Skipton Stitchers

It was my Skipton Stitchers meeting on Monday. We had a workshop held by one of the members on crazy patchwork. We had to prepare a block in advance so we just had the stitching to learn. This was my block. I took along various threads and trims, buttons and beads…

With crazy patchwork the seams are embellished first and then the individual shapes can be stitched. I stitched the seams in the order they were stitched together so I didn’t have to faff around inserting ends into seams. I started off pretty simply with the ric-rac attached with beads on every point.

I then got into the swing of it, using the embroidery to extend the trim out into the piece, following the design of the trim to decide what to stitch. By Monday evening I had embroidered all the seams…

Next I will be embroidering the individual shapes, I’m still pondering how to do each block, but so far I’ve really enjoyed this piece.

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Making a Mark

Painting is not my forte, my mum was a brilliant artist which is not always a help! I’ve got two textile workshops on the go at the moment, both of which required paint! This was my cutting out table earlier today!

This week on TextileArtist.org there’s a free week long workshop with Gwen Hadley, I really enjoyed the mini free workshops they held last year so I decided to have a go. They have all sorts of different textile artists doing workshops in their stitch club, I’d love to be in Stitch Club but I know at the moment I haven’t the time to commit to the stitching, maybe one day…in the meantime I’m enjoying their occasional freebie.

The first video was released yesterday, it’s all about making a mark, we had to choose three colours and collect various fabrics and mark making tools beforehand. I chose denim blue, gold and grey, I’m hoping if it turns out OK I can incorporate it into another project I want to do this year. This was my collection of textiles;

We had to use acrylic paints and make four samples using two of the colours, two were to be heavily painted, the other two lighter. I have a basic set of acryllic paints which I bought for fabric printing and never used. I mixed the blue first and then used a mixture of brushes, sponges, sticks etc to make random marks…I never have been keen on random! The blue wasn’t too bad, but then I tried to mix the gold colour, my first attempt came out too orange, that’s the one on the far right of the photo. I tried again adding a little viridian green to the cadmium yellow, much better…but not a lot of paint left! They are now going to be cut up and rearranged…hopefully they will look better then otherwise I’ll be covering it all up with other fabrics and stitching!

My second attempt at using paint on textiles is for something completely different…

For quite a while now I’ve admired the work of Nicki Franklyn of The Stitchery, she does gorgeous embroideries of gardens, trees etc, very pretty. She has just started a series of workshops on line called Stitch a Garden in which she’s covering embroidering trees, flowers, garden buildings and stuff like watering cans. The idea is that you can stitch a picture either of your own garden or one you like, she’s doing the garden at Hilltop (Beatrix Potter’s garden) as an example.

I’ve decided rather than a picture (I’m running out of wall space!) I’m going to stitch a book, with embroideries of the three different areas of my garden and hopefully lots of mini embroideries of some of the features.

The first couple of videos have been about getting inspiration from different places, making a basic design and transferring that onto fabric. I’m still mulling round in my head how to do the designs, I think I’ll wait to see how it pans out before I start anything. However, this week she also explained how she colours fabric with watercolour paints, gave us tips about mixing colours and suggested we coloured some fabric ready to use on our designs. I think she uses them for things like trees, appliquing them in place. I’ve made one piece of fabric with greens, blues and browns, all merging into one another so I can pick the bit that works!

This looks much more like my cup of tea!! I’m looking forward to the next stage.

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Seaside Quilt HQAL

It’s six weeks since I last shared my progress with the Seaside Quilt, a design from the book of the same name by Kathryn Whittingham of Patchwork Katy. I completely forgot to do a post on Boxing Day! Last time I was skipping round having just finished the quilt top…

I love the top, it’s such a happy quilt, it was a delight to stitch.

My next task was to sandwich it ready for quilting, I didn’t have a big enough piece to just back it in one piece and I am trying to reduce my stash a bit so I looked at the decent sized leftovers from the quilt. I realised I could piece the remnants together in a sort of sea scape design with the sandy colours beneath the blue sea fabrics. Time will tell how straight I managed to get the horizon once it’s quilted, I did try! The dark blue is quite faded in places, it’s odd really as it’s right across the fabric, not just in the areas exposed when folded, I bought it out of the back of a car very cheaply (literally! someone was selling a stash at the stitching weekend I went on last year) Hopefully once it has quilting lines on it it won’t be quite so obvious.

