Christina’s finish

In August of this year I was so fortunate to be able to meet up with Christina at The Attic Needlework’s Summer School in Arizona. Christina was busy stitching Jane Vaughan, a band sampler from Hands Across the Sea Samplers’ portfolio of reproductions.

Christina has now finish Jane and I would like to share her beautiful finish with you.

Congratulations Christina your Jane is stunning.

Elizabeth Charlotte Cotton 1753

I have just uploaded a new flosstube video that showcases the reproduction of Elizabeth Charlotte Cotton 1753 on behalf of Miss Jean Lea and The Attic Needleworks. The model has been exquisitely stitched by Bhooma Aravamudan . I also discuss lacing and framing samplers. Storage systems and colour selection. The original When Thou Art Rich is featured. I hope you enjoy my ramblings.



Woad and MH 1656

I posted this photo on the weekend which shows the vibrant blue found on the original sampler. It is quite amazing that the colour is so strong centuries (1656 !!) after it was dyed.

The dye most probably used was woad.

Since ancient times, woad was an important source of blue dye and was cultivated throughout Europe, especially in Western and Southern Europe. 

Woad was one of the three staples of the European dyeing industry, along with weld (yellow) and madder (red

Woad has a long association with East Anglia, the land of the Iceni tribe and of its famous leader Boudicca. The plant whose deep blue pigment was used as a warpaint by the ancient Britons to frighten their enemies

Woad was not used only for textile dyes and, for example the illustrators of the Lindisfarne Gospels (late 7th/early 8th century) used a woad-based pigment for the blue.

In medieval times there were important woad-growing regions in England, Germany and France. Towns such as Toulouse became prosperous from the woad trade. 

The blue threads in the Bayeux Tapestry were dyed using woad and the blue in the tapestry is the only colour not to have faded in more than 900 years. 

In England woad cultivation became strictly regulated in the late 1500s in a period of food shortage leading up to the famine of 1586 and concerns that too much land was being devoted to woad rather than to cereals. Queen Elizabeth I issued a “Proclamation against the sowing of woade” on 14 October 1585

The dye chemical extracted from woad is indigo, the same dye extracted from “true indigo”, Indigofera tinctoria, but in a lower concentration. 

When woad leaves are harvested, in July and September, they are washed and heated in hot water for several minutes. The blueish water is then mixed with chalk and left to settle. A blue paste is left after the water is poured off and this, when dry, can be ground into a fine powder to be used in paints, dyes and ink-making.

Clothes dyed with woad indigo at first appear yellow, but as they dry they turn green, then turquoise then finally deep blue.

Although woad has not been grown in the UK commercially since the 16th century, it was produced in Lincolnshire during the 1920s and 1930s to provide dye for Royal Air Force uniforms, before the adoption of synthetic colourings.

Finishing stitches – MH 1656 My Beloved’s Gift – The Stitch-a-Long Video 2

Finishing stitches where there is no laid stitch to hide them AND a BONUS clip at the very end. A sneak peak of a gorgeous and vibrant antique sampler that HATS will be reproducing.

PLEASE NOTE: there is a difference in visibility between the two pin stitches. The one that the needle has split the laid stitch on the front is a much better finish. The other one has pushed the laid stitch to the side. Practice and play around with how your manipulate your needle. This is nit picking but there is a slight difference that I feel is worth going the extra to achieve. 

Please click HERE


Wartime Memories

A beautiful piece of of First World War embroidery has been discovered in chest of drawers in Stoke-on-Trent. It was created by soldiers in 1917 to help them get over their experiences in the trenches.


Esther Benson 1739 – a new release

Hands Across the Sea Samplers are thrilled to present to you our latest reproduction – the beautiful Esther Benson 1739. 

Nicola was commissioned by Kimberley Young  to reproduce a sampler exclusively for Sassy Jacks Stitchery. This is a particularly beautiful and unusual sampler both for the scenes portrayed and the colours used. 

Nearly two hundred and eighty years ago a 9 year old girl put the last stitches into her sampler recording “Done by me Esther Benson aged of 9 year 1739 at London”.

