Sunflowers Growing Down the Rabbit Hole

I’ve just started month 7 of my Down the Rabbit Hole quilt, the block of the month by Sarah Fielke, it’s a medallion quilt so we’ve started in the middle and we’re gradually adding borders, this month we’re finishing the third major border. This is where I was last time you saw it, having just finished the Dresden flowers which caused me so many headaches trying to choose the right fabrics…

It was very reassuring on facebook to see just how many of us were struggling with the same issues, trying to help each other, that is the big advantage of doing a BOM that has an on-line ‘support group’ such as a facebook page, you don’t feel quite so alone, there’s always someone to help and encourage.

The suns in the corner of the cottages border are now turning into sunflowers! The outer quarters have an inner ring and an outer ring before the petals. Someone else on facebook had used purple for the outer circle and I thought ooh that would work with my colours. My original plan was to use four different gold fabrics  for the petals, one for each quarter. I cut the four pieces for the inner quarters out of one 10″ square, so I thought Great, I’ve got just enough fabric with three more squares. Unfortunately I didn’t factor in the increase in size of the outer border petals, I could only get three out, luckily I found some in my stash that works sufficiently well.

As I’ve used three different purple fabrics for each flower I decided it would look better if each flower had all it’s outer petals in one fabric, it sort of brings it all together, a bit of continuity!  Sarah suggested that we lay out the full quilt when arranging the applique pieces and I can see why, it would be so easy to get a Dresden flower upside-down or a flower pointing the wrong way. It also meant I could be careful when arranging my petals that they are all in the right corner! It’s getting harder and harder to photograph though as it get’s bigger with each border, it measures over 57″ already so I’m standing on tiptoe with it on the floor!

I’ve just started stitching the flowers onto the background, I’ve completed five so far, seven to go. I’ve got leaves to add in the corner squares too. The quilt feels a lot more balanced now, the dresden flowers don’t seem as dominating, I just hope it all goes together neatly when I come to piece it. Next month is all pieced, so I’m enjoying the hand sewing whilst it lasts 🙂


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Show Day

Happy danceWell I had a busy day on Saturday both entering and judging at local shows. I was on a pretty strict timetable until mid morning, I went down to Otley market to do my weekly food shop, Helen picked me up and drove me to Ilkley where I entered ten different things in Ilkley Flower Show. I’ve never been to Ilkley Show before, let alone entered so I wasn’t sure what I would be up against. I entered four photographs and the rest in handicrafts. I then took a bus over to Addingham to be ready to start judging at 10.30!

Judging went pretty smoothly with just a couple of things for my assistant to sort out. The hardest bit was choosing the ‘homecraft’ cup. This is awarded to the best in show in the handicrafts, baking and home preserves classes, so the three judges have to get together and agree on the winner. We, the judges, felt it was impossible to fairly judge between a cake, a jar of jam or a piece of embroidery or craftwork which has taken hours and hours to make. As handicrafts won last year I said I felt maybe this year it should go to one of the other areas, however the other judges said no, handicraft wins hands down. We did speak to the organiser to say they really need to have three individual cups, one for each section. After a lovely lunch I caught the bus down to Ilkley to see how I had fared there.

I was well chuffed to see I’d won a prize with six entries, though not necessarily with the ones I thought would do well!

I had to smile as on Friday night I was trying to choose which photos to enter so I showed them to my OH and Helen, they chose two from Beverley minster and one of embroidery threads. As it happened I popped all the photos back in the envelope so when I got down there and realised I’d entered four photos, I put the one of Harewood House in as well…

The first photography class was entitled ‘Looking Up’. I entered two photos of Beverley Minster, I particularly like the first one, but neither of them were placed.

However my photo of the ceiling at Harewood House which I put in at the last minute came second!

There was also a novice class for anyone who has never one a photographic prize at Ilkley Show. The title was ‘A Splash of Colour’ so I took a photo of my box of perle threads. This won second prize.

I won first prize for my dress made from a vintage silk sari in the class for ‘Something New from Something Old’ I made this a few months ago from a sari I bought on ebay for about £12.


The poppy embroidery I had made specially for the show wasn’t placed in the Embroidery Class, but the embroidery of Catbells on a wooden reel came third!