I have just started the hand quilting. I’ve had a general idea in my head for a while, but I think I’ve finalised it now. The large embroidered blocks are just having simple straight lines round the borders, I will see whether I also need on just inside the embroidered blocks too, I’m using a variegated dark blue sulky thread for the blue border and a creamy one for the sandy border. So far I’ve just started stitching round the lighthouse block in the centre of the quilt…

OK so I’ve not done much actual quilting but I’ve started and I have a plan. I still need to regain my rhythm with hand quilting so I can relax into it.

I found with the Cottage Garden quilt that I found it much easier with designs I could quilt in one direction, in other words, not trying to stitch towards me or constantly turning the quilt. I stitched a corner to corner quarter circle arc which could make petals or leaves, but importantly could be stitched right to left. I decided to use the same basic pattern but just stitch rows so it looked like the sea waves, sort of a scalloped line

I then had the dilemma of which looked most like waves, all the points up in line or staggered! Helen didn’t help when she looked at the options as she said it would look more like a wave with what I would call a scroll design, which missed the desire for all the quilting to be stitched in one direction! I then realised that with the points staggered it was basically a clam shell pattern…which is equally apt on a seaside quilt! So that is what I’m planning for the rest of the quilt, I have another reel of sulky thread in mid blues and greens. I’ll probably still do a square round the little embroidered blocks and I’ll have to do something different with the star blocks in the corners as they are a different size.

Hopefully next time I’ll have a bit more to show you, now I have my quilting chair set up on the landing with all my threads, thimbles and needles to hand.

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, and Daisy

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

Posted in Quilting, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Crazy Times

Our programme for Skipton Stitchers has had to change this month as the lady who was teaching it is now isolating, so next months workshop on Crazy Patchwork has been brought forward. This meant I had some prepping to do. The workshop is concentrating on the embroidery and embellishment side, so we have to prepare a patchwork block.

We’ve been given instructions on how to make the block so everyone is working on the same design. It’s put together like foundation paper piecing but stitched onto a calico backing fabric. It confused me at first as rather than stitching it from the back through paper, the pieces are accurately cut using freezer paper and then stitched on the front in order. I only cut one the wrong way round so not too bad really!

We chose five coordinating fabrics, my starter fabric was one of my favourite bee fabrics, I’m thinking of using this piece for the front of a fabric book I have in my mind on bees. I used another bee fabric too which doesn’t coordinate as well but I’m hoping I can bring it all together with the embellishments.

We’ve to take any trimmings, buttons, beads, threads etc along to the meeting so I started having a rummage through my stash. I’ve just started bobbinating various embroidery threads and storing them according to colour, these are the non DMC threads, there’s linen thread, perle, finer threads. Hopefully I’ll use them more stored in this way. I’ve chosen two or three of these to go with some DMC threads.

This is my collection so far…

Looking forward to the meeting as always.

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Skipton Stitchers Workshop

At our Embroiderers Guild meeting we usually had a speaker at each meeting on a wide variety of textile topics. Since the demise of the guild set-up and the loss of our funds we have started having mini workshops at meetings run by members, I like it just as much if not more, we get to try out lots of different techniques such as Brazilian embroidery (November) and Kamal Kadai embroidery as we did in December.

Kamal Kadai means lotus embroidery in Urdu and Hindi languages (guess whose just googled it!) It’s a form of simple embroidery which is often used to embellish traditional Indian garments such as sari’s. We were taught a design which looks like a poinsetta, very festive.

We were given half a large cotton ball to work on so afterwards it would be a useful pincushion. I didn’t realise until half way through the morning that these are actually dryer balls, bought very cheaply and cut in half! Ingenious idea!! I came home with a spare one too!

The basic stitch is a form of needle weaving, we used perle thread so it was a decent weight and had a nice sheen to it. The difficulty was trying to get the poinsetta central (failed!) and stitching the supporting threads evenly and long enough (not bad for a first attempt!) I think it might have been easier to mark the main points with pins before hand to get an even shape, but even nature isn’t perfectly symmetrical! I didn’t take any progress photos I’m afraid, so just two finished views.

I was pretty pleased with my poinsetta. I decided to embroider a border with feather stitch and added a few red beads too. With the border stitched round the edge my poinsetta looked very off centre so I tied a red ribbon bow to fill the gap.

I was trying to decide how to finish it, others have put them in bowls or on a small dish. My bottom wasn’t flat enough, so someone suggested a felting needle on the back would compact it down again. This will have to be done at a later date as I haven’t got a felting needle. I then had a bit of a brainwave…I have a 3″ embroidery hoop left from a course I did, with a bit of encouragement it just nicely frames the pincushion. Once I get the bottom levelled I’ll make it a bit more secure with some glue and a card on the back.

This month we’re doing crazy patchwork, so I’ve some prepping to do.

