Monday’s Meander Round the Garden

It’s a bank holiday here in the UK and the weather has been warm and sunny, not like the usual bank holiday weather at all!! I’ve managed quite a few hours in the garden, though there’s still an awful lot to do as I lost about six weeks after my op. I’ve decided I’m a bit of a flitter when it comes to the garden, I do a bit here and then get distracted by something over there that needs doing. It all needs doing but I think that’s part of the reason why I never feel I’m winning, I never finish a job properly!! I think that’s one reason why it’s so great when my friend comes to help, she really bottoms a border before moving on to the next…I need to learn from this!

I did a fair bit of weeding and tidying round by the patio, cutting back faded flower spikes, unwinding the bindweed so I can pop in in a poop bag and spray with weed killer. I cut back the lower branches of the purple sambuscus too, it’s getting to be rather large, they can be a bit thuggish! I’ve taken off the lower branches to bring a bit more light onto the bed below it and to neaten it up a bit. When my OH has his chainsaw out next there’s one more branch to come off!

The view from the bottom of the steps, peeping under the standard rose bush, is lovely at the moment. There’s three different alliums, two irises and both purple and white foxgloves…

I’ve pruned the early flowering clematis by the side of the arbour, a bit late but it’s done. I’ve also pruned and fed the fatsia japonica as it wasn’t looking very happy. I had a bag of farmyard manure which I’d bought to mix with John Innes compost when we we’re planning to move house, I’ve been round the garden and given a few shrubs a bit of a feed with it.

I also did some weeding up round the top roses by the lawn, I went to give them some manure and got distracted by the weeds! Kneeling on the lawn I got a different view of the border by the big fence and that’s looking very pretty too. I couldn’t get any nearer as I also realised this weekend that the bird box on the side of the summerhouse is home to a family of bluetits – when I had my coffee in there on Saturday I could hear them cheeping away.

The alliums have come up through the peony, I don’t recall planting any there but it’s worked pretty well. The peony has quite a few buds on, I think they’ll open over the next week. There’s a white astrantia (well a sort of very pale green colour) and behind it is a pink one. The philadelphus at the back has just come into blossom and smells wonderful.

Over by the pond my OH has been weeding the path, he’s also realised the log-roll round the pond border is pretty rotten, it has probably been there about 18 years so it doesn’t owe me anything! He wants to re-lay new weed membrane under the gravel and replace the log roll, he’ll hopefully agree that it will be easier to wait til autumn.

We thinned the Solomons Seals a lot last year but it needs a bit more I think, I could do with a nice clump, rather than a sprawl…and I bought a candelabra primula which I want to plant by the pond where I can see it. The purple plant at the front is a rogersia, I’ve a green one too at the far side of the pond. The hostas are looking huge already!

The purple clematis by the autumn bed is looking amazing this year, the flowers are huge. The purple acer is looking happy and hopefully the peony will soon be in flower too. The rambling rose growing over the arbour is looking huge but it’s nicely spreading over the arbour.

I do like this time of year, everything is still looking fresh and new and there’s something different every time you wander round the garden…lots of things to distract me!

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Stitching my Garden

It’s three weeks since I shared my progress on my last big piece for my embroidered garden book. I’ve not done as much as I wanted, mainly because I’m having increasing issues with neuralgia in my arm at the moment and I think my usual habit of sitting on the sofa hand-stitching on an evening doesn’t help. I’m trying to limit myself for a short while – it’s hard when everything you like to do either impacts on or is affected by health issues! I tend to do what I want and live with the consequences, but occasionally I put my sensible hat on and give myself a break!

Three weeks ago I was busy stitching the rose bush which grows over the arbour…

I’ve not done a huge amount of stitching but I have put blobs of colour on where shrubs and bushes are, these are hand-painted calico stuck on with bondaweb. Psychologically these help a lot as they suddenly reduce the amount of empty space to be filled with stitching, even though I’ll be stitching over them.

