Tuesday’s Totter Round the Garden

We’ve had a couple of frosty mornings this week, lovely sunny days but pretty cold too. I love seeing the garden edged with frost, these are some little clumps of moss on the garden wall, I always think they look like mini hedgehogs!


I’ve been tidying up the garden and filling up the compost heap this week. All the hostas were long gone over so most of the dead foliage has been pulled off, I’ve cut back the iris leaves too as they were flopping and starting to brown. The pond area is only half done, so it’s still looking untidy…

Autumn tidy up

The geraniums down by the arch over the patio went a bit mad this year, so I’ve been pulling up some of the roots as well as the foliage, trying to thin it a bit, I’ve still rather a lot to tidy here too! In some ways I would have been better just concentrating on one bed and getting it finished, but my OH wasn’t very happy getting wet legs from all the foliage over-hanging the path every time he walked the dogs!!

Autumn tidy up

I’m really pleased with my autumn bed, it’s working out just as I hoped. The eunonymous alata is looking amazing, a fiery red colour. There’s a blueberry just peeping in the background too with lovely red leaves.

Autumn colour in the garden

The acer is beautiful with lots of shades of orange and purply-red too…

Autumn colour in the garden

Just behind these two there’s a purple erysimum flowering it’s socks off, together with a bright yellow rudbekia – not a bad display of colour considering it’s nearly November!

Autumn colour in the garden

Once we get our hot composter our current compost heap will be dismantled, so I’ll have another bed to plant with autumn colour! There’s already a golden cotinnus and a photinia planted at that end. So far I’m wondering about an amelanchier, but any suggestions welcome

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Autumn Cross-stitch

I realised over the last few weeks that I have somewhat of a gap in my smalls collection, I’ve lots of spring and summer ones, lots of Christmas ones, but no specific autumn ones, I’ve only just finished ‘October’…

October cross-stitch - snowflower diaries

Faby Reilly is one of my favourite cross-stitch designers and recently she released a little autumn freebie. I always think freebies are a perfect way of trying out a designers style, you can check out their instructions and style before committing lots of time to a larger project.

Faby Reilly cross-stitch

I’ve stitched several of Faby’s designs and this was a nice little quick one to stitch for autumn. It took a couple of evenings or so to do the stitching, it’s only about 2″ square, hence the photo is not quite in focus! It’s very pretty.

Last night I decided to make it up. I rummaged through my stash and found this batik with a leaf image on it, colourwise in matched perfectly. I pulled a few trims out of my drawers to play with and eventually settled on this gorgeous variegated ribbon trim – I bought it at Yarndale last month.

Faby Reilly cross-stitch

I added a row of fly stitch and hand stitched the trim on right next to the seam. It was then a simple job to machine stitch it to the backing fabric, turn it and stuff it. My original plan was to put some buttons on the brown batik, I even thought I’d found some perfect ones in my stash – slices of wood, but they were just a bit too big, mother of pearl ones were too bright – I decided it was best left plain in the end.

Faby Reilly cross-stitch

So come November 1st I’ll have an autumnal small to share!

Linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday

Posted in embroidery, Smalls of the Month | Tagged , , | 25 Comments

Coming Home

I’ve been making lots of windows again – in fact I’ll be happy if I never have to stitch another window again! I’ve been working on my Coming Home quilt and I’ve just counted up and on this border alone I’ve made 73 windows and 21 doors, plus there’s the 36 windows already on earlier borders of the quilt!

I’m a bit behind on this quilt but I’m not stressing, especially as I’m not doing the final border. Last time I posted about it I think I’d just made the smaller houses…

Coming Home Quilt

Now I had to made 8″, 10″ and 12″ long houses, together with all their windows and doors! All the windows and doors are hand-appliqued, I stitched when visiting my mum, I stitched windows in the coffee room at work, I stitched windows in a cafe, I stitched windows at my Embroiderers Guild meeting…

Making the houses came with all the usual indecisiveness about which fabrics to choose, I’m pretty happy with how they’ve worked out, there’s only one I’d change with hindsight and that’s the willow leafy one, it really needs a darker roof but it’s staying as it is. I’m pretty pleased with my rows of houses.

