Travelling Books, decluttering and stitch meditations

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

I was pleased with how my Dorset button naughts and crosses game turned out for Gemma’s travelling book this month. These buttons are quite addictive! Singleton buttons are a variation on the Dorset button. At a time when button making supported many rural families, each had their own unique style.

how to make a singleton button

Singleton buttons get their name from the Singleton family who specialised in this particular type of button. They are easy to make, you can find the tutorial on my made for mi, blog. What I think is great about them is you can match the buttons to the fabric perfectly!

Clarke and clarke plates

I have joined the Stitch meditation group on Facebook, the idea is to spend 20 minutes stitching randomly. I managed to do one random piece but it is just not me, instead I like to use up old scraps and do a little meditation stitchery – without any particular purpose. It is the best way to really experiment with stitches – even though I end up with button hole stitch one of my favourites.

Blank prepared squares for meditation

It is one of those activities that once you have done it, it is so pleasing and calming you wonder why you don’t find time to do it more often. Sadly – it is all to easy to find an excuse not to. Last Sunday, I spent the afternoon overlocking cream and white cotton squares, backed with a fine muslin, so that I have no excuse – the stash of squares invite me to do a stitch meditation. I have also put a stash of fabric scraps, cotton Perle and some embroidery hoops ready – so that it makes it as easy as possible to pick up.

prepared aida for embroidery

I’ve also been doing a huge clear out – since I moved (nearly two years ago) I haven’t really got organised – so Easter weekend we shifted two major rooms round which seemed to disrupt the whole place! I had lots of Aida, so I created a couple of prizes for the raffle at the Embroidery Guild.

Kitchen cupboard organising

The kitchen cupboards are beginning have a little more organising, I have given away a great deal of items and it has been a really lovely experience. I use Facebook Marketplace mostly, I met a lovely couple who came to pick up a tall bookcase, and ended up taking away some Ikea shelves and a couple of smaller bookcases for me. I could never have got them to the tip, and it was so nice to see them go to a good home.

So far I have given away a clothes rail, a hallway cupboard, two small coffee tables and three car loads of items to the local charity shop. I also gave away some pink rock boots – the lady who picked them up was delighted, she had just passed her HGV test and would be wearing them for her new job! Another lovely man, collected some Irregular Choice shoes for his girlfriend. Giving things away gives me such pleasure, and it frees up space!

Pastry can be just like playing

I’ve been baking – I found a book in the reduced section of the local post office, that simply winked at me, it is a baking book by Chilli Vanilli, and it has totally transformed my baking! For the first time I understand how gluten in flour should either be encouraged, to make bread or discouraged to make cakes! The recipe for pillow soft Victoria sponge is divine!

recipe book review

Not to mention it has a mint green cover with pink edged pages! I have been making a lot of little fairy cakes using the recipe and they have disappeared in no time!

That about sums up what I have been up to recently, I notice the elderflowers are just about ready to make some cordial.

ttfn x

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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!

Travelling books with the Embroidery Guild

Travelling book

I am a member of the Solent Embroiders Guild – the meetings are wonderful – one of the highlights of the month. There is something joyous about meeting with other women who have a passion for textiles. Despite the name, all things textile related are covered -from historical talks on techniques right through to ribbon embroidery and block printing.

I am participating in their travelling books – these are small sketch books that pass from one member to the next each month, where each person does a small piece of work in one page. The books get swapped every month in the end returning back to their owner.

Keeper of lost things ribbon embriodery

I created my design on paper – using the title of a well loved book – putting a combination of embroidery and ribbon embroidery as an embellishment. giving it an old fashioned quality. The thickness of the letters is created using a red velvet ribbon, couched down and then the rest of the writing was done in running stitch.

Why keeper of lost things?

One day, while I was searching through my stash I came across a piece of paper pieced patchwork that I had done with my son while we were on holiday. Just looking at it brought back so many lovely memories. However, I had fallen out of love with the fabric and really did not want to continue with the project – the stitching wasn’t great, we had used black thread – so I decided to make my book a home for all the lost and abandoned projects like these. I made the bag with the patchwork and spent a few happy evenings, (or maybe quite a lot of evenings) happily exploring variations on stitches.

crazy patchwork

There is something quite liberating to pick up one colour or the next and experiment. As this was a lot bigger than a page in my book I decided to use this to create the bag for my book to travel in.

The finished travelling book bag

For the first page I found a very small embroidery lurking at the bottom of a sewing basket – a very early attempt of embroidery. It must have been done during the school holidays when I had a little more time. I think this remained at the bottom of a basket for over 10 years – still in the hoop. I knew nothing about embroidery at the time and could only remember statin stitch. 

Embroidery lost in the bottom of a box

I loved painting and sewing – I remember really enjoying doing it – but not really sure what to do with it when I had finished! I was so busy with studying, working, teenagers, housework, I promised myself one day that I would do more hand stitching. Here I am – ten years of so later, an empty nest and time to sew! 

If you wish to find your own local branch of the Embroidery Guild there are groups all over the country – even if embroidery is not your thing, learning new things can really up your construction techniques in dressmaking or quilting. All textile enthusiasts are welcome you can be a total beginner to an expert, there is always something Wonderful to learn and grow. You can find their website, along with a search facility to find your nearest group here.

