Promises…

Chanteuse silk pjs

I have begun to view all the piles of stashed away fabrics as promises to keep. I have noticed that as the fabric piles higher, I spend a lot of time in the planning, but not so much in the execution. So I have been resolute in keeping my own promises to myself.

After sorting through my fabrics I came across some beautiful delicate silk. When I bought this fabric, I was imagining beautiful silk pjs, for the summer months, but they have been hidden away in a drawer for too long. Having been adjusting my trouser pattern last week, I took the plunge and went ahead and here they are! If you ever want to treat yourself to real luxurious pampering, then this is the ideal choice, I cannot tell you how softly they caress my body, how easy it is to turn over in bed with them, and how much they sooth me, slipped on after a warm bath.

Tips for sewing with silk

Use a very fine needle, and this is really the time when start your project with a new needle is vital. I used a 60 which is as fine as machine needles go.

Use a rotary cutter, and pattern weights. This fabric will shift and move so easily that scissors will make it impossible to cut, as you need to lift the fabric with each snip.

Change your rotary cutting blade – silk is so delicate but very tough, a new blade slices through accurately and easily.

Cut in single pieces only, remembering to turn them – right side up and then right side down in order to get your two pieces both ways.

Use quilters clips rather than pins – the clips don’t pierce the fabric, which can leave holes.

Apply the most pressure under your foot, (my machine has an adjustment for the foot pressure, I set it to maximum) it means that the foot will keep the silk held tight and the feed dogs will be able to do the work of moving this through.

Use French seams – this fabric does not like overlockers! You may find it starts to pucker, so instead use your sewing machine and use French seams to enclose your edges. I did use an overlocked raw edge on the bottom of my pjs, which seemed to work well.

Let the summertime begin

We visited Butser Ancient Farm’s Beltane celebrations – ending with the burning of the wicker man, what a fabulous man he was! The drumming was wonderful as ever, it was lovely to celebrate the height of spring and welcoming of Summer – many people were dressed with flowers in their hair, celtic music and lovely honey mead lulled us gently into the evening as the son settled on the rolling hills. There is something primal in our souls that connects with gatherings around a fire, the setting with the roundhouses, was almost like being a time traveller!

I chose the glorious May blossoms for my little Artist Card swap this month – these are only the size of a credit card, but lovely to do. I used a rough twine for the branches, daisy stitch with French knots in delicate shades of pink. The background is a hexi quilt I am slowing working on. Its one of those soothing projects that needs no thought or concentration – just the simple joy of meditative stitch.

I was very sad to reach the end of Anne with an E on Netflix, I loved the whole three series! I loved the farmhouse! Never having read any of the Anne of Green Gables books, I met the series with an open mind – (TV and film adaptations are never as good as the book!) I found it wonderful. There were so many things that resonated with me, not fitting it, having a wild imagination and most of all finding a family and a place of belonging. It is a delight!

My bluebells won’t fade!

The bluebells are giving way for the Irises, the Camelia has just a few spots of pink among its glossy leaves and the Calia Lillies are abundant; their graceful tall white flowers are the essence of beauty and simplicity, I can’t resist bringing one inside. I notice on my daily walks, that the elders’ buds are coming on, soon it will be cordial season. I am not sure, though, if I will make any this year as last year’s supply is still there.

My roses ready for June’s posting!

I dragged the large suitcase down of the top of the wardrobe today, – it is wonderful to reacquaint myself with all my summer clothes, it feels like a whole new wardrobe. I pulled everything out, stacked it on the bed and had a good sort through, there is a small bag to be gifted, a large bag of mending/fixing (dresses I bought that need altering that I somehow keep on putting off) and a large basket of ironing. After an hour of happy memories, the wardrobe is full of summer loveliness and the winter layers tucked up to rest for the summer.

My reading this week

Anyone who knows me will say that I am not good at sitting still, but work has been incredibly stressful recently so I booked myself three days holiday wrapped around this weekend. I have tried to rest, in that I am not filing every single moment with ‘craft’ instead I wanted to use the time to reflect. I have been having very bad health issues – I wanted to take time out to dig deep and try and understand what is going on, and try and heal myself from within.

Its been good – yesterday, I lay on the sofa and read…. I haven’t done that in a very long time. When I became a mother, reading felt unproductive, when my time was freed up from childcare, I replaced it with crafting, but the reality is – dressmaking is working, so is a lot of other things I do that fill my time, not many of them are actually REST FULL. However, Glendy Vanderah’s The light through leaves – was so captivating, I could not put it down. Its the second book of her’s I’ve read, I love her writing so much she is on my Amazon Alert list…. I’ve waited a long time, for another book, I wasn’t disappointed. Glendy’s writing is so evocative, at the heart of it is how nature has the ability to heal us all, the characters she creates are extraordinary, broken people, with their struggles that you slowly see emerging back to life. The places she creates and the characters become family that I am wrenched from at the end. Always, uplifting, sometimes sad, but definitely restful. I hope you find it just as wonderful as I do.

