to Newfoundland from Idaho. Then we backpacked in Europe in September and I drew another picture to embroider. So, not only do I feel productive and creative, I have a beautiful reminder of our voyage.’

Mary, we love that saying yes to the adventure of travel has rekindled your love of needle and thread! Your pieces are indeed beautiful reminders of your voyages.
Melanie Missin | UK
‘I have recently finished my City and Guilds Level 3 Patchwork and Quilting, Design and Craft. I have a studio and I now teach workshops and classes in Textile Art. A dream come true.

I will be attending The Festival of Quilts this year in Birmingham UK on the Quilters in Action Stand with Mary McIntosh who was my City and Guilds Tutor. Another dream come true!

I work with lots of mediums but the fabric bowls are made using Interfacing Transfer Dyes, sheer organza, stitch and a soldering tool. The stitching at the end just brings the whole piece alive!’

Melanie, dreams come true only occur when we say yes to the opportunities that lay before us and do what we have to do to make them possible. Your bowls are spectacular! Creative, distinctive and unique.

‘Inspirations is a sumptuous magazine, suited to all kinds of embroiderers. It gives you the desire to discover new techniques and pushes you towards new projects. It makes you feel like you’re able to do anything!’

‘I've learned traditional embroidery, ribbon embroidery and thread painting and love the work of Helen M. Stevens and Trish Burr. I now want to start crewel embroidery - and this is thanks to your magazine. In Belgium, we are just like those of you everywhere else who have many works not finished, but always wanting to start a new one - I need many lives to do all my projects!’

Sabine, we’re honoured to hear Inspirations has played a role in your stitching journey and are so glad you’re part of the ‘family’! We love the enthusiasm with which your willing to say yes to new techniques and projects alike and can’t wait to see what’s next from your needle and thread.
Wendy McKie | Canada
‘I began stitching when I received a pre-stamped cross stitch table cloth for Christmas in the early 1990's and my obsession started. I went on to cross stitch on Aida cloth until a friend said that I should try linen and I have never looked back. I was a member of the Semiahmoo Needlearts Guild for many years and learned a great deal from the women in this group.
I now do an assortment of needle arts and enjoy them all, but I do like a challenge, and I found that Hazel Blomkamp's designs are very challenging!
I have done five or six of her designs to date. I also enjoy doing Trish Burr designs and a photo of my Partridge in a Pear Tree is below. I always read your magazine from cover to cover before I pick a project to stitch.’

Wendy, we think enjoying a challenge makes it easier to say yes to the opportunities that lay before you. Your years of stitching have served you well, as your Partridge is as graceful and carefully stitched as Trish’s original.

Have you been inspired to say yes? We’d love to see photos of what you’ve created with needle and thread along with a few details about your stitching journey to date. You can email them to

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You May Have Missed
The Frog Prince

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

The Frog Prince | Large Frog

Black Beauty

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

Black Beauty

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Delicate Touch

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

Delicate Touch

Delciate Touch

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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

This Week on Facebook

 Wow, this is so beautiful

 Some amazing machine embroidery by Alison Holt

'Say yes and you’ll figure it out afterwards.'
~ Tina Fey ~
What's On
The Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries
Art Gallery of NSW | Upper Asian Gallery
Art Gallery Road, The Domain, Sydney
Affinity | Cross Currents
Zig Zag Gallery
50 Railway Road, Kalamunda WA
Glen Hall | 0419 931 676
Jan Taminiau | Reflections Exhibition
A major exhibition on the work of Jan Taminiau

Centraal Museum
Agnietenstraat 1, 3512 XA Utrecht, The Netherlands

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
17 TO 22 JUL
Bridging Stitches
Bridging Stitches / Un pont entre les points | EAC Seminar 2018

University of Prince Edward Island
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada

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