Stitch a Garden SAL

One of my bigger projects (time wise!) is a textile book of our garden. Nicky from The Stitchery is running a SAL with videos and instructions on how to stitch a garden, it’s meant to be a picture but as our wall space is pretty full I decided to make a textile book instead. I’m hoping to do different pages for the different areas of the garden plus features.

Three weeks ago when I last shared my progress I’d just picked up a design by Soukie Soo which I started some time ago and it sort of fell by the wayside. I follow Soukie Soo on Instagram and if you like one of her designs she draws it out for you on metis in what I presume is a frixion pen as it disappears on ironing. I thought this would would fit in nicely with the garden book.

I was stitching the words with satin stitch…

The next day I took it along to my Skipton Stitchers meeting and cracked on with it. I completed the words later that week, I’m pretty pleased with the letters although I think another time I’d try split stitch or stem stitch instead to try and make the edges neater.

With the words stitched I started embroidering the flowers. I decided on orange roses and purple filler flowers, just like I have in my Amber & Amethyst garden. I used three shades of orange thread to make the bullion knots of the roses. I decided roses are a bit like buttonholes, there’s always one that’s a bit iffy! The leaves are stitched with fishtail stitch which is now my favourite for leaves. The buds are stitched with French knots and fly stitch.

With the main embroidery complete I just had the border of split stitch and a simple running stitch to do. Once it was pressed any visible design lines disappeared. I’m pleased with this piece and it’s a nice size at 6″ by 7″ plus a border to aim for the finished size of the book pages.

This SAL is organised by Avis, we post our progress on a project every three weeks, just often enough to keep the motivation going. Please follow the links to see what everyone else has been stitching.

AvisClaireGunConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyMeganDeborahSharonDaisyAJCathieLindaHelenConnie

Posted in embroidery, Garden, Serendipity, Stitch-a-long, Stitching my Garden, Textile Books | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

A Cake for a Princess

Having two ready made granddaughters is certainly pushing me out of my cake-decorating comfort zone! When my two were young I always made their cakes but I had a few books they could pick from which then had the instructions on how to create it. I made all sorts, ponies, gymnastics, football, fairy toadstool, fairy castle…I still maintain the theory that the kids really aren’t bothered if it’s not picture perfect, they are just happy that you bothered to make it instead of the easier option of buying one.

These days the children peruse on the internet instead, which is fine, but Grandma doesn’t then have the instructions! Earlier in the year I had traumas over a purple ombre cake for the eldest granddaughter…

Of course it all came out fine in the end and work colleagues were happy to have the funny coloured rejects with their morning coffee!

It was the youngest’s birthday this week and she chose a princess cake, it was tall with a pink crown on top and pastel coloured frills round the sides. Earlier in the week I made three sponge cakes in pink, blue and purple and popped them in the freezer. A tip I learnt last time was to freeze the cakes and decorate them frozen as it’s much easier to decorate a firm cake.

First task was to make the crown, I needed to give it plenty of time to harden. I’d bought some pink flower/modelling icing from Sainsbury’s, standard fondant icing doesn’t set hard enough. I needed something to shape it round. Ideally it would have been a gentle cone shape, but I couldn’t find anything. In the end I used a large ramekin balanced precariously on an upside down bowl! I made a template, cut it out and fortuitously my OH came home just at the right moment as it was quite fiddly to position it around the wobbly bowl. I left it to dry overnight and the next morning the points on my crown stood up fine if a little unevenly…

This is the only in progress photo I took. As you can see I stacked all the cakes on top of each other and positioned them towards the back of the pink cake board. My local cake decorating shop (Dodgsons in Otley) have just started stocking these coloured cake boards, I think they’re fab! The bottom half of the cake is how it all looked after the first layer of buttercream, I think the icing was a bit thick! I made some softer butter cream and smoothed the top and the top half of the sides. Dipping my palette knife in hot water helped to smooth it too. I put a sprinkling of hundreds and thousands on the top before it dried.

The next bit was the fiddly bit! On the sides there were several rows of frilled icing with the frills pointing upwards. This meant I had to start at the top and work down, hoping that the rows didn’t slip whilst I was preparing the next row! There were two rows of each colour, pink yellow, blue and purple. I coloured the icing and then rolled it out into a long strip, cut it in half lengthways and then thinned the top edge with my fingers. I have to say it was very fiddly putting it in place! Luckily rows slipping down the cake didn’t seem to be a problem, however the cake also got wider and wider at the bottom as the rows overlapped each other!

