Chicken Embroidery

Having not posted all week, I’ve written two posts today! So if you’re looking for my SAL post, just scroll down, it’s before this one!

Life is a bit hectic at the moment with family taking priority and sewing having to take a back seat. I am trying to keep up with my commitments though…

Tomorrow it’s my Embroiderers Guild meeting and we have started another round of the travelling sketchbooks. I’ve had two months to embroider a chicken but of course I only started it on Friday night! I found an outline of a chicken on the internet and my daughter kindly did her stuff on the computer so it came out the size I wanted instead of A4. The actual chicken is just under 3″ tall, a nice size for a couple of evenings embroidery.

Florence on the left

I decided to base it on Florence, my favourite ever chicken, she was beautiful, a copper black chicken, so her feathers were a gorgeous metallic black with shades of purple and green, then her neck was flecked with copper. She used to follow me round in the garden and would sit on my knee whilst I had a cup of coffee. Continue reading

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Stitch-a-long 1

Having finally finished my stump work and silk ribbon embroidery last month,it was  time to choose a new project to share. Now I’ve got three major projects in mind from a single copy of Inspirations magasine but I decided to do a fairly quick cross-stitch project first which needed to take priority…

During the summer Kate of Tall Tales from Chiconia shared her design for her next fundraising quilt for Ovarian Cancer, it’s called Signed, Tealed Delivered . Teal is the colour for ovarian cancer charities, a bit like pink for breast cancer. It’s a gorgeous design of letters and postcards, I noticed in the centre there was an embroidered postmark, in a rash moment I volunteered to stitch it!

When Kate sent the pattern over I saw it was a cross-stitch design with about 5 shades of teal used pretty randomly to give that nice mottled effect of a postal mark. I suggested that using a variegated thread would give a very similar effect with much less chance of me making a mistake – the last thing I want is to get all the way round to find the ends don’t meet up because I’ve mis-counted!

DMC4030 and 4025 are variegated threads in teal shades. I bought a couple of skeins in teal as well with the idea of mixing them to make the colour changes more muted. I sent a photo over and fortunately Kate was happy! In the end I used 4030 and 3848

I started a couple of weeks ago and luckily it’s growing pretty quickly as I’ve not had much sewing time over the last month, but by just doing half an hour last thing on an evening sometimes I’m making good progress.

The variegated thread is working out well. I’m using two threads for the circle, and one thread mixed with a darker teal thread for the letters so they stand out just a little bit more. When stitching cross-stitch with variegated threads it is recommended that the stitches are made individually, rather than doing a row of half crosses, then a return row. This makes the variegation clearer as shades aren’t mixed, however I decided to stitch in rows in order to make the variations more muted, I’m pleased with the effect!

I’ve found it easier to stitch the letters first, followed by the circle, I think I’m less likely to make a mistake that way!

Hopefully in three weeks time I’ll have cracked on with it.

There’s quite a few of us around the world taking part in this stitch-a-long, we all choose our own projects so there’s all sorts of different types of hand sewing. Why not have a look what everyone else is stitching, just follow the links to see some stunning projects;

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, LucyAnn, Kate, Jess, Sue, Constanze, Debbierose, Christina,

KathyCindy, Helen, Steph, Linda, Catherine, Mary Margaret, Timothy,

Heidi, Connie, Jackie

Everyone is in different time scales, so if there isn’t a post when you first look, check later in the day. If you fancy joining us for the SAL, just send a message to Avis.

Posted in embroidery, Serendipity, Stitch-a-long | 18 Comments

Stained Glass Nativity

On Saturday I went with a WI friend for a fabulous day at Alma House on a workshop making a stained glass nativity. Alma House is our WI federation’s office in Ripon.

We were all very different levels of experience, one lady had made a stained glass panel at Denman College before, my friend Theresa had done a workshop on stained glass birds at Alma House last year. I’d never done anything like this and really didn’t think I would manage to make a whole nativity in a day…

Our tutor for the day was Rachel Poole, she was great, she had prepared us all a box of equipment which include one piece of glass already cut out, this was either Mary or Joseph. These two shapes made the templates for all the figures, our neighbour had the other one so we could swop templates, basically it was a kneeling person and a standing person.

