Nineteen for 19

We’re nearly half way through August already so I thought I’d better see how I was doing with my nineteen challenges for the year, so this is the end of July report…

July was a busy month as I worked hard for our open garden and quilt show, so less sewing, but more gardening got done!

  • 1 Scrap Quilt; Still not started but I’ve had a few ideas.
  • 2 Tutorials; I’ve got a couple of weeks holiday from work coming up, hoping to sort some then.
  • 3 Sessions a week in the garden; I’ve probably exceeded that this month! The open garden went well though and I was pretty proud of our garden.
  • 4 Workshops; I went on another embroidery workshop at Fabbadashery, this time it was on Palestinian embroidery, I’ve another one booked in September and a gardening one too. So my tally is two so far this year.
  • 5 presents; Nothing this month but Christmas is sneaking up so I’ll start soon. I’ve made three so far.
  • 6 Quilts; My Spring Wreath quilt was my big finish last month, I’m still really proud of it! I’ve made five quilts so far this year, so doing pretty well!
  • 7 New Patterns; July was quiet for sewing, so this remains at two, but I’ve cracked on since so August will be much better!
  • 8 Kits; Last month I stitched a robin bookmark, it’s been used every night since in my bedtime reading book! This brings my total up to three.
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  • 9 Mini Embroideries; Last month I stitched a pair of fairy wings for a travelling sketchbook, I loved them! My total is now 4
  • 10 Things; I made a needlecase last month, it’s proved really useful, it lives next to my sewing machine so it’s always handy. I also made two cushions, one from a quilting practice piece and one from an embroidery I did a year or two back. They look good on the settee in the conservatory. So this doubles my total up to a respectable 6.
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  • 11 Cross-stitch Smalls; No new ones, but I’ve already completed this challenge! I do need to stitch another three so I have the complete set for the twelve months of the year by Snowflower Diaries.
  • 12 pages in my book; I’m hoping to start this during my holiday, I’ve just sourced some lovely fabric pages which I’m toying with using. I need to get my box of inspiration out and work out if their size will work, if not I know how I’ll make my own!
  • 13 Clothes made; this was still just three in July, though I’ve already doubled that in August! I shared my cullottes this month which I’d counted in June!
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  • 14 Drawers organised; I had a sort out of my machine threads last month, my standard Gutermann threads are now vaguely colour arranged, I’ve put my machine quilting and embroidery threads in a separate box, I’m tempted to stick some golf tees to the base of a box to stand them on. This brings my total up to 9, so reasonable progress!
  • 15 Minutes tidy up; I’ve got a bit slack at this one, I need to get back on as it does help.
  • 16 Books; My piles are getting bigger!! This is going so much better than I ever thought,I have two books on the go at any one time, one for bedtime and one for on the go – trains, buses etc. I read another 4 books in July – helped by reading a whole book in a day! This brings my total to 16 with more to share for August, so challenge complete! I think I’m due another book post!
  • 17 blogs a month; after a quieter June I managed a whopping 25 posts last month!
  • 18 Walks; I’ve not done any more walks this month, still recovering from a virus, but I’ve already reached my target of 18 walks. We’re still hoping to do at least another three day walks so we can finish the Cleveland Way.
  • 19 Splendid Sampler Blocks; This has been on the back burner whilst I concentrated on my Spring Wreath quilt, so I really need to get cracking with it now. I’ve made 14 so far this year, so not bad, but I want to get the quilt finished.

So I’ve a real mix of progress, some challenges complete or almost there, others not even started, hopefully August and September will be pretty productive, I’ve had a good start to August anyway!

Posted in Books, Crafts, embroidery, Garden, Nineteen for 19, Quilting | Tagged | 9 Comments

A Touch of the 80’s!

Last night I finally finished a jacket to go with my white rose dress. I needed something smart to go to a family funeral and managed to find everything except lining in my stash for the whole outfit – though that probably says more about the size of my stash than luck!