Whilst I had the pink rolled out I used some leftovers to make some pink roses and leftovers of blue were coloured with a bit of yellow to make green leaves.

The crown was meant to slide nicely off the ramekin I’d made it round. Unfortunately it clearly wasn’t going anywhere in one piece. So what do you do with a crown that has a ramekin in the middle…you fill it with pink sweets! I went into Otley to an old fashioned sweet shop and bought lots of pink hearts and space ships, both chosen as they were pink and light weight!

The hearts were just shaped fondant icing with a layer of lustre powder on to give them a bit of a sheen. The number 7 is a cake sparkler which I also spotted at Dodgsons. When her mum brought the alphabet cutters round we realised they were too big to put her full name on (Harriet) so instead we put her nickname of Moo, apparently short for mouse as she was tiny and quiet as a baby!

They were all delighted with the cake and hopefully it tasted OK too!

Posted in Baking | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

A Duster Coat.

Having made the Orchidee dress for the wedding, I still wanted to make the duster coat from my original choice of pattern – Simplicity 8731. As the style of the coat is very loose fitting I felt I could get away with the size 14.

I looked on line for some linen, I was originally thinking a raspberry pink would be nice, but I spotted on the Fabrics for All website some lovely linen in both raspberry pink and a duck egg blue. I decided a trip to the shop was required. Fabrics for All is in Armley just outside the centre of Leeds, they have some gorgeous fabrics so it is definitely worth the two-bus trip to get there. The linen felt lovely and as soon as I tried the dress fabric against them, the duck egg blue won hands down. I also felt I was more likely too wear a duck egg blue coat again, it’s not so in your face as pink! I then called into Samuel Taylors in the centre of Leeds as I knew they had some jacquard lining fabrics. They had a perfect match, duck egg blue shot with raspberry pink! It was all meant to be…

The coat has a yoke on the back with a central pleat. The sleeves are unusual as the front sleeve is cut out as part of the front, whereas the back is a separate piece. The yoke has a broad trim on it’s lower edge, I lined the trim with the linen as instructed by the pattern, if I make this coat again I’ll line the trim with a cotton as it is quite bulky and stands a bit out from the coat back. I debated whether to add the bow, I was tempted to add some embroidery instead but I decided that would take too long. Having attached the bow I’m happy with it, it holds the trim a bit flatter too.

I love the pink lining! I hemmed the coat with some patterned bias binding. I bought the pretty bias binding from Freya & Friends on etsy, it’s 3cm wide and made to order. I stretched it slightly as I was stitching it on and then pressed it into the curve of the hem. It gathered up just enough ‘ease’ to allow the hem to sit flat. I hand-stitched the hem to make it as invisible as possible. I also hand-stitched the coat lining hem with a simple running stitch in pink embroidery thread.

I think it’s a very elegant summer coat, it feels lovely to wear as the linen is quite weighty and drapes beautifully.

Posted in Dressmaking | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Orchidee Dress

We’ve an invitation to a wedding at the end of May, so of course a new outfit had to be made! The wedding was one of many which were postponed twice due to the pandemic, it was meant to be in May 2020, I had duly bought a pattern and some fabric. The pattern was a vintage style dress and duster coat, Simplicity 8731. Unfortunately whereas two years ago I was on the cusp of pattern size 14, now I am definitely over it so the size range I’d bought of 6-14 just wasn’t going to work for a fairly fitted bodice. A rethink was required…

I had a rummage through my pattern stash and one jumped out, the Orchidee dress by Deer and Doe. I had sufficient fabric so it was sorted.

I really enjoyed making this dress, it’s taken a while but sometimes it’s nice to just take your time and enjoy the process. I love the details on it and it went together beautifully.

The fabric is like a pima or tana lawn, I’m not sure where I bought it now, it feels gorgeous and sews like a dream. The dress is lined, I just lined the bodice and left the skirt as a single layer. As it’s a fine cotton dress I didn’t want to line it with synthetic lining fabric, I had a look in my stash and found a short length of ivory cotton lawn. I suspect it’s some of the fabric from the pound fabric shop in Dewsbury, he reckoned it was Liberty lawn and it certainly feels like it. It was perfect to line the dress with.

