Staying Home Quilt

I’m feeling well chuffed, I’ve just finished the top of my Staying Home quilt and it’s turned out better than I ever hoped for! This is the quilt which started with the free quilt block designs organised by Natalie of the Birdhouse.Sixteen quilters in Australia each gave a free design to help us through the lockdown, they were mainly embroidered, I made thirteen of them. Here’s some of my favourite ones…

I had decided at the start to use fabrics left over from my Coming Home quilt to make it, a scrappy quilt of sorts! I had rather over-bought for the Coming Home quilt so I was pretty sure I would have enough. In the end I just added a couple of fat quarters of a dark green and a dark blue, just to help keep the colours balanced-ish. I chose colours to embroider with which would co-ordinate with the fabric.

I followed Natalie’s idea for sashing the blocks with a 1″ coloured border followed by a 1″ neutral border with 2″ scrappy squares in between. However, I wanted more of a throw size quilt so I also made twelve little house blocks too (as I said, I had rather a lot of fabric left!!). These would then alternate with the embroidered blocks to make a 5×5 block quilt. Once I had everything sashed I had a play on my design wall, trying to space colours fairly evenly without getting too het up about it. Even at this point I wasn’t sure if the idea of the house blocks was going to work…

I then started making all the 2″ square sashing. I needed sixty lengths of five squares plus the cornerstones. I cut 2.5″ strips and sewed them together in twos and threes, cutting them thern into the required width. I could then mix and match a bit so I didn’t have too many strips the same. I used the very dark fabrics for the cornerstones, arranging them in a pattern to give a little bit of order.

As soon as I started stitching the sashing onto the blocks, I knew it was going to work, I loved the effect of the scrappy sashing…

Once I got organised, it didn’t take too long to put it all together, I love it! It measures 62″ square, just a nice size for a throw and a nice size for me to quilt at home. I just need to check if I have enough batting and then I can finish it, I even have enough fabric left for the backing!

It’s taken about six weeks to make, not bad considering a lot of that was hand embroidering the blocks. Natalie and all the designers involved deserve a huge thank you, as I said at the beginning, I’m well chuffed with it, I keep looking at it on my design wall and smiling to myself!

If you fancy stitching these blocks, have a look on facebook for the Love & Hugs from Australia SAL page, all the patterns and links are still there.

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A Couple of Pages

At our last Embroiderers Guild meeting in February, when meeting up with friends was still the norm, we started another Travelling Sketchbook project. This is where everyone has an A5 sketchbook, chooses a theme, makes the first entry, and then passes it round a group of say six people. Everyone does a little bit of embroidery based (however loosely) on the theme and sticks it in the book, so when you get your book back several months later it is filled with embroideries from your friends.

Despite the lockdown situation we’re managing to continue, using the post or a socially distanced swop! I was a bit late getting this one stitched, mainly I must admit as I wasn’t really inspired by the theme. In fact when I first got the list of themes my initial reaction, or rather the polite version was ‘Oh gosh, what does that mean!!’

“Rex quondum, rexque futurum” I was reliably informed is all about King Arthur. There was helpfully quite a bit of information include with the sketchbook, including some sketches of designs based on the round table. I decided to stitch a mandala style circle, inspired by, rather than representative of the round table.

I used dark blue felt, I would have used green which is the colour more commonly portrayed, but my green felts weren’t such a nice colour, so blue it is! I divided the circle into twelve segments, drawn lightly with a silver pen.

I started with the buttonhole wheel in the middle and then worked out, making it up as I went a long. I alternated the colours of the segments, using french knots, fly-stitch and lazy daisy stitch. I used a single thread of silver grey to separate the segments and add a sort of tracery.

I think it’s come out OK, not my most inspired piece but it fits the bill! The next two books are on leaves and under the sea, much more down my street!!

At the weekend I also finished another page for my Anthea Calandar book, this is a SAL organised by Faby Reilly, she’s releasing a pattern each month and then I’m stitching an extra page of wordplay.

This month’s flower is the cherry blossom, it’s based on one of her bigger designs which has two birds sitting on cherry blossom. It’s so pretty, and I think it mat be the first one I’ve managed to stitch without making a counting mistake!

I started stitching this on an ivory linen. I hadn’t got very far but I was already regretting using the ivory when I realised it was 36 count and not 32 count linen, so it would come out a touch smaller. If this was a one off, it wouldn’t have mattered so much, but as it was going to be made into a book I decided to bite the bullet and start again…on a beautiful shade of duck-egg blue linen. It doesn’t really show up on the photo, so you’ll just have to believe me…

It’s such a pretty design and I think the soft colour of the linen sets it off beautifully. The tied cross-stitch round the edge and the stars over the sequins are stitched in one of the DMC variegated threads, it has a nice subtle colour change.

