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!

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! 

Rest – all is well Vintage linen Mini Quilt

Mini quilt - from Vintage Linens Relax all is well

I don’t know about you, but I simply adore vintage linens. I have a piles of white doilies and placemats as well as pretty tea trays and tablecloths.  I love the romantic notion of eating meals on white crisp linen, and have even used pretty napkins – until I saw someone spread the delicate white with tomato sauce!

Inspirational embroidery of gentlework

I came across the delightful embroidery of gentlework on Pinterest and followed the link to her inspirational blog. What bliss! The soulful embroidery made me feel inspired to make a little message of my own. I had felt rather poorly in the last few weeks, and a little burnt out so I decided to make a little wall hanging.

Vintage Linen mini quilt embroidery

I discovered a pack of lace pieces in a bag in a charity shop a few years ago – I snapped them up. Despite having piles of linen I simply cannot bring myself to cut them up but this time someone had already done this for me. The linen was white and fresh, it felt like sacrilege to age it so I left it white. I wrote the words using a blue wash away pen.

Vintage linen mini embroidered quilt

I added a few more embroidered flowers – daisy stitches and button hole rounds. The whole thing was approximately 6 inches wide by 10 inches long.

Hand Embroidery on Vintage linen

I used variegated thread for the word rest, but I could not decide how to do the all is well. I had to re-write it as the writing was too small to embroider effectively.

Mini Vintage linen Quilt Embroidery

The word ‘is’ ended up lost, so I whipped stitched it. I kept on unpicking and re doing – in the end I decided the pink was too pale.

Mini embroided quilt

I had a lovely piece of scalloped edging which I used to connect the top piece – it was a little different in colour, but I liked the effect. I then quilted it with various stitches using white Perle – I loved the way they created texture without detracting from the coloured embroidery.

Making tassels for edging - mini quilt

I crocheted an edge and decided to add tassels – it gave the quilt a little weight to change better.

Vintage Linen quilt

It is rare that I allow myself to simply play around – but it was enjoyable letting the little quilt evolve. I didn’t like the ‘All is Well’ part. I think next time I will use cotton Perle quite thick rather than embroidery floss.

It has been a soothing exercise, and quite addictive!

 

Bees wax wraps – perfect to use up fabric scraps as well as reduce plastic wrap!

Bees wax food wrap

This project has been the most fun and it can be a little addictive! We are all seeking alternatives to plastic, not just to reduce the mountains of plastic waste – as well as making something more sustainable and cost effective. These wraps can be made from scraps of fabric left over from projects or you can purchase some plain cotton cloth. It works best on thin cotton, used for patchwork.

To make a cloth you will need,

wax stips ingredients

You lay the baking parchment on your tray (believe me you need a tray! I did it the first time and ended up with beeswax running all over my ironing board!)

Lay your fabric wrong side facing and sprinkle the beeswax over the fabric, lightly.

Lay the parchment over the top and using a medium to hot iron begin to slowly work from the centre outwards.

plastic free food wrap lesson

iron from the middle outwards you will see the fabric colour change and the wax oozes away

You will see the wax change to a runny consistency and you can see the fabric slowly change colour as it soaks up the wax.

Keep working until all the fabric is covered.

 

food wrap - sprinkle beeswax onto fabric

sprinkle beeswax on fabric

This is far too much beeswax, when you iron on it it will leak everywhere! Not only that the wax is quite difficult to press under the iron.

Bees wax food wrap

Too much wax on fabric

You end up with too much wax and the fabric looks messy. The great thing about this project is that there is no waste!

Simply place this fabric between the baking parchment and let your iron slowly work the wax into liquid form. Move the wax away from the fabric and keep going until the fabric looks soaked and there is no excess of wax around it.

bees wax food wrap

melting the wax with an iron

 

You can do longer pieces in sections, moving across the fabric slowly. As long as you keep your baking parchment between the iron and the wax it will be fine.

Bees wax wrap

Bees wax cloth will cool quickly

The wax cools very quickly, when you peel the fabric off the baking parchment it will feel like oil cloth – it is quite stiff.

This is why it is best to use lightweight fabrics, heavier cottons such as furnishing fabric – takes more wax and makes the fabric stiffer.

Trim edges after waxing to keep from fraying

Trim edges after melting wax to prevent fraying

I use some pinking shears to finish off the edges after the waxing, it makes a nice neat finish. You can see the texture of the fabric in this close up shot.

 

The advantage these beeswax cloths have over clingfilm is that there is no transference of chemicals. Cheese is particularly vulnerable to picking up the chemicals in plastic.

The beeswax wraps are also washable, just use warm soapy water, (not hot) and use again.

