Toy Chest Etui by Betsy Morgan

13th December 2019

Betsy Morgan’s Toy Chest Etui is enchanting. She can clearly remember when the idea for it came to her in May 2007.

“If I dreamed about it, I don’t remember the dream but my first thought upon opening my eyes was, ‘A girl’s toy box filled with old-fashioned toys which are also stitching tools.”

What an inspirational starting point for designing an etui! What kind of toy box? What toys to choose? So began an exciting designing journey that resulted in Betsy’s most popular etui to date.

Betsy began by researching antique chests and toys, and soon settled on a plan to create a variation of a Pennsylvania German painted chest to house her stitching accessories. If you aren’t sure what a Pennsylvania German painted chest is, take a moment to have a quick look now. Aren’t they beautiful?

Betsy has always loved them and, in addition to being fabulous objects in themselves, Betsy was drawn to the Pennsylvania connection, having attended art college in Philadelphia. We love the decorative details, from the floral panels and horses based on the beloved Arabian mare and quarter horse owned by Betsy and her husband, right down to the stitching indicating the carved lower edge of the chest.

It’s hard to imagine a toy chest without a doll. In Betsy’s toy chest etui, a pair of Amish dolls take the form of a scissor sheath, chosen for the Pennsylvania connection.

The scissor fob is a basket filled with coloured pencils. The needlebook, adorned with pretty acorn and cornflower motifs, is modelled on a more unusual toy, a Jacob’s ladder. Usually made from small wood panels connected with ribbon, a Jacob’s ladder fascinates with the way the panels flip over and is to do with the way the ribbon hinges are attached.

Any worthy toy chest contains items that contribute to the first steps in learning to read, and of course Betsy has this covered. The pincushion is in the form of an old-fashioned primer with a cover beautifully embellished with tiny details.

The edges of the pages have not been forgotten and are stitched on the edges of this gorgeous little book. Alphabet blocks are another traditional introduction to our ABCs, and Betsy as included one as a button box. It features, of course, the letter ‘B’.

Do you remember the music-making toys of your childhood? There’s an astonishing array available these days. The etui includes a waxer box in the form of an old-fashioned toy drum, complete with drumsticks. Betsy used a plastic cylinder from a ball of perlé cotton to make hers.

If you make tassels using these threads, as Betsy does in all her projects, you are likely to have some of these handy. If not, try substituting template plastic cut to fit your stitched piece. Another use of the cylinder shape is in the etui’s thimble case, Betsy’s ingenious version of a cup-and-ball game. Were you able to get the hang of those?

As a girl, Betsy played with a version of each of these old-fashioned toys, and they all fit neatly into the toy chest with room to spare. Which toys stand out in your memories of childhood? Can you imagine them recreated as additions to your own Toy Chest Etui?

Make Your Own Toy Chest Etui

Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions

Toy Chest Etui by Betsy Morgan is a charming box etui shaped like a toy chest with antique toy-inspired accessories.

Printed Books

Willing Hands

Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit

The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Toy Chest Etui includes everything you need to re-create this charming box etui: Fabrics*, interfacings, interlining, batting, firm card, felt, wooden spool, wooden spindle, toothpicks, beads, embroidery threads, ribbon and needles.

* Please see substitution note on product page.


Toy Chest 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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