Blue Ribbon by Carolyn Pearce

30th November 2018

The diversity of the Inspirations Community means within each issue of the magazine, everyone is looking for something different. Some want projects with intricate, challenging techniques to stretch themselves, some look for whimsical designs that are fun to stitch, others like to create something practical that they can use when finished.

One question we are frequently asked is when are we going to feature another blanket?!

Be it for babies, young kids, families to use on the couch or something to keep our legs warm as we get older, blankets are an evergreen staple in the home of a stitcher.

So, when it came to selecting projects for issue #100 we knew there were two things we had to include: 1/. a blanket. 2/. a project by Carolyn Pearce. Ladies and Gentlemen, we present to you Blue Ribbon a blanket by Carolyn Pearce. Now that is going to keep a LOT of people happy!

Carolyn Pearce is needlework royalty. Her influence on the stitching landscape the world over is legendary. Carolyn’s books, projects, teaching, designs, all flow from her life that is lived fully immersed in needlework.

One of the things you may not know about Carolyn is her stash of threads and fabrics collected over the years is rumoured to be a bit like a Willy Wonka factory for stitchers! From this fabled stash, rich in anything and everything you can possibly dream of, she creates her stunning designs.

Carolyn’s fascination for different stitches and needlework techniques often results in an array of wonderful surprises in each project using a stitch, a thread or a technique where you’d least expect it.

With 30+ projects featured in Inspirations Magazine over the years, a range of bestselling books to her name and designs that keep everyone coming back for more and more and more, Carolyn is a true master of her trade. We had the honour of catching up with her recently to chat about life, the universe and all things needle and thread:

Carolyn, can you share with us a little about the process you go through when creating one of your beautiful projects:

‘I have been creating designs for Inspirations ever since Issue #3 – 25 years of meeting deadlines! Sometimes a design comes instantly into my head, for example the bridal ring cushion for a magazine special entitled “Inspirations Bridal”. I instantly thought of the flower wreaths encircling the little heads of Princess Di’s flower girls. Once I have a clear mental picture then I can draw up the bones of a design, pin it to the fabric and look at it for a few days.’

‘For a project like the Strawberry Fayre neccessaire I draw up about 15 working drawings on transparent paper before deciding on the final design! It is not hard to guess my other passion is gardening. The two are inexorably linked.’

Threads are my paint box to bring to life the pictures in my mind. They allow you to portray the play of light on foliage, hence my use of fine metallics and beads.

‘They also add texture to a design. Very rarely would I use just one type of thread in a piece. It is the highlights that work the magic. Whilst working up a design I will experiment with different combinations until one becomes the perfect choice.’

Where did you get the idea for the blanket Blue Ribbon in Inspirations issue #100?

‘In Blue Ribbon, it was the Valdani wool ‘Honeysuckle’ that sent me off in quite a different direction from my original working samples. Never discount a thread until you work a sample – time and again it leads to exciting results.

Originally, I created a design with a bow in each corner until I realised what an incredible amount of work this would involve, none of you would ever want to undertake it!’

‘If you don’t have the threads I used, use what you have and make Blue Ribbon truly yours. We are so fortunate as embroiderers to have exciting overdyed threads available to us all over the world. I recommend using the wool/cashmere blend fabric as a base. It is expensive, but it is not as heavy or as thick as pure wool.

When I am creating an embroidery design, I like to stretch the boundaries. Fine embroidery on wool fabric is quite challenging. Firstly, the weight and thickness makes it difficult to hold in your hands. Then there is quite a lot of space between the threads so threadpainting with one strand of DMC was quite difficult until I hit on the idea of cutting out the shapes from a non-woven interfacing and carefully stitching them in place. This gave a much firmer base.’

From your perspective what has it been like to be part of the Inspirations family?

‘I still get a thrill at seeing the beautiful styling of my work in the magazine. I certainly don’t stitch for fame or fortune. Years ago, driving back with a friend from a needlework school in northern Victoria I realised what a vast country Australia was. For many people it is an impossibility to get to or afford classes, so it is for those people I design. Just read the Inspirations newsletter All Stitched Up! each week and you realise how our embroidery gets us through life’s up and downs.’

Thank you, Carolyn for inspiring a generation of stitchers with your equisite needlework, everyone at Inspirations loves working with you. Your dedication and passion for stitching is evident in all you do and it is an absolute pleasure and honour to publish your work.


You can see Carolyn’s blanket Blue Ribbon up close and personal on display at the Tutors’ Exhibition, Gallery 76 Embroiderers’ Guild NSW, 76 Queen St, Concord West from 6 December 2018 to 30 January 2019. For more details click HERE

Make Your Own Blue Ribbon

Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions

Blue Ribbon by Carolyn Pearce is a gorgeous blanket adorned with enchanting blossoms and an elegant bow.

Printed Magazines

Inspirations Issue 100

Digital Patterns

Blue Ribbon

Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit

The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Blue Ribbon includes everything you need to re-create this gorgeous blanket: Wool and cashmere velour, interfacings, fibre-fill, embroidery threads, silk ribbon, beads and needles. Kit does not contain backing fabric or piping.


Blue Ribbon – i100 Kit

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