The Cottage Garden Quilt HQAL

Well it’s happy dance time and I’ve got my best dancing shoes on as I love this quilt so much! It’s the Cottage Garden quilt from the book of the same name by Kathryn Whittingham. Three weeks ago when I last posted I was making my way round the border and still pondering about the binding…

It didn’t take long to finish the quilting on the flowers as I’d worked out a pattern which I could get into a good rhythm with, with three rows of scallop shapes and then the middle petal. For the corner blocks I just stitched another four petal shapes and quilted a quarter inch inside round the little appliqued blocks.

I’m well chuffed with how the quilting came out, I used Gutterman’s Sulky thread, three different variegated ones. It was lovely to quilt with and the colours worked perfectly. I used a different batting to my usual too, unfortunately I don’t know what it was called as it was easy to quilt and has a nice loft, it feels slightly more polyester-ish to me than the usual 80/20 cotton ones I use.

I was still pondering about the binding, I had the two pieces of the olive green and a small amount of the dark red, a few readers were wary of scrappy borders due to the risk of trying to get a neat corner if the seam falls on it and I could see the dangers lurking there! I decided to consult with the Queen of scrappy quilts, Kate form Tall Tales from Chiconia! Kate was really helpful, she makes her scrappy bindings in four lengths so she can control the corner strips. She also advised on lengths of scraps etc. So a big thanks to Kate for giving me the confidence and know how to go through with my idea of a scrappy binding.

I cut my green binding strips into 2.25″ by 12 to 15″.The red one I just left as 2.25″ strips and trimmed as I went so as not to waste any. My original plan was to have a red square in between each green strip, in the end I decided I just wanted a couple on each side, so I put them every other green strip instead.

My first length was long enough to go down most of the first side, round a corner and almost to the second corner. This meant I could carefully pin it on to ensure I had a decent length of binding with no seams at the corner. I then carried on adding strips as needed. I did get cold feet half way through about the red, was it going to be too much, but of course I was looking at the 2″ square not the little strip which is visible at the end.

Well I love the scrappy binding and of course the red doesn’t over-power, it just adds that little pop to the edge. In fact I think it barely looks like a scrappy binding as the colours are so similar and sort of blend in.

All that was left was to embroider a name. All quilts should have a name, usually by the end I’ve thought of something, but this has always been known as ‘the cottage garden quilt’. I debated just embroidering that but I decided that was the name of Kathryn’s quilt, mine should have it’s own. After much thought I’ve called it ‘Bees & Blooms’, there are little bumble bees all over the quilt and all the blocks include flowers and I’ve quilted flower shapes too. I embroidered it in back-stitch on one of the squares at the back, together with my initials and the date.

So it’s finished! I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed making a quilt as much as this one, every stage has been a delight, from embroidering the appliqued blocks to piecing and finally hand quilting and binding it. Yes I even enjoyed the hand quilting!!

I have to give a big thank you to Kathryn Whittingham for sharing this gorgeous quilt in her book, if you fancy making one too please follow the link to her website, Patchwork Katy. My next project will be another of her quilts, the Seaside Quilt, I’ve already got my fabrics ready!

In the meantime, there’s lots of hand quilted inspiration if you follow the links below;

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.

KathyMargaretDebNanetteSharonKarrinGretchenDaisyConnie, and Sherrie

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

Posted in embroidery, Quilt-a-long, Quilting | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments

Stitchwheel Sampler

I’m managing to keep up to date with my stitch wheel, the SAL sampler by Kathy Reavy. I’ve just realised that last time I posted about this SAL was the middle of March! At that point I’d just finished the third ring…

Since then we’ve been adding three stitches each week. Rather than spacing them around the outer ring like Cathy does, I’ve just worked methodically round the ring, partly because it makes it easier to photograph!

The first stitch is the one that’s meant to be two peapods, it’s made with stem stitch and outline stitch, as far as I can see outline and stem stitch are the same, it just depends which way the stitch lies!

