Button Back Skirt

Last week I finished making a skirt for the autumn, it’s a pattern I’ve used before, back in 2017, Newlook 6876. I made it then in a beautiful teal blue tweed…

…it still fits me nicely so I just made it to the size already cut out. The skirt has a button closure all the way down the centre back, I was a bit nervous of wearing it at first but I never had any wardrobe mishaps with the buttons! Otherwise it’s just a simple straight, lined skirt. This time I used a gorgeous fine wool in a lovely shade of purple, a sort of damson colour. I think I might have bought it in Fabrics for All in Armley during a Sew Up North meet-up, it’s very similar to a charcoal grey fabric I made into a jacket.

It’s straight forward to stitch up. I loved the fabric details down the selvedge so I cut it out so that would be down the centre back. I wanted it lining so I made an identical skirt in a purple lining which I had in my stash. I trimmed off the back facing and then hand-stitched the facing to the lining with a simple prick-stitch using a purple embroidery thread.

I found the buttons in my stash too, we’re heading for a big lock-down here so I didn’t fancy button shopping and I don’t find it easy matching buttons on line, especially with all the possible shades of purple. Anyway I don’t think I would have got a much better match.

I added one of my labels too – I ordered these a few months ago for a finishing touch!

I’ve worn my skirt about three times already, it’s one of those that’s instantly comfortable, I love the colour too. The only downer I’ve found is that it does crease surprisingly easily for a wool skirt – it’s OK when I’m wearing it, but I certainly need to hang it up straight away at night time – there’s no popping it over the back of a chair or it needs a good press in the morning!

I’ve just this week started a four week on line course on pattern fitting though Denman College, the WI college in Oxfordshire. Hopefully by the end of it I’ll be able to iron out any extra wrinkles and have a perfect fit!. I’ll let you know how I get on.

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Anthea Calendar SAL

In the last couple of days I’ve finished the October design for the Anthea SAL by Faby Reilly. I would have finished it a few days before only I mislaid the dark maroon I needed for back-stitching the flowers, I searched high and low, whilst being aware that this was a well travelled stitching – it’s been to Northumberland and to work, so the potential for it not being in the house was there. In the end I bought another one…and then of course it turned up – it had been through the wash and the tumble dryer!!!

Anyway, it’s finished and it’s gorgeous! Each month before the pattern is released I try and guess what flower it will be, I don’t think I’ve ever got it right! This month it’s cyclamen, the plant stalls on Otley market are full of them at the moment, both the big blousey indoor ones and the delicate looking outdoor ones. I used to have a few near the back door, I tried to move them but I don’t think I’ve seen them since, though I’m not exactly sure where I moved them to – I’ll have to have a mosey round the garden

Here’s the half way point when all the cross-stitching is complete…

The colours of the cyclamen flowers are beautiful, so rich against the dark green mottled leaves. Even at this stage it’s lovely, but then you add the Faby magic with back-stitching, sequins and french knots and you end up with this…

Isn’t that just gorgeous! Nearer the end of the month I’ll start stitching the wordplay to go opposite it in my textile book, I’ll enjoy stitching with these colours.

We’ll have to wait until next month to see what the flower is for November, I’ve no guesses for this one!

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Cottage Garden Quilt HQAL

I’m enjoying making this quilt so much, it’s a design by Kathryn Whittingham and all the instructions and patterns are in a book, called, unsurprisingly, The Cottage Garden Quilt. The instructions are great, leaving lots of room to make it personal, it’s just a gorgeous design! Three weeks ago I was about half way across the top row…

The next block to embroider was of a beehive. There’s flowers around it’s base and bees buzzing overhead of course. I stitched similar flowers to Kathryn on the left, but I decided to put foxgloves on the right. Having stitched the flowers I realised that Kathryn’s stem stitched narrow leaves just weren’t going to work as big foxglove leaves, so I drew a clump on the bondaweb paper and cut it out of a soft green, I could then just back-stitch some outlines of leaves, it works pretty well. The bees are cute! They’re stitched with back-stitch, satin stitch, a couple of french knots and lazy daisy for wings. As Kathryn says, they’re not anatomically correct but they’re cute! I’m really pleased with this block.