Ttfn x

The season of rest

It is the season of rest

Christmas and New Year is behind us and we take up the reigns again, going back to our busy lives. If, like me, you are beginning the year with intentions to diet – I am finding the going tough. Its too dark to walk after work, and my whole being wants to snuggle down and lift the covers over my head in these dark mornings. Fighting nature, the dark and the cold, (although mild here always) is wearying.

I wonder then, as I walk round the park at lunchtime with my dog, why am I fighting against nature, nearly all the trees are resting, the birds are quieter and this morning the mist rolled in creating an eerie scene. The ground is cold, some of the spring bulbs are stirring, but only just peeping their heads through the soil.

So I decide to treat myself with compassion instead of beating myself up for being overweight and not going to the cold swimming pool, or sweat it out at the gym. Instead I will do what I can do, feed myself warming, hearty soups, warm home made whole meal bread and rest. I am eating healthier, and walking, doing what I can… in the season of rest.

Queen Victoria’s home, Osbourne House – Textiles from the Queen’s bedroom

We visited Osbourne House on the Isle of Wight, the home of Queen Victoria and Albert who built the house for the family to get away from the bustle of London. When Queen Victoria died, her apartments were closed off and the house given to the Government to use as a military hospital. Fortunately this meant that a lot of the personal items of the Queen remained intact and are now open to visitors.

Queen Victoria’s portrait hangs surrounded by pictures of her children

What fascinated me most, were the textiles on display, these images are of the Queen’s bedroom, which is decorated in a beautiful floral motif.

Such a delicate design, the carpet is very vivid and beautiful, it reminds me of the Berlinwork that was so popular during her lifetime. I would love to have a chintz chaise long, lay back and enjoy reading a book while the sun pours through.

The bed is magnificent, the Valance has these delicate silk beaded edging, and the bedspread has exquisite embroidery. This is where the Queen passed away.

There is so much to see that you need quite a long time to be able to take it all in, from the Gallery with beautiful busts to the opulent gold room with its curtains to the Indian Room, where the walls and frescos are like a royal iced wedding cake.

These are beautiful containing braiding along the edge – in a room where all the upholstery is also gold makes for an opulent setting. The reflective quality still showed through despite the protective low level lighting.

I love the muted colours and the swirls of the pattern in this fabric, each window is about 20 feet high, enormous! The rear of the fabric is almost as beautiful as the right way up!

There weren’t many textiles in this room, apart from the curtains, but there is so much beauty in the intricate shapes and swirls that cover ever inch of the room. It was a labour of love, most definitely.

If the House wasn’t enough of a retreat, Albert built a Swiss Cottage in the grounds about a 20minute walk from the main house, where the children could spent time and gave an even more informal space for the family to enjoy precious time alone. Albert was very keen that his children should understand and be connected with the ordinary people. A guide informed me that the beautiful little miniature shop, with all the goods and items replicated in such lovely detail was a teaching aid. The royal family never went into a shop and so the model was to teach his children how shops worked!

When you compare the decoration of the main house, this is a more rustic style that nods to living more simply. The children each had an allotment – they were expected to do all the work, sowing, watering and gardening – Albert would buy the vegetables they grew for their pocket money.

The secondary building is full of glass cabinets containing various items from all the cultures at the time, including a tiny Chinese Shoe from a foot binding, Japanese silks, African artefact and Egyptian items recovered by Edward himself on his archeological digs. There is also a large selection of stuffed birds and creatures as well as geology.

Manufacturing cotton

However what delighted me the most was this small table cabinet on which was displayed cotton manufacturing from roving right up to its printed form. I could have stood there most of the day, I would have loved to touch these items. It looks as if it was made as a teaching aid by the manufacturing company itself.

It is wonderful to see the different processes, the textures of the cloth and the different qualities from a wide range of sources.

Thomas Bazley Cotton Manufacturer display.

It is incredible that this still survives intact, the colours are still bright and the labels are so beautifully scripted in an elegant hand. Thomas Bazley was a cotton manufacturer, and Liberal politician for Manchester. We know that the cotton manufacturing originated in India and the process was brought to England by the East India company.

Traditional costume from around the world.

There are also displays of traditional dress throughout the world during the Victorian era, these are simply exquisite dolls! It reminds me of the little dolls my father used to bring back for me when he came home on leave from the Navy.

there seem to be many beautiful exhibits

These beautiful exhibits appear to be gifted to the Queen, the bale of Cotton from Boston, USA sent by a Mrs Marcos, Silk from Port Natal.

Also included are cottage industry yarns and threads from Ireland. The hank of flax, to make linen is now seen in our fields as the beautiful yellow rape! Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be a textile industry in England anymore. The mills of the North were eventually in decline when India stopped importing English style clothing as advised by Mahatma Gandhi in the lead up to Indian Independence. Cotton manufacturing came full circle and is now done mostly in India today given that it was their tradition before it was transferred to England.