The big scroll shape is couching and the Y shaped branch is a raised stem band which is a bit like doing stem stitch on a framework of thread.As well as couching, Cathy demonstrated trailing, this was used to stitch the stem on the purple flower which is just peeping out. With trailing it is stitched like couching, but over two threads and with the couching stitches right next to each other to make like a raised stem.

The purple flowers are lazy daisy stitch, with the squiggle in chain stitch. The next one was new to me, it’s heavy chain stitch, which is almost like a double chain stitch, it does make a nice raised line.

The next stitch is feather stitch, mine looked a bit boring so I added some French knots. After that came blanket stitch in the form of wheels. Double up and down blanket stitch took a bit of concentration! In the photo below you can also see that we have added flowers to the basket on the ring below. These are made with oyster stitch. I think this one is going to take a bit more practise, I didn’t find it easy to work out exactly where the stitch would end up.

Today Cathy released another three stitches, the first was knotted pearl stitch, I rather liked this one, I can imagine it being quite effective.Herringbone I’ve stitched lots of times, I often use it to stitch hems up. I might add some French knots to this one too as it does look a bit empty. The final stitch is double herringbone. There is a simpler version where the second colour is stitched over the top of the first one in the same way. With this version the two colours weave together so you have to create the stitch slightly differently, I rather like this one.

There’s only five spaces left, so by the end of the month it should be complete. These stitches are all demonstrated by Cathy on her youTube channel for both left handed and right handed stitchers if you fancy having a go.

Posted in Crafts, embroidery, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

The Leafy Tree SAL

Last month I started the Leafy Tree embroidery by Mary Corbett, of Needle ‘n’ Thread I’d bought the e-book last year and finally got round to starting it. I love the way the colours gradually change through the tree from dark green to red, with the larger leaves being stitched in a variety of stitches.

Last time I shared it I was half way through stitching the trunk and branches and I’d just started the leaves…

I’ve made pretty good progress over the last three weeks, I would have stitched even more if I hadn’t run out of two of the flosses! I’ve finished the trunk and I’ve stitched about a third of the leaves. The leaves are all numbered in the instructions with a different colour combination or stitch for each one, there’s over a hundred different leaves and only a handful have more than one leaf in the same stitch and colour.

On the whole I’m working the stitches in numerical order, it seems easier that way as the leaves seem more or less to be listed in colour order, so a certain colour thread might be used in three nearby leaves combined with other shades.

The little leaves seem mainly to be in fly stitch and fishbone stitch…

…the larger leaves include wheatear stitch, woven lattice stitch, padded satin and long and short stitch.

I’m pretty pleased with it so far, the shading in the trunk and branches in stem stitch seem to have worked OK and the leaves are small enough to be interesting to try all the different stitches. The fine cotton fabric with calico behind seems to be holding the embroidery well too.

Hopefully over the next three weeks I’ll get a lot more leaves stitched.

This stitch-a-long is organised by Avis of Stitching by the Sea, we all post our progress on our chosen project every three weeks, just regular enough to keep the motivation going! Please follow the links to see a wide variety of embroidery projects…

AvisClaireGunCaroleConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyMeganDeborahMary MargaretReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneConnieAJJennyLauraCathieLindaHelen  

Posted in embroidery, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , , | 16 Comments

April Smalls

It was nice this month to get all the spring themed cross-stitch smalls out. There’s an abundance of rabbits, I seem to recall a collection of rabbits is a fluffle, I’ve definately got a fluffle here!

The hopping bunnies and the duckling were cross-stitches I did when my children were babies, one was on a bib and the two with ducklings were on a nappy pin cushion.

The nuthatch and the ‘Be nice’ are recent makes, ones a Shephers Bush design and the other is a kit by Fido Design Studio. It’s a few years since I made the Hello Spring and the brown rabbit, so I can’t quite recall who the designer is. The Zoe box and the seasons etui have both been turned to the spring side.

Despite the flurries of snow yesterday, I think spring has finally sprung.