The three cross-stitches I entered were fairly small so I wasn’t convinced I’d get anything, but I won first prize for my hardanger sampler and third for my cross-stitch box.

A very successful day, I thought, then whilst I was queuing up for my winnings I heard my name being called, I’d won a cup! ‘Ooh, that’s me!!’ I said, I’d won the ‘Inspirations’ cup for my sari dress!!! That was the icing on the cake 🙂

It just shows that it’s always worth popping an entry in, even if you think it’s unlikely to get anywhere, you just never know how a judges mind works!

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McCalls 6696 Mark 2

M6696I can finally show you a dress I’ve been making over the last couple of weeks, it seems to have taken ages, probably because I was being careful with pattern matching and seam finishing. It’s another McCalls 6696 shirt-waister, I know that’s not what I need (which is trousers, tops and everyday clothes!) but there was method in my madness!

Over the last couple of months I’ve seen the occasional moth in my sewing room, which has thrown me into a bit of a panic with my fabric stash! I decided to sew first the length of fabric I thought they might be most attracted to and which I would be most upset to lose! I bought this fabric on my last trip to Goldhawk Road, it wasn’t expensive, I paid £28 for 4m, but it feels like gossamer, it is so light you can hardly feel it on your hand. The lady in the shop reckoned it was silk and cotton mix and it certainly feels like it could be, imagine an extra light liberty tana lawn. She also reckoned it was machine washable on a delicate wash but I think I might be testing that on a scrap first!

DSC_0008I decided to make McCalls 6696 again, I made one earlier in the summer and I love it, I’ve worn it several times, it’s one of those dresses that makes you feel a million dollars, especially as I’ve had so many compliments about it.

I spent ages trying to pattern match the bodice and I’m pretty pleased with it, especially as it wasn’t easy planning it across the button band. I was also careful not to have a dark blue flower in an inappropriate place…with the result I’ve got a light blue one instead! It would have been nice to have the skirt pattern matching with the button band too but trying to work it out across the waistband would have just got too complicated.


The pattern went together beautifully again, I cut it to the same length as before as I like above ankle or lower calf  dresses. The seams are all french seamed, including round the pockets. I love the pleats on the skirt, I think it is so much more flattering than gathers.


I went into Leeds to buy some buttons and as usual found nothing jumped out. I tried blue ones, taupe ones, pearly ones, in the end I got these blue ones although I’m still not 100% on them. I then had this bright idea to position the buttons in the centre of the flowers, this initial plan was good, where it fell down was to put one button in between, following the pattern of the fabric again. I feel they are just too far apart, I should have put two in between instead. The crucial button across the bust is a little bit too high, both from a point of view of wearing it open and also from a potential gaping problem!


I have a cunning plan! Tomorrow I am judging at a local village show and one has to look the part!! I shall wear my new dress, if I’m not happy with it then in the afternoon whilst I’m in Ilkley (for Ilkley Flower Show – two shows in one day!) I can call in at Duttons for Buttons and they are bound to have something as they have thousands of buttons, literally!

I just need a navy belt to complete my outfit. By the way, if anyone has any suggestions on what to do with arms in photos, please let me know! It didn’t help that it was a cold, wet evening when my chief photographer was trying to take them. Even the Rosie the dog was laughing at my efforts!



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Tea with The Girls

keep-calm-and-join-the-wi-3I had a lovely afternoon with my Women’s Institute last week when we held an afternoon tea to help one of our members raise money for Bloodwise, the charity for blood-borne cancers. It’s the charity the ‘Calendar Girls’ raise so much money for and two of the original Calendar Girls came to support us.

Those of you abroad may not have heard of ‘The Calendar Girls’…

Rhylstone is a sleepy little picturesque village not too far from here,further up Wharfedale.  Eighteen years ago some of the ladies of the local WI decided to try raise money to replace the uncomfortable settee in the visitors room of the cancer unit at the local hospital. Angela’s husband was fighting leukaemia and she spent a lot of time on said settee. They decided to make a calendar, only it wasn’t pretty local scenes…

…it was a nude calendar! Nowadays such calendars are ten-a-penny, every local rugby team, firefighters etc does calendars, but Rhylstone WI were the first! It was all very tastefully done with ‘no nipples or front bottoms’!! They were photographed doing WI activities such as baking, jam-making, flower arranging, they just happened to be naked! That takes some guts! They thought they might sell 250 if they were lucky…it hit the national press and the sales went crazy!  It’s a wonderful calendar as they are just normal, mature ladies, all shapes and sizes, beautifully photographed. It completely changed peoples perceptions of ladies of the WI!!