With all the embroidered blocks stitched I could start making the various pieced blocks and put the row together. The beehive just had two narrow borders. I chose a darker green for the inner one which I think frames it nicely. The hand fork has a similar 1.5″ simple border too.

The two flowers are centred in star blocks made with flying geese blocks. I picked two similar olive green fabrics for the stars. I love the daisy one in particular. A third star was needed, I chose a pretty rosebud fabric and fussycut the centre square.

My chicken block, everyone’s favourite so far, needed a second border. I prevaricated for a while, eventually using a mid green fabric. I laid everything out on my design wall and it did look very pretty, if a little busy. I then noticed in the book that Kathryn has four blocks, including this one, with an off white self color patterned fabric. Using the almost plain fabric just brought a bit of calm to the quilt. I unpicked my green borders and replaced them with a soft cream fabric with pretty oak leaves on. It works perfectly.

The filler in squares are just 2.5″, it’s a useful way of getting some balance with the fabrics. For example, I’d used some pretty blue fabric on the flower block and one chicken, but no where else, with the squares I could spread it around a bit more.

I started to look then at how she had spaced her main colours, so now I know which ones need repeating further down to get the balanced look. I need to keep enough of the red and the green bordering the flower and the hive to border two more blocks at the bottom.

I love this quilt so far, the colours are working out well, it’s just so pretty, it makes me smile every time I look at it. I’m even thinking of hand quilting it, only six months after I said never again when I finally completed my Down the Rabbit Hole quilt!!!

If you like this style but not sure about the theme, Kathryn is apparently just about to release her second book, a seaside quilt, you can pre-order copies from Fabbadashery in Halifax.

Hand Quilt Along Links

This Hand Quilt Along is an opportunity for hand quilters and piecers to share and motivate one another. We post every three weeks, to show our progress and encourage one another.  If you have a hand quilting project and would like to join our group contact Kathy at the link below.

Kathy, Margaret, Deb, NanetteSharonKarrin, Gretchen, Daisy, Connie, Monica and Sherrie

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

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My Christmas ‘Believe’ cross-stitch is coming on nicely. This is a kit by Dimensions, I think I bought it on one of the facebook destash sites a couple of years ago. I started it a few weeks ago as my ‘handbag’ stitching, that’s a little project I keep in my bag for occasional moments of stitching. Last time I showed it was just after our weekend away when I’d made a good start…

Whilst I’m working my way round the ‘patchwork’ border, I’m using up threads that have been cut in other areas, it’s worked pretty well as two small stripy blocks have been completed just on leftovers!

I won’t make as much progress for a couple of weeks as I’ve just started my Anthea Calendar SAL for October, but hopefully I’ll finish it in time for Christmas, I’m thinking of making it into a cushion.

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A Whistlestop Break

At the end of September we finally had a few days holiday. I say finally as my OH hasn’t been on holiday for a couple of years, we were meant to be having a big holiday in December, like a month away, which although it hasn’t officially been cancelled, it’s clearly not going to happen as at least three of the countries we were visiting are not allowing anyone in! I spotted a window in our diaries and booked an Air B&B.

We stayed in Whistlestop cottage in Redesmouth, a tiny hamlet in Northumberland, just a couple of hours drive away. It was perfect, just what we needed – it was a good sign when the welcome tray included a bottle of Merlot!

Whistlestop is an old railway cottage, Redesmouth once had a bustling station, just down the lane was the old station house and the signal box, with the platforms still visible when you walk along the old railway line – even the old platform waiting room was there, albeit in a state of disrepair. Just at the end of the platform you could still see the remains of the turning circle, the engine sheds are apparently now part of a farm. It would be a great place if you’re into railways.