Coming Home Quilt

My next job is to stitch them to the quilt. I’ve made four corner blocks which will have leaves and a bird appliqued on them next. I pieced the corners more than the pattern so I could have my background trees growing in the right direction.

This quilt is pretty big already so it’s getting increasingly difficult to photograph, with these borders on it’s about 70″ square.

Coming Home Quilt

The pattern (by Sarah Fielke) has quite a complex pieced deep border, I don’t really want it much bigger, I already have three king size quilts and only one king size bed! This one is earmarked for the guest room which will soon have a double bed in it. I still haven’t decided how to finish it, I feel it needs some kind of border, probably more than just a double strip of fabrics. There’ll be a narrow silver grey border to complete the curved edge of the cornerstones, but what then…I wondered about a row of mini houses, but I think that might be too bitty, I might just do a row flying geese, all colours, making like a zig-zag up the sides. Any suggestions gratefully received!

Linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday

Posted in Coming Home Quilt, Quilting | Tagged , , | 20 Comments

Quilts for Care-Leavers

I’ve just finished another quilt for care-leavers. These will be given out at Christmas Dinners for Care-leavers, an organisation started by Lemn Sissay, (our poet laureate at the moment). Following on from his experience of many years in care, he started organising Christmas dinners for young people who are leaving care, they have not just the dinner, but hairdressers, beauticians, entertainment, trying to give them a positive memory of Christmas. Making quilts for them came from a comment he made once that at times, all he wanted was a hug. Maggie Lloyd-Jones heard this and decided to start making quilts, as wrapping yourself in a quilt is a bit like giving yourself a hug. It only started just over 12 months ago, but it has snowballed and hundreds are being made around the country. The young people choose their own quilt from the pile supplied.

I made this top in early summer, but it sat there waiting to be quilted. We have another sewing day for the quilts on Saturday so I thought I’d better crack on with it – eleventh hour as usual!

Quilts for Care-Leavers

It’s a design by Pat Sloan called Oh My Stars, a freebie, Pat is very generous with her pattern designs. The backing is a colourful feather design which matches the front perfectly colourwise.

Quilts for Care-Leavers

I wanted to keep the quilting fairly simple and therefore quick, so why I decided to quilt round each star I don’t know – 8 pointed stars are not quick to stitch round due to all the maneuvering of the quilt. It would have probably been easier if I did it with the free-motion foot, but I’m not sure how straight my lines would have been!

I decided to cross-hatch the rest of the quilt, adding extra lines round the stars whenever I reached one.I used a variegated blue and green thread – I think the area I tested it against was mainly those colours, I think if I did it again I would probably use white. Finally it was all quilted…

Quilts for Care-Leavers

I just had to bind it. I pondered about doing a scrappy binding, but in the end I decided to use the feather fabric, it’s worked brilliantly as all the different colours almost make it look scrappy. I’m really pleased with the effect. I machine stitched the binding on, front and back – usually I hand-stitch the back down. I cut the binding slightly wider than my usual and stitched in the ditch from the front. Most of it worked out OK – I only had to redo a couple of areas where it had missed the binding. I still prefer hand-stitched binding, so this hasn’t converted me over.

Quilts for Care-Leavers

I’m hoping to make one more quick quilt for the care-leavers this year, but if I don’t get it done in time it will go on next years pile. If anyone would like to join us then have a look on facebook for Quilts for Care-Leavers, if you’re not on facebook then leave a message below and I’ll put you in touch with one of the organisers.

