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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
I then took the panels apart and really liked the centre panel, it would make a wonderful little bag.
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.
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!
I decided to make a little bow but it needed a little more embellishment so made a lovely yellow daisy with silk ribbon embroidery.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
the grass is loose at the edge giving a distance to the foreground. I really love the variety of greens available.
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.
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.
The piece was mounted simply onto a canvass – so that it can be touched and the grasses gently stroked and re-arranged.
This month’s travelling book belonged to a lady I don’t know at all, so I felt a little unsure of what to do, especially as the book was entitled “memories’. I leafed through pages of complete work, where happy childhood memories were celebrated in stitch – it isn’t a happy place to go – so grumpily I put the book aside for a few days. In the end, I was browsing through my photos on my external drive and came across my photos of Mexico.
My grumpiness forgotten, I was lost in fond memories of warm aqua sea, white sand and blue skies – except they weren’t always blue skies – what I loved was the way suddenly black clouds descended, then there would be an absolute downpour. Normally I would run for cover, but not this time, because the rain was delightfully warm. Oh, I cannot express my joy at being in a warm rainstorm! It was short lived, in no time at all, the black clouds had skudded away and we were back to glorious blue skies again.
So, at last, armed with my barbed needle and some delightful wool in various hues of blue and white, I set to work.
I had signed up for a day’s workshop with the Portsmouth Embroidery Guild – on one of the hottest days of the year! I have to admit, I was stepping well out of my comfort zone, never having combined paper and stitching before. I did not know what to expect as there wasn’t any ‘examples’ to see, the artist wanted us to spend time playing… there were no rules.
So – turned up I did with bagfuls of tissue paper, napkins and all kinds of threads, needles… I wisely took my own fan and some cucumber to chop up into a jug of cold water in the fridge. (Try it, it really is blissfully refreshing!)
I must admit, a lot of the machine stitching was done at home, we were supposed to do all hand stitching – but I made the mistake of using a type of cork backing paper, then built up areas of tissue paper and then followed it by watered down glued mulberry paper – while I loved the effect – seen in the cloud above, it was horrendous trying to hand stitch through all those layers! (I did take my awl, but it was hard going!)
I decoupaged areas with floral napkins – which created a contrasting texture to the stitched areas which were quite chunky wools, and thick paper couched in place.
I loved the thick wool contrast in the flower heads, but it was tough! To be honest, the day flew by – most of us quietly working away – I was amazed at how quickly the time flew.
I didn’t take pictures at the end of the day, but spent a very happy Sunday afternoon free motion embroidering over the top. I had forgotten the sheer pleasure of the way the stitches just flow in rapid succession!
As an experiment, it was successful although I have to admit, I really did not love it enough to carry on any further. I found the stiff cardboard too difficult to stitch. I just love the softness of cloth… but sometimes it is good to explore other mediums.
I learned a great deal about my machine embroidery through this sample, I am in love with variegated threads that flow from one shade to another, because the artist in me loves the play between tones.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Stitch with a running stitch round the ring – this gives the button definition, but you can leave it unstitched if you prefer.
Attach the backing to the button and then you have completed the button.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Pulling the ribbon tight – creates a smaller rose, (left) or leaving it looser makes it more fluffy, (middle).
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.
Keep making roses until the ring is complete – you can add little rosebuds by making two petals together.
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.
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?
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!