Stitch Wheel

Cathy Reavy released another three stitch videos on YouTube today and as I was a day off I decided to stitch them straight away.

First to be stitched was Turkey Rug stitch, we’ve already done velvet stitch (the one that looks more like a shag pile carpet on mine!!) this gives a similar effect but I think it’s easier to do. Cathy suggested we made a triangle shape which could then be turned into a Christmas tree with a couple of extra stitches to make a trunk. The stitch gives you lots of secured loops which can then be trimmed as much as you like. I used three strands of DMC thread, rather than a perle, thinking it would separate and end up even fluffier…

Well mine looks more like Spikey the Hedgehog, so I left him without a trunk!

At the other side of the photo is Bokhara Couching. This is thread couched with the couching stitch making a diagonal pattern, so we’ve made a basket shape and during the next ring we will return to put some flowers in it.

The final stitch sample this week was raised cup stitch, it makes those pretty little pink flowers below…but it’s quite fiddly. You start off stitching a basic triangle and then knots are stitched onto the threads and then more knots on top of the knots – a bit like a twisted crochet sort of…fiddly…I finished them with a french knot in the centre and a split stitch stem. I stitched these in Anchor perle no.8 as Cathy recommended not using stranded cotton. I’ve a box of perle which I’ve rarely used, they always look a bit shiny, but actually I rather like them now! I think the cup stitch makes a pretty flower, I can imagine them in shades of white as gypsophilia, but boy would that take time!

With these three stitches we have now completed the third ring. This one has been mainly filler stitches, the next one is apparently outline stitches. It’s filling up nicely and it does look pretty. I like the way we are stitching something, like a sprig of flowers (or a Christmas tree that looks like a hedgehog!!) I find it much more helpful than just learning stitches out of context. If anyone fancies joining in the Stitchwheel Sampler all the videos are on YouTube.

Posted in embroidery, Serendipity, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Violet Speedwell

Violet is feeling very pleased with herself as she has a new coat…

Violet is a very particular rabbit from the Luna Lapin books by Sarah Peel of Cool Crafting. I made her a couple of months back having had the book and the supplies for more like a couple of years. When I bought the wool felt for Violet I also bought a fat quarter of a gorgeous purple felt for a coat.

There’s a whole wardrobe of clothes for the Luna Lapins, I’ve already made a flowery dress and a pair of lacy French knickers, today I decided to make the coat. I think it’s the detail that makes these special, fiddly but special…

I only cut this late this morning, by tea time it was made. The felt is a beautiful 100% wool felt from Cool Crafting in a lovely soft purple shade. I traced the pattern pieces from the back of the book and cut them out.

The instructions in the book are pretty straight forward, it’s just that the pieces are small and therefore fiddly. It’s basically a raglan sleeve coat with collar, welt pockets and sleeve tabs.

I knew I had some perfect tiny rounded buttons in my button drawer which I had been earmarking for this coat. They are seriously small, I’m pretty sure they came from my friends mothers button box. When I searched for them I found I actually only had six, whereas the pattern called for eight. I decided to leave six for the double-breasted coat and use two beads for the cuff tabs on the sleeve.

The coat isn’t lined but it does use binding for the neck line and the hem. I had some pretty bias binding with violets on in my haberdashery drawers, it matched well and suited her name.

My sewing machine sewed the wool fine until we got the the really thick bits, such as the collar going over the back pleat, you’re looking at at least five layers of thick wool. It missed stitches when it wasn’t happy. I ended up hand stitching the collar on as it missed so many! Having said that, there’s a lot of top-stitching on this coat and on the whole it coped well.

With the issues I had had with thickness versus machine, I wasn’t sure how it would cope with buttonholes, it even crossed my mind to leave them off. However I had a practice with a small button in the guide and a narrower zig-zag stitch and it came out beautifully. I decided to go for it! I made three buttonholes down the centre front, I had a couple of wobbles with the machine, not enough to spoil the buttonholes but enough for me to think I wasn’t going to push my luck with the six buttonholes required for a double breasted coat. I think these are the smallest buttonholes I’ve ever made!

Having only used three buttons down the front I could change the beads on the cuff tabs for buttons.The coat was ready for a try on…

I’m pleased with it, it’s a bit snug in the arms which Violet isn’t too impressed with – I had to use artery forceps to pull her chubby arm through, not very dignified!! All in all it’s come out pretty well, or even well pretty! I love the detail in these clothes, the top-stitching, the welt pockets and the cuff tabs. She just wants a pair of shoes now…

Posted in Crafts, Luna Lapin | Tagged , , | 13 Comments

Stitch Wheel

I’ve learnt three new stitches with the Stitch Wheel sampler by Cathy Reavy. Cathy releases the new stitches every Thursday. Last week I was just over half way round the second ring…

The first one to be stitched this week was laid work. It was used to make the acorns. I have to say I can’t really see the advantage in using that rather than satin stitch apart from using less thread, I also think it’s harder to get a neat finish. The purple flower is woven picot stitch, I like that one, it’s very effective with the petals raised from the background.