The cottage had a woodburner, a roll top bath, big comfortable bed and a well-equipped kitchen, it even had a secure garden for Lucy, our little dog and a sheltered spot in the back garden which was perfect for a drink on a warm afternoon. It was ideal for a relaxing long weekend.

We went on several walks, just around six miles on average, which was far enough especially for Lucy’s little legs!

We walked from Bellingham, which is a large village nearby, up to a waterfall called Hareshaw Lynn, it was a lovely walk up through the woods following the stream. There was a steady trickle of people walking but luckily when we reached the waterfall it was quiet. It was a lovely spot.

Another day we visited Hexham, I’ve never been before but it was an interesting town, lots of beautiful old buildings and houses. I visited the abbey which is right in the centre of the town. There’s been a church on the site since AD674, but much of the current building from what I can gather is from the 1800’s, the highlight for me was the wall hanging made by local groups to celebrate the millennium. It was stunning! Round the edge the roundels are beautiful embroideries depicting things or places nearby. The quilting in the centre is just gorgeous…and of course it’s the sort of colours I love!

We were pretty close to Hadrians Wall, so we drove the scenic route back from Hexham and walked over to one section of the wall, it’s amazing to think it has been here since Roman times. I quite fancy walking Hadrians Wall Path now, the countryside was beautiful, very different from the Yorkshire Dales too. It’s an 84 mile path from Newcastle upon Tyne to Bowness-on-Solway. We would have walked coast to coast across the country twice then!

On the last day we went up to Kielder, this is a huge reservoir surrounded by Forestry Commission land. To walk round the lake is about 26 miles, so I found a 7 mile circular walk round a peninsula instead. Forestry Commission land walks don’t tend to be the most exciting, but they’re easy walking with good paths usually.

It was at Kielder that I saw those amazing mushrooms…

We were lucky with the weather as you can see. It was cold but sunny. However the cloud cover came across at night time, this was a shame as the area is part of the protected dark sky park, it’s the largest area of dark skies in Europe so it’s brilliant for stargazing – if it’s not cloudy!

We had a great time, very relaxing which was just what we needed. Hoping to go back again next year as there’s lots to see in the area and Whistlestop cottage made a great base for us.

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Anthea Calendar SAL

Last weekend I managed to stitch the wordplay for September to go with the autumn crocus design for the month. Once I get the design sorted it doesn’t usually take long to actually stitch as a lot of it is back-stitch.

I finally have a more positive month to share!

The latin name for an autumn crocus is colchicum, though I do like the common name of naked ladies! We actually saw some in flower in Hexham but I didn’t manage to get a photo

I did manage to get a photo of these amazing mushrooms, they were a gorgeous shade of lavender, I think it’s called a shaggy inkcap, or judges wig, but that’s only via google – I know very little about mushrooms, I certainly wouldn’t trust myself to eat a wild one. There’s lots of mushrooms and toadstools appearing at the moment.

I’ve felt quite domesticated making chutney, I used to make lots of jams and chutneys but then I got out of the habit, I think I had a couple of not so good batches which took forever to use up and it sort of put me off. I love the smell of chutney cooking – it certainly clears your nose! I made caramelised red onion chutney, red onions are usually more expensive than white here but at the moment they’re the same price for some reason, so I decided to take advantage and make some chutney. I bought a couple of pound of damsons too on the market – they’re only available usually for a pretty brief window, so I put them in the freezer ready to make some damson gin.

We hear the tawny owls a lot more in the autumn and winter. So far I’ve just heard a female, it’s lovely when you hear another one answering back. The calls always make me smile as the female says ‘Twit’ and the male answers ‘Woohoo’.

The big quilt went back on the bed in September, it’s the Down the Rabbit Hole’ one I made a couple of years ago (but didn’t finish quilting til last December!) it’s a lovely weight, makes us feel all snuggled. I wanted to include electric blanket on the wordplay but I didn’t quite have the space, we love the electric blanket once it gets cooler!! It was an extra Christmas present to my OH a few years ago and he always says it was the best present ever!!