Queen Victorias Spinning wheel

Interestingly, Queen Victoria loved to spin – her spinning wheel is displayed in her private rooms at Osbourne House.

It is a wonderful place to visit, we really enjoyed our day, finished off with a cream tea in the gardens.

ttfn xx

Window stitch meditation

We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.”

-Dale Carnegie.

window design found here

I came across this colouring book page on Pinerest: Sadly, the link on the image is a dead end, the site doesn’t even show the image or give credit to the artist. If you are the artist, please let me know so I can give you the appreciation you deserve!

The image needed simplifying to create a workable embroidery design, but it was a perfect project to experiment with wool, and try my hand at Crewelwork.

Appletons make a variety of wools for tapestry and crewelwork, what I love is that the colour ways come in both crewel and tapestry varieties which mean you can use a combination of textures.

“An evil person is like a dirty window, they never let the light shine through.”.

William Makepeace Thackeray

The tapestry wool made the humble chain stitch stand out, I used three shades to try and give some depth in the colours. The bullion knots come out really beautifully with the tapestry wool, winding anticlockwise is key to getting the twist of the wool right.

“The window frame is not that important. What is important is the light that comes through the window.”

• Eckhart Tolle

Appletons tapestry wool

I used a lovely piece of vintage linen, I bought a whole set of chair backs in a charity shop, their pristine starched beauty is an ideal base for these mini meditations. I decided to try my hand at some form of Hardanger but the weave was not quite regular enough to be really uniform, so I opted instead for my awl, creating a daisy like effect of net curtains.

A smile is the light in your window that tells others that there is a caring, sharing person inside.”

-Denis Waitley.

Windows metaphors

Windows have a lot of metaphorical meaning, I can’t help but wonder if I was also attracted to the design because of how I am feeling in my life? I feel I am on the inside looking out, but maybe you are on the outside looking in? Windows are interesting aren’t they?

“Most people are mirrors, reflecting the moods and emotions of the times; few are windows, bringing light to bear on the dark corners where troubles fester.”

• Sydney J. Harris.

“Who says you cannot hold the moon in your hand?

Tonight when the stars come out and the moon rises in the velvet sky, look outside your window, then raise your hand and position your fingers around the disk of light.

― Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

TTFN x

Upcycling – an old office chair

New from old, recovering an old office chair

This old office chair was destined for the tip, it was black, uncomfortable and would not raise in height to be of any use – but I am reluctant to send anything into landfill these days, so I decided to give it a new lease of life!

the frame with the seat and back removed

The seat and back came off separately, as they were just bolted on – sadly there was no way of repairing the old mechanism for raising the chair, so I decided to come up with a thicker seat to add height. The cushioning on the chair was not very deep, making it very uncomfortable. I bought some 3inch deep foam the width and depth of the seat. I placed the seat onto the foam and drew round with a marker pen. I cut away any excess from the foam to create a seat the right shape.

I covered the foam in wadding – to prevent the foam from being broken down by the movement of the cover using large stitching to remain in place. I used crochet cotton, which is thicker than ordinary thread and works well for this. Hand stitching is key to creating these covers, some can be done on machine, but its being able to sew seams closed that makes it easy.

piping for the edge

To get a really crisp edge round your chair of any shape, simply lay your fabric right side up, lay the cushion on top and pin the piping neatly around the shape. You want the open edge to the rough edge of the fabric, the piped edge needs to be pinned hard up against your foam pad. I have a piping foot for my machine that makes the whole job so much easier. If you are making a box cushion you then stitch the side edges to the bias binding right sides together / wrong side uppermost.

You can see along the edge the seaplane has been pattern matched. I could have used on continuous piece but it uses a lot of fabric – making smaller strips is more economical. As the bottom of the seat was wood, I simply drew the fabric together and hand stitched, gathering in the fabric to make a clean bottom edge. I then used a glue gun to keep the fabric from fraying and covered it up with gimp. (glued over the seam edge to neaten it)

Then it is repeating the process for the back, here it was more challenging to get the right shape as the back section was very curved, however I laid out the piped edge around the back. You can see the original fabric of this seat, it was black with a stretch.

the back section ready to be covered

The back section did not have a uniform depth nor was it a regular rectangle, the top was wider than the bottom and the depth was thinner at the top and wider nearer the seat cushion. It is why I chose to do most of the cushion by hand, using the thinner crochet cotton because of its strength. You have much more control and the ability to stitch very close, which is not so easy when you wrestle trying to get your fabric under a sewing foot! I did do both the panels piping by machine and then stitched the sides by hand.

It isn’t perfect but it is complete! The shape turned out to be more complex than I imagined, but it is the hand stitching that makes all the difference. Stitching in the ditch with a curved needle meant all the stitches remained hard to see. However, it is hard on the hands, a good set of pliers is very handy to pull the circular needle through all those layers of fabric.

