Stitching my Garden SAL

The second big page for my garden book is finally come together, it’s a while from being finished but I’ve got into my stride with it now. When I first start a page like this the empty fabric does seem a bit daunting but once I get going it does seem easier. I also start to use more ‘artistic licence’ and not get so het up about which plant or shrub goes where, I’ve got photographs for that!

Three weeks ago I’d started to embroider some of the blobs into shrubs…

I’ve been working on the big bed by the tall fence, it’s mainly shrubs and climbers with a few perennials to fill gaps in. I’ve just looked back at my blog and realised how little my big border features but this is how it looked a couple of autumns ago…

…not an easy area to represent in embroidery!

I seem to have done a fair bit of unpicking this time but I’m happier with the result. After stitching lots of French knots on the purple blob for the cotinus I felt that the blanket stitch edging was just too hard and dominating. I unpicked it and used a lighter shade of variegated thread and feather stitch with fly stitch. I added a trunk and a couple of branches too.

The climbers on the back are wisteria and clematis, the wisteria is definately using artistic license as it was only planted a couple of years ago so this is how I hope it will look soon! On the right is the lilac tree with the pheasantberry underneath, that was another bit that was unpicked as I originally used a heavier thread for the reddish bracts but it just looked too heavy so I unpicked it and used a DMC thread instead.

Other plants so far include a red rose (Darcy Bussel) orange day lily, pink peony, red astrantia. pink rhododendron, box, pieris, philadelphus (just waiting for the white flowers) and daphne.

There’s still a gap that’s a bit too big to leave but I’ve just remembered a clematis in there which nicely meanders through the other shrubs, so that might just meander through the gaps!

As you can see I’ve just started on the bottom corner with a few chunky French knots and a bit of stem stitch for my pink roses….

This right hand bed shouldn’t be as complicated as it’s mainly roses, so just lots of big French knots.

This SAL is organised by Avis, we post our progress on our hand-stitched projects every three weeks, it certainly helps to keep me motivated and moving! Please follow the links to see what everyone else is stitching.


Posted in embroidery, Garden, Serendipity, Stitch-a-long, Stitching my Garden | Tagged , | 12 Comments

Terrific Trifold Wallet

I’ve been meaning to make myself a new wallet for ages now, my old one eventually stretched a little so the card pockets weren’t secure and a purse I made sometime ago is now so tatty and falling apart it’s an embarrassment! On Thursday I decided a new wallet was my project for the day,

I used the same pattern as last time, it’s called the Terrific Trifold Wallet, it’s in a book called A Bag for all Reasons by Lisa Lam. I wanted to use the lovely eucalyptus print left over from making Helen’s apron so I found some blue batiks that would go with it. I decided to use the print on the inside and batik’s on the outside, I think the light print would get grubby very quickly.

It always takes a while to cut out all the pieces for bag making and this wallet was no exception, I put all the pieces into a box so they didn’t get lost whilst I was stitching – I’m sure my sewing room has a black hole as things just disappear! I used woven fusible interfacing where needed and fusible pellon for the outside. The instructions called for Decovil which apparently gives the outer fabric a leather-like quality and durability. I used the Pellon instead as I happened to have some, pellon is like a very thick interfacing.

All the different sections of the wallet were made first, the coin purse and the card slots. These were then stitched on to the notes slot fabric and the edge bound with bias binding. I didn’t quite manage to catch all the bias down on the back with my first row of stitching so I used a decorative stitch as well which I think gives a nice finish too.

Frustratingly after carefully fussy-cutting the print for the two top card holders so they had a pretty sprig each, I stitched the pocket on the other way up and didn’t realise until I’d already attached the binding. They still look pretty though.

The hardest bit of the wallet was turning it right side out as the pellon interfacing is pretty bulky and firm. Edge stitching round it was then awkward as the main body of the purse was so much thicker than the very edge, I think in the end I used a zipper foot.

The pattern closes the purse with a popper, I haven’t got any poppers so I stitched an elastic into the tab and added a blue button.

As you can see my wallet is already in use, I think I need to make a new bag next!