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.


Don’t beat yourself up over UFO’s

Vintage thread

Speak to anyone creative about their stash and they will admit to having a pile of UFO’s or unfinished objects. It’s like a guilty secret – I also suffered from the same – it wasn’t until I moved out of a home of 10 years that I was faced with a mountain of half completed projects – I felt incredible sadness for all the waste and money that I had quite simply thrown away. 

I have changed the way I think about these recently, because guilt stifles creativity and experimentation. There are times when we need to develop a technique or experiment with a new hobby – and it really is an opportunity to grow and stretch ourselves. 

experimentation

Permission to play

Giving yourself permission to play is key to finding new ways to develop your skills and improve your techniques. Release yourself from the obligation to have something to show at the end of the session and see the time and materials as an investment of your skills rather than judging things by outcome. 

Don’t cheat on materials too, use the same material you intend to use on your project if you can – like a recipe – each element of your project will affect its overall effectiveness, using a lovely drapery fabric like georgette will not be the same if your toile is made from calico. 

Vintage thread

Recognise what to keep and what to bin

Sometimes things go wrong, sometimes we hit on a block and what we hoped to do just did not work out. Recently I was making cushions and for some reason the bias binding was getting in a right tangle around my piping – yes, I could have spent hours unpicking, but in the end, I simply cut it off and threw it away.  I did not keep the binding as a reminder of my failure, I just found another way to do it. 

Sometimes letting go of what doesn’t work – is the best way to release yourself from the guilt. Keeping the project in a plastic carrier bag in an ever growing pile will stifle your experimentation because it is a reminder of ‘failure’. Don’t let your sewing space get cluttered up with negativity. Just let it go. 

Give yourself some time

Sometimes you hit a block on a piece of work, you just don’t know how to move forward with something. These are the projects you need to keep, but don’t hide them away in plastic bags. Leave them out, on a noticeboard, have a fabric box or use a sewing basket to keep these objects in and now and then take them out. 

This piece of needle felting (above) did not feel finished to me – although my creative friends suggested I frame it. I kept on looking at it, but could not see a way forward. 

Then – I came across it again this week, (you can see from the state above that was over four years ago!) Suddenly, looking at it, I knew exactly what I wanted to do, and I began the process of completing it. It only took an hour or so, but it was delightful progress. 

needle felting

I just needed time – and that is what you also need to be creative, patience with yourself. Be kind to yourself about your Unfinished projects, see them as work in progress and allow the creativity to come without guilt or reprimand. Most importantly, have fun! 

Knitting and Stitching Show, 2018 Alexandra Palace London.

knitting and stitching show 2018

I’ve joined the Embroiders Guild my local group is very welcoming and full of other ladies with a passion for textiles to match my own. They organised a coach trip up to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace – it was lovely to go along as a group!

The photo above greeted us in the main foyer, called Edwards Menagerie by TOFT – there were 400 different crochet creations  on display which were an absolute delight to browse. They also sponsored a craft lounge where you could make a crochet Autumn leaf.

Royal School of Needlework

Royal School of Needlework

The Royal School of Needlework‘s exhibition of tea and cake was a delight – their stand was a great demonstration of embroidery and I drooled over their course booklet – I would love to spend a few years studying for one of their degrees, in the glorious setting of Hampton Court Palace…. maybe one day!

Royal School of Needlework

Royal School of Needlework

The spoons were silver work and so delicately done – as were the stump work flowers which I am sure were hand done – but were so fine they looked as if they had been on a machine!

Royal School of Needlework – Version 3

Royal School of Needlework

What I cannot show you, is the exquisite embroideries by the Embroiderer’s Guild because they do not allow photography. Their annual competition was incredible too, it just amazes me how many talented people there are out there who lift this to an art form.

One exhibition that took my breath away was called The Dementia Darnings by Jenni Dutton. It is a set of thread portraits of her mother’s decline into dementia – the portraits are absolutely stunning – its not until you get up close do you realise that they are made from thread.

Ideas associated with loosing the threads of memory, stitches that bind and unravel are implicit in the work, reflecting the gradual loss of memory

I don’t know where the exhibit is going next – but if you get a chance to see it, it will be well worth it.

Knitting and stitching show

I asked this young girl if I could take a photo, she looked amazing in her Sailor Moon outfit – the Japanese have such a playful sense of dressing up.

There were many suppliers with just about every stitching notion you could wish for, and never knew you needed! But it was the fabric suppliers that I most wanted to connect with. There are so few fabric retailers in my locality so I was most impressed by the following:

M Rosenberg & Son  and Montreaux Fabrics – they had a huge selection of fabrics including some beautiful tweeds from Italian designers.

portraits

I was in awe of Sally Hewett’s talent for padded stitched body parts! they were amazing to see! There were even portraits of different types of nipples as well as portraits of post mastectomies, large bottoms, and bellies with stretch marks. It is all part of a body positive movement and was an amusing way to end the day.

The exhibition is on for three days there are some wonderful workshops to do – I think it would take three days to get the most out of it! Looking forward to next year!