The yellow rudbekia have been lovely in the garden over September, adding a welcome splash of colour…

We’ve had two family birthdays this month and a much needed week-end away in Redesmouth. Redesmouth is a tiny hamlet in Northumberland, it used to have a bustling station and we were staying in a lovely old railway cottage called Whistlestop. We booked it through AirB&B and it was perfect for what we needed. More photos in another post but this photo was about a five minute walk from the cottage…

Spiders! At this time of year the big spiders seem to move into the house. They may not be big to readers in far off climes, but they’re big to us! I don’t mind spiders, I usually give them a help if they are stuck in the bath, otherwise I just leave them be. We call the big spiders George in our house, I think it started as a way of stopping the kids from being scared of them, if it’s an extra big one then it’s a Grandad George!!

The quote this month is from one of my favourite poems (or is it prose??) I first saw it when I was about 19, a student nurse in London. I went to stay with a friend at Canterbury uni and she had it pinned to her board. I wrote it out and kept it safe. I love it, it’s sort of like my philosophy in life. This is the whole poem

In this special moment in life….

Think freely. Practice patience. Smile often. Savour special moments. Live God’s message. Make new friends. Rediscover old ones. Tell those you love that you do. Feel deeply. Forget trouble. Forgive an enemy. Hope. Grow. Be crazy. Count your blessings. Observe miracles. Make them happen. Discard worry. Give. Give in. Trust enough to take. Pick some flowers. Share them. Keep a promise. Look for rainbows. Gaze at stars. See beauty everywhere. Work hard. Be wise. Try to understand. Take time for people. Make time for yourself. Laugh heartily. Spread joy. Take a chance. Reach out. Let someone in. Try something new. Slow down. Be soft sometimes. Believe in yourself. Trust another. See a sunrise. Listen to rain. Reminisce. Cry when you need to. Trust life. Have faith. Enjoy wonder. Comfort a friend. Have good ideas. Make some mistakes. Learn from them…

Celebrate Life

Jan Michelson

I love it enough to stitch the whole poem, I made this several years ago…

Having stitched the crocus in amongst the words, I had a bit of a gap, so I added the spiders web stitch and a few beads to fill it out – right next to the word spider!! I’m pretty pleased with this one, sometimes they just come together more easily. Here it is next to it’s flower page.

Faby has just released this months design in the Anthea Calendar SAL, it’s gorgeous! Deep pink cyclamens!

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Monday’s Meander Round the Garden

It was surprisingly pleasant in the garden today, I say surprising as the weather forecast wasn’t too promising for most of the week – mind you here in the UK the weather forecast is taken with a pinch of salt! I was well wrapped up but it was quite warm in the sunshine.

I managed to get out for a couple of hours tidying up, there’s lots to do in the garden at the moment, it can be quite overwhelming at times, thinking I’ll never get on top of it, but little by little gets the job done – eventually!

I decided to concentrate on the Amber & Amethyst garden, mainly because it’s an easy area to make an impression!! I weeded, cut back or dug up dead bits, picked up leaves. It does look better…

…as you can see though, I’m always torn between leaving seed heads for the birds and cutting plants back. My rule of thumb is that if it’s still pretty green, I leave the seed heads on!

Just at the other end of this bed, in between the arbour and the obelisk is quite a busy little corner, it never quite makes the limelight, but there’s always something going on. At the moment the red astrantia is still flowering, together with a smattering of perennial wallflowers. Once they fade the skimmia will take centre stage.

The autumn bed which I planted up last year is starting to colour nicely, there’s an acer, a blueberry and a euonymus alata together with a rudbekia still flowering happily along.

Over on the otherside of the top garden, in the rose bed, there’s a sedum which desperately needs dividing, it looks quite something with it’s big splayed circle of flower heads, but they should be more upright and it’s a sure sign it’s overcrowded – another job for the autumn.