Posted in cross-stitch, embroidery, Serendipity, Smalls of the Month | Tagged | 4 Comments

Monday’s Meander Round the Garden

The weather at the moment is a bit like Vivaldi’s Four Seasons all at once! A couple of days ago it was so warm and sunny we sat outside in short sleeves and enjoyed a chilled glass of wine. Since then it’s been very windy and very cold, though we’ve missed the sprinkling of snow many areas have had. Despite the fluctuating extremes of temperature it’s actually pretty dry, our clay soil is already starting to crack…but heavy rain is forecast for the end of the week! The poor plants don’t know whether to stick their heads up or not…

I’m enjoying my magnolia stellata while I can, it’s blossoms are beautiful, so light and delicate. I planted this one about twenty years ago and it’s one of my favourite shrubs. During the summer it’s pretty boring, but the buds and then the early blossom make up for it. Unfortunately they do tend to brown with cold wind, it’s still looking gorgeous at the moment so fingers crossed it may have escaped the worst of the weather.

I worked my way along this raised bed last week, pruning and weeding as I went. By mid summer the wall is hidden by foliage and it becomes quite difficult to step round, especially when you have no balance like me, so this early weeding is quite important, I get as much out as I can, mainly bittercress, grasses, wild geums and self seeded alcemilla mollis at the moment.

The rose bed above the stone wall was the next to be tackled, these roses are all about fifteen years old, I’ve tried this year to cut one old branch right back on each bush to encourage new shoots from the bottom. This bed has couch grass, bind weed and buttercups! I’ve pruned back the spirea and the wiegela which both flower later in the year and the pheasantberry has had a hard cutback as it’s getting to be a bit of a thug. The bush just coming into leaf on the left is a daphne which flowers in late spring, so I’ll cut back after then. The daffies are still looking cheerful.

The next border to be tackled hopefully this week is by the big fence,you can see all the little weeds popping up! The pieris is in flower at the moment, that’s the one with the creamy white flowers on. The perennials are all starting to appear so at least I know where they are, there’s geraniums, astrantia, daylillies and a peony.

As well as weeds I also get quite a few self sown plants which I encourage, such as aquilegia or astrantia. I noticed the other morning down by the conservatory there’s a very pretty clump of violets. They’re tiny but so pretty…

I mentioned last week that my OH had taken ownership of the front garden and the side of the drive. Well he’s quite enthused and protective about his garden! You may remember the side of the drive before was a tangle of shrubs, all getting a bit overgrown. When nextdoor decided to replace the fence we decided to clear our side at the same time. We got someone in to clear it and I eagerly ordered some roses from David Austin to make a long rose border. They arrived in November as they were bare-rooted, but at that point we were still waiting for the drive to be widened…and then I had my operation…to save all my roses I ‘heeled’ them in in the front garden, I basically just planted the whole bundle together, this saves them from being damaged by frost….

…and there they sat as we then waited for a hand rail to be erected! Finally my OH could dig the area over, add two tons of top soil and compost and then plant all twenty roses! He then found to his disgust that he had created the perfect toilet facilities for the local feline population! Out comes the phone and google! Lavender and garlic he decided was the answer! I managed to buy about ten lavender plants on the market the next day and he chopped up an old garlic bulb…well it’s worked! No evidence of cats since!!

I’m looking forward to seeing how the rose border looks, I’ve chosen deep red at the bottom of the drive, gradually lightening through the pinks to creamy white at the top. I hope it works!

I do like this time of year, the trees are just starting to green up, it’s a wonderful vibrant green in spring, everything is starting to sprout and grow. It’s a positive time of year.

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A Bunny for Easter

Happy Easter everyone!

This week I finished my rabbit, it’s a kit from Raggedy Ruff Designs. Three weeks ago when I last shared it I had just started the free motion embroidery, it was starting to take shape…

As usual I procrastinated as I still had the hardest bit to stitch, the eye, I do think they are a bit of a make or break as your eyes are automatically drawn to them, you don’t want a rabbit that looks cross or angry!! Andrea’s instructions are great and once I’d sat down to do it it didn’t take too long. I still nearly fluffed it on the eyes, my first attempt wasn’t bright enough, so I added a brighter orange…then it was too bright and googly…so I added some grey round the edge…but that wasn’t dark enough so I added some black…which looked too dark! By this time my sewing machine was starting to complain about the amount of stitches in the area and missing a few!! In the end I added the creamy white highlights and decided from a far it looked OK…

The whiskers aren’t quite at the right angle, or maybe too uniform, but they’re staying, it would cause more mess trying to undo them!