The wonderful thing about this revamped chair, is that the cushioning is so soft it is like using an armchair but with the added bonus of wheels! It will have more good years of use which is good for the environment!

ttfn x

My soul is fed by needle and thread… mini quilt

My soul is fed by needle and thread blue and green mini hexi quilt

I have been experimenting with printing onto fabric using my desktop printer, this is the first project I created using ‘pages’ to create a hexie quilt pattern. I never really know if I choose the threads first or if the colours of the project are foremost in my mind but I adore blues and greens – they are so calming.

colour variation of photograph depend on the time of day.

I have to admit to being obsessed with negative space, I adore hexies but struggle with patterned fabric to get the look I want – I have some beautiful Vintage Laura Ashley fabric but the shape just doesn’t sit right. It was the reason why last year I ended up creating a hexie quilted cushion – but I embroidered all the hexies instead of using fabric.

Embroidered Hexies on white cotton March 2020

This time I wanted to introduce a back ground colour but still embroider the tops, so I made a very simple design of hexies on the computer using pages (the Mac equivalent of word). I have been using a lot of quotations in my stitch meditations so I decided to use one of those. I laid out the quote altering the fonts and size until I was happy with the layout of the words. I really did not want to spend hours stitching text so I was happy to use a printed text.

Adjusting the font and size

I didn’t like the centre hexie to be coloured, I wanted it plain but then I liked the idea of the flower shape so I added a pale yellow circle to the centre of the flower. I wanted the other hexies to drift down the quilt as if they were falling petals. I liked the muted palette; keeping to blues and greens with a small amount of yellow. I did play with the idea of adding in shades of pinks and purples but decided against it.

Variegated threads and textural stitching

It has been a long time since I last picked up stranded cotton – I abandoned these threads for cotton Perle and more recently Crewel wool – however, coming back to them again made me appreciate the flexibility in terms of thicknesses and ease of stitch. Cotton glides through the material when comparing it to wool. I varied the thicknesses, using 6 strands for the French knots around the centre – two strands in the spider web and four strands around the border.

My soul is fed by needle and thread blue and green mini hexi quilt

There are so many possibilities with hexies – but I decided to focus on two styles a more linear effect – creating a shell pattern and straight lines of chain stitching alongside feather stitch created a geometric effect. The circular motifs were a nice contrast the variegated thread giving a lovely effect as it moved from green to blue and back again.

My soul is fed by needle and thread blue and green mini hexi quilt

I decided to use a white thread for the quilting – once again a fan of negative space, but I followed random lines of swirls or curved lines. I had to add another layer of wadding as the cotton batting did not give me enough loft.

My soul is fed by needle and thread blue and green mini hexi quilt

The hexies now stood out as I stitched the background, compressing the white to create a contrast. Its not easy to see that the hexies are printed on, or if they are ‘proper’ hexies – some would insist this is breaking the rules, but in the end it is about pleasing myself.

My soul is fed by needle and thread blue and green mini hexi quilt

Its been a week long project that has soothed me, life has been tough the last couple of months, but sitting pulling needle and thread through cloth, soothes my soul.

ttfn x

Little stitching practise and playing with Crewel wool

Work measures 2inches by 3.5inches (ATC)

I have been playing around with printing fabric on my computer, before I have always used T-shirt transfer papers, but someone told me about a very simple method of printing that has worked. (the image is a little more faded but it is still lovely). I’ve tried to combine stitch and vintage lace – these tiny lace pieces came from a doily I bought at a vintage fair -it was already in a stage of degeneration with holes everywhere, so I like to think I can give it a new lease of life. I have a stash of these but I can never cut into them instead I get them out occasionally and stroke them reverently.

blue hues chain stitch

I have also discovered Appleton wool – I love the texture wool brings to embroidery especially when combined with felt or wool. Having always shopped in stores up to now, I never realised you could buy hues and tones so it is a joy to experiment with these shades. This piece combined chain stitch with long and short stitch.

felt and wool explorations and stitch meditations

These pieces are soulful meditations which give me such pleasure. The heart on the right was for a lovely lady and new zoom friend, its her Birthday this month and I put it on the front of a card. I dyed the Aida myself, I like the way it slowly unravelled and I helped it a little on its way. The lower one, was an acrylic piece of spotty felt, which I covered with what ever stitch took my fancy, I love the flowing lines. The top leaf was made a few weeks ago, believe it or not it is on a white felt background that is now entirely covered with blues.

Tiny credit card size meditation

Mostly chain stitches but the wool brings a whole different texture to the felting than you see using cotton. This all came about because of a Leamington Embroidery Guild challenge to take a book off the shelf and try something. I picked up a RSN Crewel wool book – because I loved the flowing colours on the front cover.