I’ve stitched a few of my gorgeous velvety deep purple irises which are in flower at the moment and I’ve started some foxgloves in the corner by the roses. The foxgloves are a little artistic license as there seemed to be a big gap to the left of the rose, I do need to fill out the rose a bit but I didn’t fancy doing the whole lot, so I added some tall foxgloves!

I think this one is going to be stitched slightly different to the others perspective – wise, the other two embroideries have worked out better imagining I’m stood in the middle of the garden with plants ‘fanning out’. Whereas I think this one is better stood on the path looking down the garden, so everything will be stood straight. Hopefully next time you see this there will be a few more plants stitched.


This stitch-a-long is organised by Avis from Stitching by the Sea, we post our progress every three weeks on our individual projects, it’s just enough to keep me motivated! Please follow the links to see what every one else is stitching.




Posted in embroidery, Garden, Stitch-a-long, Textile Books | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

Ring of Love

Someone very dear to me is going through a pretty torrid time at the moment, I saw an advert on facebook recently for a silver ring to give to someone to wear as a reminder that you’re always there for them, I rather liked the idea but not so much the ring they sold. A quick scoot round Etsy and I saw a silver ring with the outline of a mountain, it was just a generic mountain shape but it looked remarkably like Catbells which is very dear to both of us…Perfect!

It came in a little muslin bag and of course I decided to make more of a keepsake bag to give the ring in. I found some nice white linen in my stash, there was a piece just big enough for what I had in mind.

I sketched the outline of Catbells on paper first to make sure my idea would work…I then extended the line to end with a heart and the words ‘With love’. I used my lightbox and a Frixion pen to transfer the design onto the linen.

I stitched the outline in split stitch in a soft blue-green, DMC 502 I think, the heart and ‘with love’ were then stitched in a soft purple using satin stitch for the heart. The one disadvantage I’ve found with Frixion pens is that it is not so easy to see bit’s you have missed until you press it at the end and the lines disappear…then it depends if you want, or can be bothered, to go back and fill in the gaps. I decided to go with the slightly faint look.

I stitched the side and bottom of the bag with French seams on the sewing machine, I hand-stitched the top hem as it was just too little and fiddly to try to stitch it on the machine. For the gathering ribbon I simply threaded a length of silk ribbon and stitched a running stitched around the top edge of the bag. It won’t be at all robust but it does look pretty. I added a few beads to the ends of the ribbon and the gift bag was ready.

I found a suitable giftcard in a little book of gift tags I got free with a magasine, just big enough for me to write a special message in. I even ironed some tissue paper to wrap the ring in!

She loved it 🙂

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Otley Show

It was Otley Show at the weekend and the sun shone all day, it was glorious! It’s the oldest one day agricultural show in the country (212th show) and locally it’s the first one of the season. As it’s fairly early in the year it does get more than it’s fair share of wet shows, so it was nice to have a hot and sunny one.

Otley show is still a traditional agricultural show, there’s competitions for cows, sheep, horse jumping, heavy horses, chickens usually too but none this year due to bird flu. There’s even ferret racing and terrier racing! I like looking at the sheep with all their different fleeces, this is a beautiful Wensleydale sheep…

…I’m not sure what breed these rams were sheltering from the sun under a pallet, but their horns were stunning…

There’s a handicraft marquee with various classes to enter for sewing, flower arranging, painting, photography, baking, wine-making…and children’s classes too. I used to enter every year when the children were small – the few days before the show were always a bit stressful trying to get everyone’s entries ready! I hadn’t entered for a few years but this year I decided to put a few things in. In the end I entered 10 classes as it was only a £1 to enter and if you entered 10 classes you got a free ticket to get in! I entered 2 bags, 2 Christmas decorations, 2 cross-stitch, a miniature flower arrangement, 2 photos and a lemon drizzle cake. I knew I wouldn’t get anywhere with the photos or the cake or the flower arranging for that matter, so how did I do…

My backpack won first prize…

… and the owl Christmas stocking won second prize…

and my big cross-stitch won first prize too.

My other three entries didn’t get anything but I’m happy with that, I enter for the fun of it. It’s always interesting seeing what everyone else entered, chuntering about the judging, it’s all part of the fun!