The grasses and seed heads were fairly quick to do, again if you look closely they’re not very neat, but looking as a whole they look fine.

I still have a love hate relationship with my new sewing machine, but for this it’s a godsend as it has an automatic needle threader (just how does that work!!!) which when you’re changing colour every few minutes is wonderful!

I haven’t quite decided whether to make a cushion out of this or add it to other blocks to make another quilt. I love the colours in this one, I do like the way Andrea (the designer) does her backgrounds, there’s just enough to make it interesting without dominating the piece.

If you fancy having a go at one of these designs Andrea has a 50% off sale over Easter, so it’s an ideal time to pick up a kit or a pdf pattern to try. I’ve got quite a few kits in my to do pile but I’m still tempted! There’s a gorgeous little one of a mouse giving her mum a flower, so pretty. I’m stitching a pheasant next which was part of the highland quilt, I bought it as a stand alone piece, but I am tempted to get the others in the set. The kits are great as Andrea uses lots of batiks, the unpatterned style, just the right amount is sent, together with freezer paper and stabiliser, all neatly labelled and with great instructions.

Update; I couldn’t resist! I’ve just popped over to Raggedy Ruff so I could make a link here and the little mouse and a pair of squirrels just fell into my basket, guess I’m going to be busy for a while!

Posted in embroidery, Quilting | Tagged , , | 13 Comments

Community Stitch Challenge

At the end of last year I promised myself I wasn’t going to do any stitch-a-long projects, I was just going to stitch whatever I wanted…so how come just three months in I’m doing not one, but three weekly stitch-a-longs! In my defence only one of them is lasting all year!

Each Monday a new workshop video is released by Textile Artist for their free Community Stitch Challenge. So far it has certainly pushed me out of my comfort zone and week 3 was no exception.

This time it was Jennifer Collier who was presenting the workshop cum challenge. Jennifer works with paper rather than fabric but stitches it together much like you would do fabric, she showed us how to do Cathedral windows ( a classic quilting technique), Suffolk puffs, a pocket, rouleau loops and a rose, all made from paper. I really wasn’t sure about this challenge by the end of the workshop, but then I had an idea and ran with it…

I don’t have much of a stash of papers, I’ve never been into paper crafts really. However I do have a large number of paper patterns which I am very unlikely to use again. I had a flick through my patterns and came across the pattern I used for my wedding dress, which I’d just kept for sentimental reasons. I also came across an old design book of mine from my twenties when I used to make wedding dresses and ball gowns for friends and family. I used to draw a sketch of what they wanted, so we both knew what was in their mind. I pulled out one of the sketches which is particularly pretty.

I used one of the instruction sheets to try the cathedral windows, they’re stitched down in the middle and then a button can be added, I found some odd pearl ones in my stash. I also used the pattern envelope to make another square to add a different weight.

I made three Suffolk puffs from the actual pattern tissue paper. I thought it might be too thin and tear, but I followed Jennifer’s instructions about folding the edge under and it made the puffs without problems. By this time I’d forgotten all about the pockets, the rouleau loops and the rose!

I then pulled out from behind a cupboard an Ikea box frame, I used to use it with lights in as a light box until I splashed out and bought a proper one. My ideas started to take shape.

I lined the back with the first page of pattern instructions, the bit with the line drawing on. I cut a square of my wedding dress lace and some vintage lace which just looked pretty.

I went through the fabric labels my friend prints and found one saying ‘Discover your passion’, so that went in the melee too, together with an old Vogue pattern label and one of my Crafty Creek labels.

I rummaged in a little drawer of vintage haberdashery which a friend gave me when her mum died. To my surprise the needles were all in perfect condition, so I just added the empty packets to my box. I picked the Merchant and Mills box off the window sill together with an old pair of scissors, a wooden cotton reel and three pins with ivory coloured heads.