The pattern I used is Simplicity 7667, I think I picked it up from a fabric swop table at a sewing meet-up. Having made it up it does look a bit ’80’s, and having just found a date on it…1992 – not a bad guess!!

I wanted a simple shift dress and collarless, easy to wear jacket. This is my dress I made last week…

For the jacket I used some fine cashmere which I bought in a fabric shop in Armley, it’s beautiful, I originally bought it to make a winter dress, and if ever I see it again I’ll be tempted to buy some more as it is a beautiful fabric. It’s just about heavy enough to make a lightweight jacket for cooler summer days, of which we get quite a few here in Yorkshire!

The pattern is for an unlined jacket, I’m not keen on unlined jackets, so I made a second jacket in a habotai weight lining, basted the two together down the front edges and simply stitched the facing over both layers.It meant fudging it a bit where the facing met the hem, but it looks fine.

There’s just one central button, though I think it hangs better unbuttoned.

I do like the nice big pockets on the jacket! The pattern calls for shoulder pads and my first thought was to leave them off. I cut out a straight size 12 which is fine, but I didn’t realise from the picture how wide the shoulders were, so I ended up having to put some in. It does make it a bit boxy and 1980’s ish!

I’m pretty pleased with it, I’d prefer it not quite so 80’s, but it makes a nice simple jacket which I’ll hopefully be able to wear for other occasions. I felt it needed a brooch and I remembered one I bought was I was in my 20’s, it’s just the right colours. I think I need some tights on though, my legs look nearly as white as the roses!!!

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The Finery of Nature SAL

It’s three weeks since I last shared my Finery of Nature cross-stitch and if I say so myself, I’ve made pretty good progress! Three weeks ago this is where I was…

The Finery of Nature

I’ve now finished the cross-stitch on the last bit of the nest together with the tip of the dragonfly wing and I’ve started the back-stitching. I do find back-stitching a bit tedious, so the amount needed on the nest was hard work, so I stitched a couple of threads on the nest and then did a couple of threads on the flowers around it. I’m getting there! I’ve started the flowers around the nest and I’m trying to stitch the border as I go along, rather than being left with the border to do at the end.

The Finery of Nature

Decision time!!!

The border round the edge is meant to have gold thread couched onto it, but then again the whole cross-stitch was meant to be stitched on black aida with lots of gold thread. I didn’t want gold thread, I tried silver on earlier bits and that didn’t work either.

I decided to try few different colours – not too many as I’m not keen on undoing back-stitch! I tried a single thread of dark green first (middle one!) that just seems to disappear. I tried a double thread of dark blue (left), I think that’s my favourite so far. I also tried two strands of back, (right) as there is a lot of black back-stitches in the design. I feel that’s too harsh but I am open to opinions. So which do you think is best, or do I need to try and find a nice dark charcoal grey or darker blue. It is quite a dominant feature in the original design.

The Finery of Nature

This Stitch-a-long is organised by Avis, if you would like to join us please send her a message. We post our own projects every three weeks, it’s great for motivation and encouragement. Please follow the links to see many more inspiring projects;

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Sue, Constanze, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Helen, Linda, Heidi, Jackie, Sunny, Hayley, Megan, Deborah, Clare, Mary Margaret, Renee, Jenny, Carmela, Jocelyn, Sharon

The Finery of Nature

I’ll also be linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday, please follow the link for more hand-stitched inspiration.

Posted in Crafts, embroidery, Serendipity, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , | 32 Comments

August Smalls

I was a bit late this month arranging my selection of smalls for August, mainly because most of them were out on display anyway for the needlework part of my open garden and I hadn’t quite got round to putting them away!

I’ve decided August is going to be on a theme of creatures, all kinds included! It started because the August cross-stitch from Snow-Flower Diaries has a border collie on it.

Cross-stitch smalls

I then found my cat one, I originally stitched this in my 20’s and it warped a bit – too much to frame it, so it sat in my workbox for far too many years, decades in fact, until I decided to turn it into a small. I think it was a Lanarte kit, it’s very fine, too fine for my eyes now!