We love looking at all the children’s entries too, it’s hard judging children’s stuff as you have to take their age into account, I’ve done it at a village show so I know! It’s very easy for people to complain that one hand-writing or picture is better than another, but it may be by a much older child. The children’s judge also seemed to take account of which ones clearly had parental help too which was good. We did laugh when we saw the pasta collage, there were some with lots of different pasta shapes and colours, others had mums like me who refused to by any extras so they were stuck with spaghetti and fusilli 😀

We could collect our entries and winnings at 4.30pm, I packed half my entries into my back pack and put the pictures in a bag which a strong friend kindly offered to carry home…and I promptly left my backpack in the marquee!!! I realised Sunday evening that I didn’t have it and as I had no recollection of actually carrying my backpack I was pretty sure it was left in the tent, which meant the chances are it was safe. I sent a quick e-mail off to the show office and this morning I heard they did have it, so I can collect it later in the week! What am I like!!!

Posted in Crafts, cross-stitch, embroidery, Sewing | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Monday’s Meander Round the Garden

Everything is growing so quickly at the moment, including the weeds unfortunately, the garden has been sadly neglected over the last few weeks as I’ve been recovering from an operation. Well I’m back to work tomorrow and hopefully I can start gentle gardening at the weekend.

My favourite shrub at the moment is the cream rose in the front garden. It’s an early flowerer and a single flush, but what a glorious flush! It is covered in simple creamy-white blooms at the moment and it smells beautiful too. I think this is called a Scottish rose, it’s very prickly and I’ve never actually pruned it as I’ve never been able to find any information on how to prune these roses. This year however I’ve decided to give it a trim, it’s getting rather big for one thing. As it flowers so early it obviously flowers on last years growth so I’m waiting until it’s flowered and then I’ll give it a good prune, I might even be rewarded with a second flush of flowers! I can give it a feed too with some manure round it’s base.

I have several different irises around the garden, both Dutch ones and the bearded ones, they’re just starting to come into flower. The yellow one is down by the conservatory, this is one of the irises my mum ordered for me from France, so it’s a bit precious. It’s a bit of a muddy yellow but still very pretty. The dark purple one is up in the Amber and Amethyst garden, I love it’s deep velvety colour.

At the top of the garden we have a gate through to the back lane. A few years ago I decided to put an arch over the gate with a clematis Montana. It is known as a mile-a-minute clematis but I had the idea that I would train it along the fences. Well I wasn’t thorough enough with my training and it’s decided to escape up the ash tree instead! It does look stunning this year however the metal arch has completely collapsed, you can see it’s at a 45′ angle and we’re concerned it’s going to bring the branch down. I’ve decided to cut it right back once it’s finished flowering and build a new arch with my son’s help hopefully as it’s not going to be as straightforward as other’s I’ve made. The bit where it stands is on a slant, there’s three steps up to the gate, so I’m going to have to have back legs shorter than front ones, I can’t just make it on the flat and then put the sides and top together.

Another clematis is flowering too, this is a gorgeous purple large flowered one, it’s on a little obelisk in between the autumn bed and the amber and amethyst garden.

The deep bed by the big fence is mainly shrubs, it’s not the most exciting bed but it fills a big area. The purple sambuscus looks lovely but does need bringing under control a bit. There’s a wisteria on the back fence which I need to learn how to prune so it will flower. The pale pink flowering shrub on the right is a daphne, that’s another one that needs pruning after it’s flowered – I think I’m going to be busy! Although it’s a very green border at the moment, there are little pops of colour mingling through it, there’s the purple alliums at the front, a perennial cornflower and some aquilegias too. The peony will be the next to flower, together with the philadelphus at the back, then it will be the turn of the roses…

I’ve always found it a bit tricky choosing plants to go in the border right in front of the conservatory. The soil level is only about 8″ below the sill, so plants can’t be too big or too dense or they’ll block the view and light, they need to look reasonable from both sides too. This spring it’s actually looking pretty good, the shrub in the middle had a bit of a prune earlier in the year as it was blocking my view of the bird feeders! The seedlings on the windowsill are sunflowers waiting to be hardened off and planted out.