There are two pictorial bands, the first is a beautiful Adam and Eve scene that is crammed full of animals, birds, stars, the moon and the sun. The Tree of Knowledge with the serpent twined on the trunk is in the centre of Adam and Eve. Esther has depicted Eve, who has succumbed to the serpent and eaten an apple from the tree, tempting Adam. To the right there is a sun representing day, whilst to the left is a crescent moon representing night. This is unusual as the moon is traditionally associated with the feminine and the sun with the masculine

The second pictorial band of Esther’s sampler is symmetrical in design and features 2 angels with trumpets, signifying that they are the voice of God, above a domed ecclesiastical building that is flanked by two oversized shrubs. It is in this building that the sampler shows its age and there has been thread loss. When we first saw this temple we initially thought that it was connected to Solomon’s Temple. However, this was to change when another sampler came into our collection that had the same building. This sampler’s near identical building bore a name – “The Temple of Fame”. After extensive research , we found that there was no connection to Solomon’s Temple and that our Temple had its own very interesting story that travels down the centuries. The story of the Temple of Fame goes back to 1379 when Geoffrey Chaucer, known as the Father of English.

The model was exquisitely stitched by Suzanne Sirotti in Australia.

We had great fun working with Kimberley on this project. Esther’s 32 page booklet booklet has much historical information. When researching her we were whisked back to a fascinating period in the history of London and we hope you enjoy the journey back in time too when stitching Esther.

Booklets, special cuts of linen in assorted counts and threads packs of DMC, AVAS d’Alger or NPI are available HERE

A comprehensive online workshop is also available through Sassy Jacks Stitchery.

A Stitch-a-Long for MH 1656 – My Beloved’s Gift

I will be leading a Stitch-a-Long for the beautiful band sampler MH 1656 – My Beloved’s Gift. The SAL will start in November and I will be posting a band a month. Whilst this will not be a workshop as such,  I will be sharing tips and tricks along the way and helping those stitching with me. For more information about the sampler please visit her webpage HERE

I will not be setting up a separate Facebook Page but will post each month in Our Samplers Years and the HATS Facebook page and the HATS blog on our website.

AVAS d’Alger & a 100/3 conversion for higher counts of linen.

Bathya – a reversible band sampler


I am so thrilled to present to my stitching sisters my finish of the reversible band sampler “Bathya” (you will need to click on the photos for them to open fully).

Every single stitch has been a joy. To achieve a truly reversible finish much thought and planning has had to go into each band. It has been like a jigsaw puzzle. A brain challenge !! However, once the stitch path was worked out my needle flew.

Bathya is a very special sampler with an amazing history -please see this video where Witney Antiques talk about the sampler shortly into the film.

She is also featured in many reference books.

Would you like learn how I stitched Bathya?

I will only be teaching Bathya on three occasions – the first in November at Fobbles in Cumbria, England.

As soon as the workshop was announced it was immediately oversubscribed so I will be running a back to back workshop. There are a handful of places left on Monday/Tuesday, November 4th/5th, 2018. Contact Beverley Trembath sooner rather than later if you are interested in attending.

The only other occasion I will be teaching Bathya is on a visit to the US probably in June 2019. This will be at Sassy Jacks Stitchery and The Attic Needleworks.

Bathya stitched her sampler with 15 vibrant shades of silks, ingeniously devising stitch patterns and motifs. These colours are taken from the front !!!

There is so much to delight in her sampler. She used a wide repertoire of stitches of varying intricacy. The stitches include two different versions of reversible cross stitch; one forms a cross on the reverse with a vertical stitch on the left and the other a four sided stitch on the reverse.

She also used double back stitch and diagonal double back stitch. These stitches appear plaited from the front and as two parallel rows of back stitch on the reverse, you might know them as closed herringbone.

Other stitches used were double sided Italian stitch; alternating double back stitch in groups of three, which represents the Trinity; detached buttonhole; french knots and satin stitch.

Bathya’s whitework bands are particularly elegant. Narrow whitework bands were an important part of a stitcher’s repertoire, they were used on collar bands both as an adornment and as stiffening so that the collars would stand proud.

If you would like to learn the techniques needed to re-create this stunning sampler please contact either:

Beverley at Fobbles in the UK
Kimberly Young at Sassy Jacks Stitchery in North Carolina
Jean Lea at The Attic Needleworks in Arizona

A forthcoming workshop

I will be at Sassy Jacks Stitchery in North Carolins teaching three x 2 day workshops on August 16/17, 18/19 & 21/21. This informal “off the cuff” video talks about the sampler and the workshop. There are 1 or 2 places still available.