First lesson was how to cut glass, I didn’t find it easy scoring the glass along a wavy line, and trying to break it ‘like a kitkat’ was somewhat scary!! Luckily the next stage was grinding the edges, this neatened off all the bits I cut badly and allowed me to add curves where I’d missed them off completely!

Whilst I was waiting to use the grinder, Rachel suggested I looked for some glass to make a stable, I found a small circle in her box, but I then cut a circle shape for the back, I was particularly pleased with this one, I actually managed to cut an OK circle!!   This photo from the internet shows the technique pretty well.cut_glass_hand1

The soft lead was wrapped around each piece of glass, that was quite satisfying as you could see it starting to come together. The heads are made from glass nuggets which are rounded on one side and flat on the other, Jesus had a tiny one and the lambs head is more opaque. We arranged all the pieces on our boards so we knew we had everything the right way round before moving on to the last part, soldering…

I’ve never done any soldering before, it was quite scary to start with! We worked in pairs again, one holding and the other soldering, you certainly had to trust your partner as the heat coming off a 1000’C soldering iron an inch or too from your fingers is pretty intense!  We both kept having to remind each other to add tallow, a beef wax without which the solder won’t stick. It was fascinating watching the solder move, a bit like mercury, I still don’t really understand how it doesn’t break the glass just from the heat.DSC_0003

Once the basic figure was soldered we could add the extras, such as shepherds crooks, crowns for the kings and a halo for Jesus, these are made from silver wire and Rachel had shaped them already, all we had to do was solder them on. I fancied a star on my stable too, Rachel gave me a length of silver wire, I decided to make it a shooting star so I would have enough contact points to secure it, so I bent a five pointed star with a long tail that curled round at the base, this gave me several points to solder.DSC_0002 (2)

Solder cools almost instantly, and once the sets of figures were soldered together at the front they could be bent round so the group would stand. We then filled in the back of the join with more solder.DSC_0001

I am well chuffed with my nativity, as well as amazed that we all completed a whole set, three kings, three shepherds and a sheep as well as Mary, Joseph and Jesus. DSC_0006 (2)

I think this was one of the best workshops I’ve done at Alma House, Rachel was great, she kept it fun whilst making sure we were safe, she was patient and an excellent teacher.

My nativity is on display on my fireplace and it can stay there until after Christmas now, you don’t get the effect of light through it but it is safer up there and I can always put some Christmas lights around it!


Posted in Christmas, Serendipity | Tagged , , , | 28 Comments

Down The Rabbit Hole; Hand Quilt-a-long 1

Kathy, from Living In A Rapid City has just decided to start a hand quilt-a-long, a celebration of any kind of hand quilting, it sounds like just what I need to keep me going with my Down the Rabbit Hole quilt. I’ve got a bit behind on my Down the Rabbit Hole quilt, this is a quilt-a-long organised by Sarah Fielke, she has designed a beautiful medallion quilt with a mixture of traditional piecing, applique and foundation paper piecing. Septembers border was an elongated hexagon  which looks a bit like a twisted rope if done in alternating colours. This is the quilt so far;

I procrastinated all September about which fabrics to use! The issue is not the main hexagons (I haven’t even started on that planning yet!!) it’s the tiny triangles in the corners. What I would like to do is to use the same fabric as the main border either side of it, so passion flower grey on one side and field of purple flowers on the other side, I’m hoping then that you will just see the twisted rope, rather than a straight sided border. Continue reading

Posted in Down The Rabbit Hole, Quilt-a-long, Quilting, Serendipity | Tagged , , | 25 Comments

Flower Lattice SAL 18

I can’t quite believe it’s time for another happy dance!!! I have been working on this embroidery since last September, a long time for me! Hope you’re sitting comfortably with a cup of tea, as there is a link to a photo book too!

