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!

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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!

 

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.

 

 

Eco friendly experiment to find an alternative to cotton wool balls

Eco alternative to cotton wool ballsOver the last few years there has been an enormous increase in ‘single use throwaway items’ that not just have an impact on the environment but also our purse.

I like the idea of more self sufficiency, of reducing costs and living more simply, it is the smallest things that make a difference. It also gives me a little satisfaction in believing that I can help the environment.  When I was removing my make-up the other day I noticed that the cotton wool balls I reach for, were getting low. I decided to seek out an alternative that could be reused time and time again.

Eco make up remover pads

I like the idea of something pretty and useful – sewing is my first love so I decided to investigate making little make up removers using Terry bowling and left over scraps and some pretty crochet cotton.

Cut a circle of scrap fabric and another circle a little bit smaller out of Terry towelling. It is more cost effective to use a face flannel as they are cheaper than purchasing towelling by the metre. I had this green towelling in my stash so I used it, but the quality was not as good as I would have liked.

Simply stitch the two circles together, turning a tiny seam allowance as you go. Then use blanket stitch all round the edge followed by a single crochet trim.

The pads were very effective –  it takes only a few minutes to wash them under the tap and leave to dry.

However, I did find the quality of my towelling meant the pads were a little scratchy, best for exfoliating rather than make up removal.

Fabric alternative to cotton wool balls

The second experiment was with a cotton wadding – it seemed to have a similar softness of cotton wool balls but when it was washed it began to bobble – so it wasn’t going to last through repeated washes.

Eco cotton ball alternatives

So I turned to a crochet version using lovely fluffy wool called ‘coats virtuoso’ – they look pretty similar to cotton wool balls and feel delightfully soft.

This one is made by creating a 6 chain, then inserting two double crochets in each space, to increase the second round, followed by two treble crochets in each stitch in the third round.

However, it does make your ‘cotton wool ball alternative’ have big gaps between stitches so the best method is to simply single crochet as it creates a denser group of stitches, and a better pad.  Pattern as follows:

Its round -6 chain,

2nd round 12 single crochet into ring.

3rd round 1 single crochet into first stitch, 2 single crochet into next stitch (repeat to end of round)

4th round, 2 single crochet into each stitch.

finish and weave in loose ends.

Eco cotton ball alternative

As you can see the ‘alternative cotton wool ball’ looks very similar, and is delightfully soft to the skin. I used coats Virtuoso – it is a chenille type of cotton – that has just the right amount of fluffiness and is not too expensive.  The downside is that it is so fluffy you can’t easily find your stitches, but it doesn’t really show in the finished ‘alternative cotton wool ball’.

As it is 100 percent cotton these alternative cotton wool balls can be washed at a high temperature. I would recommend giving them a good wash and then letting them sit in boiling water for about 10 – 20 minutes every now and then to keep them sterilised.

They are very soft, and unlike real cotton wool balls – they don’t push fibres into your face and they can be re-used time and time again.

They are so quick to do – you can have a whole pile made in less than an hour.