Crewelwork RSN Guides

The book is wonderful, very clear instructions and inspiring pieces, but Crewelwork designs seem to lack the flowing lines of the Art Nouveau style I prefer. However the possibilities for shading are well worth investigating.

Crewelwork RSN Guides

I think the combination of felt and wool can create the most textural 3dimensional opportunities and I am enjoying following this pathway. The ATCs are not long projects but they offer practise pieces, although the size is on a very small scale.

January challenge

We were in lockdown so I had to use what I had – I found a half completed chair back and a bag of mixed wools purchased from a charity shop. After nearly three months of feeling too low to Stich I felt a glimmer of enthusiasm return. I rifled through the bag – I now recognised the finer wools as crewel wools and I separated them from the thicker tapestry wools. The left hand leaf is what I did with the colours I had and the right hand leaf is what I did when I had more wool variations to play with having found an on line supplier – Wool Warehouse who stock every colour and shade! its like being in a sweet shop!

January challenge flower in more detail

I loved creating the flow of colour, using long and short stitch, but I wanted more depth of texture so I introduced French knots. The wool is very fine – the leaf shapes were taking one or two evenings! these flowers are no more than 4inches across. I liked the French knots, I decided to explore this using the tapestry wools.

January challenge RSN Crewel Work – leaf combining stitches

I loved the way the thick tapestry wools brought a more 3d, dimension to the stitches, its as if the leaf is now a pea pod with the peas popping out! I also had more colours to play with using deeper greens. I tried Pekinese Stich along the stem, but the weaving made my stitching look uneven. I tried a whipped back stitch (on the bottom right) and thought the effect more lovely.

I think I will be exploring this in more detail – if you haven’t tried it then give it a go.

ttfn x

Up cycling – Seat covers for cane seats

I bought this gorgeous duck egg fabric a good year or two ago, I love its crisp cool colours that remind me of spring. I tend to revamp my cushions generally for the season – given that I bought 6 metres of the fabric for a bargain price of £5 the warm sunny days have made my thoughts turn to summer and had me rifling though my fabric stash.

chair revamp

There are two of these chairs in my studio – I picked them up from the local tip for £3 over ten years ago! The cushion was left from a recent re-vamp of a Chesterfield sofa E did at the end of last year. He kindly shaped the foam for me.

I used some calico to make a template of the chair – it is easier to push a sharpie right into the corners to get a good shape. Then I tidy the shape with a different coloured pen – a ruler and a French curve.

This clover wheel tool is great to add seam allowances, I just tape the pen to the guide at the right distance. (wish they would make these with pen attachments!)

I wrapped the foam in a thin layer of wadding, followed by a second thicker layer. This helps to protect the foam from disintegrating, as well as filling up the cushion pad. I love the process of hand stitching this on, as it is a lovely relaxing process.

I added a zip to the curved edge so that it would be easier to slip the cover off for washing if necessary. I decided against piping as it was hard to colour match the fabric from my stash. Either my bias binding was too blue or too green! In the best make do and mend tradition I decided to do without!

I find it a lot easier to hand stitch the bottom cushion piece, as you can have complete control over where the stitch goes without wrestling all the oddly shaped fabric under the presser foot. It also means that you can achieve a really snug fit.

It took me one weekend to complete these cushion covers, they are so comfortable! They fit in nicely with my mostly white colour scheme of the studio. They also match the sofa cushions I did last week!

Feather cushions with piping

Keep safe and well x

Recycling Challenge

At the local stitchery group our challenge for 2019 was to re-invent an item purchased from a charity shop. This is a teeny tiny skirt, about a size 6 – but I loved the material – it was just like tweed.

Embroidery Guild Challenge

I decided to use the waistband as a collar for Barney – staffs have very thick short necks, most collars I have bought cause skin irritation.

Charity Shop Skirt revamp

With a little hand sewing it fitted him very well. The poppers were ideal, as he sometimes gets a rash under his collar, so if it was irritating him he could easily slip it off. I tend to use a harness when we are out walking so the collar did not need to be used to hold him.

A nice snug cosy collar

I then took the panels apart and really liked the centre panel, it would make a wonderful little bag.

recycled charity shop skirt challenge 2019

I loved the shape, it would double over and create such a nice little frame bag. I discovered an unusual frame in the bag section of the charity shop and it was just a simple case of dismantling the lacy fabric from the frame and incorporating it into the bag.

Embroidery Guild Challenge

After years of wrestling with a sewing machine being part of the Embroider’s Guild has given me a real love of hand sewing. What I have fallen in love with is the ability to get real accuracy and stitch around objects like frames without wrestling to get it under the foot of a sewing machine. Hand sewing is so liberating and you can also do it in your favourite armchair while watching Peaky Blinders or Vera! (Popular TV series in the UK) in case you are not from our shores dear reader!