In true Blue Peter fashion I stuck it all down with a bit of double-sided sellotape. This is something I’ve never thought to buy but I found rolls of the stuff when clearing my mum’s house…and it does come in useful! As it’s a box frame things like the pins, cotton reel and scissors are just propped up against the back.

So I have a display box for my sewing room, I’m really quite chuffed with it.

Posted in Crafts, embroidery, Serendipity, Workshops | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Tuesday’s Totter Round the Garden

It’s been lovely today, sunny and warm, in fact it was that warm I took my fleece off! I spent most of the working in the garden, weeding, cutting back etc. Over the last couple of weeks I finally got all the roses pruned, I had about thirty to prune, plus the rose hedge at the top boundary of the garden.

Today I’ve mainly been weeding my raised bed by the patio, digging up those pesky wild geums, self-seeded alchemilla mollis, grasses. It does look much better. It’s nice to see the beds close up too (like on my hands and knees!) as you realise just how much is starting to grow, little shoots, buds…

We’ve got quite a lot of pulmonaria around the garden, it seems to quietly spread itself about under roses and shrubs. It’s quite useful like that as it adds a bit of colour now but when it starts to get straggly it’s not as noticeable for the rose above it. One patch is a particularly vivid shade of blue…

Over by the pond I was tidying up earlier in the week, everything is growing so quickly, another few weeks and Hubert the heron will be disappearing! The brunnera adds a nice splash of colour here and the hellebores are still looking OK. As you can see the roses along the back hedge have been given a hard prune. I’ve two types of rose along here, one with dense but softer prickles and one with evil ones!

The magnolia stellata is just starting to flower, it’s covered in downy long buds at the moment,it’s one of my favourite trees in the garden.

My favourite hellebore is still in flower too with deep wine coloured flowers…

So the garden is starting to look a bit more tended. My OH has decided to do the front garden, he’s never been particularly interested in gardening, though he loves sitting in it! Anyway last month he said he would help more and I suggested he took over the front garden. He is quite surprised how much he is enjoying it. I think giving him ownership has made all the difference. I pointed out three shrubs which are ‘precious’but otherwise he has free rein. He’s dug over the large area in front of the house and is feeling very pleased as he got a big tub of marestail roots out…bless him, he thinks he’s got on top of them! I didn’t like to dampen his enthusiasm by pointing out that I dug and weeded most of that twice last year! Anyway, him doing the front has psychologically made a big difference to me, now that I’m ‘only’ gardening the back it seems more manageable.

Posted in Garden | Tagged , | 9 Comments

Community Stitch Challenge

Last week I completed the first Community Stitch Challenge from Textile Artist with my portrait of James and Helen walking along the beach…

This week the workshop was by Merrill Comeau,, she’s a very interesting lady and her challenge was to include text in a piece of embroidery, it could be a single word or a whole load of words.

It took me a while to think of which words to use. There were all sorts of examples coming up on the facebook page, from positive uplifting ones to angry ones, to very sad and poignant ones. One which hit a nerve for a lot of people was an embroidery of an elderly lady, clearly very upset, with the words ‘Bitter Pill’. The embroiderer had just had to put her mum in a home and was feeling very guilty. There were so many messages of support, it was quite moving.

After much thinking I decided to use the first two lines of one of my favourite poems, ‘Leisure’ by William Davies;

What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep and cows

No time to see, when woods we pass

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight

Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to glance at Beauty’s glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait til her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care

We have no time to stand and stare.

When my friend and I go walking we often stop to look at something, it could just be the sunlight coming through the trees, or the reflections in a pool, that’s how we see the red squirrels and the deer or the owl flying by. Our OH’s find it very amusing that whether the walk is five miles or ten, it still lasts all day as we do like to stand and stare!

My first thought was to do a generic view, I started to try and draw one but it didn’t take long for me to decide to do my favourite view, Catbells from Friars Crag, I’ve spent many an evening watching the sun go down from Friars Crag on the banks of Derwentwater.