The view from the upstairs window does show just how high the clematis has been trying to go! The lilac behind the summerhouse is flowering, though parts of it are getting swamped by a honeysuckle. The mass of pink flowers in the middle is a variegated wiegela. It’s all looking very green!

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Peacock Dress

We had a family christening today, always a lovely day and today we were blessed with beautiful weather too. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been making myself a new dress.

I chose some gorgeous soft cotton from my stash, I’m pretty sure I bought it from Maggie Tuite on facebook, it feels as beautiful as it looks. I was actually looking at the inside when I pulled it from my stash, thinking that’s a pretty muted design…then I opened it up and thought Wow! I fell in love with it all over again! It’s lightweight whilst retaining a little body so it’s lovely to sew too. It also goes nicely with a linen coat I made a couple of years ago.

Having lost weight this year (1.5 stone award this week woo-hoo! -21lb) I tried on some of my older dresses and found Mccalls 6696 fitted me nicely again. This will be the third time I’ve made this dress and I still love it. Here’s the other two from 2017…

I had about 3.5m of fabric which would have been sufficient had I been making it below knee length as per pattern, however I do like my skirts long, so I was adding 10″ to the skirt pieces, talk about juggling pieces, I literally had a small pile of scraps at the end! The yoke and the waistband are lined with lining fabric and I could only fit everything on with reasonable pattern matching if the everything was cut out across the fabric rather than than down, luckily the feather pattern still worked that way, in fact I think I prefer it that way. The only piece I had to put the other way was the front band, luckily I don’t think it shows too much.

It went together nicely, my machine even managed fourteen buttonholes without too much complaining. The buttons came from my stash too, I actually had 13 which went beautifully and I found one which was very similar which is on the waistband so it’s not really noticeable.

…and yes it has pockets! I do like a dress with pockets! I love this dress, the fabric feels lovely to wear and I love the way it has worked out. It’s my new favourite dress! I think I might be making another one soon 🙂

Posted in Dressmaking | Tagged , , | 23 Comments

Sewing Room Wreath

Wreaths seem to be all on trend here in the UK at the moment, door wreaths are no longer just for Christmas, there’s ones for all year round. Well I’ve made one for my sewing room. It’s actually a kit I bought a couple of Knit and Stitch Shows ago and as I’m trying to declutter my sewing room, I thought I’d make this in between sewing projects.

The kit is made by Tee Pee Crafts and contains everything needed to make a sewing room wreath, wooden bobbins, lace, ribbons, fabric, buttons, trimmings generally. The colours provided are neutral, I wanted a purple slant so I added fabrics and trimmings from my stash.

The instructions are somewhat minimalistic, referring frequently to the picture when describing how to fold burlap or how to make the flower, for example. The only photo is on the packet, the whole wreath is less than 3.5″ in the photo so I found it difficult to see any detail clearly and certainly couldn’t tell how things were folded.

Once the ribbons and burlap were folded into loops, all the cotton reels needed decorating mainly with lace and trimmings. The smallest bobbins I just wound embroidery thread round them as I decided they were just too little to fiddle with lace. The body of the bobbin was also curved (outwards) which did make things extra fiddly as the thread kept slipping on the second half, I ended up smearing it with a thin layer of glue. There are some tiny ones too which again I used embroidery thread. I used the Roxanne fabric glue for these, I think if I’d used the glue gun I’d have glued my fingers too!

The largest bobbins are like standard wooden bobbin size, I wound fabric round those. One lovely touch was that Dewhirst’s Sylco labels were supplied for the two traditional ones. I only discovered on Monday on a trip to Skipton Museum that the Dewhirst mill was in Skipton!

Here’s all my trims ready to go on the wreath, glue gun ready for action…

Everything was stuck on with my glue gun, which is what they recommend as it is so instant. I tried arranging it all first but it was impossible to do it on the wreath and difficult to imagine how the curves of the wreath would affect the arrangement. In the end I just went for it.

