Pioneer Girl’s Book Etui by Betsy Morgan

7th February 2020

There’s something intensely satisfying about a fully stocked bookcase, bursting with volumes standing one beside the other in perfect alignment.

But you might be surprised to learn that over the years, people have sought to fill their libraries with faux books – items designed to look like books but hiding other treasures. Charles Dickens was famous for this, disguising doors to secret rooms with shelves of whimsically titled ornamental books.

Betsy Morgan’s Pioneer Girl’s Book Etui from her book, Willing Hands carries on this tradition but delights in ways that we’re sure Dickens’ library never could.

Inspired by a sampler from the Pioneer Memorial Museum in Salt Lake City, Utah, this diminutive etui will sit snugly on a shelf between other volumes. The cover is adorned with the characteristic letters of a traditional sampler, leading a browser to believe that they might find a child’s historical scribblings nestled inside. 

However, when curious fingers take it down and open the cover, they will be met with surprise at the adorable accessories contained within.

Rather than holding pages, the book is actually a cleverly disguised double box. The two box tops are decorated with a beehive and a caged bird designed as complementary shapes. Down the middle, mirroring the book’s spine, sits a pin roll. The roll is stitched with an image of a plinth and vase filled with flowers, reminiscent of a Victorian hallway or drawing room.

But the discoveries do not stop there. Each box top is secured with a button and can be opened to reveal a series of stitching accessories designed to fit perfectly with the traditional style of the etui.

On one side sits a scissor pocket, just the right size for a tiny pair of scissors. A scissor fob stitched with an opulent bowl of flowers on one side and the stitcher’s initials on the other completes this particular accessory.

On the other side you will find two handy thread winders, both decorated with stitching on one side and the fabric, reminiscent of ticking, which has been used to line the entire etui on the other. The winders cleverly have a button attached to them to secure the end of the thread – which is exactly what one needs to keep each bobbin tidy and ensure no wayward threads poke out of the box.

Such accessories are perfect for maintaining the illusion, when the etui is closed and returned to the shelf, that what you are looking at is a tiny book rather than a beautiful item for the discerning stitcher.

‘We have no doubt that Charles Dickens would have been proud to have this hidden treasure on his shelf, enthusiastic as he was for visual games and clever ideas.’

Capture a piece of history by stitching Betsy’s wonderful etui – perfect for needlework lovers and book lovers alike.

Make Your Own Pioneer Girl’s Book Etui

Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions

Pioneer Girl’s Book Etui by Betsy Morgan is a nostalgic sampler etui that opens like a book.

Printed Books

Willing Hands

Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit

The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Pioneer Girl’s Book Etui includes everything you need to re-create this charming etui: Fabrics (unprinted), interfacing, interlining, batting, firm card, felt, charm, buttons, embroidery threads and needles.


Pioneer Girl’s Book Etui – Willing Hands Kit

Please Note: To cater for flexibility of purchase, instructions are not included with our kits. For step-by-step directions on how to create this project, please refer to the book ‘Willing Hands’.

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