The panel made a bag in just the right proportions.
Charity Shop Skirt revamp

I decided to make a little bow but it needed a little more embellishment so made a lovely yellow daisy with silk ribbon embroidery.

unravelling the weave to make leaves
leaves detail on bag, unravelling the woven fabric

I unravelled some of the weaving to make feather like leaves, to sit alongside the flower, they came out like feathers and were a lovely textured effect.

Charity Shop Skirt revamp
Charity Shop Skirt revamp

I used the skirt lining to make a quilted lining for the purse following the curved shape of the bag, it is simply wonderful to realise just how easy it is to make something when you can do it by hand. All those little fabric sleeves to go round the frame were easy to make – no fighting to get it under a foot!

There was still some fabric left over so I decided to make a bracelet pincushion. (I don’t know about you but I never seem to have a pincushion handy!) Using yet another purchase from a charity shop, a pretty bead bracelet.

recycled project bracelet pincushion.

I was rather delighted with this object, the green and pink was a lovely contrast. The bracelet is so easy to clip round my wrist and was just the right size (which is rare for me!). I had the pompom trim in my stash and it made quite a pretty flower in the centre. I packed the stuffing in quite tightly which supported the flower shape.

Recycling project.

I also tried to dye the fabric, which proved very resistant – bleach did not affect it, nor did a week in a strong dye bath. In fact the fabric stayed reislliently the same throughout my various treatments. It turned out to be more acrylic than natural tweed. which was fairly disappointing, but shows just how fantastic some of the modern fabrics are. If I were able to actually wear this garment, it would pretty much resist any stains at all! Great for a piece of clothing but not so great for experimentation.

I did make some Singleton buttons with the fabric left over, I might make a few more things, as I have a few more scraps left but I wanted to share this now.

Needle felted seascape

to show the process of the picture taking place

What I love about creating needle felted paintings is that they are tactile, you can touch them. I love the way the fibre unravels making the movement of the sea and the sky.

adding small flecks of white on the sea gives the sense of waves
tufts of grass can remain upright

It is lovely to watch the fibres unfurl to bring waves to life. I also use tapestry wool which can be purchased in most charity shops at the moment for a bargain price. I like to let the grass remain upright to allow the observer touch it and fluff it up.

grasses are made using tapestry wools unravelled to make grasses, various widths and textures

the grass is loose at the edge giving a distance to the foreground. I really love the variety of greens available.

some of the grassed areas remained plain.
Needle felted sea scape grass foreground

I have built up the layers by using wadding on a background of cotton batting, it makes a delightful surface to ‘paint’ the needle felt onto.

how the layers bring the foreground higher
using layering to bring the foreground forward. I was going to have a house initially but decided against it.

You can see how the light and shadows are created using darker shades under the landscape by the horizon and the lighter shades where the sun would hit the sea.

The pebbles in my other seascape, are raised to create the illusion of coming towards the observer.

mounted on canvass

The piece was mounted simply onto a canvass – so that it can be touched and the grasses gently stroked and re-arranged.

Singleton button naughts and crosses game

Travelling books – singleton button quilt game

I am participating in our group project – called travelling books, this month I was creating a page for our delightful hard working Secretary, who is a very talented Dorset button maker and gamer!

how to make a singleton button

There is not much you need to make Singleton Buttons – they have also been described as self cover buttons. If you are making a garment or have knitted your way through a jumper or cardigan and can’t find buttons to match then these little delights are the answer! You can make them in any fabric to match your clothing!

I used key rings, but you can use old fashioned curtain rings of the size you would like your button to be.

Simply cut out a circle of fabric twice the width of the ring, and do a running stitch approximately half way between the ring and the outer edge. I tend to use cotton Perle because it is quite strong.

tutorial for self cover buttons, singleton buttons and dorset buttons

Place a tiny piece of wadding or toy filling in the centre. How much, or how little, you use will either make your button domed or flat.

tutorial for self cover buttons, singleton buttons and dorset buttons

Pull the tread to gather the fabric around the ring, and secure with a few stitches. I have used a popper on the bottom of my button for the game, but you can make these traditional buttons by stitching through the centres.

tutorial for self cover buttons, singleton buttons and dorset buttons

Stitch with a running stitch round the ring – this gives the button definition, but you can leave it unstitched if you prefer.

tutorial for self cover buttons, singleton buttons and dorset buttons

Attach the backing to the button and then you have completed the button.

quilted naughts and crosses using singleton buttons

I made a little quilted game using two types of buttons, strawberry and polka dots. I used a large gingham square for the ‘board’ section and used a running stitch and weaved the red around it to create a candy stripe.

Each square has a popper so that you can play the game

The poppers allow the game to be played, with each player taking a turn on the 9 square grid, the first one to make a line of three wins the game. The additional square on the left, is for the spare button, as each player needs 5 buttons.

Travelling book, Singleton button quilt to play naughts and crosses game

Here is the finished page, such fun to do!

Ring of Roses – Silk Ribbon Embroidered pincushion

All assembled ready to go!

