Cottage Garden Quilt HQAL

I’m enjoying making the Cottage Garden Quilt, the pattern is in a book of the same name by Kathryn Whittingham, it’s so pretty. Three weeks ago I’d just finished the first two blocks of the bottom row…

I’m stitching the bottom row before the middle as I realised earlier in the project that the bottom is a reflection of the top in terms of borders and colours, this is what helps it to look balanced rather than busy. I wanted to make sure I had enough of some of the border fabrics before I used the fabric up on little squares.

I’ve been busy over the last week, embroidering on an evening to get these blocks ready for piecing the quilt. The next block to be stitched was a pile of plantpots. I love this block, the colours work well, though the dandelion at the bottom could have been a bit brighter. I’m particularly pleased with the pink primula at the top, I fussy cut it from a rose print and with the embroidery over the shading on the print it just works. It took quite a while to stitch this one as there’s quite a lot of stitching, back-stitch round the pots, blanket stitch round the tops, then the flowers and the ladybird. This one will be pieced the same as the tall flower at the top and the red paisley is the main reason I’m stitching the blocks is this order as I haven’t got very much left!

The remainder of designs for this block were little ones, so fiddly to cut out but fairly quick to stitch.

I stitched a snail with a flowery pink shell and a green frog on a lily pad. These will go in the centre of green star blocks to mirror the flower blocks above…

I stitched a pink heart to go in another log cabin block…

The final embroidered block was a trowel which pairs up with the hand-fork above…

So my next task is to make these into blocks and join them up with various filler blocks, so this…

…turns into something which balances this…

Then I can start the middle row!

Hand Quilt Along Links

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

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

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

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

Kookaburra Cross-stitch

Last month on facebook I spotted a lovely cross-stitch of a kookaburra which someone had stitched. My OH is Australian and loves the sound of a kookaburra so I decided to stitch one.

The design I had seen was a kit by Fido Stitch Studio, they have an Etsy store with a huge range of cross-stitch kits of their lovely designs. There are lots of birds and animals in beautiful detail for such little designs. I ordered the kookaburra and a wren, the kits are about £9 each including UK postage, which I think is very reasonable.

I stitched the kookaburra first, he’s pretty cute for such a funny looking bird! The fabric supplied in the kit is 14 count aida, I used a 32 count linen instead in a slightly buttery cream, I prefer stitching on linen and this also had the advantage of making the finished stitching slightly smaller.

The design stitched up really easily, the chart was clear, there were over twenty different colours so it made sense to sell it as a kit, rather than just the pattern.

Here it is, a kookaburra…

… isn’t he cute! He measures 2.75″ by 3.5″ in the linen, so a nice size for a cross-stitch small. I’ve a few cross-stitches waiting to be made up so I think I need a session one day.

I quite fancy some birds to go in my collection of cross-stitch smalls, I don’t think the wren I’m stitching next will be my last.

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Grasses and Flowers Workshop

A couple of months back I spotted a course run by Jo Hill which looked rather interesting. With so many teachers going on line it does make for a lot more opportunities to attend workshops, whilst there is something special about attending a workshop there is always the issues regarding travel and accommodation and this way I can attend courses all over the country…in fact the world is my oyster!

Anyway, back to the course…Jo does machine embroidery of nature, flowers, birds etc, I like her style so an on-line course on grasses and flowers appealed. It’s a six week course on the website course-craft it’s £75 but there’s a couple of easy ways to get a 15% discount which she mentions.

The course started on 1st November, but I’ve just today got round to starting, luckily access to the videos has been extended from mid December to the end of January. There’s a facebook page for people to share their progress and thoughts and there’s also room to comment or ask questions on the website.

Well I loved it, there’s several videos for week one Jo is clearly a good teacher who has adapted to on-line teaching very well – it’s her first on line course. Having gone through equipment, the first sample for us to make was a page of ‘doodling’., trying to stitch different patterns and shapes. It was harder than I anticipated, particularly as I’ve done a fair bit of free-motion quilting…

Having seen my doodling, I was beginning to worry what the next sample would look like! Jo started with grasses, using both the free-motion foot and the standard foot, she showed us different ways of stitching grasses, she uses a black thread which does make it nice and clear on the videos but also shows every mistake!! I changed to a Gutermann variegated green thread, there’s good bits and not so good bits, but I could see myself improving as I stitched…

In the next lesson Jo was adding blocks of colour, just simple shapes to represent flowers or seedheads. I chose some colourful batiks from my scrap box and a little tweed. Here’s the first stage, as you can see I was trying different stitches and ideas, particularly with the triangles and rectangles…

I then decided to fill up the spaces with grasses I’d learnt in the earlier sample…

I’m pretty pleased with this, though I think my colour balance is off – I either need darker thread or lighter fabrics! But for a first attempt, I’m happy. So far I’m very impressed with the course, there were about five videos to watch just for week one!

