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! 

Advertisements

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.

A Spring Chicken… fabric panel Sweet tweets

Spring Chicken

I saw this cushion made up at my local fabric shop the Jolly Stitcher – I loved the combination of colours and I thought this fabric panel would be good fun to sew. I decided that it would make a lovely addition to my spring decorations.

The instructions were very clear – and easy to follow and pretty soon I was looking for ways to personalise it.

Sweet tweets bird cushion

I thought the pattern of flowers over the bird could do with a bit of embroidery – it would give me a little practice to hone my skills and try out new stitches.

Spring Chicken

I decided to quilt and embroider at the same time, as I wished to outline some of the pretty leaves as well as embellish the flowers. It was a fairly easy task accomplished in a few evenings while watching TV.

Sweet Tweets

I used a combination of weaving stitches, chain stitches and buttonhole stitch – trying to match the beautiful colour combinations as much a possible. I think the colours used was what excited me most about this project.

 

I thought the little fabric yoyo/ Suffolk puff came out beautifully when made, however, I wasn’t to sure about covering up the pretty eye design on the fabric.

Eye detail for cushion

In the end I opted to embroider the eye rather than cover it up with the yoyo/ Suffolk puff.

Sweet Tweets eye

It looked so pretty with the lovely colours and a nicer detail. I also struggled a little with the bird wings – they also covered up the pretty flower design but they looked so nice when they were sewn on.

Sweet Treats Embroidery bird cushion

Matching up each side of the cushion was tricky on the sewing machine – and the beak ended up virtually impossible to match without some white showing – so I ended up hand sewing the beak.

Spring bird cushion

this is the un-embroidered side and it looks lovely as it is – maybe I didn’t need to do all that embroidery after all – but then I always like to add a little bit of my own design into everything I do.

This was a lovely panel, easy to do and nicely put together – there is a smaller bird to go with this one – that I will make at a later date.

 

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!

 

Moon Gazing Hare – Ostara Celebration

Moon Gazing Hare Embroidery

The Spring Equinox will be on the 20th March this year – it has felt like a long slog from January to Spring and so it is delightful to be looking at the signs of new life everywhere. This little embroidery was so quick to do, yet satisfyingly pleasurable – I am really getting into slow sewing!

The inspiration came from these two little hares in my Pinterest feed – the delightful movement of Angela Daymond’s Running Hare is beautiful in its simplicity. The embroidery is called Kantha stitching – comprising mostly of running stitch. Angela produces a number of kits that are simply wonderful.

While the design was stunning – I did not want to simply replicate someone else’s design so I came up with my own. I love the concept of the Moon Gazing Hare, there are images all over the internet right now – because it personifies Spring so well.

Moon Gazing Hare Embroidery

I bought a cut up vintage table cloth in a charity shop – the linen is well washed and is a delight to embroider on. I roughly traced my design with a blue washable pen and simply stitched round. It’s like colouring in – such a lovely meditative practice.

Moon Gazing hare outline

There is a delightful sewing shop not far from me called the Jolly Stitcher they run knit and natters on a Tuesday evening – I am hoping to go along soon because the shop is a delight. They had a wide range of Anchor and DMC threads – I wanted the circles around the moon to deepen in shades of blue. They had the most beautiful silver DMC E168, that was just perfect for the centre of the moon. I used Anchor blues ranging from 178 to 120 although I had to be careful – I picked out a lovely shade from another section – but it was more of a green blue and did not match the others at all.

Moon Gazing Hare Embroidery

I began stitching with a two strand thread, as you can see from the picture above but it idd not really give the effect I was looking for – so I ended up doubling up with four strands. I kept the stitching quite short and did a sort of back stitch on the wrong side, because I wanted the stitches to be quite close to one another.

Moon Gazing Hare Kantha Embroidery

I used the darker blue for the curls in the sky and filled it with a lighter blue in between. It gave the piece more depth of colour. I found that the direction of the stitches were important – especially spiralling around the leg of the hare.

Backing embroidery hoop

I used one of those hanging display hoops – and simply glued the fabric tightly against the inner frame. Once dry, I was able to trim the fabric back. I decided it needed a felt covering at the back to give some protection for the wall.

moon gazing hare embroideryThere are some elements of it that I feel could be improved, I would like to explore further the effect of closer stitching has on the overall tone of the piece. As a first project of this very effective stitching – I am pleased with the results.

Spring won’t be too far behind – hopefully!

ttfn x