Quilts for Care-Leavers
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Nineteen for 19

I’ve just realised I didn’t do a Nineteen for 19 challenge update for September – only three weeks late! I’ve a lot of projects in progress at the moment, so not so many finishes, but still a lot done…

  • 1 Scrap Quilt; still hopeful on this one, especially now my number of quilts on the go has reduced!
  • 2 Tutorials; Still waiting on photos for one, but hopefully soon!
  • 3 Sessions a week in the garden; I started my autumn tidy up in September, so whilst I might not have managed 3 sessions, I still did a fair bit.
  • 4 Workshops; I went to another workshop with Deborah Mullins at Fabbadashery on Bethleham Embroidery last month, so I’ve another project added to my work in progress pile! This makes 3 workshops attended with another one in October.
  • 5 Presents; This remained at three in September.
  • 6 Quilts; It was definitely happy dance time when I finished my Splendid Sampler quilt, so with six-ish quilts made this challenge is complete!
Splendid Sampler 2 quilt
  • 7 New Patterns; I didn’t post about any dress-making in September, so this stays at 5. I think I’ll manage two more this year.
  • 8 Kits; This is still only three, I really need to work at this one as my stash is getting bigger!
  • 9 Mini Embroideries; I’ve still one to do this month, but my tally remains at 5, hopefully with my new stitchbook this is still achievable..
  • 10 things; I made a purse this month – much needed as my old one was falling apart. I also made about a dozen theatre scrub caps! I work in Cardiac Catheter Labs and for some procedures we have to wear scrub caps. The disposable ones available are not very comfortable, so I’ve made some cotton ones out of fun fabrics and I’m selling them to raise money for the Soldiers Charity. I’ve raised about £100 so far and I’ve orders for several more! I’ll just count them as one make for the challenge, making my total nine – almost there!
Silk purse
  • 11 Cross-stitch Smalls; No more finishes this month but I’ve already made 11 over the year.
  • 12 Pages in my Book; This is a textile book of my mums craft things. Whilst I haven’t actually started yet I have got all the embroideries etc out and washed and pressed everything, I now have in my head a better idea of how I’m going to do it.
  • 13 Clothes made; This remained at 8 in September, though I’ve made more since so still hopeful that this is achievable.
  • 14 Drawers organised; I had a big sort out of my beads and buttons last month. I used to have the beads in those round, stackable plastic pots which I didn’t find entirely satisfactory. Ages ago I bought a box with thirty little individual pots in, it was much better. I treated myself to several more, including some of the bigger size posts. I spent an afternoon decanting my beads into these little pots. I find it so much better, I can take one pot out to use separately, like the one for my Zoe Box, I can easily organise them into colours and they are easier to see. The old containers have found a new use too, I’ve put my buttons in them, instead of being in a jumble in my button box they are now organised in their own pots. So with two more boxes sorted my tally is up to 11 – not that my sewing room looks any tidier for it!
  • 15 minutes tidy up each daymust try harder is probably an appropriate phrase!
  • 16 Books Read; I’ve just had a count up on my bookshelf and I’ve read 21 books so far – definately my most successful challenge!
  • 17 Blogs a month; I posted a comfortable 19 posts last month.
  • 18 Walks; In September my walking buddy and I walked another 20 miles of the Cleveland Way over two days, so we’ve now done 20 walks over the year.
  • 19 Splendid Sampler Blocks; I smashed this one this month when I made 19 blocks in a matter of days! It gave me enough blocks to finish the quilt making it 7×7, so this year I’ve made 33 blocks for my Spendid Sampler quilt.
Splendid Sampler

So pretty good progress really, I’ve a few longer term projects taking up my time at the moment such as quilts and cross-stitch, but I think I’ve five challenges already finished, eight definitely achievable and others still possible with three months to go!