When I cut it out I didn’t take much notice of fabric pattern matching, I didn’t really have enough to faff about with that, so I was very surprised when the front bodice matched perfectly!! I don’t think I would have got such a good match if I tried! I wished I’d pattern matched the waistband after that…

As you can see the bodice has ‘bridal loop buttons’, I ordered some rat tail cord as suggested and fortunately the colour matched beautifully. The instructions were a little confusing for this bit but the nice people at Deer and Doe have put a helpful video together. The instructions were to pin the rat tail in place and then stitch over. However I found it moved too much under the foot, so I hand sewed them in place and then machine stitched down the front edge, that seemed to work well.

The buttons are little pearl bead-like buttons, I had them in my stash and they worked perfectly.

I French-seamed all the main seams and hand stitched the hem up. I love it, it feels lovely to wear. The only bit I’m not 100% on is the puffy sleeves, they also looked nice as fluttery sleeves before I put the elastic in. My daughter thinks they look fine but I’m still tempted to try fluttery…

…and luckily I have pink shoes, handbag and hat to match!

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The Bees Knees

I’m collecting bee embroideries at the moment to go in a textile book about bees. I bought one recently off a facebook destash site, it’s a simple little design from Hands On Design called Humble Honey.

It was a perfect project to go in my handbag for stitching on the go, so it’s been stitched in dentists waiting rooms, physio waiting rooms…my life is so exciting!!!

I chose a mottled dark grey linen from my stash which showed the white stitching nicely…

On the pattern the flowers were all in cross-stitch I tried it on one side but really felt they looked a bit clunky, so on the second side I tried with straight stitch flowers and fly stitch leaves. I was much happier with the effect so I unpicked the cross-stitch ones to match and added some French knots in the centres….

I think I’ve got five bee embroideries now so I should start making them into pages soon.

Posted in cross-stitch, Textile Books | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Tuesday’s Totter Round the Garden

I’ve been both constructive and destructive in the garden this week…

Several years ago I built an obelisk for a climbing rose, it’s next to the arch in the Amber & Amethyst garden. The rose has been amazing, covered in flowers for most of the summer, however it has outgrown the obelisk, with slats pushed out and stems being damaged. This is the rose in full bloom last summer…

I’d already decided I wanted to guide the rose over the arch next to it as it was clearly wanting to reach for the sky, at the weekend I started prune some of the hedge behind it so I could access it and really see what was happening. This is a photo from last month, you can see how wonky it was…

The obelisk was in quite a sad state, I started to remove the broken slats and eventually removed the whole structure piece by piece. I still wanted some support for the rose to guide it towards the arch. So I leant two of the lengths from the obelisk against the arch and then tied them securely with some twine. I wanted to gently pull the rose over to the arch without damaging the stems further, twine would be too rough, so I found two old pairs of tights and made a couple of long ties right over the rose. I’m pretty pleased with it so far, I just need to catch down the tallest branches now.

Everything is shooting up in the garden, it’s a wonderful time of year. The camassias above have started to flower as has the pulmonaria and the geums. I got a pair of rust effect peony supports for Christmas from my daughter, so they’re both in place and at Harrogate show a couple of weeks ago I bought another two which are more of a dome shape. I think I got those in place just in time as they’ve already disappeared under the foliage.

I’ve also made another obelisk! For many years I had one by the patio, it was a big affair which had clematis growing up it. It fell down several years ago and I’ve not got round to replacing it. I decided I didn’t want a big heavy one again as it does obstruct the view of the magnolia stellata. I was having a clearout of the garden shed last weekend and came across some 6′ long hardwood stakes. I pushed four in the ground round the clematis, tied the tops together as neatly as I could and then used twine to make a framework for the clematis. My thought is that I can easily collapse it down for the winter and early spring when the magnolia is flowering if I feel it’s blocking my view, although actually because the stakes are thin, I think it will be fairly inobtrusive, The metal ball on top is one I bought a few years ago.

I’ve a few rhododendrons in the garden and two of them are looking lovely at the moment. This pale pink one is by the conservatory door…

I’ve been sorting my pots out a bit too, the acre is looking stunning at the moment, it’s nice and protected there, the one at the top of the garden has been damaged by the late frosts. The climber by the arbour is an early flowering clematis.

This gorgeous rhododendron is up by the big fence, it’s a bit hidden by the shrub in front of it at the moment but it should grow taller in time.