I took a lovely relaxing silk ribbon embroidery class recently – it is such a wonderful medium for capturing flowers. The ribbons are 100% silk – which allows them to flow through your fabric easily. However, the ribbon roses are weaved through cotton Perle – so any ribbon can be used to make these roses!

If you think there maybe no room in your life for rose frippery, just imagine having these lovelies stitched onto your lingerie, they add a luxurious touch, or make a beautiful padded coat hanger for a special occasion dress. These things might seem old fashioned, but we have lost a lot of grace and charm – these little lovelies lift any item of underwear into a high end feature. Who doesn’t want a little bit of girlie luxury next to the skin?

I had the velvet passed to me among many vintage fabrics, it is a lovely deep blue, which compliments my little Japanese blue and white pot; which is the inspiration behind this project, it is beautiful but needing a purpose – a vintage tea cup would work just as well. I thought I would use the 4mm ribbons, as I wanted to keep the project quite dainty. Alongside you might need a little cotton Perle – I used green and pink. You also need stuffing to pad out the pincushion.

Create wheels with odd number of spokes

The ribbon effect is created by weaving the ribbon through cotton Perle spokes – in order for this to work effectively the number of spokes needs to be odd.

Anchoring the silk ribbons onto the needle

Use chenille needles, they should have a wide hole that runs within the needle shank and a sharp point, so that the needle can glide through the fabric easily. After you have threaded the needle, turn it back on itself and run the needle about 5mm from the point, (as shown by the light ribbon) pull this through to form a knot (the darker ribbon). The ribbon is now anchored – tie a knot the other end and begin as close to where your Perle spokes meet in the centre.

Weave your ribbon through the spokes

Weave the ribbon round the spokes, going over one and under the next, in a rotation. You should end up alternating – so that the ribbon goes under the spoke in the first round and over the spoke in the second round etc.

Stages of ribbon roses

If you twist the ribbon between the spokes, you will find you get petal like effects. You can even begin with a lighter/darker colour in the middle and change shade when you get to the outer petals.

Pure silk ribbon embroidery

Pulling the ribbon tight – creates a smaller rose, (left) or leaving it looser makes it more fluffy, (middle).

Ribbon embroidery, roses, ring

To make a ring, first draw a chalk line to follow – I then did a ring of Perle fly stitches along the line. My initial intention was to alternate roses inside and outside the line, but on this small scale it was better to keep them central.

Alternating inside and outside is losing the line

Keep making roses until the ring is complete – you can add little rosebuds by making two petals together.

ring of roses completed,

Because my pot was ceramic, I had to use a glue gun to secure the fabric in place – it is quite a tricky job. I stuffed it with wadding before stretching the velvet over. Making sure the ring was central to the pot.

Silk ribbon embroidery

I gave my cushion a real dome – this pot is only 5cm across, so it is tiny! But it looks very old fashioned and romantic, but then who doesn’t need a bit of romance in their lives?

spring flowers ribbon embroidery

This is the sampler from the workshop – as you can see you can make some delightful spring flowers – in no time at all!

I did my course with the very inspirational Lorna Bateman, you can see more of her wonderful work here, she also does a lovely ribbon rose pincushion kit if you want to make one of your own. Lorna has also written a wonderful book illustrating this fantastic medium available here. Or there are some wonderful silk ribbon embroidery books available. I can’t tell you how much I love this – while slow needlework is soothing to the soul, silk ribbon embroidery is really fast and fun!

Thoughts of summer

Needle felted sea scape

I discovered some lovely shell buttons in my studio the other day – which reminded me of a sea scape / beach collage that I have been planning in my head for the 7 years since I bought them!

With the drizzle, blustery March weather – it was nice to consider warm sunny days, blue skies and the calming roll of the sea.

needle felting collage

I layered the collage up a little towards the bottom to allow the stony beach to come away from the background to give it some depth. I love how the unravelled wool – curls itself into realistic seaweed. I used old sheer curtains for the foamy spray and beautiful silk roving to create the frothy waves.

The blue was one of those fabulous balls of wool that change from one colour to the next, the blues seemed to deepen without any need for direction – going from dark to light shades as they came. I dabbed in some green shades amongst the waves and let the wool loop slightly to give it a little more depth.

When I came to add the buttons – it just didn’t look right as everything else was made from wool – so they are still waiting patiently for me to turn my thoughts seaward again!

Mounted on a canvass it is quite delightful to see on the wall reminding me that summer will soon be here.


There’s no place like home … mini Hand Embroidered Quilt from vintage linen scraps

Mini Quilt - No place like home vintage Linens

I began this project back in March when the snow was thick on the ground and we were still hoping for signs of spring! Like my previous quilts – it is made up from the scraps of tablecloth I bought in a charity shop a couple of years ago. The backing was a little vintage napkin with a beautiful edge.

