Edinburgh Etui by Betsy Morgan
22nd February 2019
We are always excited to see a project by the super talented Betsy Morgan. She has such a flair for combining elegant counted stitching with fantastic handmade box, reticule or etui ideas.
After instantly recognizing Betsy’s project ‘Edinburgh Etui’ from A Passion for Needlework | Factoria VII to be one of the world’s most beautiful etuis, the next thing we noticed was the royal theme: a crown on the etui and the crown thimble holder. We asked Betsy about it, and she explained that she was inspired by Edinburgh Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse and Mary, Queen of Scots, and we love the story of how the etui design came about.
Bedchamber at Holyroodhouse Palace. The display cabinets contain some of Mary’s needlework pieces. (Photo courtesy of Betsy Morgan)
Betsy and her sister travelled to Edinburgh in 2012 and visited both the castle and the palace. They first explored the palace.
‘Inspiration for the etui hit me almost as soon as I walked in the door. I pulled out my note pad and started sketching and writing notes as we made our way around the palace. We went to the castle the same day and, by the end of the day, I had the basic etui plan in place.’
Familiar with the needlework of Mary, Queen of Scots, Betsy’s visit to the castle and palace in Edinburgh lit the spark for further research, and upon her return home, she learned more about Mary’s story that would further inform her etui design, in addition to the wealth of inspiration she found in Edinburgh.
Some of Mary’s own needlework directly inspired a few of the counted work motifs as Betsy explains:
‘The crown on the front of the etui and motif on the back of the pincushion came from a bed hanging Mary stitched while in the custody of George Talbot, the 6th Earl of Shrewsbury.’
‘The rose, thistle and shamrock motifs on the branches around the etui were inspired by military regimental flags in Edinburgh Castle, which featured variations on branches of those three motifs. I’ve always loved the idea of the ‘tree of life’ theme where there are numerous fruits and flowers all growing on the same tree.’
This provided Betsy with the perfect opportunity to design branches for the etui bringing together flourishing flowers and leaves from the various symbolic plants featured on the flags!
Regarding the shape of the etui and the accessories included, ‘The cylindrical, two-part etui was inspired by a china berry cooler in the dining room of the Palace. The pincushion and folding needlebook were inspired by similar pieces on display in Mary’s bedroom in the palace, and the crown thimble box by a goldwork and velvet crown on the epaulet of a military jacket in the Castle. It also slightly resembles St. Edwards’ crown – the coronation crown.’
LEFT: Goldwork and velvet crown on an epaulet of a military jacket at Edinburgh Castle. (Photo courtesy of Betsy Morgan) RIGHT: Thimble holder from Edinburgh Etui
‘The swags and tassels around the top section of the etui were inspired by drapery in the Castle, and the fleur de lis blackwork band above the swags were inspired by the carved wood panels on the walls of the Great Hall.’
‘Finally, the lid and the cross motif on the scissor fob were inspired by the tapestries stitched by Mary and Bess of Hardwick (wife of George Talbot).’
When it comes to the needlework of Betsy’s wonderful etui, there are plentiful counted work patterns to enjoy in a variety of stitches, and the motifs are each charted using corresponding colours for easy reference, all of which are included in the book. The roses, thistles and shamrocks are stitched over broadcloth slips that are first attached to the linen, creating an ideal surface for working the more rounded shapes of these flowers and leaves in surface embroidery.
So far, so good. What about constructing the pieces? Well, Betsy always uses logical steps and processes which, followed methodically, lead to well-finished, delightful stitching accessories. And everything you need to know to make the Edinburgh Etui is in A Passion for Needlework | Factoria VII. You can, indeed, stitch and construct your very own masterpiece etui.
P.S. What about that fabulous wooden thistle that perfectly finishes the etui lid? If you make the etui using one of our kits, the great news is that the wooden thistle is included. Happy stitching!
Make Your Own Edinburgh Etui
Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions
Edinburgh Etui by Betsy Morgan is a charming etui and accessories with counted work and surface embroidery.
Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit
The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Edinburgh Etui includes everything you need to re-create this delightful etui: Fabrics (unprinted), interfacings, polyester film, fibre-fill, card, felt, beading thread, beads, wooden thistle, embroidery threads and needles.