Needlepoint cat pillow

The lavender bag is one I made for my mum a couple of years ago, it’s got a pretty little butterfly on it. This is a design by Faby Reilly who’s Zoe box I’m stitching at the moment.

Lavender Bag; Faby Reilly
Faby Reilly Design

In the middle of the soft green/teal one is a tiny butterfly charm. I bought the pattern quite a few years ago at the knitting and stitching show, it included the charm. I think I’ve over done this one a bit with the lace, but it’s very pretty.

Butterfly Dance

I stitched the brown rabbit holding a daisy last spring, it’s one of my favourites, the design is so simple but effective. The design is by Dany Chevallier, I’ve another one to stitch of a rabbit holding a daffodil.

Cross-stitch smalls

The three hopping rabbits are over 20 years old, it was originally on a bib I embroidered for my children (who are now in their twenties!) I found it in a box in the loft a few months ago and decided to turn it into a small.

Cross-stitch smalls

Last but not least is my blackwork sheep, he was a practice piece for a square I had to fill on a joint piece with my Embroiderers Guild. Skipton name originates from sheep town, so I felt we ought to have a sheep in the design!

Blackwork Sheep

So that’s my little seasonal display for August, I still haven’t stitched the last three months of the year (only had twelve months to do it in!!) so I need to get myself organised!

Cross-stitch smalls
Posted in embroidery, Smalls of the Month | Tagged , | 15 Comments

White Roses

I made myself another dress!

We’ve got a family funeral next week and when I looked in my wardrobe I really had nothing suitable, whilst wearing all black isn’t so necessary these days my smarter summer dresses tend to be light and floaty or more suitable for weddings and I certainly didn’t have a simple dark jacket.

I had a look in my stash, wondering if a dark jacket would tone down one of my summer dresses, this is what I found…

…a whole outfit, just waiting to be made! The white rose fabric is scuba, I bought on a whim last year in Fabworks in Dewsbury and then wondered what on earth to make with it. Scuba is a funny fabric, I’m still not sure about it as it is so synthetic but I felt the design was perfect for a smart, simple dress. It’s not quite black, more of a dark charcoal grey with a tiny touch of brown. The plain fabric is some beautiful cashmere I bought in Armley last year, I was planning to make a winter dress out of it, but I decided it would make a wonderful summer jacket for cooler days (of which we get quite a few here in the UK!!) and as it’s dry clean only then I think a jacket is probably more suitable anyway. Colourwise it matches perfectly.

I had a rummage through my patterns and found one I think I picked up on the swop table at the last Sew Down Dewsbury, Simplicity 7667 was just what I wanted, a shift dress and a simple style of jacket. I even found an invisible zip of the right length and colour in my stash! It was all meant to be!! All I had to buy was some lining for the jacket.

I decided to tackle the dress first. It went together very easily but took a bit of fiddling to get the fit a bit better. I cut out a size 12, grading it to a 14 over my hips. Scuba is very stretchy and this pattern was for woven fabrics, but I didn’t cut smaller as I didn’t want a figure hugging dress. I stitched the two darts in for the bust and then just basted the sides and shoulders together to check the fit. That was a good move as there was alot of excess fabric round the armhole. I tried putting an extra dart in the side, that didn’t help, after much fiddling I decided to increase the size of the dart in the side seam, so I undid the basting, increased the dart, basted again and it looked much better. Still not perfect, but better than it was and the best I could do without an assistant!

Simplicity 7667

The invisible zip went in well, I always have to get one of my sewing books out for these as I don’t use them that often. With hindsight I should have started it slightly lower down the seam. I also lowered the neckline by about an inch as I find higher necklines really uncomfortable.

Simplicity 7667

The pattern uses the dress fabric to face the neckline and armholes. I thought the scuba would be too bulky, so I used some lining for that, I understiched it but even with it stitched down at the seams I could see it was going to be a pest, sneaking out at inoportune moments. Having hand-stitched the hem up I decided to just lightly stitch the facings down by hand, it seems to have worked with not much visible from the front.