I did find it difficult to get it to look balanced, I think I could have done with another fold of burlap on the left, I added some extra ribbons instead. It’s certainly very full! I like the way the colours worked out, but I think if I did it again I would make my flower a bit smaller and maybe use less generally, but it’s a bit of fun on my sewing room wall. I hung it up straight away…

Having looked at it for a couple of hours, I felt the purple flower was a little too dominant, I wondered about adding to it to reduce the block of purple. I tried ivory lace first, thinking it would pick up with the lace to the left of the flower, but it was too much of a contrast. I then spotted on my desk the flower I’d made first but discarded as looking a bit too drab. I trimmed it in half width-wise and frayed the edges, I tried it with both a purple button and a wooden one. I then stuck it all on top of the first button and added the wooden button in the middle. I think it looks much better…

Posted in Crafts, kits, sewing room | Tagged , | 14 Comments

Non Slip Mat

I’ve done a fair bit of sewing over the last few weeks and one thing I’ve found increasingly annoying is that as I sew my machine foot slowly slips further and further away, or leans against the desk side so it won’t press smoothly. I then have to hoik it back closer again…and off we go again! I’ve got a vinyl floor which is great for sweeping up sewing threads but there is nothing to stop my pedal just gradually slipping away.

I decided to google non slip mats for sewing machine pedals, and yes you can buy them, but I also found a free pattern on the So Sew Easy website. The design uses the non-stick matting you can get for kitchen shelves and that sort of thing. I popped into a general hardware shop in Otley to see if they had any. The assistant was very apologetic that they only had pink or purple…purple is perfect, I said, it’s for my purple sewing room!

As suggested I made mine so it was about half an inch wider than the pedal on both sides and long enough for my foot to rest on it too. It took me less than an hour as it’s just two layers of the mat bound with quilting cotton. As the mat tends to stick to the sewing machine too she recommends sewing with paper underneath – it’s easy enough to remove afterwards as by then it’s perforated. A covered roll of batting is hand-stitched to one end just as extra support.

The instructions to make your own mat were very easy to follow, for anyone not familiar with the quilters way of applying binding there is a link to a video too.

I’ll let you know how well it works!

Posted in Dressmaking, Sewing, sewing room | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Owl and Hare Hollow SAL

I was hoping to have completely finished one block by now but other sewing with deadlines has got in the way, I’m nearly there though. This is a SAL by Natalie Bird of The Birdhouse Patchwork Design, it’s being published in the Homespun magasine which unfortunately takes weeks to reach the UK, so many on the facebook group have finished all of month two and I’m still on the first one, it’s nice seeing all the colourway ideas though.

Three weeks ago I was stitching the embroidery for the first block…

These embroideries have 1/2″ hexagons all round the edge and there’s quite a few embroidered blocks, so whilst watching the coronation last weekend I set up a tray and a little production line for mini hexies. I made half a dozen or so from each fabric and also made some coffin blocks which are for the other blocks in this month’s magasine. I’d bought the pre-cut papers for the quilt, definitely a wise move! The fabric is then glued round the paper template with as little glue as possible, it’s fabric glue which washes out.

Once the embroidery was stitched I could then arrange the hexies round the embroidery. They were to fit within a 7″ circle, when I first laid them on I thought it was outside the ring and even then I didn’t think I could fit twenty round, but stitching them into a chain did make a big difference, though I’ve still only got nineteen!

To start with I chose one hexie from each fabric, but some just didn’t sit well, their styles were just too different or they were too light. In the end I decided that the main hexie I would repeat was the one whose colours was the inspiration for the fabric choice, a teal/jade background with big pink and peach flowers, others just had one or two hexies. Having arranged them they then needed stitching on, and that’s where I’m at now, I did do a few whilst watching the Eurovision Song Contest, so hopefully it won’t take long now to finish.

I’ve also started the second of the embroidered blocks, this will also have twenty-ish hexies round it. Then I’ve just got four blocks to make using coffin wheels and mini hexies, they shouldn’t take as long in theory! I’m hoping that the other fabrics will work well together in these blocks

Hopefully for my next update I’ll have a few more blocks completed.

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.