I’ll start designing the wordplay soon, I usually stitch it near the end of the month, make sure nothing happens which I want to include in my dates. What a year to choose to stitch a diary!!

Posted in embroidery, Stitch-a-long, Textile Books, The Travelling Sketchbook | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

Coming Home Quilt

It’s three weeks since I last showed you my Coming Home quilt, I was on the home stretch having just finished the applique of eighty leaves in the four corners, plus birds, dots, vines…

I had already made the pieced blocks of the next border – I had deviated from Sarah’s design at this point as I didn’t want such a big quilt, it’s big enough as it is.

I just had to stitch them on, with an extra piece to fit into the corners. The borders went on really well, they fit perfectly. My last piece of stitching was twelve little houses in the corners, bending round the curve. They were meant to have two windows in each of them, but the houses are only narrow anyway, the windows would have been maximum a quarter of an inch wide…and I couldn’t face another 24 windows!!

The idea is that once the quilting is done, the corners will be curved, following the shape of all the other borders. I’ll have to learn how to put bias binding on a quilt!…

So I’m doing a happy dance round my sewing room! I’m well chuffed at how this one has come out, I think the colours work well, it’s nice and peaceful. I’m sending this quilt off to a long-arm quilter as it’s too big to do on my sewing machine, even with my new wider one. I love the design with all the rows of houses, it’s like a little village round the green.

I started this quilt in January 2019, it’s a quilt-a-long by Sarah Fielke, she does at least one BOM a year and it’s a great way of learning how to applique, but they do tend to be quite big quilts!

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, TracyDeb, Susan,  Nanette,  EdithSharonKarrin, Gretchen, Kathi,  Bella, Daisy, Connie, Monica and Sherrie

I’ll also be linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday.

Posted in Coming Home Quilt, Quilt-a-long, Quilting | Tagged , , , | 34 Comments

Staying Home Quilt

Last week I managed to finish the last of the embroidered blocks for my Staying Home quilt. This is my adaptation of the SAL organised by Natalie of the BirdHouse, she organised various quilt designers in Australia to give a free 6″ design for a quilt block during the lockdown. There were 16 blocks altogether, I’ve stitched 13 of them.

These are my latest four…

This one is by Lynette Anderson, as you can see I’ve also started sashing them. The embroideries are 6″ square, so with two rows of narrow sashing, the blocks will have a finished size of 10″.

I think this is one of my favourite blocks of the whole quilt, it’s cute without being twee. I like all the different stitches in it, such as buttonhole, pistel and fly-stitch. It’s designed by Marg Low.

The house under the rainbow is a design by Anni Downs of Hatched and Patched. I stitched this rainbow with chain-stitch, which I think worked better than the back-stitched one in the first photo.

I decided to stitch purple cosmos with an orange centre, the design is by Chandlers Cottage, it’s very delicate and pretty.

I wanted a decent sized quilt, not just a wall-hanging, so I had an idea to alternate the blocks with a house block, hence I made thirteen embroidered blocks, so with twelve house ones I’d have a quilt 5 x 5 blocks. The 10″ sashed blocks will have 2″ squares in between, giving a quilt of 62″ square, if I don’t add any more borders!!

So over the last couple of days I made twelve house blocks…

This is a free pattern by Material Girl Quilts, the actual pattern makes a block 5.5″ x 7″, so I adapted it slightly to make a 6.5″ square block. It’s a really quick and easy block too.

This is all made with fabric left over from my Coming Home quilt, I’ve still got plenty left I think to cut all the sashing and the 2.5″ squares from.

On Suday I’ll be linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday, please follow the link for lots of stitching inspiration.

Posted in Quilt-a-long, Quilting | Tagged , , , | 19 Comments

Visible Darning and Rag Textiles

As soon as I had finished the transfer workshop with Stitchbook Collective, I started straight away with the next box, on visible darning. I don’t think I’ve ever tried darning before, I really wasn’t sure about this one but I was pleasantly surprised how much I got into it and enjoyed it…

The first thing we had to do was make two holes to darn! Helen had provided us with a piece of knitted jersey and a cute 3″ embroidery hoop – I’ve never used one so small!

The first hole was darned traditionally with a woven mesh of thread over the hole, the second was darned with a fabric patch over the back so you could just stitch over it. Of course as this was visible darning, it was all stitched in nice bright thread!

