book: Sampler Workbook

by Admin on 11/05/2011

in Books

Sampler Workbook: Motifs and Patterns by Caroline Vincent. Published by A&C Black (March 15, 2011). Available in Australia through Allen & Unwin.

Review by Megan Enright

As a cross-stitcher from way back who has flirted with other crafts but always stayed true to the cause of the simple but effective cross-stitch I was thrilled to start reading Caroline Vincent’s book, ”Sampler Workbook – motifs and patterns”. My heart was also fluttering a little faster to see the word ‘sampler” in the title. Down through the ages and into the current crop of bright funky cross-stitch patterns samplers have remained a constant favourite with embroiderers, and I am certainly no exception!

Caroline’s book arms you with all the info to create your own unique sampler. She divides the book into sections covering the common motifs found in traditional samplers, e.g. buildings (houses, churches etc), figures ( lots of cute farm scenes in this section) birds, trees and of course borders and flowers. It is up to the adventurous embroiderer to fossick through the myriad of beautiful designs, decide how they are to be placed on the fabric, decide which colour threads to use and then – the best part – stitch!

The pattern graphs are coloured not black and white so you are given some guidance on thread colour choices however, the emphasis in this book seems to be exploring your own creative side and moving beyond following a pattern designed by someone else. This was what I found the most appealing thing about this lovely book, that it encourages the stitcher to produce a sampler that is unique to them. This task could be seen as a little daunting especially for a crafter such as myself who doesn’t have a lot of confidence in the strength of my own creative ability but Caroline’s book takes the hard work out of the process by providing beautiful ideas and then all the reader has to do is put those ideas together to create a gorgeous, personalised sampler, or two. There really are so many motifs to choose from that one sampler may not be enough to satisfy. Can a home have too many samplers? I think not!

[This completed project is from one of the designs in the book]

Caroline Vincent outlines clearly fabric options and gives clear instructions for the novice. It is a great book for both experienced or beginner cross-stitchers. If you are new to the craft you can start with a small motif and build slowly with more small patterns. If you have been cross-stitching since your mother taught you at age nine (yes, that’s me) you can plan big and have a lot of fun with a big project.

I think this Sampler Workbook beautifully reinforces a traditional stitching idea but adds modern and interesting concepts that gives nervous creative types more confidence and as such enable embroiderers to have a lot of designer fun.

Reviewed by: Megan is a lover of all things knitted, sewn and embroidered and has way too much fabric, thread and yarn plus an over abundance of craft books. Add to this four gorgeous children and a very encouraging husband means her home can sometimes seem a little cosy. However, Megan loves all aspects of her over-crowded life so can only ever think of herself as being very lucky. Sitting on the couch with her current project on her lap is just icing on the cake. Did she mention she likes cooking – and eating…?



Today I want to welcome welcome Wendi Gratz to Whip Up.

Howdy! I’m Wendi and I teach sewing and embroidery to beginners of all ages at Shiny Happy World. I make things that are whimsical, colorful and happy – and you can too!

Cutie Pie Gift Bags
Use these to wrap small gifts, or make up a whole batch of them and use as special party favor bags.

Materials needed for each bag:
– 1 rectangle skin-colored fabric 4 x 7 inches (10 x 18cm)
– 2 rectangles hair-colored fabric 5 1/2 x 7 inches (14 x 18cm) and 9 x 7 inches (23 x 18cm)
– 1 piece of ribbon 24 inches (61cm) long
– embroidery floss for face (I use DMC #3371)
– embroidery floss to match the hair fabric
– Thread

Tools needed:
– sewing machine
– embroidery needle
– pins
– marking tools for transferring embroidery pattern
– pinking shears

Time needed: about 1 hour for each bag
Download embroidery pattern pdf here

1. Transfer the embroidery pattern (how to transfer tute) to the face fabric and stitch. I used 4 strands of floss, backstitch for the face and splitstitch for the hair. You could dramatically reduce the amount of time this project takes by drawing on the face and hair with fabric markers, but I really like to embroider. If you use fabric markers, stabilize the fabric first with some freezer paper – it will make it MUCH easier to draw on.

2. Sew the smaller hair rectangle to the top of the face using 1/4 inch seam allowance. Press the seam allowance toward the darker fabric. You’ve finished the front of the bag!

3. Fold the ribbon in half and pin it to one of the side seams, three inches down from the top. Pin the larger hair rectangle to the front of the bag, right sides together and with the ribbon sandwiched between the layers. Stitch around the sides and the bottom of the bag using 1/4 inch seam allowance. Leave the top open.
4. Box in the corners of the bag. Flatten each side of the bag sideways so that the bottom corner becomes a point with the side seam running up the center. Measure 1 inch from the tip of the side seam and draw a straight line perpendicular to the side seam, making a triangle. Stitch. It should look like this.
6. Turn the bag right side out. Use pinking shears to trim the top edge of the bag. Fill with candy or other small treats and tie closed.

7. Pat yourself on the back and make another – they’re so much fun! Experiment with different faces and hairstyles. It would be fun to make some silly monster faces too. Just remember that part of the face fabric rectangle will wrap under and around the sides of the bag – so use the original pattern as a guide for how big to draw the face and where to position it on the fabric. And please – share your creations at the new Shiny Happy Sewing School group on Flickr. I’d love to see what you make!


feeling inspired by ihanna’s wool embroidery

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design*sponge has a tutorial showing you how to make these elegant yet simple embroidered napkins – with neat mitred corners too!


September/October brings change of season, and fresh starts and frivolity and seriousness too. So for a break from whipup realtime I am introducing a few weeks of guest bloggers to liven up your crafty experience. To bring you something fresh, and hopefully invigorate you to make and do and be and think! Its going to be a fun few weeks so come along for the ride.

Today I want to welcome Mollie Johanson from the blog Wild Olive. Mollis is a freelance graphic designer by day and maker of things the rest of the times. She often features printables on her blog and through her etsy store. Her design background means she can create cool things like this bacon inspired fabric and this fern design which you can download for free.

I love the changing seasons, and look forward to each one. But autumn… that’s the best one. I could go on about the crunching leaves and the brisk air, but really, it’s all about the pumpkin spice latte. I love ’em, and I can’t wait until the day when I find out that my favourite coffee store sells them again. The thing about a beverage like this, is that it is the perfect companion for fall crafting. Specifically for me, give me some hooped fabric, embroidery floss, a needle, and a disconcertingly orange latte, and I’m a very happy girl!

And what could be more perfect than to combine these two loves, than an embroidery pattern declaring my love. If you share these feelings or know someone who does, then I welcome you to download the pattern I’ve created, and stitch and sip to your heart’s content.