In safe hands ?

We all use textiles in one form or another on a daily basis.   We are wrapped in them when we are born, they cushion our feet, they provide us with warmth whilst we sleep. They are carefully crafted into garments worn for important rites of passage, such as christenings, bar mitzvahs, and weddings.

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 1: Princess Diana's wedding gown is displayed at a preview of the traveling "Diana: A Celebration" exhibit at the National Constitution Center on October 1, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The exhibit, not shown in the U.S. since 2007, opens tomorrow and continues through December 31. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

Textiles adorn our walls and decorate our homes. A wide range of textiles are passed down through families and institutions, and with it comes the responsibility of caring for them.

The textiles we collect and preserve will generally fall into two categories –  those that we display and those that we use in a limited way such items as wedding and christening gowns.


In using and collecting textiles it is important to pass these items onto the next generation in the best possible condition.

Eventually they will become too fragile to use, or may be damaged beyond repair for the damage to be reversed even by the hands of a conservator.


Textiles that are displayed in homes and public buildings are subject to deterioration by many environmental factors such as light, temperature and relative humidity, dust and dirt, insects, and improper storage or display.

The critical factors in maintaining your textile collection are control of environmental conditions, proper display techniques, and proper storage.

Whilst the standards museums strive for are not feasible in the home I still thought, in my naivety,  that I was caring for my collection of antique samplers in a responsible way.

One of the greatest threats to textiles is light. The worst damage is caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation from natural daylight. I knew that it was important  to  display my samplers  out of direct sunlight and for limited periods of time. I had been advised that I should rotate them every four months allowing them to “rest” in proper storage for the remainder of the year.

What I hadn’t realized was that the same level of damage could be caused by fluorescent light bulbs. I am now re-looking at the way I light my home


While the UV rays damage most rapidly, the entire light spectrum causes textile dyes to fade and the fibers to become brittle. This includes plain incandescent interior lighting. There is some protection in keeping window shades pulled down or shutters closed during the sunniest times of the day. UV filtering materials or films can be placed over windows and fluorescent bulbs.

Other important factors to consider are high temperatures and humidity as they accelerate the deterioration of textiles and provide a climate for insects, mould, and mildew.

A climate of 65-70°F and 50-55% relative humidity is best with as little fluctuation as possible.

Air pollution is also an enemy of textiles. Fumes from vehicles and industry affect some dyes. Dirt and dust is a problem as dust particles act like small knives, cutting into fibers as the textiles expand and contract in response to changes in humidity. A regular schedule of inspection and vacuuming is necessary to maintain your collection.


If you add a sampler to  your collection before bringing it into your home inspect it carefully including the frame. You do not want insect pests contaminating your other samplers or textiles. If you see clumps of eggs or even an odd egg beware of cross-contamination.

Embroidered samplers can “yellow” as they age, often so much that they appear a dirty brown colour.

This is a combination of the natural degradation of sampler material and the acidic backboards they were mounted on.

This acidity accumulates over the years, not only yellowing, but also adding to the fragility of the samplers and the degradation of their appearance.

Samplers benefit from being cleaned by a trained conservator – the washing treatment will remove acidic products. The reduction of the yellowing will make the sampler look fresher and will make it more stable for the future.

A conservator can stabilise and secure holes and loose threads but the fading of the threads cannot be reversed.

The conservator will be able to re-frame your sampler using conservation grade materials that are acid free and cause no adverse pressure or environmental effects on the sampler.

We are custodians of the needlework of yesteryear and we have a responsibility to ensure that the needlework and textiles in our care are passed onto the next generation in the best possible condition.

A token of affection


The Victorian era, 1837-1901, is characterised as the domestic age par excellence, epitomised by Queen Victoria, who came to represent a kind of femininity which was centred on the family, motherhood and respectability. Accompanied by her beloved husband Albert, and surrounded by her many children in the sumptuous but homely surroundings of Balmoral Castle, Victoria became an icon of late-19th-century middle-class femininity and domesticity.