The second sample I made was making rag textiles. Helen provides us with various scraps including a piece of Indian Chindi rug which is made from recycled sari fabric. We unwound the scraps and ironed them flat. It is pot luck what you get with these, there was a couple that appealed, I then remember some silk sari scraps I had in my stash – a whole bundle of dyed narrow strips. I cut a length off and strated to arrange them all together. It started to look like a sunset over the sea, so I added a circle of orange from some fabric in the kit and then just embroidered round and round, starting in the middle of the sun and working outwards. I used an orange and pink variegated thread. I’m quite pleased with this one. The top and bottom samples are from the chindi rug, the bottom one looks a bit like dolphins leaping through the waves!

We then had to do some patching on some light-weight denim. We made holes again! I decided to incorporate the two darning samples I’d made earlier. I used a paisley style cotton to patch under and over the holes. I just had to work out how to stitch it.

I got quite into this bit, I used the paisley shape as a basis and stitched round,joining both areas together with running stitch. This is it part way through…

Once I was happy I had enough stitching, I added three buttons in two corners and another sample was finished.

I’m sure those of you who know my usual neat and tidy embroidery style will smile at just how far from my comfort zone this is, but I’m actually enjoying It!!

Next workshop is Tyvek, another new experience to try.

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Stitchbook Collective

I got a bit behind with my Stitchbook Collective, this is the series of on-line workshops which Helen Bellingham from Untangled Threads is running. They’ve been great for trying new techniques and products…and pushing me so far out of my comfort zone I don’t know where it is!!

I had three boxes waiting to be creative with, I chose to do the Image Transfer one first. Helen described about half a dozen techniques for transferring an image onto fabric from PVA glue and Bondaweb, to sellotape and sticky back plastic. I learnt several things, like the difference between photocopied images and printed – it has to be photocopied to transfer.

In the end I tried just two of the techniques, mainly because I found one I liked and could see myself using. I also didn’t fancy the plasticky ness of some techniques, such as T-shirt heat transfer or the sticky back plastic.

First of all I tried PVA glue, it was pretty simple, in that you applied glue to the fabric and the image and stuck it down firmly, then left it to dry. After 24 hours you soaked it in water and rubbed the paper away leaving the image…only I don’t know where I went wrong but the image rubbed off too, however gentle I was!

The second technique was similar but Bondaweb was used to stick the image to the fabric. The big advantage is that it is instant, you can immediately soak it and gently rub the paper away. I used the flower image which Helen provided, transferring it to calico. It transferred beautifully, although I noted I would have been better to trim a little closer to the image.

To make it into something I either needed to cover it or cover the edges, I had a rummage in my stash and found some sort of tulle printed tape, it’s actually designed for knitting with, so it’s got holes down one side. One of the flowers echoed the shape of the printed flower, so I overlaid it, popping a scrap of blue under the hole which nicely made an extra petal!. I added a scrap of lace on either side (left over from my first wedding dress 30 years ago!!) and then just back-stitched round the outline with a variegated thread. You can still see the detail of the flower through the tulle.

I tried to be a bit arty-farty with the next attempt. On one of the samples Helen had transfered an image to a collage, I liked the effect so I stitched together some lace, silk and a vintage scrap of broderie Anglais. One of the hospice charities round here used to have a stall at the Great Yorkshire Show just selling vintage linens, they obviously had a member who knew how to care for linen as they were all beautifully pressed and laundered. They also had lengths of lace which looked like they had been cut off things which were unsaleable, I bought all sorts of short lengths of lace, this was one, it probably cost me pennies. I loved that stall and used to make a beeline for it! I digress…

I used simple running stitch to keep all the pieces together and then tried to transfer the picture of a butterfly using bondaweb. It did transfer but it was very fragile, ideally I would have rubbed more paper off but I didn’t dare. It was a good lesson really in that you do need a reasonably firm foundation of fabric, mine was too uneven, especially with the lace.

To add a bit of colour I initially tried inktense pencils, that didn’t do much as I had to be so gentle. I then had the idea of using silk paints, thinking that they don’t tend to run and spread on silk that has been previously wetted. It worked! I edged it with a silver thread to make it look like a common blue.

It’s worked and it’s pretty, but it is very fragile.

It’s a useful technique to remember and bondaweb is something I usually have in my sewing room.

I’m sharing this with Wild Daffodil for Textile Tuesday – I started writing it on Tuesday but my computers playing up with photos! Today it finally agreed to accept some off my camera!! Anyway, follow the link to see more textile links.

Posted in Crafts, embroidery, Serendipity, Stitch-a-long, The Stitchbook Collective | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Monday’s Meander Round the Garden

Anyone for tea?…

Last week Laura commented that our garden looked a lovely place to sit, so I thought as a slight change to my usual update on the happenings in the garden I would give you a little tour of our seats!!