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Last week at my WI meeting we had a pyrography workshop, it was lovely as everyone had a go including many who don’t consider themselves ‘crafty’ and everyone went home with a lovely piece they had made.

Pyrography is when you burn a design onto wood. It’s done with a special pen-like tool which has a wire tip, this heats up to something ridiculous like 1400’C. The tutor told us to try and do smooth lines, starting and finishing gently to avoid a spotty line…easier said than done! The size and depth of the burn depended on how long the heat was applied.

We were each given a wooden coaster and a sheet with lots of designs on, I was planning to make a sewing themed one but the designs were things like flowers, celtic crosses etc so I decided to do a bee. We traced the design onto the coaster and then started to etch the design.

I went round the basic shape first and then filled in the legs as dark as I felt I could make it. I etched the dark stripes next. We learnt that by using a lighter touch you could colour areas in so I just used short light lines for the bits that would be yellow.

I ummed and arred for a while trying to think of an apt short saying, then Sewing Bee came to mind, perfect! I wrote in on a piece of paper first and then traced it. It’s a little uneven but I’m pretty pleased with it. One of the lads at work said he would put some kind of sealant or varnish on it so it’ll be a bit more resistant to damp cups of tea!

We had time to make a second item, I decided on another coaster as we only had about half an hour left. I used a robin design this time. I tried to do a sort of feather pattern on his back and I love his beady little eye, that was just a single burn left on a bit longer. I was fairly pleased with the actual etching but I then decided to colour the red bit in. Somehow it doesn’t look right, I haven’t worked out how to improve it yet. I’m not sure if it needs to be bigger, or if the outline across makes it look more like a stripe. It doesn’t help that the paint ‘bled’u up the grain a bit.

I’m pretty pleased with my coasters and it was lovely to try another craft.

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Christmas in January!

I’m not sure if I’m very early or late with this quick make…

We have a Christmas card swap at my stitching group, everyone makes a handmade card and swaps it for another one. I received this cute cross-stitch mouse…

I wanted to make something out of it, seen as someone has taken a lot of time to stitch it. Last week I decided to make it into a little hanging decoration, already for next year (before it also gets lost in my sewing room!)

I soaked the paper off the back, there wasn’t a huge amount of fabric round it but I decided I could stitch a border about two squares deep all round the design. I had a rummage in my stash, a lot of the Christmas fabrics were too bright or the wrong shade of red but I found this print. I was a bit concerned it might be too busy but what sold it for me was that the colours included purple which tied in nicely with the mouse’s scarf.

I added the Merry Christmas fabric and gold ric-rac, backing it with the same Christmas fabric. I stiffened it with a piece of what I think is called bosal, it’s like really thick interfacing, like 1-2mm thick. It was a scrap I found in my interfacing drawer which just happened to be the right size. I used ric-rac for the hanger and added two buttons to cover the ends.

Master Mouse is all ready for next Christmas!

Posted in Christmas, cross-stitch, Serendipity | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Sewing Room Stitching

I’m trying to get a few finishes under my belt before I get distracted with new projects. Sometime earlier last year I finished a cross stitch for my sewing room, I had already bought the sewing machine shaped hanger, but it lay in a box unfinished. I think some of the prevarication was because the hanger was bigger than I anticipated, I’d seen the hanger on the Stony Creek website which is where the cross-stitch design came from but postage and taxes from America to UK are somewhat high. I was delighted therefore to see it in a UK shop on line, I ordered it immediately without even considering that there may be different sizes, it was 16″ where 12″ would have been plenty! I was clearly going to have to give it borders!

On Monday I pulled it out and started to rummage through my stash for suitable border fabrics. I found a prefect green one from the Lewis and Irene Bumbleberry range but the purples just weren’t quite right, too light or dark or just the wrong shade. I then spotted a border type fabric I’d bought years ago when I was making the Down the Rabbit Hole quilt, I’d bought a gorgeous layer cake which was the basis of my colour choices, this was part of the range. In the end I didn’t uses it, so it’s sat in my stash ever since. Although it had a busy floral stipe, it also had purple and green stripes which matched perfectly. Bingo!