KathyMargaretDebNanetteSharonKarrin, Daisy, and Connie

I’ll also be linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday, please follow the links to see what everyone has been stitching.

Posted in embroidery, Owl and Hare Hollow BOM, Quilt-a-long, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Knick Backpack

I’ve been thinking of making a pretty backpack for a while, mainly to use for work as I end up taking two bags when really one well planned one would work. Having looked around I rather liked the look of the fold down tops, so I started searching for a pattern on Etsy.

The one I chose looked reasonably straight forward, it’s by a German company called Dozing Hound Crafts. It has two side pockets, a central clip fastener and a hidden outside pocket, which pretty much ticked all the boxes of what I wanted.

I chose some furnishing fabric I had in my stash, with hindsight I don’t think it will stay smart for very long as it’s like a woven jacquard, I think it may snag easily. However it’s pretty, a fairly practical colour and I’ve used a sturdier brown fabric as an accent fabric which includes areas like the base and the back.

I know from experience that bags take an awful lot of pieces and this one is no exception, 40 pieces in all took me quite a few hours to cut out! There’s the main fabric, accent fabric, lining, interfacing, fleece… The pattern is all in centimetres, all my quilting rulers are in inches, I was just about to get all complicated with a tape measure when I remembered the reverse side of my cutting mat is metric! I only fussy cut the main fabric, getting a nice big flower in the middle of the front and then trying to pattern match it for the lid – in the end I cut the lid longer than I needed so I could work out the overlap once the backpack was half made up.

The actual pattern went together fine, but the instructions were not good, more of that later! All the different sections are stitched before the whole bag is put together, so there’s the side pockets, the straps, handle, hardware, zip pockets. Here’s a photo of the front, back and sides before the final construction…

The back is quilted with some batting, it was meant to be firm fleece, so I added some interfacing and it does give the back some strength and body. I’m just waiting for some webbing to arrive to connect the shoulder straps to the tabs in the corners. I did order some dark brown but when it arrived it was more of a tan, so this time I’ve ordered natural and ruby, fingers crossed one of them will do!

I don’t think I’ve made a full gussetted bag before, I’ve just made a bottom by squashing the corners, I know the issue is lining up both sides so you don’t get a twist in the side piece. With this pattern the sides and base strip is in two halves so at least you don’t have to worry about lining up the second accent seam after going round two corners. I was a little concerned though about the strength of the corners as the strip had to be snipped almost to the seam – I put copious amounts of fraycheck on each corner!

Once the outer bag was stitched the lining was pretty straight forward. The pattern adds volume fleece to soften the bag, I bought the recommended vilene and it certainly softens it, it takes away the crispness of the finish though, especially on the flap. I’d be tempted next time to either miss out the fleece or just have it on the inside, not the flap.

Now, the pattern…

The pattern is from a German company and the instructions have not been translated at all well, Google translate comes to mind! When it comes to sewing the opposite of right sides together is wrong sides together, not left sides! Seams were sometimes fixated, sometimes it seemed to mean with pins, other times stitching. I did have to rack my brain back an awful long way when it talked about halving the hypotenuse! I had to really concentrate and read the instructions several times to work out what I was meant to do, when it came to the stitching of the top closing strap I did my own thing in the end as I couldn’t understand how it was going to work otherwise….and I’m sorry but a pattern that had been properly proof read in English would not have a piece called Front Bottom!

Having said all that, it’s finished and I’m pleased with it. The actual pattern went together well, I think the only design change I made was to line the pockets…and I put a little key tab inside the front pocket. I’m pleased with how the top flap pattern matches-ish with the front, though I thought the flap would sit a bit neater, it maybe that once there’s stuff in the bag and it’s had a few weeks wear, it will settle down. I’m entering it in Otley Show next week, then it will be my work bag. At the moment it seems like a good-size roomy bag, though with the flap opening it’s a long way down to the bottom – I hadn’t thought of that aspect when I chose the design! If the concept of a work backpack works out, then I have my eye on another length in my stash for another one.

Posted in Serendipity, Sewing | Tagged , , | 8 Comments