I’m hoping over the weekend to crack on with leson two, so watch this space!

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

Stitching 4 the Soul SAL

This week I turned my attention back to my #stitching4thesoul book. I started this in the summer, already late to the party and then got waylaid. Luckily it’s all on YouTube. It’s a stitch-a-long organised by Anne Brooke who lives not that far away and her videos on what to stitch for each page are delightful, it’s like having your best friend sitting there sharing an afternoon’s stitching.

We’re making a book with a colour of our choice running through it, not a dominating colour, just something to link the pages, mine is ecru, so it nicely includes lace and mother of pearl buttons, of which I’m rather fond!

For this third double page spread Anne suggested we use a colour we don’t particularly like, which isn’t easy as you don’t tend to buy fabrics you don’t like!! I’m using a fabric sample book as a base for all these pages, I flicked through the different colour ways and decided on red, mainly the orange end of red. In the book there was a page of furnishing weight silk with a gorgeous embroidered silk honey suckle flower in flame red, it was a perfect starting point. As an aside, I was flicking through the sample book when I found a price list at the back….Gosh!!…they’re between £100 and £200/metre!!!

I cut various squares and strips of different weights of fabric from the sample book, frayed some edges and started playing with them, I pulled out some lace and various trims and started to play with potential layouts. I find it difficult not to follow Annes design closely, it’s always interesting to see at which point you veer off and make it your own.

The brief from Anne also called for Suffolk puffs, otherwise known as yo-yo’s across the pond. I love the term Suffolk puffs, so that’s what I made. They are simple to make but tricky to get to look as neat as teachers!! It’s just a circle turned under and gathered round to make a fabric disc, gathers on one side and plain on the other. I decided for lightness to use scraps of Liberty tana lawn. My daughter has been making Liberty masks to sell on Etsy (Handstitched by Helen) and I get her scraps!! I made seven altogether in slightly differing sizes. I also used a couple of plain fabrics from a company who used to make fabric for Liberty so it’s a similar weight.

Once I’d stitched the pieces down with a simple running stitch in an orange/red variegated thread, I decided to continue to stitch lines of running stitch to make like a wave formation, the idea being that this would be the line that the Suffolk puffs followed.

I stitched the lace on next, the one on the left is in about three pieces as the flowers actually go across the lace, not down it’s length, so I pieced them together to get the effect I wanted.

Once I’d stitched the lines, I rather liked them, so I didn’t want to completely cover them with puffs. Instead I positioned the puffs slightly higher, overlapping the lines in places, but not obscuring them.I stitched a red bead over the hole in the middle.

It still needed a bit more, so I found my pot of random red buttons and started to play…

…the bottom right hand corner looked a bit bare, so I played around with a few buttons and fabrics and in the end found a frayed, simple square of red was sufficient.

I still haven’t decided if this one is finished yet, I’m tempted to do a few more lines of embroidery, maybe with some different stitches,but I might put it on my design wall for a couple of days, see how I feel then, otherwise I just need to stitch it onto the calico pages of my book.

This stitch-a-long is organised by Avis from Stitching by the Sea. We post our progress on our chosen project every three weeks, just long enough to keep us motivated. Please follow the links to see what everyone else is stitching.

AvisClaireGunCaroleSueConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyHayleyMeganDeborahMary MargaretReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneConnieAJJennyLauraCathieLindaHelen

Posted in embroidery, Stitch-a-long, Textile Books | Tagged , , | 20 Comments

Winter Coat Time

Thw winter coat I made a couple of years ago is looking decidedly past it’s best, it’s one of those loose weave wools which I love, but they don’t wear well! I decided this year to make a coat using a gorgeous grey wool, it’s beautiful, like luxury men’s overcoating, it feels beautiful. I think I bought it a few years ago on Goldhawk Road in London and felt somewhat guilty as it was labelled Yorkshire Wool, it didn’t seem right to travel 200 miles to buy wool made on my doorstep! I seem to remember it was a bargain at around £10 a metre.