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Gingerbread House

I’m trying to get a few things finished before I start anything new, I like having several things on the go but every so often I feel I need to clear the decks a bit. Last night I managed to finish putting my gingerbread house together, it was a bit fiddly but I love it.

Last time I shared my progress I was still stitching the roof…

The roof needed some red and green stitches in the white squares and a gold bead in the brown square. I realised fairly quickly that I wasn’t going to have enough beads, I still had the baubles on the Christmas tree to do too. I counted up and I was 24 short. I sent an e-mail to Nutmeg Designs on bank holiday Monday, they replied with an apology on Tuesday and the beads arrived Thursday, pretty good service, especially knowing they are based in a little village in Swaledale, miles from a post office! I think someone got the quantities mixed up as I had loads of the clear beads left. Anyway, by Thursday night all the beads were stitched on.

The shapes are laced onto precut plastic canvas, this makes quite a good base as it’s bendable when you are trying to sew it, but once it’s all stitched together it’s fairly solid. The string of beads were stitched onto the edge of the roof and the porch at this stage too. I actually do wonder if the ones round the roof would be easier stitched on at the end as the thread was regularly catching on them.

The walls were stitched together to make the square building. That bit was easy enough. Next was the roof…third time lucky is the most apt phrase I think! The instructions do say this is the trickiest bit and they’re right! I think possibly my roof wasn’t 100% true, so when I tried to stitch it on the lower edge was very uneven. In the end I started the roof a couple of stitches above the gable end and that seemed to do the trick. The porch roof was a doddle after that!

Finally there was a square of brown felt to lace around a square of plastic canvas to make the base. Stitching this in really solidified the cottage.

I really enjoyed making this kit, I’m hoping in time to make the others in the collection, a chapel, a house and a tree, I’ll just give myself a bit more time before the festive season! If you fancy having a go at a 3D cross-stitch, do have a look at Nutmeg Designs, they have some lovely kits.

Posted in Crafts, cross-stitch, kits | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

Peppermint Purple SAL

It’s three weeks since I last shared my progress on my Peppermint Purple blackwork. This is the free SAL that Claire from Peppermint Purple has kindly published for at least the last two years. She gives layout options and colour suggestions then releases a pattern each week. They’re only little so it doesn’t take long. This years SAL has just started, if you fancy trying blackwork it’s a good way to test the water and see how the different patterns work.

Last time I’d just done some frogging as my reflection of Catbells in the lake was rapidly disappearing…

As all the patterns have now been released I decided to stitch the reflection first and then go back to complete the rest of the squares. I’ve not spent a lot of time on it as I’ve been concentrating on my gingerbread house, like I didn’t pick it up til yesterday afternoon! However it is starting to take shape…

I’ve not found it easy choosing the colours for the water, colours often look quite dark but with just one thread they lighten considerably. I decided to use pretty light grey’s for the squares on the skyline, even so they’re not as light as they look once stitched. At the moment I’m thinking I’ll outline the top of Catbells maybe in a darker grey and then outline the reflection in more of a mid grey, just to make it show up a bit more. This is the piece so far…

In my last post I forgot that many of you won’t have heard of Catbells! Catbells is one of my favourite hills in the English Lake District, I first climbed under my own steam when I was four years old and I’ve climbed it many times since. It’s a hill that thinks it’s a mountain! It’s not an easy walk, especially now with all the erosion and rocks polished smooth by thousands of visitors but the views from the top are amazing, over to Skiddaw and Blencathra, Bassenthwaite Lake, Borrowdale, Newlands Valley and of course Derwentwater. In my younger days I walked to the top to watch the sunrise, it was stunning with mist forming over the lake, the sun rose over Blencathra and everything was bathed in a golden light.

I’ve often stitched Catbells as it has a nice recognisable outline and it means a lot to me…

This SAL group is organised by Avis from Stitching by the Sea, please follow the links to see what everyone else has been stitching over the festive season…

AvisClaireGunConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyMeganDeborahReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneAJCathieLindaHelen

Posted in embroidery, Peppermint Purple 2021 SAL, Serendipity | Tagged , , | 25 Comments

A Dress for Christmas

In mid December I decided to make myself a new dress for Christmas, not a Christmas dress as such, just a nice one to wear this year. In the summer I had splashed out and bought three Deer and Doe dress patterns, one of which was the Passeflore, a shirt waister style wrap dress. I’ve always had an issue with wrap dresses showing more than I want when the wind blew but as this pattern has a double breasted button style, I’m hoping that’s not going to be a problem.