Posted in Books, Crafts, Garden, Nineteen for 19, Quilting, Splendid Sampler Quilt, Walking, Workshops | Tagged | 4 Comments

October Smalls

I’m a bit late with this post as I’ve been trying to finish my October cross-stitch, I finished it at the weekend. It’s one of the set from Snowflower Diaries, they’re free on her facebook page. For some reason this one has felt hard work, I nearly packed it away for later a couple of times until I gave myself a stern talking to and buckled down to finish it. I think part of the problem was that I’ve a couple of really pretty autumn ones I want to make before it’s winter!

This also wasn’t my favourite design of the set. I made a couple of changes – the hedgehog and the snail shell for some reason were in DMC white, now I know hedgehogs are lightish, but they’re not white! I changed it to a light beige colour, though it now seems to blend in with the linen a bit. The flowers were a strange colour scheme but I left those as they were. I found some floral cotton for the background which picked out the pink and the gold of the flowers nicely.

Snowflower Diaries

I stitched some of the variegated ric-rac round the edge, I bought it at Yarndale – I love this stuff! This one is dusky pink, peach and brown. I added a bow and a button and it was finished.

Snowflower Diaries

With my October one finished I could finish my arrangement of cross-stitch smalls;

cross stitch smalls

I made the pear a few years back, the gold bee was one I made for my mum many years ago, it matched a cushion I made her. The cat is from even further back, I probably stitched that in my 20’s, in was a UFO in my workbox until I turned it into a small last year.

I stitched the daisy last year, it hasn’t appeared in my monthly collections for a while as it went into hiding in my sewing room! It re-appeared over the weekend so here it is! The blackwork sheep was a practice piece for an Embroiderers Guild Group Challenge.

The bumble bee remains my favourite of all my smalls.

I’m not going to even try to stitch November and December in time as there’s others I want to do first, hopefully I’ll stitch them in time for next year!

Posted in Crafts, embroidery, Smalls of the Month | Tagged , | 9 Comments

Monday’s Meander Round the Garden

It’s a while since I meandered round the garden on a Monday, mainly because the weather hasn’t been brilliant for photos – or gardening, if you’re a fair weather gardener like me. I took these photos at the weekend just before the light started to fall.

Autumn garden

There’s still a fair bit of colour in the garden, and of course the autumn shades are starting to appear. There’s a few flowers around and the roses are trying to put their last few blooms out. There’s an awful lot of gardening to do at the moment but I’ve been putting it off a bit as I actually quite like seeing the garden in the gradual decay of autumn and winter.


I’ve a lovely clump of nerines in flower at the moment, they came from my mum’s nextdoor neighbour last year. I wasn’t sure they were going to flower as there was no sign of life all summer, then in a matter of a couple of weeks a few leaves appeared and the flower buds. It’s surprising how such a delicate looking flower survives the autumn weather.

Autumn garden

I’m really pleased with my autumn bed. This is where the chickens used to be. Most of it was only planted this spring, there’s lots of colour and interest with both flowers and foliage.

It makes a nice continuation from the Amber & Amethyst garden below, though my day lilly in the foreground is clearly ready for a tidy up!!

Autumn garden

The pots are still looking reasonable, the creamy hydrangea which has been beautiful since I bought it in June is just starting to go over, the fuchsia and the lamium pot next to it need re-positioning – they were pulled out when the little boy nextdoor was trying to retrieve a football.

Autumn garden

In the spring I also moved an arch so the clematis montana I’d planted last year would have something to climb over. Whenever I walk the dogs I tuck another piece along thge arch, it’s covering it nicely. I’m hoping in time it will also creep either side of the fence.

Autumn garden

I’m hoping to do a bit of tidying up this week, or at least make a start, most of the foliage can go in the compost bin. We’re thinking of buying a hot composter for each other for a joint Christmas present (I know, we buy each other such sexy presents, last year he got a pair of wellies amongst other things – well he needed a new pair 🙂 ) If anyone has any experience of hot composters I’d be interested to hear.