My original plan was to make the Papercut Sapora coat, but it takes over 3m of fabric and I only had just over 2m. Instead I used a pattern which has been in my stash for a while, Newlook 6074, that one also needed more fabric (2.5m)but I decided I could get it out with a bit of fudging. The design has a curved hemline and a single button fastening on a deep stand-up collar.

I could get all the main pieces out, though the collar had to have a centre back seam! My main fudge was that the front piece was faced with the main fabric, I had no where near enough fabric to cut four fronts out so I cut it out in lining instead. My original plan was to use a narrow facing to edge it however I decided in the end to just go with the lining as it would have made quite a bulky edge.

The lining is a very pretty Liberty tana lawn which I bought on Dewsbury market a couple of weeks ago for the grand sum of £7 per metre! It goes beautifully with the grey wool and they feel as soft as each other.

The coat went together really easily, it was pretty straight forward apart from the bagging out of the lining. Bagging out always makes me nervous, I usually try and avoid it, but with curved hems I decided it would probably look neatest. For those of you not familiar with the term, bagging out is when you stitch the main garment and the lining together right the way round, apart from a little gap for turning. If it works well you have beautiful edge to edge lining…however if the outer or inner fabric is slightly different length, it won’t hang right. The bagging of this coat went ok, not perfect but not bad. The issue I had was the instructions for stitching the sleeve to the lining as it was done through the gap, I couldn’t follow the instructions or the diagrams, so in the end I machine stitched the cuff and hand stitched the lining over it. I think it makes a bulkier cuff but it’s OK.

Once the construction of the coat was complete the instructions said to topstitch round, or ‘for a decorative touch’ hand-stitch with running stitch. Of course I couldn’t resist a bit of hand-stitching, but I must admit half way round I was beginning to regret it as it took forever!! I do like the finished effect though.

The design just has the one button on the stand up collar. I’ll see how I get on with it but I’m tempted to add another two buttons down the centre front as I’m not keen on garments that fastene firmly round my neck, I’d rather have it open and wear a scarf.

I’m pleased with the coat, it does feel lovely and snuggly to wear, though I’m not sure about the shape with this style of skirt, it may be better with a longer straight skirt or trousers. I think Lucy likes her new coat too, seen as she’s photo-bombed my picture!

Posted in Dressmaking, Sewing | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Anthea Calendar SAL

Over the weekend I finished stitching this month’s design for the Anthea Calendar, a SAL by Faby Reilly. Each month has a seasonal flower and I was wondering what November’s would be and it’s physalis.

Physalis is otherwise known here in the UK as Chinese Lanterns as the flowers are an unusual round shape and a wonderful shade of orange. I actually bought a pot of these on Otley market last month to go in my Amber and Amethyst garden, I just need to get round to planting them!

This month proved fairly quick to stitch, I think there’s not as many little colour changes, it’s a lovely colourful design with all the extra detail that makes Faby’s designs so good. It’s rice stitch round the edge interspersed with woven rose stitches every so often.

I do like the detail of the skeleton leaf in gold as that’s just how they turn, I’m tempted to include that bit in the wordplay, maybe in a slightly darker thread so it shows up more…

Once we get nearer the end of the month I’ll start thinking about the wordplay to go with it, though I already know one word that will be included, goldcrest! They are one of Britains smallest birds, smaller even than the wren. I’ve never seen one before and there was one in our garden last week, very exciting! They’re tiny brown birds with a flash of gold on the top of it’s head, so quite distinctive.

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I Spy an Elephant

Gosh, it’s a whole week since I last wrote a post! This year seems to fly by at times…and last forever at times too! I have been busy, just not got round to writing…

Last weekend my walking buddy and I finished the Guiseley Gap walk, we’d done the first half the week before and as the weather forecast was reasonable we decided to crack on and finish it.