The teardrop shape is detached buttonhole, It’s quite clever is that one as it’s only attached to the fabric round the edges.

We just have three stitches to do and the third circle will be complete, it’s filling up nicely. One thing I have particularly enjoyed with this is that the samples are not just a sample of stitch but used to create something, such as the acorn or the flower. I think it does help to learn how to use it, rather than just the technique.

The next few stitches will be released on Thursday, then I anticipate the third circle will be complete.

Posted in embroidery, Serendipity, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Raggdy Ruff-a-long

I’m trying to make some inroads into my stash of kits, particularly the ones by Raggedy Ruff, they’re gorgeous but they do still intimidate me a bit! So to motivate myself a bit I’m posting about one every three weeks, on the Sunday without a SAL post!

Three weeks ago I made a cushion from the Susie the Cat kit, I managed to make it look like my walking buddy’s cat and sent it to her in the post, she loved it.

This week I’ve started a gorgeous one of a hare. These kits are all designed by Andrea Walpole of Raggedy Ruff Designs, I follow her on facebook which gives you a tip off when kits are available. The disadvantage of this is that I find them hard to resist so I have quite a few waiting to be made!

The background is a lovely patchwork of purples and cream with a little green. I think it’s one of the blocks from the Highland quilt but it works just as well as a one off. I usually try to buy kits rather than just the pdf pattern as I really like the fabrics used, it’s mainly batik with a little linen for a change in texture.

Andrea’s technique is to trace the applique shapes onto freezer paper, iron them onto the batik and then cut the shape out, it does allow for pretty accurate cutting out. Andrea just lays them in place before stitching all round the pieces, I’m not that brave, I put a tiny blob of glue behind each piece to keep it in place whilst I get the basic outline done.

Once all the shapes are stitched round the embroidery begins. I’m using mainly variegated thread, I bought a bundle when I made the Spring Woodland wreath so I use those where possible but add plain Gutermann if I don’t have a suitable colour.

I’ve done a fair bit of the stitching on the hare, though I’ve still to stitch his eye and a few whiskers. The eyes are the scary bit to stitch as it makes or breaks the final finished look. I’ve now started on the background with the butterflies stitched and a few flowers too, these are meant to be lavender, not sure what mine are but they don’t look like lavender!

Next to be stitched are the seed heads (brown blobs!) and the corn. Once I get going these don’t take too long, it’s just plucking up the courage to do the free-motion embroidery…I still have to remember to breathe!

If you fancy having a go I can highly recommend these kits, Andrea puts just the right amount of fabric to comfortably cut everything out, all the fabrics are clearly labelled and her instructions are good. She doesn’t teach how to do free-motion quilting but she does describe what to stitch and in what order. She has quite a few kits for sale at the moment, as well as the patterns. Please follow the link to see her other kits. I’ve also found free motion machine embroidery is surprisingly forgiving, the eye tends to see what it expects to see and ignores the occasional wiggly off line.

Hopefully next time you see this it will be finished and made into something, probably a cushion.

Posted in embroidery, Quilting | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

Snowdrop Skirt

I’m not sure if these are snowdrops on the fabric or just some swirly abstract pattern, it was a freebie from a Dewsbury meet up. We usually have a swop table where you can bring patterns or fabric which you don’t want and swop it for something else. This is a heavy jersey sort of fabric, doesn’t feel quite like scuba but it’s pretty heavy and drapy. It was one of those fabrics where I couldn’t quite decide if it was gorgeous or just a bit too much!

A couple of weeks ago I wanted a quick make, I’d been sorting out my fabric stash ( more on that another day!) and this actually took up quite a bit of room as it is quite thick. It also wasn’t precious so it was ideal for a quick make. I decided to make a skirt using Simplicity 8474, I made this skirt up twice last year and the skirts turned into my go-to-outfit for the summer, they were just so comfortable and easy to wear but presentable too…

It has a deep waistband (like about 6″) with an optional elastic insert and an A line two piece skirt, so it’s a very quick make, just stitch the side seams, add the waistband and hem!

As you can see I still have the lockdown hairstyle, but thanks to my daughter I no longer have dyed ends as she cut about an inch off so it looks slightly better, though in another six weeks when I finally have a hair appointment goodness knows how long it will be!

I do like this pattern, the skirts are just lovely to wear, I’ve already worn it a couple of times. It’s possibly an ideal style for lockdown – easy to wear, comfortable and an elastic waistband!

