Have Your Say

3rd May 2024

Long time no say?! As it’s been a while since our last Have Your Say segment and thanks to some excellent emails that we’ve received of late, this week it’s time for some more of your say to be had! 

After reading ASU #414, Patty emailed to tell us about a Memorial Piece she stitched. 

‘I come from a small family. My dad had only one cousin and he had a daughter (my second cousin) whom I had met only a couple of times over many years.

When I was in my 40s, I attended a stitching class at Mrs. Twitchett’s Eye, a wonderful needlework shop in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada owned by designer/teacher extraordinaire, Carolyn Mitchell. Carolyn told me she had a surprise for me. When I went into the classroom, a woman whom I did not recognize jumped up and hugged me. This turned out to be my ‘long-lost’ cousin, Marion.’

‘Though Marion was 17 years my senior, from then on, we became fast friends and I adored her. When she passed away in July of 2020, I was bereft. Her sister passed on her embroidery things to me.’

‘In the box was an unfinished cross stitch picture designed by Janlynn called ‘A Celebration of Music’. Marion was a talented pianist. I finished the piece including revising the frieze of music at the bottom into Bach’s ‘Goldberg Variations’ as Marion loved this piece and had already stitched the opening bars of it at the top. I also changed a couple of the phrases to better reflect her lovely personality. And if you look closely at the vine I added above the saxophone, you will see the initials ‘MJW’ for Marion Janet Widlake – a lasting reminder of this very special person in my life.’

Patty, what a wonderful way to commemorate your cousin Marion and the beautiful friendship you two enjoyed. We’re so glad you were reunited and had the opportunity to indulge in your mutual appreciation for stitching. Thank you for sharing the story with us. 

We also received an email from Sandy about a sampler she found stitched by her great grandmother. After restoring and conserving the precious artifact, Sandy has shared her ‘buried’ treasure with us all…  

‘Amelia Mϋtze was born and grew up in Toowoomba in 1877. She was one of 19 children from German and Prussian migrant parents who escaped the Franco-Prussian War. The family farm is in the suburb of Toowoomba called Glenvale and she attended Glenvale State School. She was about 9-10 years of age when she completed the sewing sampler in 1886-7.’

‘The sampler was discovered in 2023 in my mother’s bedside table in a plastic bag. I asked her if I could have it as it appeared old and fragile. It went to a textile conservator at the Gold Coast and then went to a framer in Toowoomba specialising in conservation work.

The textile conservator concluded that the sampler was a cotton background and the vivid green thread is also cotton.

When placed into the wash bath she said that the green thread had some dye run. From looking at it, the sampler has turned edges, thread pulled out at the top, then three rectangles with buttonhole samples in the middle. Perhaps the rectangles were to practise patches. 

Below the buttonholes she practised doing a straight hem. Next there is gathering, which featured in dressmaking in the late 1800s. Then featured in the green thread is perhaps some visible mending in the form of a square and half rectangle shape. In the middle is her name and class done in cross stitch. Then there is a line of herringbone stitch. At the very bottom of the framed sampler is her signature.

Amelia married into the Briese family and then lived in Dalmeny Street in Toowoomba and passed away in 1962. My mother had a close relationship with Amelia and called her ‘Gran Briese’.

Gran Briese taught my mother various crafts. Gran made her own tatted rugs from scrap fabric, beaded curtains from rolled paper, and crochet.

In 2023 the Embroidery Guild of Toowoomba had an embroidery exhibition and the sampler was displayed there. The exhibition was held not far from Glenvale State School where the sampler was created. The sampler will eventually be donated to a local museum so family and the pupils at Glenvale State School can see it.’

A well-preserved family heirloom, Sandy! Now being enjoyed by community members and fellow stitchers who appreciate and, we’re sure, are in awe of its longevity! Thanks for ‘exhibiting’ it via our emails!

And finally, from our favourite recipe writer Jane, we have a new recipe to add to the stitch-book.

Easy Mandala Recipe

‘Have you wanted to embroider a mandala but were not sure where to start? Start with a button!’  


  • A favourite button, does not need to be round
  • Embroidery hoop 
  • Felt square with a medium weight iron on interfacing backing it 
  • A collection of beads of different sizes 
  • Embroidery threads 
  • An embroidery stitch book 
  • A beading book


  1. Choose a variety of different embroidery stitches that you can add beads to as you stitch. If you have stitches that you like but it’s not possible to add beads as you stitch, add the beads separately after you finish stitching.
  2. Attach your button to the centre of your fabric in your hoop.
  3.   Embroider your first beaded circle around your button. If your button is not round this is where you will embroider a circle to start the mandala.  Continue to embroider beaded circles working out from the first circle until the mandala is the size you want.
  4. You can appliqué it to another fabric or use it as is to mount in a hoop, frame, or construct a wall hanging. 

‘Now that you know how easy it is to construct a mandala with no tracing or pattern, I hope you’ll want to use your bead and thread collection to enjoy constructing many more. Maybe you will even want to start a button collection that will be great centres for mandalas. I used my mother of pearl antique button collection. Have fun!’

We always enjoy our stitching conversations with our wonderful All Stitched Up! community. So, if you have something to add to what was shared this week or a conversation you’d like to start, simply email news@inspirationsstudios.com

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