So, three weeks ago my embroidery looked like this…

The final panel includes daffodils, lavender and violas, some of my favourite flowers! First to be stitched was the daffodils. In the book Di has embroidered very blousy, almost plump daffs in a creamy colour, I like yellow daffodils, so I dyed some silk ribbon, perhaps a little too yellow but it will suffice! The trumpet was meant to be in organza with a frilly embroidered edge, I had a look on the internet and found some instructions using silk ribbon for the trumpet with tiny ribbon stitches in a deeper orange for the frill. Whilst it’s not my favourite flower I’m fairly happy with it. The outer petals are stitched with basic ribbon stitch, rather than lazy-daisy. The trumpet was made with several ribbon stitches. I learnt a new technique too, by forming the stitch over the shaft of a second needle, you get a nice flat end to your stitch.

Continue reading

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Fold and Stitch Christmas Wreath

Last autumn one of the quilting facebook pages I follow was full of beautiful Christmas wreaths made from a pattern by Poor House Quilts, I thought they were gorgeous but I knew I didn’t have time to start making one at that time…roll on a year and a workshop was announced at WI to make one, I signed up immediately!

We received a list of requirements which included three different fabrics, some bondaweb and some stuff I’d never heard of before called Bosal, or to give it it’s full title, Bosal 4955 In R-Form Single Sided Fusible Foam…a bit of a mouthful! I managed to order some through Hobbycraft to collect at my local store, it’s weird stuff, like a stiff, spongy interfacing. I popped down to Samuel Taylors in Leeds and found some gorgeous Christmas fabric in a rich red, green and cream, all with the same gold pattern on. I also learnt something new about Bondaweb, sometimes when I’ve bought it it has separated already, which is a bit of a pain, my initial thought was that I’d bought a cheap version, but apparently it’s because it’s old, I understand it’s not such a problem with other makes.

Anyway, back to the workshop…this morning my friend and I travelled over to Ripon, laden with sewing machines, cutting boards etc and had a wonderful day stitching and creating.

Our first job was to cut everything out and prepare everything, this seemed to take most of the morning…twelve 7″squares in the red and green fabric, twelve 5″ squares of cream fabric, with Bondaweb already applied,  twelve squares of bosal. 

The bosal was bonded to the green squares, they could then be stitched to the red squares with the stitching line right next to the bosal. They were then turned through a cross cut in the centre of the red fabric, this turned out easier than I thought it might. After a good press the cream squares were then centred over the red (covering the hole) and ironed on.

The instructions suggested a zig-zag stitch around the edge of the cream. I decided to do a really close zigzag, more of a satin stitch really. I chose this mainly because my cream thread was too light, so I chose red, I also decided to use red in the bobbin so I didn’t risk the wrong colour showing through. It actually worked brilliantly as there is now a lovely satin line around the green squares.

Satin stitching round twelve squares did seem to take forever…and took an awful lot of thread! Eventually I had twelve neat squares all ready to stitch together.

The squares are stitched together at a certain angle, the template comes with the pattern. My sewing machine wasn’t too keen on the thickness of the two squares. I was using my walking foot and my first attempt came to an abrupt halt when the needle broke at the start. I realised it was because of the steep step up at the beginning which caused the needle to hit the slanted foot. I popped another square behind just to start each stitching line off and it worked fine. The squares were stitched into pairs first, then fours and eventually altogether in a circle.

All that was left to do was to hand-stitch the corners together to make the cone shape. I decided to stitch a bead on at the same time. I just managed to stitch the last bead on with about two minutes to spare before the end of the workshop. I was the only one who managed to complete the wreath by the end, I’m a pretty fast worker but even I only just managed it in the six hour workshop.

This evening I decided to add a few more beads on all the joins and the points, they are a nice gentle gold bead which adds just a little twinkle, they also neaten up any uneven seams or not so sharp points!

These wreaths we not half as complicated as I thought to make, just in case you’re still trying to get your head round the design, the green is the bottom square which curls up to the front. The red is the top square, it isn’t binding, this is then almost covered by the cream applique square. The stitching round the cream square helps give it structure.