Indeed, Victoria came to be seen as the very model of marital stability and domestic virtue. Her marriage to Albert represented the ideal of marital harmony. She was described as ‘the mother of the nation’, and she came to embody the idea of home as a cosy, domestic space. When Albert died in 1861 she retreated to her home and family in preference to public political engagements.

Queen Victoria was a supporter and promoter of embroidery and domestic crafts.



There is a very interesting video on Royal baby clothing at the Museum of London that includes a pair of shoes that Queen Victoria embroidered.

Following Victoria’s lead the middle and upper class ladies devoted much of their time to needlework which had evolved from a craft to a feminine accomplishment which signified gentility.

Idleness was considered frivolous and profitable use of a lady’s time was morally important. Fancywork was a display of genteel industry.


In the 19th century the creation and giving of a handmade gift was the ultimate expression of feminine arts and an important ritual.

Embroidered gifts were made for births, marriages and birthdays. They were also given to celebrate the New Year. Fancywork manuals and magazine devoted sections to the production of the homemade gift. Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1847 advised their readers

“Not the most costly present bought with money would be so highly prized as the delicate trifle made by the fair hand that presents it”

Queen Victoria’s childhood diary notes that she gave a pin cushion to her governess and and received a pincushion from her maid. When she became Queen she continued to make needlework gifts. All her daughters handmade gifts for family birthdays and Christmas.

The Lady’s Manual of Fancywork (1859) lists suitable items for presents. A pdf of the BOOK is available to view.

Despite its age it is still an interesting book packed full of information on “Ornamental Embroidery”

Today in the age of commercialism when stores are constantly promoting gifts for one holiday or another it is easy to overlook the importance of the homemade gift.The pleasures of giving and receiving homemade gifts are many. They are a gift of affection, imagination and creativity. Gifts that show time was put into them are the most meaningful.


I had great delight this weekend to open a surprise package that contained a pin cushion that has been exquisitely cross stitched. Much thought and time had gone into creating the cushion and it will be treasured as a token of affection.

Jane Austen’s Sewing Box

Whilst researching the Bronte Samplers yesterday I discovered a book that was published in 2009 – Jane Austen’s Sewing Box – Craft Projects and Stories from Jane Austen’s Novels by Jennifer Forest


All well-bred Regency ladies aspired to be highly accomplished. They painted tables, covered screens, and netted purses as Austen’s character Charles Bingley matter-of-factly describes in Pride and Prejudice (among other talents), all to allure and secure husband.

Women of this era were great at handiwork – sewing, drawing and trimming bonnets. Author Jennifer Forest has researched Regency crafts compiling this lovely volume of projects to turn you into the accomplished woman that even Mr. Darcy might admire. (Publisher’s description) Jane Austen’s Sewing Box opens a window into the lives of Regency women during a beautiful period in arts, crafts and design. Jennifer Forest examines Jane Austen’s novels and letters to reveal a world where women are gripped by crazes for painting on glass and netting purses, economise by trimming an old bonnet, or eagerly turn to their sewing to avoid an uncomfortable conversation. Based on Jane Austen’s novels and with illustrated step-by-step instructions for eighteen craft projects, this beautifully presented book will delight Jane Austen fans, lovers of history and literature and craft enthusiasts alike. Murdoch Books, ISBN: 978-1741963748

Musings from an English Church

If you visit an English Church you are sure to see hand embroidered kneelers a plenty made by the good ladies of the parish.


These kneelers are stitched in wool yarn with a style of embroidery known as Berlin wool work “BWW” – a style of embroidery similar to needlepoint. The two most common stitches found in BWW are cross stitch and tent stitch although Beeton’s book of Needlework (1870) describes 15 different stitches for use in BWW. Coloured beads are sometimes added to accent a design.

An interesting stitch used in BWW is the Surrey stitch which creates a thick three dimensional pile that adds a richness and reality to floral designs. It is a form of turkey work which we occasionally see in the reproduction samplers we love to stitch.



A good tutorial is available from the needlepoint teacher and can be watched HERE

BWW was developed in Germany in the 19th century and was based on hand painted cross stitch charts that were worked with a very soft wool that was spun in the city of Saxe-Gotha. The wool was taken to Berlin, where it was dyed in brilliant, large colour palettes. This was possible due to the discovery of aniline dyes.