Their story was made into a brilliant film in 2003 with Helen Mirren and Julie Walters, a stage production and most recently a musical by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth. I went to see it last year and it was wonderful, I laughed and cried all the way through, if you get a chance, go and see it!


Anyway, back to Thursday, one of our members wanted to raise money for Bloodwise so we held a vintage tea party, called Tea with the Girls. We decorated the village hall with bunting, vintage embroidered tablecloths and napkins, flowers on the table, the table groaned with home-made cakes and we served tea and cake in china cups and saucers with pretty tea pots and milk jugs.


Lots of ladies from local WI’s came, with their families and friends, together with ladies from the surrounding villages. We also had two special guests, Angela and Chris who were two of the original Calendar Girls. It was wonderful to have time to sit and chat with them.


Another WI in Swindon called Old Town Belles have made a photobooth with applique, I first saw it at the Tea and Tents weekend last year so we hired it, it has a quote at the top from the movie ‘we’re going to need considerably bigger buns!’ We had lots of fun with that.

There was a lovely atmosphere, the hall was buzzing, everyone laughing and chatting, even better, £630 was raised for Bloodwise 🙂


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A Colourful Cushion

I’ve decided to enter the handicraft section of the local flower show, I’ve never been so I’ve no idea what the competition is like, but it’s only like 50p per entry…so I’ve entered ten items 🙂

One class is ‘A Colourful Cushion’, making a cushion for the show has also helped me as I’ve made the (possibly rash) move of booking a stall at the Dickensian fair at one of the local villages in December, to have a go at selling some  of my makes. Cushions is something I thought of making.

The fabric is gorgeous, it was an off-cut from one of the soft furnishing shops in Otley, they have pretty good sales, they sell the ‘nice’ curtain fabric such as Voyager and they sell off display lengths, end of rolls and shorter lengths, this was obviously what they cut off the bottom of a curtain.

I found a tutorial on Pinterest which gave me the idea. The cushion pad is 12″ by 20″ so I aimed to have the two end panels 7″ wide and the pleats 6″.  I bought a coordinating batik on Skipton market for the pleats and the binding. The pleats were my first job. I decided to try a technique I saw mentioned on a blog just a few weeks ago, using a dinner fork! It works a treat! You basically inset the fabric in between the end two tines and then twist it back, it holds it beautifully. I quite fancy making a pleated skirt now! As this was such a short width I managed to carry the pleats across with the iron. I basted them down before sewing the end panels on.

The piping was also helped with a tutorial on YouTube, how to join two ends of covered piping! I must admit in the past I’ve just winged it and crossed them over and into the back, but having seen this tutorial I decided to learn how to do it properly, especially as I want to sell some. It was fiddly but doable, just joining the two ends on the bias at just the right point (that was the tricky bit!) and then trimming the cord to fit.

I wanted to put buttons on the back to fasten, rather than a zip. Zips are trickier to get neat, but they are also not cheap, especially when you are looking at 18″ ones. I think buttons also make a nice feature on the back. I edged one side with the batik, just to make a feature. My original plan was to cover three large buttons with the batik, of course I only had two in my button box, I thought I’d do five smaller ones when I spotted at the bottom of the box some raspberry pink buttons I’ve had for ages, I knew I had a few and sure enough I found five. I think I prefer five smaller ones now, they seem to hold it nice and firm, my only concern is that they have metal shanks and I’ve had bad experiences with metal shank buttons…ping…ping…ping…so long as they last til Saturday night!

I’m really pleased with my cushion. The piping looks good, the colour scheme works well, I like the pleating detail, I just need to work out how to stop it ‘bulging’ in the middle, it’s got a bit of middle age spread at the moment! After the show I might try adding some iron on interfacing to the back, see if that holds it better.