Posted in Dressmaking | Tagged , , | 18 Comments

Peppermint Purple SAL

So far I’m managing to keep up to date with my black-work stitch-a-long. It’s a free one by Peppermint Purple and a new block is released each Wednesday. It’s a few weeks since I posted about it so there’s enough of a change to share it. Last time was in the middle of February so just six weeks had been stitched …

As you can see I’m making mine into a picture rather than the colourways given, just to make life complicated!

We are now on week ten, so Catbells is growing. The blocks do vary a lot in complexity, so the one on the far right took a lot more concentration than the one next to it!

I’ve been pondering about whether I should outline Catbells to make it a little clearer, in the end I asked on the facebook group and the overwhelming opinion was to wait and see. I’m making a note of which threads I use for each block, so if I choose to outline it later it won’t be a huge issue.

I’ve also been trying to decide what thread to use as a surround and for the border which makes it square. I think I’ve come up with a possible selection, definitely for the sky. The surround I’m using is a bit like a basket-weave pattern and I’m thinking of using a Weeks over-dyed thread so it is subtly variegated. I ordered four different shades one of which is called sky and looks pretty perfect for the top of the surrounding stitching. I still haven’t decided whether to continue the line of the range of hills across to the border or whether to just use one colour…

I think I’ll start off with the blue and see how I feel about it when I’ve stitched a few rows. You never know, I might even have made a few decisions next time you see it!

Posted in Peppermint Purple 2021 SAL, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Violet Speedwell

I’ve renamed my rabbit Violet Speedwell, I got the name from a Tracy Chevalier book I read recently, I thought she looked like a Violet! Last time you saw her she was just wearing a pair of lacy knickers…

I made her back in October last year, she’s from the book called Luna Lapin, written by Sarah Peel of Cool Crafting in Kendal. There’s three books now as Luna has lots of friends, such as a cat, an otter, a fox…I’ve just bought the kit and pattern for Daisy the sheep on a facebook destash site! They all come with a whole wardrobe of clothes and there’s a lovely facebook community around them too.

My sewing mojo was a little dampened recently, I think I’ve had several big projects all finish at a similar time, I do tend to feel a little lost when that happens! I decided to make Violet a dress.

I chose the Polkadot dress from the first book, there are several styles of dress to choose from but this one looked both pretty and not too complicated!

I chose a purple and blue floral cotton from my quilting stash and a scrap of plain white for the collar. There’s two pockets(a dress has to have pockets for sedition!!) decorated with white ric-rac and the ric-rac is round the sleeves and the hem too. The collar was the most fiddly bit as you can imagine how small the pieces were! I do think it would have been easier to stitch the collar before the back seam was stitched. I added a little broderie anglais trim to the hem and Violets dress was ready for a try on.

Luckily it fits perfectly! Next to make is a wool coat and maybe a pair of leather boots – they’re very demanding these rabbits!

Posted in Crafts, Luna Lapin, Sewing | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

Stitch-wheel Sampler

Over the weekend I managed to stitch the three new stitches from Cathy Reavy’s Stitch-wheel Sampler. This is a stitch-a-long on Youtube, she’s now got a facebook page too so we can see how everyone else is stitching the samples and admire all the different colourways.

I’ve stitched the samples close together on the wheel this time,rather than spread out like Cathy’s, for ease of photography!

This week we did woven roses which I’ve stitched many times before but I realise now that I really didn’t pack the stitches in enough, you get a much nicer rounded appearance if you go round a few more times!

Battlement couching (the squared sort of one) and burden stitch were both new to me. Burden stitch was interesting to learn as it’s actually stitched over lines of thread, almost like a regulated long and short stitch.

The second ring is filling up nicely now, I reckon another two weeks and we’ll be onto the last ring which I think is going to be outline stitches. I’m already thinking of using the stitches I’ve learnt on projects I’m planning.

The next few stitches are due out on Thursday, so watch this space!

Posted in embroidery, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Monday’s Meander Round the Garden

I finally managed to do a little gardening this week, usually I like an early start to the gardening year but my neck operation put paid to that. I’m taking it gently and slowly starting the spring tidy up. It’s a big relief that my OH has taken ownership of the front garden, so I can just concentrate on the back.

This morning I spent an hour or so tidying the Autumn bed, cutting back the dead stuff, weeding and pruning where needed. Before I started it looked like this…

I pruned the rose and the three clematis, cut the old leaves from the hellebores, pruned the spirea and pulled out eryisimums that had obviously not made it through the winter…and weeded! It did look better after, just got a few dead leaves to pick up…

The old compost heap is due to be dismantled soon then I can tidy the corner up a bit.

The snow drops have been lovely this year, our patch is growing so it makes quite a show now up by the pond…

They’re looking happier since I took all the dead hosta and geranium foliage off them at the weekend. The pond area is looking a bit bleak at the moment but give it a few weeks and it will be bursting with foliage again. The pond itself is looking very green, it really needs a good clear out.