The view from upstairs is greening nicely though I really must get the arch at the bottom painted 🙂

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The Seaside Quilt HQAL

I’m making good progress with hand-quilting my seaside quilt. Three weeks ago when I last shared this happy quilt I was busy stitching clam shells (or waves!) on the main body of the quilt…

The central design of the quilt is now quilted and I’ve started the borders. I’m doing a wavy line down the borders, which could be like the streams or sand patterns made on the beach or even just waves out at sea. I’m stitching random waves and I’m never totally at ease with random! I’ve overlapped some of them and some areas I really like and others are not so visually appealing to me!

I’ve done two and a half sides so far, then I just need to do something in the corner blocks and maybe something in the dark blue narrow border, I’m thinking of maybe just stitching in the ditch just to give a border to the waves.

I hung the quilt on the washing line to take photos this morning and it’s the first time I’ve really been able to see the back en masse, I’m really pleased with the seascape effect on the back…

I’m also pretty impressed that I’ve managed to line up the seamlines on the back with the ones on the front! I rather like the back, though I wish the fade marks on the dark blue fabric had faded more into the quilting, they didn’t look so obvious before, but then it is the back!

So here’s my Seaside quilt so far…

This is such a cheerful quilt, it always makes me smile, if anyone fancies making it it’s from a lovely book by Kathryn Whittingham called The Seaside Quilt. Kathryn kindly sent me the book after I loved making her Cottage Garden quilt so much. I’m not sure if I’ll have my happy dancing shoes on next time but I certainly shouldn’t be far off a finish.

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, Daisy and Tracy

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

Posted in Quilt-a-long, Quilting, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , | 21 Comments

Stitching on the Move Bag

Having decorated a cotton bag for the competition at Skipton Stitchers, I then turned to the fabric sample which needed titivating and turning into something.

A few years ago I made a project bag to live in my handbag with a little sewing in to keep me busy when hanging around outside somewhere, be it in a cafe or a bus station or a dentists waiting room. I call it Stitching on the Move. It proved invaluable when I was stuck in a broken down train for over 5 hours once or unexpectedly in hospital. Stitching helps keep me calm and passes the time more productively than scrolling down facebook!

It was a wallet style with a large pocket for linen and a hoop and lots of little pockets for thread bobbins. Here’s my original post about how I made it. It’s lived in my handbag ever since.

I recently treated myself to a set of Pip and Chip bobbins, which are acryllic and have the number and colour of the DMC thread printed on the top. I love them but it has made me a little wary about taking the bobbins out of the house as they’re not cheap and I don’t want to lose them. I’ve started using thread cards instead, the ones with holes punched in them to loop your thread through. I also found that the pockets for the floss in my stitching wallet had obviously stretched as bobbins were falling out into the dark depths of my handbag!

Time for a new project bag and a perfect entry for the Skipton Stitchers competition to make something using a fabric sample square.

My fabric sample looked rather retro to me with it’s simple flowers and neutral scheme. I decided to embroider three of the flowers to go on the front of a project bag. I chose three colours of felt, two purples and a sort of light teal colour to make round centres for the flowers. I then stitched a circle of pistil stitch. I rather like pistil stitch, I find it quite useful, it’s a bit like a French knot on a stalk! My original plan was to add a button to the centre, I thought I’d found a perfect button in my stash, a white flower button which also was a perfect fit for a tiny yellow button in the centre…

…but it just didn’t work, too bright!

I then tried a smaller circle of felt with a tiny button in the middle…

I eventually had to admit that the buttons just didn’t work. I removed them and just covered the central circle with more pistil stitches and French knots. They remind me of a clematis flower!

Once I was happy with the flowers I just had to make it into a bag. I used a green quilting cotton for the rest of the outside, using both interfacing and wadding to give it a bit of structure. I did a simple quilting of straight lines to help hold it together, stitched lining to the piece so I could turn it and hand-stitch the opening closed. I edge-stitched the edges and then just had to fold it into the bag shape and stitch the sides together. It closes with a button and a rouleau loop.

Why do I never see these threads until after I’ve taken the photo!!!

It’s about 6.5″ square, so it comfortably fits a 5″ hoop in. I cut a flower shape out of felt to make a needle holder, it’s actually only attached for about an inch on each side so I can hold the felt more easily if needed. I used a triangle of felt to make a scissor holder on the front. The first time I used it the scissors kept slipping out, not in transit but when I was using the pouch. I’ve just added the ribbon so hopefully that will no longer be an issue.

I’m pleased with my sewing bag, I didn’t win any prizes but I’ve made two items which will have a lot of use. If you want to see the other entries and the winners, please follow the link to the Skipton Stitchers blog.