Just next to it is a pheasantberry, or leycesteria, the purple bracts are beautiful at the moment, I tend to cut this back fairly hard each spring as it can be quite a thug. I’m currently just enjoying it filling a space with a splash of colour…

Last week I did some clearing by the patio. The geraniums have gone a bit rampant this year, especially Anne Folkard with it’s big magenta flowers. I cut a lot of them back revealing Goosey Lucy for the first time in months – I put there there in the spring as the local cats started sitting there ready to pounce on an unsuspecting bird at the feeders…

… it seemed to work well, although Lucy the dog is a much better deterrent!

This is Lucy very pleased to be back home after our few days in Northumberland, she reckoned her legs were about three inches shorter having walked about 16 miles in three days!

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Dancing to Bethlehem

It’s three weeks since I last showed you my Bethlehem embroidery, I was still prevaricating over the filling in designs round the spirals and I was still only half way round the outer border…

Well it was the first thing I packed for my weekend away as I was determined to crack it – though I did take a few other back-up sewing projects too! I took a variety of threads, mainly perle ones, it would have helped if I had spotted the instructions from the original workshop in my workbox all the time…the workbox I took with me to the cottage…but I didn’t spot that til yesterday!!

I was struggling with the areas around the spirals, not helped by the fact they vary so much in size, it needed to be a fairly organic design. I tried couched hearts but that looked messy, so I unpicked that. I then tried more pointed sort of hearts, that worked better, I used a finer thread in a variegated orange so it didn’t detract too much from the blue spirals. I felt it needed filling in, so I chose a mid orange which didn’t look right. I then found out how difficult it is to unpick embroidery from a thick felt background!! In the end I stitched over it in a darker orange thread. I’m still not 100% on this bit of the design, but it’s done, it fills in a gap!

Obviously I wanted something different on the outside, I decided to do a sort of zig-zag to fill the shape in, a bit like a scribbled Christmas tree. This could easily be adapted to fill any size shape. I used a darker rusty orange and couched away one evening. This works much better I think.

So it’s finished! I like the overall effect, the only bit I would change is those pointy hearts, but from a distance it looks OK. I particularly like the clarity of the central spiral with the plain turquoise felt behind. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it, I might put it on a cushion, but I think it would also make an interesting textile book cover – it’s heavy enough!

This is the second piece of Palestinian embroidery I have stitched, both from workshops with Deborah Mullins at Fabbadashery in Halifax last year. Deborah spent some time in Palestine when her husband was on sabbatical there and she spent the time studying the different regional styles of embroidery. Her work is stunning, do have a look at her website. The first workshop I did was on Tahiri strips – I made mine into a bookmark…

These Tahiri strips would be used (from what I can gather) on garments, such as down dress sleeves and skirts, a more ordered and symetrical panel (as opposed to my stylized version) would be used for a front panel on the bodice. Each region had it’s own distinct style and patterns but Bethlehem embroidery was considered the finest. There’s lots of couching in one long continous thread from what I can gather. I do find it interesting looking at different styles of embroidery in different countries, depending on what textiles were available to them and their needs too.

So it’s happy dance time for my SAL, I just have to decide what to stitch next…maybe another UFO!

This SAL is organised by Avis, we each plot our progress on our projects every three weeks, it does help keep me motivated! Please follow the links to see what every one else is stitching.

AvisClaireGunCaroleSueConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyHayleyMeganDeborahMary MargaretReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneConnieAJJennyLauraCathieLindaHelen

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2020 Vision

It’s a while since I last checked how I was doing with my 2020 Vision, I’ve just looked back and it was May – doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun!! As we are now three quarters of the way through the year, I thought I’d better see how I was doing with the twenty things I wanted to make in 2020. I have to admit though, the way 2020 has panned out was certainly not in my vision, I’ve done a lot of what Anne Brookes would call ‘sewing for the soul’, stitching what I fancy rather than what I need…

Five Clothes;

  • Jeans: made and worn lots of times, though I don’t find the button fly as comfortable as a zip!
  • Trousers: made and worn a few times, these were from the Ultimate Trouser pattern, they’re a bit snug for my liking, I’ll try a different pattern next time.
  • Sheer blouse: made and waiting for a special occasion to wear it!!!
  • Tailored jacket: I’ve got the pattern and the fabric, just got to get organised.
  • Tailored coat: Ditto!! I’ve got a few days off next week so I might aim to do one of these.