I’ve a few hellebores around the garden and they’re all giving some much needed colour. There’s a couple you can just see in the photo above behind the chicken, but there’s also some on the other side of the garden and also by the patio. The fluted one is particularly pretty, it’s been flowering since Christmas. The purple one is a gorgeous colour…

Once you get out in the garden and start to look around, there’s actually quite a bit going on, perenials are starting to push the new growth up, roses and clematis are starting to bud so they need pruning soon. Some of the early daffodils are brightening up the beds, I particularly like the little ones as they aren’t damaged by the wind so easily. There’s a few dots of pulmonaria too, I love the way they have several different shades of flower on one stem.

The summerhouse is in need of a coat of paint but it’s still my favourite place to sit and have a cup of coffee when I’m out in the garden.

You can just make out three bird boxes we’ve put up, hoping for some feathered interest, I’ve put several up around the garden all pointing in different directions to see which the birds favour. Fingers crossed we have some residents this year.

Posted in Garden | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

The Cottage Garden Quilt HQAL

Three weeks ago I was doing a very happy dance having just finished the top of my Cottage Garden quilt. This is the one from a book of the same name by Kathryn Whittingham I thoroughly enjoyed making this quilt, embroidering the blocks and piecing it together, it just worked beautifully! The book is available from her website, Patchwork Katy, and she ships abroad now too!

I rashly decided it deserved to be hand quilted. I say rashly, as the last quilt I hand quilted was the Down the Rabbit hole quilt, a lovely quilt, but a huge quilt which took forever and I was left telling myself I’d never hand quilt again…I’ve obviously got a short term memory issue!

I backed the quilt with the same neutral oak leaf design which I used for the light borders, of course I didn’t quite buy enough so I add a strip of ‘piano keys’ down the middle…well I would have had enough if I’d cut the sashing down the length of the fabric rather than the width! I used a batting which was in my stash, I thought I’d ordered my usual hobbs 80/20, but this feels a little more man-made than that, so I’m not sure what kind it is. Which is a shame as it’s actually lovely to hand quilt and seems to have a bit more loft.

I decided to use Gutermann Sulky thread and ordered three variegated ones and an ivory one. In the end I’ve just used the variegated ones and they’re lovely to stitch with. I wasn’t sure about the two darker ones at first as they look quite orange, but they actually work really well as the pink of the quilt is quite a corally sort of pink.

This week I lost my sewing room for a few days as Helen came home from the Army and installed herself in there with various sewing projects. I decided it would be a good time to start quilting. I set myself up on the landing with my big comfortable purple arm chair, a footstool and a good light. A wooden sewing tray I bought in Hexham proved ideal for keeping everything to hand. I could sit and chat to Helen whilst she sewed on my machine and I quilted.

I started off in the centre, just stitching quarter of an inch in from the seam. I had already an idea for how I would stitch the squares and pinwheels, but I was stuck with the red churn dash blocks, in the end I posted on a hand quilting facebook site for ideas, many were a lot more complex than I wanted, particularly as it is only 6″ square. One lady suggested two concentric circles and that’s what I did, which fits in nicely with my squares and pinwheels. For these I had the idea of stitching a leaf or petal shape on each one, it would be easier than stitching round each square and I felt it fitted in well with the garden theme. Well I have to say, I think it’s worked brilliantly!! I love the little flowers and leaves…

I have surprised myself this week, as I’ve really enjoyed hand-quilting this, to the extent that I’ve done very little else, hence the lack of posts this week! I’m still not sure about the size of my stitches – I feel they’re too big for normal quilting but too small for big stitch quilting! My stitches wouldn’t win any prizes but I’m happy with how it’s turning out.

I’ve already quilted over three-quarters of the main design! I’m still pondering how to quilt the border though. I like the idea of a scallop shape along the 2″ wide cream sashing,meeting every second piano key. My thought initially was to do the leaf pattern where the scallops met the piano keys, but really this would end up just being a zig-zag of leaves. At the moment I’m wondering about a tulip sort of shape every other scallop with maybe just a small circle in between…any suggestions gratefully received, though it has to be simple!!!

Another question from those who’ve done scrappy quilts! Thinking ahead to binding…I don’t have enough of anything to use just one fabric to bind, I could buy some more but I feel a scrappy border would work.I have enough of the two dark olive greens to do a scrappyish border, I wondered about also adding squares of the dark red in between the greens. ..but how long should the green strips be to still have a scrappy border look

This hand quilt-a-long is organised by Kathy, it’s a great way to keep motivated on your project, we just post every three weeks. Please follow the links to see much more hand-quilted inspiration.

KathyMargaretDebNanetteSharonKarrinGretchenDaisyConnie, and Sherrie

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

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