I think it’s very apt for a flower show!

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Moody Blues and Purples in the Garden

As I showed you all my orange flowers in the garden last week, I thought I’d have a blue day, show you the flowers I have to calm down the orange in my Amber and Amethyst garden, although there isn’t too many out at the moment…

…it’s also an excuse to show you my clematis. This year it is glorious, I think it’s the best it’s ever been! I probably planted it about 15 years ago, so quite a while! It shares the arch leading to the patio with a rose and a sickly honeysuckle but it has this side to it’s self.

I’m pretty sure it’s a Ville de Lyon, when I googled it most of them look pinkier, but there are a few this colour. It’s very similar to a Jackmanii but Ville de Lyon is the name that came out from the depths of my memory!! It’s one of the ones that you prune in late winter / early spring (or at least that’s what I do!) I leave it as it is all winter then just as it starts to shoot I cut it back to about 12-18″ tall.

I think this year I must have been a bit late cutting it as usually it gets right over the arch, but it has compensated with the sheer number of blooms, right down the stems.

I actually managed to get some weeding done on the raised bed by the patio, it took a while to battle through the plants but it does look better for it. The veronica is just coming to the end but it has been lovely his year, it’s a really deep blue tall variety, luckily it’s self seeding around the garden now.

Another blue flower which gently dominates this bed is a blue geranium. It’s a sprawling one, so over winter the bed looks pretty bare but over summer it’s as full as can be. It mingles with all the other plants with it’s soft blue flowers appearing everywhere. The bees love it too.

Liatris is a funny looking plant but it adds a frothy spike of purple and clumps up nicely. We did laugh the other day when we were have lunch in a pub nearby, the waiter came to change the flowers on the table from a pretty vase of daisy style flowers to a single spike of liatris! It felt a poor exchange and even the waiter looked a bit sheepish! Unfortunately in the photo you can also see the bindweed curling round, think I’ll be getting the weedkiller out once it stops raining long enough!

Echinaceas are more pinky-purple really, they’re looking really pretty at the moment, though I think they’ve been a bit bashed by the rain. I love their spiky amber heads. I’ve got a white one in the garden somewhere too, but I prefer the pinky-purple one.


The last flower I’m showing you today isn’t purple at all but it’s just come into flower and it’s so beautiful I couldn’t resist taking a photo to share. It’s a pot of lily bulbs I bought at the Harrogate show. I think these are called tree lillies, they are pretty tall and the flowers are huge, they are such a lovely delicate shade of pink.


Hopefully soon I’ll be able to start laying out my new AA garden as I’ve finally finished clearing the old beds and digging over the compacted clay under the former paths, just needs a rotavate and then levelling, then it’s ready for the split log roll edging and gravel…then the fun starts, planting!



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Poppy in Silk Ribbon

Marilyn Pipe

There’s a local show on Saturday, one I’ve not been to before but a friend suggested I enter some of my handicrafts in…so I’ve entered ten items in the crafts and the photography classes! Ironically I’m also judging handicrafts at another local village show, so it’s going to be a day of shows 🙂

Having entered two items in the embroidery section I realised that although I’ve done alot of embroidery this year, most of it has been given away! Whilst moodling through my sewing box this afternoon  (the one I take on workshops with me) I found a piece I started back in May at Denman College. It was at the end of the ribbon embroidery course and I had an hour to spare so, inspired by one of the tutors samples (Marilyn Pipe – brilliant tutor and wonderful lady!)  I started a flower head, Marilyn had made daisy or gerbera type flowers, I fancied making a poppy.

I got as far as embroidering a circle of french knots, the centre is a variegated red with charcoal grey,the outer ring is a dark grey variegated thread with black. The knots are quite chunky with three threads and three wraps.

I only had one length of red ribbon, 4mm wide, so I decided to dye some 7mm and some 12mm. I tried red with a touch of pink to start with, but it didn’t look deep enough, so I overdyed it with a new mixture, red with a single drop of black, better..whilst I was mixing the ribbon in I put a few more drops of red in for good measure – perfect! It’s a nice deep, rich red, just what I wanted.