I’m really pleased with my wreath, it will look great with a candle in the middle over Christmas. They also look nice just hung on the wall. I’ve enough bosal to make another one, but they are pretty big, about 21″ across. We’ve got measurments for a smaller one too, so maybe I’ll do one to hang on the wall.

Posted in Christmas, Crafts, Home, Quilting, Serendipity, Sewing | Tagged | 23 Comments

Lizzie Stitching Wallet

It’s happy dance time again, Snoopy is certainly getting his excercise at the moment as I seem to have a few finishes all at once!

I started this stitch-a-long back in early summer, it’s organised by Faby Reilly, all we saw when we booked on the stitch-a-long was a little glimpse of some stitching, it was enough to know how pretty it was going to be! Every one or two weeks she released another section of the chart, she seemed to time it pretty well with the time I had available to stitch. 

On Monday she released all the finishing instructions. I tackled the biscornu scissor fob first. This was a bit fiddly just because it’s small but it went together easily enough. The back-stitch ruler markings every 5 stitches round the edge help enormously when lining up the corner with the mid side . It’s stitched together with whip-stitch through the back-stitch which gives a lovely neat edge. I love the zig-zag effect of the biscornu, it’s just so pretty.DSC_0015

Continue reading

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Chanel Jacket Course Day 2

On Saturday it was the second (and final) day of our Chanel Jacket course at the Yorkshire School of Sewing. Anne came down the day before and we spent the evening finishing off our homework and comparing notes! By the time we arrived at Gillian’s house in Roundhay we had quilted all our pieces, tied off the ends and tacked the basic jacket together including one sleeve. I’d tacked mine by hand rather than machine, which did turn out to be an advantage when alterations were made.

Before fitting

The first job of the day was to check the fit, mine needed taking in a bit at the princess line. It was interesting to see how an alteration here made the sleeve fit so much better as the shoulder and the scythe were lifted up and in. Continue reading

Posted in Dressmaking, Serendipity | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

Nelly’s Parade

It’s happy dance time on Nelly’s Parade! I have finally finished the elephant quilt for my daughter Helen, it’s only about 12 months since she asked me! Last week I set too and finished the quilting, which as usual (for something I was putting off!) it didn’t take half as long as I expected.

Continue reading

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Project 70273

Today it’s #Global Block Day where hopefully lots of people around the world are making blocks for the 70723 Project. This is the brainchild of Jeanne Hewell Chambers, she is making quilts made of blocks which simply have two red crosses on. Each block represents another person who was deemed unworthy of a place in society by the Nazi’s in the early 1940’s. Jeanne needs 70273 blocks, one for each man, woman and child. For more information on the project, please follow the link at the bottom of the post.

The blocks are being made into quilts which will be displayed around the world. I think it will be very moving to see a large display of these quilts.

The blocks just need two red crosses on white fabric, very simple. Anyone can make them, they can even be made with a red marker pen. I’ve just made six simple ones this evening;

I cut a length of white fabric which was 6.5″ wide, then cut blocks which were either 3.5 x 6.5″ or 9.5 x 6.5″. Jeanne has listed three specific sizes for the blocks so they will stitch together easily. The first one I stitched was from red ribbon which I hand-stitched along the edge. I cut two squares from red felt and stitched those onto a big block…

I embroidered two of the smaller ones, I used two layers of ribbon with a running stitch down the middle for another little one.

My final one shows that you don’t even need to be able to sew as I just painted two crosses with my silk paints, but felt tips or marker pens would work just as well. These quilts are not going to be washed so there is no need to worry about colourfastness etc. As my fabric was patterned white I felt it needed edging so I just went round the edge with a red running stitch.

If you would like to make a block (or six!) please click over to the Project 70273 website where Jeanne has lots of help and information.

Jeanne says: “a big Thank You to y’all for helping us remind and/or convince the world that Every life has value. Every. Single. Life.”

Posted in Quilting, Serendipity | Tagged | 11 Comments