Having sketched out my idea I had a rummage through my batik scrap box and pulled out several fabrics which would work. I used calico as the background and decided to just do raw edge applique. Batik cotton has a very dense weave so it doesn’t fray as much as usual quilting cotton. I cut out the shapes and arranged it on the calico…

I started to stitch the shapes down with a simple running stitch. Having stitch the fell down I then had the idea of including a clock face in the reflections possibly with no hands as a play on the line ‘We have no time…’

I used the insides of embroidery hoops to draw the circles and decided on Roman numerals to give an idea of the timelessness of mountains (and I also thought they would be easier to get neat!!) I used one of the fabrics printed circles to be the centre of the clock face. I used a silver thread to outline the clock with back-stitch and then running stitch towards the end. The reflection of Catbells still needed securing so I just used running stitch again.

I wrote the words freehand with a silver gel pen and then used a grey DMC thread to back-stitch over it. I’m pretty pleased how well the writing has come out, though I realised too late that I have missed a word out of the first line, luckily it doesn’t affect the line!

All that was left was the trees on Friars Crag. It took me ages to arrange my ‘squiggles’ of green! I wasn’t sure how to stitch them down at first and eventually stuck to running stitch so it would detract from the main image.

I’m pretty pleased with this piece, it’s also one of those projects where I could have gone a lot further, the circles on the grey for example look like the iris in an eye, there is also a possible underlying theme that actually we don’t have time to stand and stare if we care about the natural world and are to slow climate change down.

Posted in embroidery | Tagged , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Cottage Garden Quilt HQAL

Well I’m still hand quilting this beautiful quilt, but I’m still enjoying the hand quilting too!

This is the gorgeous quilt from The Cottage Garden Quilt book by Kathryn Whittingham, so far it’s hand embroidered with raw edge applique, machine pieced and now I’m hand quilting it. On the whole I’ve worked out quilting designs which can be stitched in one direction which I think has made it a lot easier…and therefore more enjoyable! By that I mean rather than going around the little squares, I’ve quilted a leaf/petal shape which meet at the corners so I can stitch one side of a few petals in a row, then go back to the beginning and stitch the other side, it’s easier to do that rather than man-handling a quilt every time you need to come back. Three weeks ago I had quilted about three-quarters of the main design…

Whilst I haven’t spent quite as much time on it this time I’ve still made good progress…

I’ve finished quilting the central area. The churn dash blocks were quilted with two circles, the stars I quilted in the ditch as I felt quilting just inside or just outside the star wasn’t going to sit right. The pin wheels were quilted with a petal shape which then led me to quilt all the little squares with a petal/leaf shape. I think it works pretty well.

The embroidered blocks and the log cabins with a heart inside were simply quilted a quarter inch from the seam.

Once the main quilt was quilted I had to decide what to do on the borders, both the off white strip and the piano key border. I had the idea of stitching a scallop shape along the strip, linking up with every other piano key. I then thought I would have a ‘flower’ on one point and a single leaf on the next one. I pinned it first to see if it would work and although it was perfect on the two sides (i.e. symmetrical) it didn’t work on the top and bottom. So I decided to put a flower on each point…

…it’s much easier to sew to for the same reason I mentioned above, I can do a row of flower bottoms from right to left, then a row of the top half from right to left. All I had to go back for is the central petal. I made a paper template of the flower and I’ve just been marking it with dots from my silver gel pen.

So far I’ve stitched two sides, then I just have the corner posts to quilt and I’m within sight of a finished quilt!

I’ll be quite sad in a way to finish this quilt as I’ve enjoyed every step of making it, but I’m already collecting fabrics for the next quilt, The Seaside Quilt, the second book by Kathryn. If you fancy making this quilt (or the seaside version) please follow the link to Patchwork Katy.

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.

KathyMargaretDebNanetteSharonKarrinGretchenDaisyConnie, and Sherrie

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

Posted in embroidery, Quilt-a-long, Quilting | Tagged , , | 16 Comments