Simplicity 7667

I’m really pleased with my dress, it’s super comfortable with all the ease from the scuba but I think it looks suitably smart but not too sombre so I should be able to wear it on other occassions.

Just got to make the jacket now!

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A Miscellany

Sometimes I have things I want to share here, but they’re not quite big enough to make a full post, so I thought I’d lump them together as a miscellany, a collection of unrelated items!

I’ve recently heard a bit about Craftivism and I found an article in the Guardian newspaper about it which is worth reading. Craftivism is about using embroidery and sewing as a voice of peaceful protest and it gets results. As an example the group decided to campaign for Marks and Spencers to pay their staff a living wage (as opposed to the legal minimum wage) they googled all about members of the board and made them a very personal hand embroidered handkerchief, including on them messages to encourage them to pay the living wage. They presented them at the AGM and 10 months later M&S did a U-turn and paid living wage.

Last month I was browsing on ebay – always dangerous – looking at vintage textiles – even more dangerous! I spotted a vintage Christening gown just about to finish with no bids at £6.99, before I could ask myself what would I do with a vintage Christening gown my bid was on and of course I won it!

Vintage Christening gown

From the photos I wasn’t sure what it would be like, I knew there was a little bit of damage and old repairs. It is beautiful, it’s made from a very fine soft cotton and when I examined the seams, I realised it’s all totally hand-stitched. The tiny stitches in the seams are exquisite.

Vintage Christening gown

I think the lace on the bodice is possibly handmade bobbin lace, it’s embroidered on the bodice too. I was fascinated with how the skirt was attached, I can only describe it as faggotting, all neatly gathered in with tiny pleats.

Vintage Christening gown

The buttonholes and the buttons look handmade. I think the lace on the hem is mass produced, though as my mum said when I showed it to her, it could have been added later.

Vintage Christening gown

Even the tiny cuffs on the sleeves are embellished with some hand embroidery. It’s beautiful, it’s one of those things that’s just lovely to own. I just need to learn how to launder these textiles properly now.

Vintage Christening gown

It was the Festival of Quilts last weekend, I didn’t go this year as I’m saving up for a new sewing machine, but I am planning to go to the Great Northern Quilt Show at Harrogate showground, it’s 30th August to 1st September. It’s a lot smaller but actually it’s a nice size, they have a good display of quilts and lots of stalls. I find the big shows a bit overwhelming at times, this is more manageable! I even took my mum last year in her wheelchair. It’s only £9 to get in too, a bargain, and free parking too! If anyone else is going and fancies meeting up for coffee, let me know!

Posted in Crafts, embroidery, Serendipity | 13 Comments

August Windows

It’s the first Tuesday of the month so Wild Daffodil is organising her windows photo challenge. I haven’t been out much this month to take photos so I’ve been raiding my archives!

With the open garden looming, I finally got round to replacing the broken windows in my summerhouse. This had been very airy since the door was blown off in a storm at least 18 months ago. The glass shattered, we managed to hang the door again with a lot of help from my son, but the windows were still open to the elements. I’d bought some plastic panes a few months ago as it was prohibitively expensive to buy glass, I’d just not got round to fitting them. I did it, it probably took me less than half an hour – why do we put these jobs off!!

You may remember a few months ago I did a couple of embroideries for Skipton Embroiderers Guild, we were creating a map of Skipton but wanted to surround it with images which represented where our members came from. I did one of Pudsey Bear, as I was born in Pudsey. I also stitched a poppy to represent the cenotaph in Skipton. Well the finished embroidery was on display in one of the shop windows in Skipton, I think it looks pretty good. You can just see my bear and poppy on the top row, have a look at Skipton Embroiderers Guild blog for more photos and information…

Photo by Skipton Embroiderers Guild

Last month I shared photos of Rievaulx Abbey, this month there’s Bolton Abbey and Fountains Abbey – there were lots of abbeys in Yorkshire! I would have loved to see them with their stained glass windows. I learnt a couple of months ago that the village of Glasshouses which is fairly nearby, is so called because they made the windows for the monasteries, and Smelthouses was where they made the glass.