My plan originally was to try and make it look like four petals, I drew an outline with my silver gelpen and started with the widest ribbon. I just used basic ribbon stitch, trying to keep the points as broad as I could. I made two stitches on each petal, then added the 7mm ribbon along side, making some lie towards one side or the other, trying to get the petal shape. Finally I added the 4mm ribbon, that’s the only bought one and it’s a brighter red, which gives a nice contrast, but to stop it looking too stripey I tucked most of them behind the other ribbons.

In the end the ribbons don’t look like four petals, but I think they do look like the crinkly edge of a poppy.

In between the french knots and the ribbon was a very narrow white strip, I left it as it made it easier to make the ribbon stitches, but I also planned from the start to add a circle of tiny black beads to add texture and to snuggle in the gap between the centre and the petals.

I felt the background needed a bit of interest so I used a varigated DMC thread in yellow, orange and red to make little back-stitch and french knot squiggles.

I borrowed a deep picture frame from my daughter’s wall. It really needs a different colour mount, even more of an ivory, but I know I won’t have chance to get one before the show, so this will have to suffice. It would be interesting to try this again with a silk painted background, maybe in greens and reds like a poppy field.

I’m linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday, why not follow the link and see what every else has been stitching.

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Flower Lattice Stitch-a-long 14

It’s three weeks since I last showed you my ribbon and stumpwork flower lattice, I’ve actually worked pretty hard on it in that time and (for the first time, I think!) I can say I’ve even impressed myself with my progress. I think the push has been that I felt it was starting to getting grubby, the problem is that if it is tidied away all the time to keep it clean, I’m less likely to pick it up until the reminder comes round for the SAL post. If it’s left out I’m more likely to do 5 minutes here and there, but it gets grubby. So, this is where I was three weeks ago…

My next task was to do all the stems, this did seem to take FOREVER,they are mainly over-stitched with just the top ones wrapped. The arum lilies were much more interesting. The leaves are stitched over felt to give an extra padded look. The instructions called for white felt, but as I had some green in my stash I thought I may as well use that as it must be easier to cover. I’m really pleased with how these turned out, I used a variegated DMC thread and satin stitch, it does make a nice fleshy leaf.

The flowers took a bit more time. The petals are stitched on a spare bit of cotton fabric, I used a soft cotton that I find really nice to embroider on, with hindsight I might have been better with a firmer cotton. The book called for silk thread, a few months back I bought a few cards of silk thread on ebay, this gave me a chance to try it out. It does feel a lot different to sew with, lovely but different! It’s also a lot more glossy which I’m not convinced is petal like, but never mind! The petals are stitched with buttonhole and then long and short stitch.

Once they were stitched I then had to very carefully cut them out as near to the stitching as possible. The stamen is made from a cake decorating stamen. The longest ones I could find weren’t really long enough so I just wrapped a load of DMC thread around the stem to lengthen it. The petals were then wrapped around the stamen and secured. This was the point at which I realised that the back of my stitching would be on full display!! It’s not perfect but it’s not terrible!! The petals still look a bit ‘fluffy’, I thought I might wait til the very end when it’s about to get framed to trim any whiskers off.

The natal lilies to the left are french knots stitched with 4mm ribbon. The stems are meant to be over-stitched wire, but I thought it could end up pretty bulky for a little flower, so I just used straight stitches of perle thread. A few little filler stitches and another diamond was complete…

The next diamond was fuchsias. To be honest this diamond has been a bit of a brick wall since I started this project, probably mainly because it calls for 15mm organza ribbon, by which I think it means silk organza ribbon, I couldn’t find anything anywhere and I’m sure you couldn’t embroider with synthetic organza. I decided to just use silk ribbon.  First I had to embroider the leaves and stems…

The instructions call for two threads of a Valdani variegated thread, I’m using DMC with a few extras thrown in. I tried a DMC thread on the first leaf but it look too stripey, so on the next one I tried a ‘special’ variegated one mixed with a plain green DMC, so when it went very light, it still had the back up of a mid green. I think it worked very well. The leaves were outlined in stem stitch first and then satin stitch was used over the stem stitch to raise it a bit. I went back to the first one and over-stitched a few plain green threads and it blended in fine.

The stems were mainly over-stitched wire, with some of them wrapped where they crossed over.