Posted in embroidery, Serendipity, Sewing, Skipton Stitchers | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Skipton Stitchers

One of our members is celebrating an amazing 50 years in the Embroiderers Guild, and she is still just as involved within the organisation and enthusiastic about embroidery. She decided to celebrate by organising a competition for our members and she would provide generous prizes.

She is very keen on recycling and repurposing textiles and has a large collection of the free cotton bags which these days are often given out at events. She brought a big pile of them to Skipton Stitchers meeting earlier in the year, there was also a selection of fabric book samples, the sort that curtain shops have. Those of us who wanted to take part took a bag to decorate and a fabric sample to make something.

As usual I left it until the 11th hour, spending the weekend working on my entries – my OH would argue that that is what the eleventh hour is for!!

My bag had a circular motif on it for a gin festival…

An idea came to me in the small hours of Friday night and luckily I remembered it when I woke up in the morning…I would use the scalloped circular edge to make a button design. I wanted to make a practical but pretty bag that I would be happy to use and this definitely fitted the bill.

I rummaged in my quilting fabric stash and found three purples that went well together. The plan was to use bondaweb to stick them all together and to add embroidery to embellish it. As bondaweb does add to the thickness of the design I added the three layers in turn, starting in the centre with the little four circles on the central circle, using buttonhole stitch to go round the ‘holes’. I added some fly stitch and French knots in the middle.

Once the centre was stitched I could apply bondaweb to the centre circle and attach it to the outer ring, using herringbone stitch to edge it. I felt it needed a little more definition so I added a line of chain stitch along the edge

I could then apply Bondaweb to the outer circle and cut it out so it would just nicely fit in the printed ring. Once I’d ironed it on to the actual bag I could then buttonhole stitch round the edge. This bit wasn’t as fiddly as I thought it might be, I managed to stitch round without catching the handles or the back of the bag in the stitches!

My first entry was ready, I’m pretty pleased with this, I didn’t win as there were some gorgeous entries, but I can see this bag being well used.

Posted in embroidery, Sewing, Skipton Stitchers | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Stitching my Garden SAL

Earlier this year I signed up for an on-line workshop with Nicki Franklyn from The Stitchery called Stitch a Garden. I’ve admired Nicki’s work for a while, it’s so pretty and delicate so it didn’t take long to persuade myself to enrol.

The idea is that you create an embroidery of either your own garden or a garden you love, or even an imaginary garden. Nicki is stitching Beatrix Potter’s garden at Hill Top in Cumbria. I’m stitching our garden, but rather than a picture, I’m making a textile book. My walls are covered in pictures and I think a textile book will make a rather nice record of the garden.

Earlier workshops were on things like planning the stitching, colouring fabric with paints, stitching trees and bushes. I haven’t got very far with mine, here’s some of my trees…

Whilst I have in my head how I’m planning to create this book I haven’t got very far in the actual stitching. Hopefully making this my SAL piece will encourage me on. I think it’s a bit like a blank page at the moment, once I actually start it will be a lot easier!

Ideas so far; rather than one map of the whole garden I’m planning to do three or four maps, one for each area, i’m also thinking of a simple embroidery of the roses in our garden and their names, little scenes such as the pots, the arbour, pond, summerhouse., maybe I’ll do an embroidery of the birds who visit our garden too.

I’m also planning to include quotes or poems about gardens, which is where my current piece comes in. I can’t remember if I’ve shown you this before, but it’s a design by Soukiesoo. She hand draws her designs on linen with a heat erasable pen, so once I’ve finished I can just iron it. Unfortunately this also means I can’t iron it for a photo – I so very nearly did this morning!

Her designs are lovely and I think they compliment Nicki’s very well. At the moment I’m just stitching the words with satin stitch…

It’s taking quite a while, although it’s not very big, it’s about 6″ by 7″. I started doing the satin stitch properly with a split stitch edge to stitch over, but I felt it was actually neater without, maybe because it’s a thin area.

Hopefully in three weeks time when I next show my progress I’ll have a few more letters stitched and maybe some designs painted too.

This Stitch-a-long is organized by Avis from Sewing beside the Sea, we post every three weeks with our progress on our chosen project, it does help to keep me motivated on a big project! Please follow the links to see everyone else’s work.

AvisClaireGunConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyMeganDeborahSharonDaisyAJCathieLindaHelen

Posted in embroidery, Garden, Serendipity, Stitch-a-long, Stitching my Garden, Textile Books | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments