Staying Home HQAL

I’m making steady progress with my Staying Home Quilt, which is lucky as at 4am one morning after my op I couldn’t sleep, perused somewhere on social media and found myself pressing ‘buy now’ for a Block of the Month’ quilt starting in March or April! More of that later!

Anyway, three weeks ago I had just started the fourth row of blocks…

…well I’ve now nearly finished that row with just the right hand house to stitch. I’ve kept the quilting very simple on the embroidered blocks so the embroidered block with the flowers just has a circle quilted round it, echoing the inner circle of the one with mini hexagons on.

Six blocks to go and I’ll be ready to bind this quilt and dance a happy dance! Maybe not next time but hopefully soon 🙂

My next project is by designer Natalie Bird of The Birdhouse Patchwork Designs, I’m pretty sure she was the designer of the block above with the little hexagons on. It’s called Owl and Hare Hollow quilt and it’s got a lovely mix of embroidered blocks and English paper pieced blocks. It’s actually published in the Homespun magazine which has just been published in Australia. This did cause me a little panic as one reason I bought this BOM was that it started in March/April, which I thought was just nice time to have my Staying Home Quilt finished. However it’s clearly not anticipated to reach the UK for another month or so, so time to breathe and sort some fabrics out. I’ve basically bought an annual subscription to the magazine through the quilting shop in Truro called Coast and Country. Having seen some of the blocks on facebook I’ve also just ordered the paper piecing pack from Coast and Country too, there’s an awful lot of those mini hexagons!!

In the meantime I’ve plenty of other projects to keep me busy!

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’m also linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday, please follow the links to see what everyone else has been stitching and quilting.

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

Secret Garden Quilt

I’m back at work this week but I made good progress with my secret garden quilt over the last couple of weeks. I’ve stitched another two smaller blocks which go above and below the entrance to the garden, these were quicker as not only are they smaller, but they less densely appliqued. We get long-tailed tits in the garden, they’re tiny little birds, a bit comical looking, they tend to be in small flocks of say a dozen birds. We see them flitting from shrub to shrub through the garden until they reach the feeders…

I realised after I had stitched everything down that the blackbird didn’t have anything to perch on, his leg was meant to reach the leaf below. I decided my blackbird could be standing on the path, so I added some feet and I think he looks fine.

I decided to join the two blocks on each side, so I had to trim as much of the stabiliser as much as I could. The stabiliser is there to support the fabric when you’re doing a lot of dense stitching or when the fabric isn’t quite heavy enough. Before quilting it ideally needs trimming back. I used my duck-billed scissors round the sides and then my applique scissors further in. This is what the back looked like after I’d gone round the edge…

Yes, it’s pretty messy! As I’m sure you can imagine, trimming is not a job to be rushed! I try and also trim any dark threads that are likely to show through at the same time. After a bit of work this is what the back looked like.

I find the block presses a lot better after the excess stabiliser is removed. I stitched the two sets of side panels together, I need to add a little stitching over the seam so I don’t have stems hovering in mid air, I might add another buddleia bloom and a hollyhock flower too.

I laid out my two sides with the top and bottom ones and I’m really pleased with it. I’ve just got the final central block to do, which actually doesn’t seem to have as much applique on. I’ve just to decide what animals to put on it. I think I’ll cut out some dogs and see how they look, three could be a bit excessive!

In case you’re wondering, the quilt is about 27″ square when it’s finished, it’s a decorative wall quilt rather than a bed quilt. If you love the style of these quilts do have a look at the Raggedy Ruff website, she’s got some beautiful designs.

Posted in Machine embroidery, Quilting, Raggedy Ruff Designs | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Cutting the Scissor Collection

Day 8 of the Declutter your Sewing Room Challenge was scissors and snips. Now I’m a bit of a sucker for pretty embroidery scissors so I do have quite a few…

I took all the scissors and snips off my pegboard, found a few more and I had quite a pile!

I’ve got a few pairs of traditionally made Sheffield Steel scissors from either Ernest Wrights or William Whitely’s, forged here in Yorkshire, so they went first on the keeping pile, two pairs of purple handled dressmaking scissors, applique scissors and two pairs of embroidery scissors (different sizes!). My big black handled dressmaking scissors can go to work where we need another pair of fabric cutting scissors.

My duck-billed scissors also went straight onto the keeping pile, these are useful when trimming back a seam or say trimming the stabiliser off the back of an embroidery. With these I’m a lot less likely to catch the top fabric too.

Paper scissors were fairly easy, two big pairs to keep, two little pairs I struggled to get my fingers in went in the recycle bin. I’ve also lots of scissors and artery forceps which were destined for the bin at work, they come in sterile theatre packs and they’re single use only, if a pack is opened and then patient is cancelled or plans change, the whole lot goes in the bin. The artery forceps are very useful around the house generally but in sewing I use them for turning things right way out and turning the corners neatly. I’ve kept two pairs of the scissors and three artery forceps, well technically it’s two pairs of artery forceps and one needle holder! The rest have gone downstairs to the scissor drawer.

I then looked at my embroidery scissors, including a couple of pairs downstairs I reckon I have about twenty pairs!!! I’ve got purple ones, flowery ones and a whole flock of storks in a variety of colours! I pulled out a couple of pairs I struggle to get my fingers in and some that might be very pretty but they’re very loose and hang open. So I’ve cut it down to fourteen pairs!!!

I had three pairs of snips but I only used one pair as the others weren’t sharp enough any more so they’ve gone.

My pegboard is looking slightly more organised. The next challenge is thread, this includes everything from sewing thread, bobbins, overlocker thread and embroidery threads, so that’s going to take a while.

Posted in Home, sewing room | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Stitching my Garden SAL

I’m making progress with my embroidered garden project, I started this when I did the Stitch-a-garden zoom course by Nicky from The Stitchery. I’m stitching a textile book about my garden, this is the ‘map’ of the lawn area at the top of our garden.

Three weeks ago I had more or less finished the border by the big fence and I had just started the rose border…

Well I’ve now stitched three rose bushes, shrubs and perennials such as geranium and sedum. The wiggly line wandering round the plants is a clematis, I used to have a wooden obelisk there, it never got replaced when it finally rotted and fell down so the clematis that was growing up it now meanders round and through the shrubs. I was stitching that bit last night and I just need to add some flowers now,

There seems to be an awful lot of French knots on this piece, it’s a good job I like doing them! They are so versatile, the roses are big chunky ones stitched with three strands of DMC thread and four wraps each. Sometimes they are surrounded by stem stitch (pink one) or a fly stitch (yellow ones) A lot of the blossom on shrubs or flowers are little ones stitched with one thread and one or two wraps.

I just need to add those clematis flowers, maybe a few seed stitches in brown on the emptier areas, then I can go back to the pond area. Hopefully in three weeks time this page might be more or less complete which would leave just one more complex piece like this of the Amber and Amethyst garden.

This SAL is organised by Avis, we post our progress on our chosen project every three weeks, which I find helps keep me motivated and on track with my stitching. Please follow the links to see what everyone else has been stitching.




Posted in embroidery, Garden, Stitch-a-long, Stitching my Garden, Textile Books | Tagged , , , | 23 Comments

Decluttering my Sewing Room

Well my decluttering continues…

Day 5 was patterns, it took quite a while! I did have rather a lot, some many years old! I found one that was size 6,7,8! It’s definitely a LONG time since I was a size 8! I went through them all pulling out the ones I’ve never used and looking to see if realistically I was going to make them. I also pulled out ones I wasn’t happy with for whatever reason. I ended up with quite a few that were surplus to requirements, many were freebies off magazines or off swop tables at meet-ups. I’ve a pile for the charity shop and a pile for the bin.

I’ve got three little plastic baskets and one wicker box for my patterns at the moment. I’ve tried before to sort them into type, like all skirts together and so on, but so many have different garments in one pattern it wasn’t totally successful. I decided this time to sort them into make or designer. So I have a basket of Vogue patterns, the other two plastic tubs have patterns from the big companies such as Style, or Newlook. I then put all my independent designer patterns together in the wicker box, it’s looking much more organised.

I also subscribed to the Stash Hub app, I discovered this app a few months ago, initially it was free whilst they tweaked the website, it’s now about £3 a month once you go over a photograph limit, which I obviously did fairly quickly! Stash hub is an app for recording patterns, fabric, any plans for future projects. I’ve uploaded photos for each of my patterns, one of the front and one of the back. You can enter what garments are included, type and amount of fabric, notions alteration, issues etc. What I like is that I can now search for say skirt patterns and scroll down to chose one, rather than getting out all my pattern baskets. It also means if I’m out shopping and spot some material I fancy, I can check what a pattern requires.

The fabric listing includes amount, type of fabric, colour etc, you can also link a pattern and a length of fabric for future projects, I’ve only just started to upload my fabric stash, there’s also a scary button you can press to see your total stash in metres…maybe that’s not a good idea!

I’ve also bought two new flappy bins, one in pale green and a grey one, these replace my big round one which everything got thrown. I’m now trying to separate my recyling stuff striaght away. green is for paper etc, grey is for scraps for fabric to be sold by a charity shop as rags.

Day 6 was archives, such as stuff you keep from an old project, I don’t tend to keep that kind of sewing archive, I use this blog to jog my memory regarding patterns etc, so an easy day for me…and day 7 was a day of rest 🙂

The next challenge is scissors and snips. I have to confess to a weak spot for pretty embroidery scissors, I have rather a lot so this could take a while!

I also counted up my embroidery hoops..I’ve got about 25!!! All various sizes from 3″ to 24″, I’m just trying to work out the optmum number of hoops I require!

In the meantime I’ve had a big move round in my sewing room today. Here in the UK we have a bit of an energy crisis with prices for electricity and gas rocketing, so everyone is turning the heating down and trying to use as little power as possible. I was fed up with being cold in my sewing room and my OH pointed out that with my sewing desk in front of the radiator any heat was being blocked. I worked out a layout that would leave my radiator clear and today I started tackling it. This was my sewing room as I started the declutter challenge…

As you can see it’s a straightforward plan with just two rows either side for my sewing machine, cutting out and ironing area etc. The radiator is under my pinboard.

I’ve moved everything to an E shape, it’s not perfect as I’ve lost my long stretch for cutting out dressmaking projects, but there’s always the table downstairs!

This is my rooms at the moment…

My OH rather rashly said I could always move it back when it warms up…not with the effort it takes!

Posted in Serendipity, sewing room | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Secret Garden Quilt

I’ve stitched another block for my Secret Garden Quilt, well I have to keep my self busy when recuperating from sinus surgery! Stitching them one after the other like this does help my confidence with my free motion embroidery too, it helps to confirm that even wiggly lines disappear when the whole block is finished and if you look closely, some of my lines are very wiggly!

With free motion embroidery you don’t actually have to turn your fabric round to sew backwards, you can just move it in any direction you want, however I find I get a much neater line (and possibly better tension) if I turn the fabric so I’m sewing towards me. Clearly with little embroidery movements then I just move the fabric but for things like stitching round a shape I’m better turning the fabric.

My favourite bit of this block was the first thing to sew, I hadn’t even noticed it, but there’s a bee on the top rose…

… I might stitch a bit more with a slightly darker brown, so it doesn’t disappear into the rose!

I love the backgrounds with these designs, they are so varied but subtle too. I had a bit of a panic as the fabric in my kit didn’t match with the instructions so I whizzed a message off to Andrea, the designer, on messenger and she replied within minutes. Thankfully I realised just as she was replying that it was the instructions that had printed one page from another block. She quickly e-mailed me another set of instructions and I was sorted. That’s one thing I like with Andrea, she’s very available if there’s any problems or queries, usually replying within minutes.

This is the whole block with the bluetit and a sparrow.

This one sits above the goldcrest one, once I’ve stitched the two blocks together I’m planning to do a bit more embroidery to link the two blocks together, so the buddleia and the roses will have stems which follow on to the block below.

I’ve now finished the two sides of the secret garden with a gate post either side, I just need to stitch the centre panels now, two smaller ones for above and below and the man garden picture in the middle. I’m trying to decide how to personalise the quilt so it might take me a little longer. The pattern has a cat and a rabbit in the garden, I’m wondering whether to include dogs and a hen, if so then how many dogs! Is three going to look too many?? I’ll have a play….in the meantime here’s the blocks together.

If I’m whetting your appetite for this style of quilt, do have a look at Andrea’s website Raggedy Ruff Designs. She’s just going to start a new BOM with video tutorials available too, so if you find it easy to watch someone rather than reading instructions, it could be a perfect introduction. The quilt looks stunning too, it’s called Autumn Wreath.

Posted in Machine embroidery, Quilt-a-long, Quilting, Raggedy Ruff Designs | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Secret Garden Quilt

I’ve cracked on with the third block for my Secret Garden quilt, I became a bit more enthused when I realised there are only six blocks in this quilt, not the nine I was anticipating, so I’m half way through now! I can realistically hope to finish it this week!

These definitely look better when view from a far, rather than close up on a photo!

I found this one a little more tricky, I think mainly due to there being quite a lot of little fiddly bits like most of the left hand side!! The frothy purple flowers lower down are meant to be salvias, I think the pink frothy ones are achillea, the dark purple ones above are buddleia which will extend into the panel above.

These blocks aren’t lying quite as flat as I would like, despite regular pressing, they have a stabiliser behind to help support the fabric with the idea that as much as possible will be cut away before quilting, but these are that densely stitched there’s not going to be much trimmed.

Goldcrests are one of the smallest birds here in the UK, I think the only one smaller is it’s cousin the firecrest. I only found out recently that they are around here after I saw one in the garden, I think they’re so tiny they’re easy to miss, especially if they are darting through a tree.

If you fancy having a go at one of these lovely designs, just follow the link to Raggedy Ruff Designs, there’s a wide range, big and small projects, easy or more challenging like this one.

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

Declutter Day 3 and 4

Well the decluttering of my sewing room is going fairly well, though it was a bit more difficult this time so it took a little longer.

Day 3 of Karen Brown’s Sewing Room declutter challenge was magazines. My first thought was that’s OK as I didn’t have any in my sewing room…,then I decided to be honest with myself and admit that there was a big pile in the spare bedroom!

I have quite a pile of Classic Inspiration and Australian Smocking magazines, many that I inherited from my mum. They are beautiful magazines, they’re a class way above the British embroidery or sewing ones, but some of them are like 20 years old.

I went through them all, with a pile that I wanted to keep, a pile for the bin as they were too damaged and a pile that is potentially saleable on facebook. I then had to go through and make sure all the pattern sheets were present….it took a while!

Next challenge was my bookshelf, this was harder as I am a bit of a hoarder when it comes to books. I have a bookshelf on the landing with all my craft books in, quilting ones, sewing ones and embroidery ones as well as general design and making stuff ones.

Well I was pretty good, there’s a pile to sell, a pile to charity shop, a small pile that will have to go in the bin as I know from experience that the charity shops are full of them, such as the Jo Verso cross-stitch books which were so popular in the ’80’s.

Well my bookshelves look a lot more sorted, I had a nice time being re-inspired by projects I still fancy doing and the magazines now fit on the book shelves too!

I’m following the daily prompts from Karen’s challenge, it was meant to be started on Jauuary 1st but I only heard about it the other day. If you fancy doing it too then it’s all on youtube. Tomorrows prompt is all about patterns..,.I have rather a lot of those!

Posted in Books, sewing room | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Secret Garden Quilt

As I have a couple of weeks recuperating from sinus surgery I decided I may as well be productive, I’m not one for sitting and watching day time TV. I decided to make a concerted effort on my Secret Garden quilt this is one I started last year, it’s a BOM by Raggedy Ruff Designs, I’d done the first panel and then stopped!

Whilst I was starting the decluttering of my sewing room I nosied in my ‘kit box’, which is full of kits waiting to be made, quilting ones, sewing ones and of course embroidery. I realised I have quite alot of Raggedy Ruff designs waiting to be made, three quilts, a stool, a lampshade, a clock…and a few others! I follow Andrea (the designer) on facebook, when she does another design she only makes so many kits up, once they’re gone it’s pattern only, so I tend to buy them, her designs are gorgeous. Here’s a few I’ve done before…

So I decided to start back on the Secret Garden quilt, I think I stopped because it is the fiddliest one I’ve done so far, it’s a very busy design. Although I’ve done quite a few of her designs, they still feel out of my comfort zone, so it doesn’t take much for me to prevaricate too much!!

I rashly thought if I could do a block a day I’d have the quilt finished…I’d forgotten about brain fog after general anaesthetics! The first block took nearer three days!

The first task is to make the background, I love the backgrounds that Andrea creates, full of little spots of interest without taking over the design. Andreas instructions are easy to understand but probably it’s fair to say more complex designs like these are aimed at someone who knows vaguely what they are doing with quilting.

Next, the design elements are traced onto freezer paper, these are ironed onto the chosen piece of fabric so they can be neatly cut out. batik fabric is a tighter weave than standard quilting cotton so it doesn’t fray as much. Once these are all in place I put a tiny blob of fabric glue under each one just to hold it in place before I stitch round. Andrea doesn’t use any glue, she just holds them in place, I’m not that brave!

Everything is stitched initially with a soft brown before all the embroidery starts. I used a metallic needle in my machine which I found works better than an embroidery needle as some of the threads are fairly thick and would shred in the needle. I also finally found a way of controlling Sylco thread! It’s been the bain of my life for a while as when ever I tried to use it it was so springy that it would ping off and then somehow wind it’s self tightly round the bobbin spool. I hoped it would be better with my new sewing machine as it’s an upright spool holder but it was still an issue…so I tried just having the spool loose in a box behind the machine, it works perfectly!

So this is what it looked like after the first round of stitching, as you can see my stitching is far from perfect but once it’s finished that doesn’t seem to matter, as my mum used to say from an artists perspective, your eye picks out the best line.

Now it needed all the embroidery, Andrea explains it all and as she says, just take a deep breath and go for it!

Underneath the block is the one I did ages ago which goes underneath this one on the final quilt.

I can see a few stalks that are dangling in mid air a bit but as I’ll have to do some connecting of the design once they’re stitched together, I’ll leave it for now and do it all at the end.

I’ve already got the next block cut out and ready to embroidery, so hopefully I’m on a roll now! If anyone fancies doing one of these quilts but feels a little daunted by it, Andrea mentioned the other day that she is filming herself making the next quilt (which looks gorgeous!) to make on-line tutorials, so it might be a good one to dip your toe into these wonderful designs.

Posted in Machine embroidery, Quilt-a-long, Quilting, Raggedy Ruff Designs | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Geraniums Galore

I do like geraniums, they’re undemanding plants that like my soil and shady spots, I’ve a few round the garden of differing sizes and colours. The magenta pink geranium in the photo below is geranium psilostemon. It got rather large and spread from the bottom level to the raised bed and up to the roses beyond! I’ve actually dug this bit out and moved it to the top of the garden where it can spread to it’s hearts content

Last year when as was stitching little embroideries for my garden book I used little designs from SookieSo which included a gate with flowers behind and a little single flower. I stitched them both with magenta flowers like the geranium.

When I found out I would be in hospital as a daycase last week I set too to make a page for my garden book from these two embroideries. I could then do crazy patchwork stitching whilst I waited for my turn.

It took quite a while to decide on fabrics and positions, I wanted it a bit lighter than the last one I did and more regular shapes too. The bright pink ditsy print is a scrap of Liberty fabric left from Helen’s Christmas present, The little butterfly was one I bought on line, the colours seemed to go well and added a bit of calm.The pink flower print looks a bit like geranium so I decided to fussy cut a square. It wasn’t easy working out size with it, in the end I cut a paper window the page size and used that. It’s all mounted om calico which gives a bit of stability and is useful for starting and finishing threads.

So this is what I started with…

I didn’t get much done in hospital in the end as I was second on the list, so not long to wait. However I’ve been stitching it on an evening since and last night I finished it.

I used fairly simple stitches, feather, lazy-daisy, whipped running stitch, fly and chain stitch and of course lots of French knots!

My initial plan was to leave the bottom left hand print just as it was with just the seam embroidery, however I got tempted into embroidering round the flowers and leaves. I was regretting it half way through as it did take longer than expected and I wasn’t sure the leaves were looking right. Now it’s finished I’m pleased I did it!

I’m particularly pleased with the border underneath the words, I haven’t decided if the lace needs something like buttons over the end but I tried some and nothing jumped out, it’s a fraction short. I might put it away for a while and then look at it with fresh eyes.

I had a count up and I’ve got eight pages completed, I’m half way round the summerhouse area, then I’ve just got the Amber and Amethyst garden to stitch, a map of the garden and a few little ones to crazy patchwork. I’m getting there!

Posted in embroidery, Garden, Stitching my Garden | Tagged , | 5 Comments