The middle leaf is stumpwork. This was stitched on a quilt weight cotton first, couching a cake decorating wire round the shape before stitching over the wire and leaf with long and short buttonhole stitch, this gives a lovely neat edge to the leaf. It was then filled in with long and short stitch. The vein wire was over-stitched down before the leaf was put on one side whilst I stitched the flowers.

The book called for 15mm ribbon, I just had 12mm in my stash, so that’s what I used. I needed a sort of muddy purple and a tangerine colour. I spent a pleasant half hour dabbling with my silk paints, dying two lengths of ribbon. The purple was pretty straight forward,but the tangerine was too orange to start with, I added more pink and eventually overdyed it with a watered down pink, it’s probably now pinkier than it’s meant to be but it looks fuchsia coloured to me!

The buds are stitched with a lazy-daisy stitch, the flowers are just in basic ribbon stitch, my main problem was trying not to catch the tails of one petal in the stitch of another. The base of the flowers and the buds is made with a grab stitch. I used a strand of DMC to shape the flowers a little more.

The stamens of the fuschias were meant to be made from cake decoration stamens dyed tangerine with the stems overstitched in green. I tried dying some with my silk paints  without success so I decided to use stem stitch and chunky french knots. I’m happy with the results.

The final task of this diamond was to trim (very gingerly!) around my leaf and then wrap the wire with thread before attaching the end to the embroidery.

So I’ve actually managed to stitch two diamonds in three weeks! There’s just four to go so I’m nearly there..starting to plan my next SAL project!

There’s quite a few of us taking part in the stitch-a-long now, so please follow the links to see what everyone else is stitching, there are some amazing projects;

AvisClaireGunCaroleLucyAnnKateJessSueConstanzeDebbieroseChristinaKathyCindyHelenStephLindaCatherineMary MargaretTimothy, Heidi, Connie

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.

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Yorkshire Day

Bolton AbbeyHappy Yorkshire Day everyone!

August 1st is Yorkshire Day, a day when we celebrate what a fantastic county we live in. It was actually started back in 1975 as a protest against the local government reorganisation when the county boundaries were changed, the ancient three ridings of Yorkshire disappeared and whole chunks of land taken out of Yorkshire. Yorkshire people are well known for being fiercely proud of Yorkshire, well it is the best place in the whole wide world…though we are slightly biased!!!


It’s locally known as Gods Own County, my OH always laughs as he is Australian, so he says he was born in Gods Own Country and now lives in Gods Own County. We have stunning countryside (I think more than a few people were surprised when we hosted the Tour de France!), great cities, beautiful coastline, amazing historical places…and some great fabric shops too 🙂

Long Distance Walks

My stitch sampler is going to be a bit of a journal as well, so I’ve just embroidered Yorkshire Day as I start the second page of buttonhole stitch. I’ve chosen another of the DMC coloris range, 4506 as I thought the greens and blues with touches of yellow were pretty apt for Yorkshire.

Yorkshire Day

So if anyone still isn’t sure how great Yorkshire is, do have a look at the Welcome to Yorkshire video on Youtube, the scenery is just amazing 🙂




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Buttonholes and Blankets

It was Craft Club afternoon with my WI on Friday, we usually just take our own projects and enjoy stitching and chatting with of course a cup of tea and a slice of homemade cake. I decided to start another page of my stitch journal. I’m working my way through the TAST list of 100 stitches on Pin Tangle (Take a Stitch Tuesday)  but I stitching them in groups and adding a few extra as I come across them.

My first two pages were fly stitch and feather stitch, number 2 on the TAST list is buttonhole, so that’s what I’m stitching now. There are LOTS of types of buttonhole stitch so I’m doing a double page spread. I’ve always called the basic one blanket stitch so I’ve embroidered both names at the top of the two pages.

I’m using one of the DMC Colaris threads for this page, 4523. It’s very pretty with shades of powder blue, lilac, taupe and cream. It’s interesting seeing how the different threads sew as this one seems to have very sudden colour changes, it almost looks striped!

I started off with basic buttonhole and then stitched three different variations of stitch height and base line and three buttonhole stitch hearts. My favourite is the third one with the second row of stitches underneath. Continue reading

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