  • Coming Home Quilt; Flimsy is finished, just need to send it to the long-armer
  • Cottage Garden Quilt; I’ve almost finished the top row of this one, I’m really enjoying making this one.
  • Baby Quilt; Completed and gifted earlier in the year.
  • Scrappy Quilt; My Staying home quilt is just waiting to be quilted. I’ve also started a true scrappy one from my scrap boxes, Pat Sloans Flower Garden QAL.
  • Charity Quilt; I’ve a quilt for care-leavers which just needs the quilting finishing, I just need to get it out of the bag and get it finished!


  • Stitchbook Collective; All finished and made into a book.
  • Mum’s Memory book; I finished this just in time for my mum’s funeral, I’m really pleased with how it’s worked out.
  • Anthea Calendar SAL; I’m keeping up with this lovely stitch-a-long from Faby Reilly and I’m managing to do a wordplay for each one too though at times it’s been difficult to think of positive words to stitch!!
  • Workshop finishes; I finished my Harry the Hare and I’ve an update on the Bethlehem embroidery tomorrow!
  • Finery Of Nature; Completed.


  • Slippers;Finished and worn lots of times, even if the tops are the wrong way round!
  • Lampshade; No progress here, though I keep looking at the kits!
  • Jelly Roll Rug; ditto!
  • Wallet; This went on my back burner during lockdown as I wasn’t going anywhere to spend money, I really do need one now though!
  • Luna Lapin; Florence is made, she just needs some clothes.

I’ve just done a count up and I think eleven things are fully finished, four are well on their way with five none starters!! Not bad considering the year we’ve had and I’ve still three months to go….

Posted in 2020 Vision, Dressmaking, embroidery, Quilting, Serendipity, Sewing, The Stitchbook Collective, Workshops | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Florence makes an appearance…

Last year I made a ‘Luna Lapin’ for my great-nephew, well actually I made an Alfie, same rabbit, different clothes…

They’re from a gorgeous book by Sara Peel called ‘Making Luna Lapin’. Luna has a whole wardrobe of beautifully made clothes and now has a range of friends made in two other books, mice, cats, squirrels, deer… Sara has a lovely fabric shop in Kendal called Cool Crafting, as well as the website, she sells everything you need to make them or you can get a kit. I fell for the book when they had a shop in Skipton. I was planning to make my mum one for her birthday this year, but it wasn’t to be, so I’m making one for myself and calling her Florence after my grandmother.

I cut everything out before we went away for the weekend, they’re designed to be hand-stitched in felt, so it was the perfect project to take with me last weekend.

She went together pretty easily, I’d machine stitched the ears beforehand – they have some interfacing inside to help them stand up. All the other seams are blanket-stitched. The arms are stitched on with wooden buttons (saying ‘handmade’) so they are poseable to a degree. By the end of the week-end I just had the eyes and the mouth to stitch. The eyes are little black buttons, I embroidered some lashes too, to make her a bit girlie, the nose is embroidered in brown DMC thread.

Florence is a rabbit of standards, so she wouldn’t allow any photos until she had some knickers on! Luckily the book includes a pattern for lacy knickers. I found some pale pink lace I’ve had for years. I hand-stitched these completely as I decided machine stitching small seams in stretch lace was going to end in tears!!

I just need to make a dress and a coat now…oh and a tail!

Posted in Luna Lapin, Serendipity, Sewing | Tagged | 12 Comments