I like being able to sit in the garden, looking at the flowers and listening to the birds, so I’ve incorporated several seats into our garden design over the years so we can now follow the sunshine around the garden! The garden faces slightly south-east I think, so the right hand side gets the morning sun and the left gets the afternoon sun.

The first seating area was my rose arbour, this is actually arbour number two as the first one eventually rotted. This one was a bit of a treat as my friend and I had admired them for several years at the Harrogate show and one year we finally managed to buy one each. I love it, especially the little shelves for a cup or a glass.

Listening to the dawn chorus from my arbour.

It overlooks the patio and the bird feeders, it has a Generous Gardener rose climbing up one side and a clematis up the other. It’s where I sat the other morning to listen to the dawn chorus. My OH doesn’t find it very comfortable, but I like having my morning coffee there, it get’s the morning sun.

In the circle of a patio we have what’s called a bistro set, a little table and two folding metal chairs. Even when we’re sat here the birds will often still use the feeders. This is my OH’s favourite place for morning coffee.

When we got married back in 2007 we bought ourselves a hexagonal summerhouse. I love it, I painted it soft green outside and cream inside. It’s got family photos, candle holders, comfy chairs and an old fashioned trolley. It’s great in all weathers, if I’m gardening and a light shower of rain starts, I’ll often pop in there whilst it passes – if I go inside I invariably don’t get out again! If there’s a bit of wind or a bit of a nip in the air, it’s lovely to have somewhere out of the weather to sit and have a coffee. I also like it in the summer to get some shade. It’s even nice on a warm evening in the summer with a glass of wine by candlelight.

A couple of years ago I realised that the area I had planted with lots of beds and narrow paths which was also overrun with weeds, was also the area of the garden which got the afternoon and evening sun. A redesign was called for, I dug the whole area up, levelled it and made a gravelled area, my Amber & Amethyst garden. Last year I built an arch and bought a seat to go under it. I’ve planted some clematis at each side, looking forward to the day when it’s covered – so far the blooms are beautiful but barely seat height!

I’m still tempted to repaint the seat, it’s just a bit bright in cream!

When we cleared my mum’s house and garden a couple of years ago when she went into a carehome, these chairs and table nearly went in the skip as they do look a bit on the shabby side, but then we sat in them! They’re actually plastic and they are so comfortable! The table isn’t too stable so you do have to keep hold of your glass of wine, but on a hot spring or summer afternoon it’s a lovely place to sit and chat over a glass of chilled white wine!

From here you look over to the pond area, it’s a lovely little view at the moment, Hubert the heron is disappearing behind the foliage and the flowers already…

Of course if the weather is really bad we can just sit in the conservatory and watch the birds from the comfort of a settee…

So anyone fancy a cup of Yorkshire Tea?

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Harry the Hare SAL

I’ve decided my hare is a Harry, not a Harold, he looks too gentle to be Harold, anyway my Granddad was a Harry!

Three weeks ago I had just finished embroidering the actual hare, I just had the background the finish…

The background is pre-printed, it’s just up to me how I interpret it. The original Harold was on layers of different textiles and papers, hence the layered look at the top. I decided to stitch over the lines in either blanket-stitch or a simple running stitch. I didn’t do any extra, it was just enough to add a bit of interest and texture.

The fore ground was more complicated to work out. I wanted to stitch enough to ground him, without taking over. I started off by using a single thread of DMC variegated floss to stitch the long grasses. I ignored the think grasses in the picture, but you can just about see the finer lines which I stitched over with stem-stitch.

I then used two stands of floss to stitch some shorter grasses with a row of french knots for their seedheads.

I changed to a different variegated thread which has some rich purples and greens, I stitched some french knots around his feet and body, it just added a bit of colour.

It still didn’t look quite enough, I remembered Helen Bellingham of the Stitchbook Collective saying how fly stitch is a great filler, so that’s what I used. It was just enough to fill in the gaps without taking over.

I always find it difficult to know when to stop with this sort of thing, but I decided I was happy with it. It was simple enough not to look unbalanced with the top half of the embroidery, whilst doing it’s job in grounding Harry.

The final bit to stitch was his whiskers, I used a single strand of an off-white.

I’m really pleased with Harry, he was definitely out of my comfort zone when I started the random stitching for his fur, but I got there. I’ve enjoyed stitching him and learnt a lot about texture. It was about a year ago that I attended the workshop by Anne Brooke of Hanne-made over at Fabbadashery in Halifax, (She has a kit if anyone fancies stitching their own Harold). She started us off on the different sections over the day, then we just had to go home and finish it!! I haven’t quite decided how to frame him yet, whether to send him off to be framed under glass (bearing in mind I’m running out of wall space!) or whether to use an embroidery hoop to frame him.