We parked the car in Guiseley and walked up the hill to where we could rejoin the walk. The first thing I saw when I reached the top was an elephant! You may recall that towards the end of the first half we passed a copse of trees known locally as the Elephant copse, I jokingly commented that they must have very vivid imaginations in Guiseley…well I must eat my words as from this different angle I could see it…

We walked across fields and down some old lanes towards High Royds. High Royds’ full name used to be the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum, it actually only closed down in about 2003, it’s a huge Victorian complex which was largely self sufficient with a dairy, butchers, bakery, farm and of course a ball room!! There were some very sad tales that came out of High Royds about the reasons people were admitted and how many then couldn’t get out and spent the rest of their lives there. I’ve just found a fascinating website on High Royds hospital with entries from past staff and patients, please follow the link for more info about the hospital and the care of mental illness in Victorian times. The walk took us past the Memorial Garden which was only recently restored by a local group, there’s nearly 3000 people buried there in unmarked graves. Next to it is the route of a railway line which served the hospital. A small remnant of track has been left as a reminder of it’s history….

The old hospital site has been turned into a new village with the old buildings converted into flats and lots of houses built. It still has large grounds which have lots of paths to wander round. We did appreciate the well made paths as many paths are getting muddy and slippery now…

One thing that we did comment on whilst walking round High Royds was that there is a distinct lack of seats, the occasional wooden bench would have been nice – we do like regular breaks on our walks – sausage roll break, coffee break, sandwich break, sticky bun break…the first place we found to sit down was in a lovely beech wood at the far side of High Royds…

It was lovely walking through the crunchy leaves, but they did obscure the path somewhat!

Once we were above High Royds we could finally just about make out ‘The Guiseley Gap’. The gap is a hanging valley between Airedale and Wharfedale. It’s not very distinct as it’s quite shallow but it separates Otley Chevin from Rombold’s Moor which stretches over towards Skipton. From this vantage point you could also see all the Gothic towers of High Royds.

From there all we had to do was wind our way through old lanes and snickets back to the start.

We enjoyed the Guiseley Gap walk, it was a bit further than we anticipated – the leaflet says it’s 9.8 miles altogether , fitbit reckons more like 12.5 over the two walks- and we didn’t get lost that much! It’s been nice this year to do more local walks, discovering the little paths in the neighbourhood that we didn’t know existed.

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A Square of Fudge

I mentioned yesterday that I had two cross-stitch finishes to share, so this is the second one, stitched over the last few days.

A couple of weeks ago I finally got round to stitching November from the Joyful World SAL, I’d stitched the first ten months over a year ago. This was November…

Whilst I was on a roll I decided to crack on a stitch December, I had just enough time before the next release by Faby Reilly for my Anthea Calendar.

December is a pretty design with a stag on it. It also turned into a fudge from the very first stitch!!

I usually stitch from the centre outwards. I find the centre by folding the linen in half each way and making a gentle crease, so X marks the middle. I did this…and then started about half an inch away where a there was a fold in the fabric from how it was packed!! So the very first stitch was over half an inch too far to the left. I didn’t notice until I’d stitched the dove and some of the tree, too much to go back. I’d been a bit tight with the linen too as I was using up a scrap so it was becoming rapidly clear that it was going too near the edge. I decided to curve the tree inwards a bit, which meant rearranging some leaves etc, there was meant to be a big green leaf to the right of the red flowers, but that had to go as leaning the stem to the right left me with insufficient room, I added a little green square instead, like the ones above! So I ended up with a whole box of fudge!!!

Luckily the other side went without a hitch, though I did change a few of the colours. You can see on the photo above how near to the edge I was!

Yesterday evening I made it into a mini pillow. I used a pretty sage green cotton for the back and then made a cord with the DMC thread used for the red flowers, twisted with a DMC variegated thread with red, green and brown in, it seemed to contain all the colours of the design. I’m pleased with how the cord came out, it works!

As this will be on display over Christmas I decided to add a bit extra. I’d already stitched beads on the corners, next I shaped the cord ends into a bow, stitched a jingle bell in the middle and then added some tails of beads, I like it!

So I have finally stitched the complete set of the Joyful World SAL, it’s only taken about three years!! I can’t lay my hands on photos of August and September, but I did them, promise!