As much as I find I cannot resist buying crisp linen napkins in charity shops when ever I see them – they inspire domestic dreams of beautifully laid tables and elegant dining, another age when there was time to do things with grace.  The reality is that for every day use it it just doesn’t work. I have watched too many of these pristine white surfaces be smudged with pasta sauce – by guests who gave them as much thought as they would a throw away napkin. These things should be treasured – and this napkin measured just 15cm square the perfect size for another mini quilt.

Mini Quilt - No place like home vintage Linens

The little scraps of fabric came together delightfully – the square of blue has come out much darker than it does in reality – it is more of a soft winter blue. I used a blue washable ink pen to write out the words, I wanted the embroidery to be in my own handwriting. It did take a few revisions until I was happy with the words, they needed to be larger than normal to accommodate the stitching.

I liked the way the home ended in a little heart. I needed a strong blue to stand out – so I chose this beautiful winter blue – it is a vintage shade that I have combined with red for Christmas – so it made sense to use it for a winter quilt. I wanted the blue embroidered words and the house block to be the only colours.

Mini Quilt - No place like home vintage Linens

I chose the phase, ‘there’s no place like home’  because I am so contented in my life and I am a real home bird there is no other place I like to be. Our home is the first time I have lived in a Georgian house – the high rooms and tall bay windows make every day a pleasure. Only 8 years ago I was homeless – living in a friend’s spare bedroom – which has made me appreciate having my home much more.

Mini Quilt - No place like home vintage Linens

I think it was the right hand side piece of lace that inspired the quilt – it looked so much like the sun – all the other elements fell into place. Including the house roof – which came from another napkin – the curves also made a lovely detail for arched windows.

Mini Quilt - No place like home vintage Linens

Allowing a project to evolve over time – is one of the delights of making things for yourself. Having written for magazines I always felt restricted by the original idea – which I had sold to the editor – they expect it to be delivered exactly as you proposed it – which ended up restricting my creativity. Don’t get me wrong, it was delightful to see something in print, but it was a bit like in the Wizard of OZ – once you see behind the curtain you see all the illusion for what it is, and it changes you, forever. It was wonderful at the time – but it did have its downsides – like making things for Christmas during the August. So allowing a project to evolve is something I relish and this project has changed over the last few months.

Mini Quilt - No place like home vintage Linens

As the quilt grew I made brief decisions about what to stitch next – just going by what I felt like at the time. I followed the edges of the entredeux with a blanket stitch and chain stitching.

The centre sun outline was raised using couching, I had some charming fluffy wool that was a chunky knit in pale cream. It raised the centre sun panel swirl nicely and I love the added dimension it gives the quilt. The only difficulty with that is that you cannot see it from a photograph!

Mini Quilt - No place like home vintage Linens

I repeated the same couching around the flower in the garden,  you can see it half done in this photo. I also widened the lace pathway to make it more artistically pleasing.

It was then I noticed the house was not square and I was not happy with the windows, I used a couching/blanket stitch which made the struts of the windows look chunky. I also did not like the effect of the door. I only had one small square of blue so I tried a new piece of fabric for the house this time an aqua stripe.

Mini Quilt - No place like home vintage Linens

I made the door from a weaved stitch and did the same to make a dome like addition to the windows. But I really did not like that either. The vertical lines were too dominating so I unpicked it and unpicked all the windows from my original house and began again.

Mini Quilt - No place like home vintage Linens

I worked on the garden and the sky for a while – to give myself time to think about it. In the end I went back to the original, but the lovely curves looked far too chunky – I did not have any more linen to begin again so I just have to make the best of things.

Mini Quilt - No place like home vintage Linens

I really enjoyed making all the little daisies – for me the joy in this piece is that on the surface it just looks like a white picture – its only when you get up close that you can see the white stitching on the back ground. It adds dimension to the quilt, and the way the daisies dimpled the centre – added to the quilted effect.

No place like home quilt

I did a cloud like shape around the words, but just used a simple quilting running stitch over the sky, following the outline of the sun. I also couched the lose shapes in the rays to bring them under control a little more – as they were going out of shape. I would have liked the curl of the sun to be a little more regular but then perfection is not as important as the hand finished effect. I am not happy with the windows, they are still too chunky, but I’m ok with that.

No place like home completed

So here is the whole thing now completed with a crochet edge boarder. I am not really sure how to mount it yet, its on the blocking board ready to go when I have decided what to do. I don’t think embroideries should be behind glass because the pleasure of textiles is that they are touchable.

Its been a lovely journey – I think I am at the end of my mini quilt phase for now. Its taken three months to complete – but that has not been a constant project – just one I have picked up and put down between other projects.

I have to admit that while it is delightful to finish this – it has left me with a bit of gap now and I will have to find something else to do. I love embroidery because it is so portable – you can stitch sitting on the sofa together rather than being at the sewing machine on my own. I am going through my craft supplies and rescuing various UFO’s – who knows what I will find to do next.

Thanks for popping by, it is always such a joy to read your comments will be back with more when I have something to show.