This block is one I did a couple of years ago for my first Splendid Sampler quilt, it’s meant to be a little quilt shop. The windows are made by piecing the block, it looks a bit wonky but it’s just the photo – honest!

In comparison, the houses I’ve made for the Coming Home quilt all have appliqued windows and doors…

I’ve got lots more windows and doors to stitch in this months Coming Home blocks! For more photos of windows, have a look over on Wild Daffodils blog, she has links to everyone else participating.

Posted in Photo Challenge | Tagged | 6 Comments

Monday’s Meander Round the Garden

I’m taking it a bit easier in the garden this month, I think I’ve overdone it a bit during June and July, what with walking the Cleveland Way, medical conferences, workshops, the open garden and a virus knocking me for six. I have MS and if I overdo it, it just gives me a gentle reminder that it’s still there. After a weeks break from gardening I’m just doing an easy hour or so of dead heading every couple of days…

We’ve had a fair amount of rain this week, but really we’ve escaped lightly. In Swaledale this week, about 50 miles north, an old stone bridge was swept away in a deluge, I did have to smile though as only in Yorkshire would someone describe the hail stones as pickled onion size!! Fifty miles south at Whalley Bridge, the dam was damaged and is threatening to burst, the whole town has been evacuated, it’s still pretty critical though they have managed to pump a lot of the water out.

So I can’t complain about a bit of rain!!

Garden in August

I’ve dead headed the roses quite harshly this year due to the blackspot, they seem to respond fairly well to this and push out a few blooms later in the year. My Champagne Moments roses finally succumbed to a sudden downpour last night.

Sometimes in the garden I suddenly notice a view of the garden from a different vantage point. A couple of days ago I sat having a coffee and a rest on my new bench, under the arch. Looking across towards the summerhouse looked lovely, through the amber & amethyst flower beds to the pond area with its bright crocosmia and innula.

Garden in August

There’s several echinacea in flower at the moment, they’re great for adding colour at this time of year, the purple ones are most often seen, I also like the amber coloured ones, I bought another one on the market at the weekend! The poppy heads you can see are just starting to ripen, so soon I’ll be able to help spread the seed around!

Garden in August

I’ve got quite a few veronica around the garden, I love their deep blue spikes. I’m sure several of them are self seeded as I don’t remember buying quite that many! I like the wild version too, I’ve several of those around the garden too.This is the patio garden, I think I can see four different veronicas!

Garden in August

My bird feeders are just out of shot on the photo above,a clematis I planted a few years ago has decided to grow up the feeder, which looks really pretty but it does make it very awkward to fill the feers with seed!


I treated myself to a bunch of sunflowers from the market on Saturday, £1.50 for three huge heads, they brighten up the kitchen. I’m tempted to grow some next year, maybe up by the compost heap.


Our next big job in the garden which I’ve earmarked my OH to do is to prune the beech hedge back hard as it’s getting very out of hand, I think that will be later in the month, in the meantime I’ll just enjoy the sunshine when it’s there.

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Falling Leaves, Trees and Fudge

I’ve just got up to date with both the cross-stitch-a-longs I’m doing (seemed a good idea at the time!!) I’m just in time as the next part for the Zoe SAL is published tomorrow.

The Zoe Box is a stitch-a-long by Faby Reilly, last time I shared it with you I had just done the cross-stitch on the fourth side. Each side represents a different season and this was autumn….

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I knew I’d made one mistake as my very first stitch on this section was one square out! I anticipated just doing a little adaptation with the back-stitch at the beginning and end, to make sure the branch would be continuous with winter when it all went together.