In the autumn I’d also fallen for some gorgeous baby needlecord in kingfisher blue from Fabrics for All in Armley, Leeds. I’d bought it on line and when it arrived I did think oh gosh, that’s quite a bright colour but I decided that with some navy blue buttons to tone it down a touch it would look great. I even wondered about doing the cuff and collar linings in a contrasting blue but I didn’t have anything suitable in my stash. The fabric feels gorgeous, so soft to touch.

According to the info on the back of the pattern packet I had just enough fabric, I rarely follow the suggested pattern layouts so I was a bit miffed initially having cut everything out to see I still had 1.5m left…then I started sewing…step 2, stitch second pair of fronts to yoke lining…second pair, what second pair!! So I did actually have just the right amount of fabric! The only change I made to the pattern was to cut the skirt pieces as one length rather than having a deep strip round the bottom of the skirt.

The dress went together really easily, it took a while but the instructions were nice and clear. When it came to buttons I wanted the plain flat navy buttons, I think they’re called smartie buttons. I had a look in my button drawer, I had exactly what I wanted, but only seven, I needed ten. The local shops didn’t have any so instead I found some almost matching ones in my stash, some of them are actually the back of a button to get that flat matt look. I used the matching ones for the lower ones on the front and used the oddments for the ones under the belt or hidden by the collar. I’ll try and replace them with some matching ones in time but I think I’ve got away with it.

I bought a broad elastic navy belt on ebay which just finishes the dress perfectly. I’m really pleased with it, it’s lovely to wear, my only change next time would be to add pockets, I did think about it at the time but decided to make it as was, but every time I put it on my hands want to find pockets!

I think the passeflore is going to prove quite a useful pattern as there’s also a short sleeved version and suggested fabrics include linen and cotton lawn, so it would make a lovely summer dress too. I’m tempted to get some more of this needlecord to as they had it in several colours, though I’m trying to use my stash rather than buy more fabric at the moment!

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Gingerbread House

During December I was madly stitching my latest cross-stitch kit, I bought it at the knitting and stitching show at the end of November. It’s a kit by Nutmeg Designs for a 3d gingerbread house. Last time I shared it I was still working on the walls…

I finished the cross-stitch and added the back-stitch, I’ve just got some beads to stitch on now, I’m waiting to finish all the stitching before I start the beads…

The little rectangle at the top is going to be the porch roof.

Once the walls were stitched I just had the roof to do, I say just, but it actually seems quite big as the roof has a steep pitch. I thought it would be a bit monotonous but actiually it was quite a good one to stitch over Christmas as once I worked the pattern out I could just stitch it whilst watching a film without having to constantly look at the pattern…

I just need to finish the white border, each white square has a coloured centre too, then I can stitch a bead in the centre of each ginger square.

It’s grown pretty quickly really, just not quick enough to finish it before Christmas! I need to remember next time to buy them earlier in the autumn – there’s another house, a church and a Christmas tree in the set so it would be nice to do one each year.

Posted in Christmas, cross-stitch, kits | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Happy New Year

I’ve had a little break from posting over Christmas and New Year, I’ve been pretty busy though, both sewing and trying to sort my sewing room out a bit.

One of my Christmas presents was a bobbin storage unit from Creations by Rod, this is my third unit, they’re designed to fit in a Ikea Kallax unit. I’ve got one with DMC threads in, just before Christmas I treated myself to a set of bobbins by Pip and Chip, this was a big treat as they’re not cheap. I love them though, they’re acrylic bobbins, each probably a couple of millimetres thick, with the number and colour of each DMC thread at one end. I spent several evenings transferring my threads onto the new bobbins…

I’m using the second unit for other types of embroidery thread, I seem to have acquired quite a bit over the last couple of years and my mum’s old floss box was falling apart and not well designed for my needs, so I’ve started winding all the other threads onto bobbins too. At the moment I’m arranging these in colour groups, as they’re ones I use for embroidery, I may change my mind and go for thread types but I’ll just see what works best. Here’s my green threads so far…

There’s all sorts of different thread types such as chenille, metallic, stranded, perle. There’s one group of threads which are proving difficult to wind onto a bobbin, they are beautiful variegated threads but they’re twisted into a large hank and they’re proving tricky as they’re tangling a lot. Unfortunately I’ve got about twenty hanks – and they’re 50m each!

There’s five drawers in each cabinet and I also have one with very shallow drawers which I use for dies, templates, rulers, rotary blades etc. One day I will paint all the fronts and make them pretty …

…one day I will be organised!

Posted in embroidery, Serendipity, sewing room | Tagged , , | 9 Comments