Artists in Berlin soon began to develop charts and classic paintings were copied onto canvas in squares of colour together with original designs of flowers and geometric shapes.

“Point” paper (graph paper using 1 square to the inch) was used to show coloured blocks that corresponded to the squares on the canvas. Before this, colours had been shown by codes and patterns that were printed using copper plates. A very expensive process.

Now the embroiderer could follow a coloured graph by counting lines, squares, and stitches on a blank canvas. A new canvas was created that had parallel threads crossing at larger intervals, and that innovation was followed by the inclusion of a blue line placed vertically at intervals of 5 or 10 threads to help the stitcher count.

The wool used for Berlin work was softer than crewel thread, which was wiry and twisty, and strands of woven crewel thread were very difficult to separate. Berlin wool was manufactured for knitting as well as embroidery.

Eventually, Berlin wool was produced in Yorkshire by blending German and English wool. English needleworkers preferred a softer colour palette to the brilliant German colours.

BWW became very popular in Victorian England and soon homes were full of durable and long-lived pieces of embroidery that could be used as furniture covers, fire screens, cushions, bags and clothing. Our churches too with the kneelers for the church pews which started my musing on Berlin wool work.

Now While My Hands Are Thus Employed – Three Centuries of Historic Samplers



To coincide with the London season of fine art and antique fairs commencing 24th June – July 7th 2016, WITNEY ANTIQUES have decided to hold an exhibition of historic samplers in their Oxfordshire showrooms and extend to all a warm welcome.
The exhibition will run from:
Sunday June 26th 2-5 pm and Monday June 27th to July 17th 2016 from 10am – 5pm daily.

‘ Now While My Hands Are Thus Employed’
Three Centuries of Historic Samplers

A full colour catalogue illustrating around fifty samplers will be available from June 1st 2016.
Many of these historic pieces are from private collections and all will be for sale.
The exhibition will cut across all levels of society embracing both the affluent and the poor and stands as a testament to the skill and perseverance of the young and their talented teachers. Whether worked with a view to future employment, for pleasure or in order to be the mistress of a large household, they illuminate the lives of girls and young women going back over 300 years.
Their stock of rare 17th Century embroidery will also be on view.
Admission is free. For those of us attending The Feller Tour on July 6th a visit to the exhibition could easily be combined.


Witney Antiques have changed their email address to

Elizabethan Stitches – Jacqui Carey



One of our favourite needlework books at Hands Across the Sea Samplers is Elizabethan Stitches by Jacqui Carey. Mary Corbet did a wonderful in depth review of the book when it was released in 2012 and described it as one of the “You Definitely Need This” books, whether you’re a fan of historic English needlework or simply a surface embroiderer who is interested in all kinds of stitches and their applications!

Here is the link to her review.



Living in a remote part of Cornwall on England’s most southerly tip it is rare (rarer than hen’s teeth) for a course to be available and close by  that catches Nicola’s attention. She couldn’t believe it when she discovered that not only does Jacqui Carey live in the next County (still a five hour round trip) but she runs courses from her home.



Together with some friends Nicola will be attending a course in April on Elizabethan Stitches – she is beyond excited. There is so much that is to be learnt about these stunning stitches from the period.


VLUU L310W L313 M310W / Samsung L310W L313 M310W

Elizabethan Stitches

Jacqui Carey’s analysis of old textiles has revealed that ‘modern’ stitches are structurally different to the ones found on late 16th & early 17th century objects. Therefore the techniques used in this era were also different. During the workshop, Jacqui will share her extensive research work by discussing actual examples dating from this period (lots of lovely photographs, but sadly no actual artefacts).
Students will learn about the historical context of the embroidery, before trying their hand at some of the stitches, and starting work on their own ‘spot’ sampler.
For the historic embroiderer, this was a material ‘sketch book’ that allowed them to test and record ideas. Spot samplers were a visual storehouse of motifs, patterns, ideas, colour ways and stitch textures, and as such were a valued resource. Students who would prefer to work towards a finished product have the option of using their sample stitching as the start of a small item such as a purse or ‘sweet bag’.