Well I don’t know how but nearly every leaf seemed to be in the wrong place!! I had made so many mistakes, but luckily as some of the leaves were falling I could fudge it! I did lots of fudging!!

The squirrel is very cute, luckily he draws the eye away from all the mistakes! I love all the different stitches in Faby’s designs, the ones that look like pine cones are spiders web stitch (I think) Next we will be stitching the inside of the box, two sections in a fortnight, so there can’t be as much stitching. Here’s all four sides together…

My second stitch-a-long is by Tempting Tangles, it’s called Enlightenment and is meant to be all about trees with a zen saying. The colours are beautiful, the pattern calls for four Dinky Dye threads, which are gorgeous, I bought two of them, the designer also gives DMC alternatives so that’s what I’ve mainly used for the other two colours.

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I say ‘mainly’ as DMC 3847 seemed awfully dark when I put them together. When I was stitching the first part I didn’t fancy the big ‘tree’ in the dark green, so I found a De Vere thread which is just a shade lighter. It was sort of in between 3847 and 3848. It does look pretty perfect…

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I decided to vary between the three threads over the sampler.

This time there was another tree, so I used the darker thread and it does look dark! I’ve stuck with it and so long as I use it in a couple of other places in the sampler it will look fine! I’ve stitched a couple of stitches into next weeks section as I can’t be doing with single stitches when I don’t need to, if it’s wrong then I’ll just have to unpick it!

This is an eighth of the sampler completed. Tempting Tangles is a new designer to me, so it will be interesting to see how it turns out. I love the colours, especially in the border. It will be about 8″ square when it’s finished, I’m still not sure if it will be a cushion or framed.

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Cinema Dress

I’ve finally got round to doing some dressmaking! I’ve made myself a summer dress…

Liesl & Co Cinema dress

In my stash I had this length of teal blue fine cotton lawn with a little feather design on it. It feels like Liberty Tana lawn, so I think I bought it at Steadfast and Barracks in Lancaster. They used to make fabric for Liberty so when Liberty decided to transfer all their manufacturing abroad (don’t get me started on that one!!!) they brought out their own range of cotton lawn, at a third of the price!

I originally planned to make a simple cotton dress, sort of princess lines, slightly flared midi skirt. I then realised just how much fabric I had bought, especially as it was 60″ wide! I had a change of plan and reached for a pattern I bought a few years ago called the Cinema Dress by Liesl & Co. I’d been put off making it before because it takes such a lot of fabric – even with wide fabric it takes 3.5m. I must have bought 4m as I had plenty.

Liesl & Co Cinema dress

The dress is very loose fitting, with about 3-4″ ease around the bodice. The pattern sizing is completely different to other patterns, my size came between an 8 and a 10, in view of the generous ease I made a size 8. It buttons down the back to the waist.

Seam allowances are 1/2″, so I tended to move my machine needle across so I could follow the standard 5/8ths line instead. I overlocked to finish the seams (my overlocker actually decided to work!!) The pattern did go together pretty easily but I think the order Liesl & Co make it in is bizarre, it didn’t flow and at times it made it harder than it should have been in my opinion. As an example, there are pockets in the centre front side seams. It would have been simple to attach the welts and the pocket pieces to the front and the side front before they were attached to anything else, so it was a nice flat manageable piece. The instructions had you joining the bodices to the skirt front and backs, then the bodices at the shoulders and the sides at the shoulders first. You were then attaching the pockets onto a piece that was about 10′ long!

Liesl & Co Cinema dress

Moan over! It’s a comfortable, everyday sort of cotton summer dress. It’s plenty big enough, though if I reach up for anything the whole dress rides up – I’ll have to be ladylike in this one! I love the pockets on the front and I also like the length of the sleeves with their little cuff turn-up.

Liesl & Co Cinema dress

The final comment in the pattern is ‘Don’t you feel like a glamorous old-style cinema star in your new dress’…well no, but it’s a nice summer dress!

Posted in Dressmaking, Serendipity | Tagged , | 31 Comments