I stitched an inner border of the green fabric, I cut a strip and then folded it in half, stitching it on like a flange on a quilt. I then added the stripes. The corners needed to be mitred, I decided the easiest way to get them neat would be to press and then hand-sew the seam.

I made a quilt sandwich with a leftover piece of wadding and the stripy flowery fabric as the backing. I kept the quilting simple with just a stitch-in-the-ditch along the purple lines. I found some darker green fabric to bind the sides and the bottom and last night I used the same fabric to form a hanging sleeve whilst looking like the binding.

I’m really pleased with how it’s come out, I think the borders work really well, I just need to decide where to hang it now!

Posted in cross-stitch, Serendipity, sewing room | Tagged , | 9 Comments

Quick Sewing

Between Christmas and New Year my daughter and I did a little shopping and browsing in the sales. Helen spotted an apron, it was very nice but I pointed out that they were easy to make and much cheaper, thinking of various lengths of furnishing weight cotton I have at home…of course it isn’t cheaper when said daughter buys a meter of fabric for the apron! Having said that it’s gorgeous fabric, I’m tempted to make a bag or a purse out of the scraps!

I’d lots of cream cotton tape to make ties, but cream didn’t look right with the soft grey of the fabric. I rummaged in my stash and found a batik fabric which went with it very nicely so I cut 2.5″ strips and made my own tape.

For the shape I literally cut round a WI apron I’ve had for years. I hemmed all the edges, edge-stitched round the ties to give it a bit more structure and stitched them on with a double fold.

A nice quick finish to start the new year!

Posted in Dressmaking, Sewing | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Staying Home Quilt HQAL

I feel I’ve made good progress on my Staying Home quilt over the last three weeks ago I was still quilting the second row which has the cat on it, trying to stitch borders as I go along too so I don’t end up at the end with lots of border to quilt…

Well after several evenings stitching I’ve not only finished the cat row but I’ve also made good inroads to the top row. I’m keeping the quilting on the embroidered blocks deliberately simple as I don’t want to detract from the actual embroidery so on the one with a flowery rabbit below I’ve just done a circle within the ring of writing. On the alphabet hare I’ve just gone round the outline of the hare.

So I’m now just over half way, I’ve quilted thirteen out of twenty five blocks with just the house to finish and the dragonfly block at the end to do. Happy days!

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, Connie, and  Cathie

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

Posted in Quilt-a-long, Quilting | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Little Miss Rabbit

The well dressed rabbit I made for my daughter for Christmas has gone to her new home. She was made from the patterns in the Luna Lapin books by Sarah Peel of Cool Crafting in Kendal. She has a reversible sailor dress made from Liberty tana lawn and a dark blue wool coat, looking suitably respectable…so long as the wind didn’t blow her skirt up as I didn’t have chance to make her any undies during the busy run up to Christmas! The phrase ‘fur coat and no knickers’ comes to mind…

Well I’m sure you’ll all be relieved to hear her modesty will remain intact whatever the weather as she now has a pretty pair of French knickers. The cotton is trimmings from a nightdress I shortened for someone at work, it already had a lace trim so it was an easy job to stitch an inside leg, a gusset and then the elastic casing.

I even remembered to leave a hole in the back seam for her white fluffy scud…

I think Little Miss Rabbit is feeling a lot happier now she is fully dressed.

I’ve made five rabbits and one mouse from Sarah’s books, they are a delight to make and I love the detail in the various outfits too. I usually hand-stitch the rabbits and machine stitch their clothes but you could make them either way. If you fancy having a go just follow the link above. I can also recommend the Luna Lapin page on facebook, it’s very friendly and supportive – some people have made dozens of them! There’s lots of different animals too now, I’ve a kit in my stash to make a sheep, the otter is very cute as is the polar bear and the latest pattern release of a donkey looks gorgeous too.