The wax cloths are also very mouldable – use the warmth of your hands to smooth the wax around the object. I found this large wrap kept bread fresh.

eco friendly frugal gift wrap

These wraps also make a wonderful wrapping for some trickier gifts, without the need for sellotape. Not only do you cut down on wasted paper but the recipient has a useful object to keep food well.

bees wax yellow on baking parchment

yellow beeswax on baking parchment

This is a very cost effective project, using scraps of fabric and off cuts and the beeswax goes a long way.

You can get soy candle wax if you prefer – this wax came yellow and it has given the fabric a creamy colour – maybe there are uncoloured wax suppliers out there.

Do try and make your own – how often do you get to have fun and save the planet all at once?

ttfn x

 

 

 

Looming adventures in Weaving

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Isn’t this delightful? I bought it at a small craft centre in Weymouth – I fell in love with the cheery mediterranean colours and the sloping hills reminded me so much of the lovely Dorset hills – I snapped it up right away.

I have a lovely friend, who weaves the most amazing cloth but her loom takes up a whole room in her house not to mention the two that take up a double garage! Weaving has therefore always felt a little out of reach until I was wandering round Hobbycraft, with a gift voucher hot in my hand, when I spotted this little loom.

 

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Yes, it is aimed at children… well those six and above, but the size is just right for a wall hanging and I made the concept of weaving much more approachable.

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This is a very simple loom, there are no forward and backward methods to make the weaving simple – but I actually liked the process of weaving the threads round with a needle, rather than a shuttle.

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It is not going to set the world on fire, but I am enjoying experimenting with the wool, playing around. (well it is a child’s loom after all!) I would like to do a little more weaving – there is so much inspiration on Pinterest, fingers crossed I will be able to share something soon.

 

Fabric Portraits

DSC01658

Its wet and cold outside, so there is nothing more delightful than having a little time sewing and being able to kick back and play a little. I am teaching a couple of workshops and one of those explores free motion embroidery but I thought I would also try a hand at appliqué portraits as an option.

It is a great way to use up scraps as you only need small amounts of fabric. It can be quite interesting to play around with the fabric direction to enhance the shape. I really liked the way this brown flower piece seemed to create an interesting top detail.

Free motion embroidery is addictive! its just a case of dropping the feed dogs, (the metal teeth that move the fabric past the needle), most machines have a little button, most likely your manual will tell you where to find yours. Use a embroidery needle, its not just sharp but also has a strong shank.

Self portrait

I used this picture as a template – I wear a lot of hats and so it is a recognisable feature.

You need to print your picture out roughly the size you want to stitch.

While this photo looks a good choice, the tilt of my head creates an angle for my eyes, and my mouth is slightly tilted you can see what problems crop up in the stitched portrait.

As it is just playing I decided to go with it.

Stitched portait

You can get something called dressmakers’ carbon paper, its used to transfer embroidery designs or simply use ordinary carbon.

Iron your fabric so that it is free of creases it should be larger than the picture.

Lay the carbon paper on top – make sure the transfer side is face down onto the fabric – finally place the picture on top.

Carefully trace the features, eyes, mouth, hair and nose. It helps if you use a ball point pen that shows up in the photograph so you can see what you have traced. Its important to check you have all the pieces because once you lift the picture off, you cannot re-do it.

begin stitching

I find it easier to back the fabric with some iron on interfacing, and a hoop. It prevents the fabric from shifting and wrinkling as you stitch.

Drawing with your sewing machine is easy but different to using a pencil. The needle stays in place and you move the fabric to create the lines rather than the paper staying still and the pencil moving!

Use a darning foot – you can see easier and the loop of the foot prevents the fabric from being pushed through the holes in the footplate.

You may find it easier to work backwards and forwards, moving the fabric quickly results in large stitches, or slowly creates tiny stitches.

applique shapesOnce you have created the features, you can trim it and then assemble the appliqué shapes.

Use the photograph to create the appliqué templates, such as the hat, and the dress.

Use the lines not just to highlight the features, but also to give shading to the hat.

rose applique

Finally I added a rose appliqué, another feature I often have is a flower brooch in my hair – this was a tiny flower on a scrap of fabric, but it really brightens up the whole picture.

I think it is best to simply follow a few lines, rather than go into too much detail. I could have put in the cheeks and little dimple that you can see in the photograph, but it can go drastically wrong! less is more.

As you can see, the tilt has meant my eyes are at a slight angle. I think I can get away with it, but maybe next time I shall try and get a more level photograph.

I do hope you will try this, its so much fun – frame them in an embroidery hoop and hang on the wall.

ttfn x