This SAL is organised by Avis, we all share our progress every three weeks, please follow the links to see lots of stitching inspiration;

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Sue, Constanze, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Heidi, Jackie, Sunny, Hayley, Megan, Deborah, Mary Margaret, Renee, Carmela, Jocelyn, Sharon, Daisy, Anne, Connie, AJ, Jenny, Laura, Cathie, Linda, Sherrie, Helen

I’ll also be linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday

Posted in embroidery, Serendipity, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , | 33 Comments

2020 Vision

I’ve made fair progress so far with my 2020 Vision goals for the year, we’re a third of the way through, this year is going surprisingly fast! ; mind you, with 12 weeks stuck at home it would be a shame if I hadn’t!

Five Clothes;

  • Jeans; after putting it off for years I finally made a pair of jeans, I used my Morgan jeans pattern by Closet Case Patterns and I am pretty pleased with the result, I’ve worn them a few times since I finished them. Actually it wasn’t too difficult! Why did I wait so long!!
  • Trousers; completed, not my best make but they’ve got me started.
  • A sheer blouse; I’m hoping to make one this month.
  • Tailored Jacket
  • Tailored Winter Coat; these are both more autumn makes, so two finishes out of five.

Five Quilts

  • Coming Home Quilt; I’ve almost finished the top, down to the last stretch. This one is going to a long armer, so I’ll count it as a finish once the tops done!
  • Cottage Garden Quilt; I’m trying to clear the decks a bit before I start this one.
  • Baby Quilt; Completed and gifted earlier in the year.
  • Scrappy Quilt; My Staying home quilt is going to be pieced from the leftovers from my Coming Home quilt, so I’m classing it as a scrappy quilt, though I also need to start clearing my scrap boxes with a true scvrappy quilt!
  • 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!

Five Projects

  • Stitchbook Collective; I’m a couple of months behind with this, but I’ve just started with them again this week, so hopefully more progress soon.
  • 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 with the idea of making a textile book.
  • Workshop finishes; I was close to a finish last time I showed you my embridered hare – next update is tomorrow! After that there is one more workshop embroidery to finish, a Bethlehem style stitching.
  • Finery Of Nature; Completed.


  • Slippers; I was so close to having this ticked off, until I discovered my kit had two left feet! Nearly finished…
  • Lampshade; No progress here, though I keep looking at the kits!
  • Jelly Roll Rug; ditto!
  • Wallet; This has gone on my back-burner a bit since lockdown, as I’m not going out to spend any money!!
  • Luna Lapin; I keep seeing them on facebook, so hopefully soon!

So officially I’ve got five finishes so far out of twenty, which doesn’t sound so good, but I have got four almost finished and two are on going over the year. Not too bad 🙂

Posted in 2020 Vision, Coming Home Quilt, Crafts, Dressmaking, embroidery, Serendipity | Tagged | 4 Comments

Peacocks and Peahens

Last month for the Foot Square Freestyle group we were making blocks for Lynn, she chose a gorgeous palette of peacock colours for her blocks, with no light neutrals, so all rich blues, greens and purples, with a bit of gold too.

I had a rummage through my stash, I didn’t have as much choice as I thought I might as they are colours I love, but the batik drawer came up trumps with the blues, greens and purples. The blue fabric is gorgeous and very apt I think as it looks like it has a peahen on it, I’m not sure what birds they are meant to be but in my eyes it’s a peahen!

I struggled a bit with the gold shade, until I searched my scrap box and found a single 10″ square of gold batik, so it was eeked out!

This was my first one, the pattern is a variation on a friendship star, which I think is quite apt for a block swop. I managed to get two birds nicely positioned for the centre block, though some of the others are topsy turvy.

I managed to have the birds the right way up on the next block…

My third block had a pinwheel centre in a star. I’m pretty pleased with my points on these blocks – I tend to make the half square triangles a bit bigger than I need and then trim them down – I think I’ve also finally found the perfect quarter inch spot on my new sewing machine!

This month we’re making blocks in red, white and blue, so time to rummage in my stash again!

Usually the blocks are posted out to each person during their month, however with the current situation we’re not posting until it’s safe, so I’ll be looking forward to seeing this quilt made up later in the year, I think it will be gorgeous. If you would like to see the other blocks made so far, please follow the link at the top of the post.

Posted in F2F, Quilt-a-long, Quilting | Tagged , , | 9 Comments