Posted in Christmas, embroidery, Serendipity, Smalls of the Month, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

A Square for October

I’ve two cross-stitch finishes to share with you, they’re both pretty quick makes so I stitched them over the weekend, finishing the last one just now…

Firstly I stitched the wordplay for October. This will be opposite the colourful cyclamen square from the Anthea Calendar SAL by Faby Reilly…

I’m trying to base these wordplays around things I’ve done, places I’ve been, notable dates…that was the plan anyway, but of course the way the year has panned out I’m not doing much at all! We haven’t any birthdays in October, the only date really was halloween.

My walking buddy and I did manage to walk 7 miles of the Guiseley Gap walk, we finished the walk this morning but that will wait for another post. This is my favourite photo from the first half…

Conkers, for those who don’t live in the same climes as me, are the nut produced by the horse chestnut tree. They’re not edible unfortunately, the chestnuts we eat are from the sweet chestnut tree. Conkers however are beautiful, they’re the sort of thing you can pick up on an autumn walk and play with in your pocket, smooth and shiny. As kids we used to hang them on a piece of string and play ‘conkers’, basically trying to bash the hell out of your opponents conker, great fun but unfortunately now banned from playgrounds in case the little darlings get hurt. I was stood in a bus shelter the other day when there was an almighty thud on the roof, I jumped a mile, it was only when the second thud occurred that I realised it was conkers falling from the tree!

The hedgerows have been particularly plentiful this year, with haws, blackberries, elderberry’s, hips…

I always associate the smell of woodsmoke with autumn as a lot of people these days, us included, have wood burning stoves, so you get the wisps of smoke from the chimneys and the lovely distinct smell.

When I was young, dunnocks were called hedge sparrows, they are now though called dunnocks, as apparently they are not at all connected to the sparrow. Dunnocks are the ubiquitous little brown bird, we regularly see them in the garden, bobbing about in the undergrowth.

I’ve three cotinus coggygria in the garden, a burgundy one in both the front and the back, and a golden leafed one in the front too, I love the splash of colour they bring. If you don’t prune them you get frothy plumes of tiny flowers late summer, hence it’s other name of smoke bush. Somehow the colour never looks as good in a photo!

I struggled a bit for a quote this month, in the end I went for a couple of lines from a Carole King song called Tapestry;

My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue,

An everlasting vision of an ever changing view,

A wondrous woven magic in bits of blue and gold,

A tapestry to see and feel, impossible to hold.

Usually this is the time for Harvest Festivals in schools and churches around the country. I remember when James was a toddler we used to attend a little village church near here and it was beautifully decorated with fruit and vegetables, James was about 2 at the time and he kept eating the grapes off the display in front of us!

Sometimes it seems to take longer to design the wordplay than it does to stitch it. I was planning to add a cyclamen flower but I didn’t quite have room so I used the furled bud and a frond instead, I think they work pretty well. I added a couple of sequins and an inch or two of the border and the square was finished. Just in time too as November’s design has just been released, the penultimate page!

I think my second finish will wait until tomorrow…

Posted in embroidery, Serendipity, Stitch-a-long, Textile Books | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

My Cottage Garden Quilt HQAL

It’s three weeks since I last shared my cottage garden quilt, so it’s time for an update. This is the quilt designed by Kathryn Whittingham, she has published a book with all the patterns and instructions in. I’m throughly enjoying makig this one.

Last ime I’d just finished the top row of the quilt…

Having worked out how she balanced the quilt colourwise, I decided to stitch the bottom row next, as shape and colourwise it’s the mirror image of the top. It means I know I have sufficient fabric to do the more dominant borders the same, in particular the flower and the beehive block partners.

Everyone loves the chickens, but just as cute is it’s partner, the ducks. I think this is one of the blocks that made me want to buy the book! Aren’t they cute! I used the same fabricsfor the borders as the chickens, I need to check if that wave on the side borders irons out, if not I think I have a date with the seam ripper!

Next I stitched the garden shed. I didn’t quite place my applique pieces for the shed and the boots etc close enough together, so my tripod is a little near the edge, I might add another bee in the space to the right as well as it’s looking a bit empty. I stitched the borders on using the same green fabric but a different pink to the beehive.

I’ve a few more blocks to embroider before I can stitch this row together, but only one big one, so it shouldn’t take too long hopefully.

Hand Quilt Along Links

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

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

I’ll also be linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday, please follow the links above for lots of stitching inspiration

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