The workshop will start with an illustrated talk that will set the historical scene. It will include a discussion of the detective work involved in gathering evidence, and the delights and challenges of doing object-based research. Students will then have the opportunity to explore historic design sources, and discover how the embroiderer transferred and interpreted them.
Practical work will cover the instruction for several period stitches. These will include some needlepoint, plaited braid stitches, and punto in aria (stitches in air). Students will make a large-scale sample in order to understand the construction of each stitch, before embarking on smaller scale production, as part of a design worked onto their spot sampler, or purse.

Emma at 200 – An Exhibition celebrating Jane Austen


This year is the bicentenary of the publication of Jane Austen’s novel Emma. It was published by John Murray II on 23 December 1815, with 1816 on the title page. In March Chawton House Library  will be launching an exhibition to commemorate this landmark in Jane Austen’s publishing career.

Items from the Chawton collection, and the Knight family collection  will be used to talk about the world of the novel and its reception through the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

It has been suggested that Donwell Abbey in Emma was modelled on Chawton House.

An entire room of the exhibition is going to be devoted to the topic of female accomplishments – music, painting and, of course, needlework – which readers of the novel will know loom large in this, as in all, Austen’s novels.

Embroidery from the Great Lady’s Magazine Stitch Off will be on show at the exhibition.

The exhibition runs from 21 March to 25 September 2016.

Chawton House Library is an internationally respected research and learning centre for the study of early women’s writing from 1600 to 1830. Access to the library’s unique collection is for the benefit of scholars and the general public alike. Set in the quintessentially English manor house that once belonged to Jane Austen’s brother, Edward.

The Great Lady’s Magazine is having a Stitch Off



They want to recreate and bring back to life a handful of some of the hundreds of embroidery patterns the Lady’s Magazine (1770-1832) published every month over the course of its 62-year run.

They want to learn from your experiences about the challenges and pleasures of ‘work’, as it would have been known at the time, that would have occupied many of the magazine’s readers.

For more information please follow this link

Sold at auction February 23rd 2016 for £5.500 GBP plus premium


Auctioneers description – A fine embroidered pictorial sampler, English, dated 1711, the fine wool ground entirely covered in ivory silk Gobelin stitch, with large central pot of blooms initialled ‘S.B.’ surrounded by large floral slips, insects, birds, and animals including a hare and a dalmation, 31 by 26cm, 12 by 10 1/4in within glazed frame

Colours are good, wear and faint discoloration to very outer edges. Good condition


We believe the main stitch is Queen or Rococo Stitch rather than Gobelin.

Antique needlework Queen Stitch Rocco Stitch

Antique needlework Queen Stitch Rocco Stitch

The Broderers Of St Paul’s Cathedral



At Hands Across the Sea Samplers we love to learn something new every day about embroidery and we eagerly devored an interesting article in Spitalfields Life about the Broderers of St Paul’s Cathedral.



If you climb the 141 steps to a windowless chamber high up in a tower of St Paul’s Cathedral you will find The Broderers of St Pauls. The 14 needleworkers  are currently busy restoring of a banner of St Barnabas.

The full article can be found here  Spitalfields Life

Occasionally there are opportunities to join the Broderers, so if you have embroidery, dressmaking or mending skills and would be interested in becoming a Broderer please email


A Pin for Every Purpose




I have been on the hunt for stainless steel rust proof pins to remount an antique sampler.


I have been surprised to find I am struggling to source some in the UK.


A search of the internet threw up a very interesting article on the subject of pins that is well worth a read and bookmarking for future reference.




Which brand of pins do you recommend for mounting a sampler?


A Thank You

Hands Across the Sea Samplers have been deeply touched by the support they have received in launching their new venture. Nicola and Sandra want to thank every one of you and we have a small thank you gift for you to enjoy.
We have received so many emails from old friends and new, from all over the world, offering congratulations and good wishes.
We have been grateful too for the selfless support and promotion given by other designers who have guided us in the complexities of the market and offered wise words of advice. Barbara Hutson of Queenstown Samplers, Jackie du Plessis of Fine-ally Finished, Pam Schmidt of Prairie Sampler, Ellen Chester of With Thy Needle and Thread, Carmen Sutton of Cardan Antiques and Needlework, Moira Blackburn, Tanya Renner Brockmeyer of The Scarlet House and Melinda Cole of Merrywind Farm.
Together with Jean Lea of The Attic and Joy Jarrett of Witney Antiques who have also guided us. Their generosity of spirit is greatly appreciated.
Most of all we would like to say a HUGE THANK YOU to all of those who have purchased and stocked our first design – Miss Mary Ann Bournes.
We cannot wait to share with you several stunning samplers currently in production and due for release this year. All chosen especially for their beauty.
When putting together our designs and charts we have tried to make them unique and to do so from a stitcher’s point of view. We have taken features we love from charts we have enjoyed working from, added a few extras and got creative with our artwork to make our charts little gems to collect and cherish.
We are very open to input from our stitchers so please let us know if you would like to see any other features to make the charts even more enjoyable to work with.
Very soon we will be releasing our second chart and as a thank you to all our supporters we have a free chart of a sweet motif taken from this sampler; it would be ideal for a bookmark.  Click HERE to download.