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New Skirt for New Year’s Eve

I first cut this skirt out in November, planning to wear it for the works Christmas party on December 4th, I then changed my mind about the party and thought I’d wear it to a Christmas lunch on December 12th with former work colleagues. Sewing Christmas presents took precedence and I wore something else…maybe I’ll make it in time for a trip to the ballet on Christmas eve or Christmas Day itself…well Christmas Day came and went and it was still sitting in pieces on my sewing table!

I was determined to make it for New Years Eve!!

I’ve had the pattern for a while, it’s called the Amira skirt by Fibre Mood. I think I saw it first on social media and loved it immediately, it’s a full pleated skirt, just above ankle length with a shaped waistband. The pattern says it’s suitable for light floaty fabrics or heavier wovens which will hold a pleat. I dug out some lovely damson colour fabric from my stash, I’m not sure what you call it but it’s sort of like a heavier taffeta with slubs in, it’s also got a one way stretch which I didn’t realise when I first cut it out, luckily it didn’t cause many issues.

It’s the first time I’ve made a pattern from the Fibre Mood magasine. Fibre Mood is a bit like the Burda magasine in that all the patterns are printed on a few sheets and you trace off the ones you want. It took a while to work out where the pattern pieces were that I needed, I traced them onto some tissue paper which luckily I had bought a roll of a while ago. I also made life a little easy as I realises that I only really need the top width of the skirt as once it got to hip length it was straight down. The instructions in the magasine are very brief, just pictures really, but on line there are much more detailed instructions.

I was initially planning not to press the full pleats in but having tried the front of the skirt on, the weight of the fabric meant it wasn’t hanging nicely. I realised I was going to have to press all the pleats in. This meant a lot more work, I spent three evenings measuring and tacking each pleat down. At first I worked from the side to the centre, but I realised it wasn’t going to be accurate enough and any inaccuracies would be right at the front of the skirt. I tried measuring each pleat from the centre front or back and that worked much better. Once they were all tacked down I could give them a good press and then stitch the front to the back.

I hand stitched the side zip in and used a decorative stitch for the hem, I’d overlocked the hem first so I didn’t need a bulky double fold for the hem. I finished it mid afternoon on New Years Eve!

When I first tried it on I thought it fitted nicely, but after a few minutes it’s sat a bit too low on my hips, so I did a quick improvised stitch down the side seam of the waist. It could probably do with a bit more but it was sufficient for the evening.

I’m pretty pleased with it, the photos above are from this morning so the pleats are a little crumpled as it’s the morning after the night before.

I need to make a top to go with it as the black cardigan doesn’t really work, however I realised that a cardigan I’d made from an embroidered velvet a few years back actually went with it quite nicely.

Posted in Dressmaking, Serendipity | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Stitch a Garden SAL

Happy New Year everyone, we’ve had a lovely Christmas and New Year shared with family and friends, nothing too raucous, just enjoying time together. I even managed to get some sewing done…

I’ve managed a couple of evenings working on my garden book, I’m still stitching the page which shows the summerhouse and the pond round the lawn. Three weeks ago I had just started embroidering round the pond…

Well I haven’t done a huge amount of stitching but I have made quite a bit of progress as I used bondaweb to stick on hand-painted calico to represent some of the bushes. There’s quite a few bushes and shrub roses in this part of the garden…

…so far I’ve added a purple one for the continus cogghria, green ones for osmanthus, spirea, pieris and rhodedendrons. I embroidered the osmanthus with fly stitch both round the edge and in the middle to give the idea of a prickly plant as its leaves are a bit like holly. The one on the right with creamy pistil knots and French knots is meant to be a pieris.

I’ve blanket-stitched round the purple bush but I haven’t quite decided how to show the round purple leaves, French knots seems the obvious choice but that might look more like purple flowers, I might just do little seed stitches instead.

Having applied the shrubs the rest of the borders don’t look quite so daunting an area to fill, especially as there’s quite a few rose bushes which are fairly quick to do with large French knots and a few stems and leaves.

Hopefully next time I’ll have a bit more progress to share, in the meantime please follow the links to see what everyone else has been stitching…




Posted in embroidery, Garden, Stitch-a-long, Stitching my Garden | Tagged , , | 12 Comments