Detached buttonhole filling – a tutorial


This stitch is no different to any other so don’t panic or dismiss trying it. Practice will help you understand the mechanics of the stitch. Then you will fall into its rhythm and be able to perfect your tension.

Tension is important – it is easy to work it too tightly or too loosely. Practice on a doodle cloth until you feel comfortable.

Let’s look at a symmetrical shape to practice with. An acorn cup is a good one.

The first step is to stitch out the shape of the acorn cup using double running or back stitch. I have used double running.



Without piercing the fabric go under the first double running stitch and under the trailing thread.


Go over the the loop of your working thread and pull gently.


This completes the first button hole stitch.


Repeat through each double running stitch until the row is complete.


I found it useful to use my needle to prevent pulling the thread too tight and maintain an even tension across the motif.


Ensure you include the last double running stitch.



Take the thread down under the fabric here.


The first row is complete.


Repeat the whole process again starting with laying another trailing thread.







Lay the last trailing thread. Anchor the last row by taking your needle not only under the buttonhole loop, the trailing thread but also under the double running stitch.



From the back of the fabric you can see that the fabric has not been pierced by the detached buttonhole stitches.

18Let us look at a more complicated shape- a flower.


I began by outlining the first petal in double running stitch. Then started to stitch the rows of detached buttonhole in the right hand tip.


Don’t worry too much how the row looks as you stitch it. When adding the following row you will see the prior row take shape.  Have confidence in your work – see how the same rows look in the photo above and then the photo below.

Then I worked the left hand tip followed by a line of stitches across the entire width of the petal


Cast on extra stitches as you work across so that there is room to add padding to the petal to give it shape.

I used ends of thread (ORTS) of the same colour, scrunched up and pushed under the stitching before the last row was stitched and then secured the petal by anchoring down the last row.

I then worked the petals either side of the first one, followed by the fourth, then finally the centre.


Please excuse the lines on this photo.


I used a Mill Hill petite bead to pad the petals of the little flower as they were too small to pad with thread.


Detached Buttonhole Filling can be used to create wonderful textures and add dimension to your work. The same flower has been stitched above in satin stitch and detached buttonhole filling.

1 & 2 are acorn cups using the shape we practiced with above. The leaf marked at 3 has been padded and the leaf at 4 has no padding.

Have fun experimenting with this stitch.

A sneak peak of a big and bold girl



At Hands Across the Sea Samplers we have all hands on deck and are busy stitching and charting. An English sampler with a very interesting border is currently being stitched by Suzanne who does the most exquisite needlework.


This colourful sampler is a  REALLY BIG GIRL who is going to look fabulous on your sampler wall.


She is due for release towards the end of the summer but we will share some more peaks as she grows.



A visit to the Crewel Gobelin in Sydney, Australia.


Hands Across the Sea Samplers were privileged yesterday to visit The Crewel Gobelin in Sydney which is a beautiful store jam packed with goodies to delight the most discerning of stitchers in Australia.
Representing H.A.T.S were Sandra one of our designers and Suzanne, a very talented embroiderer who model stitches for us.12506952_10207723146292609_1030205970_n
Sandra enjoyed the afternoon meeting a lovely group of samplers lovers, answering questions about our new release Miss Mary Ann Bournes 1791 and autographing her chart.
The ladies attending were thrilled to see the models of three other designs being released in 2016 but don’t worry we will be sharing some photos with all our customers over the next few weeks.

The Crewel Goblein