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Down the Rabbit Hole HQAL

It’s three weeks since I last showed you my Down the Rabbit Hole quilt, I’ve made some progress, it’s a king size quilt and I’m on the outer border – so even quilting one side takes time! Three weeks ago I was feeling positive as I’d just reached another corner!…

My progress this time hasn’t been quite so ordered. I needed to draw some more quilting lines on the next side before I started my cross-hatching. This required three things;

  • Daylight – the only table big enough is in the conservatory, well lit during the day, not at night, and it’s dark by 6.30pm now.
  • Time – always of the essence!
  • Finding my ceramic pencils! They seem to love playing hide and seek!!

It took until a couple of days ago to get all three at the same time! However, that didn’t stop me quilting!

I quilted round both running rabbits and the central flower, I also quilted more than a side of the very outer diamond border.

I’m now going back and filling in the the cross-hatching, I’m almost half way across this side, so I’m getting there.

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.

Kathy, MargaretEmmaTracyDeb, Susan,  Nanette,  EdithSharonKarrinGretchen and Kathi

Posted in Down The Rabbit Hole, Quilt-a-long, Quilting | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Clothes for George

George has finally got a set of clothes…

Luna Lapin - Archie

George is my first attempt at making a Luna Lapin rabbit, the patterns are all in a lovely book by Sarah Peel called Making Luna Lapin. He’s all hand-stitched apart from the ears. As this is a Christening present for my great nephew I’m making an ‘Archie’, Luna’s little brother. The rabbit pattern is exactly the same for both, but there is a complete set of clothes for Archie.

The clothes are wonderful, they are traditionally made clothes, just tiny! They’re stitched on the machine with a 1/4″ seam. The shirt has a lined yoke with a box pleat on the back, a neat little collar and a set of working buttonholes – I didn’t know my machine could make such tiny buttonholes! I had some 6mm mother of pearl buttons, vintage style, they worked perfectly.

Luna Lapin - Archie

The waistcoat is lined with a cute rabbit fabric I had left over from making a baby quilt (for the same baby!) I turned the buttons over for this one to make brownish buttons.

Luna Lapin - Archie

The trousers have a hole in the back seam for his tail, I made the tail last night, I had to buy a whole ball of wool just to make one pompom, I made it how I used to make them as a child, with two circles cut out of a cereal packet with a hole in the middle. It came out about 2″ round, so I then gave it a major haircut, shaping it to more of a scut shape. I’m still not 100% sure about his tail, but it’s stitched on and it’s staying.

Luna Lapin - Archie

I think he looks rather dapper!

Luna Lapin - Archie

By the way, before any one gets worried, I will be telling the parents that he can’t play with George until he’s older due to all the buttons!

Posted in Sewing | Tagged , | 17 Comments

Conquering Fear!

I’ve got a bit behind in writing posts, so you’ve got two for one here, a bargain 🙂

Over the summer I bought a new sewing machine, not a standard one, but an overlocker / coverstitch machine. My overlocker was well past it, but what sold it for me was the coverstitch bit. For those of you not familiar with cover-stitch, it’s the machine that does hems on bought clothes, especially things like t shirts. Ive wanted one for a while but they are well out of my price range. This one was second hand and a third of the price of a new one.

Looking at it, I don’t actually think it’s ever been used. The lady selling it admitted it was just too complicated for her, I can understand that – it uses up to five threads at once and has about 14 different stitches! It didn’t have a spot of ‘thread dust’ on it, which is why I don’t think it was actually used to make anything.

Having brought it home it sat in it’s box for more weeks than I care to admit! I now understand when people admit they daren’t get a new machine out of the box! I think that knowing it had beaten one owner, I was a little concerned it might beat me too!

I finally plucked up the courage to make something. I decided to make a long length cardigan for the summer – I know, it’s October, but I’m trying to use up fabrics from my stash in order of bulk!! This took up a lot of room! It’s probably not the best one to choose for a first attempt, it’s a loose weave, bobbly knit with mini sequins on it!

It took a while to get it all threaded and set up, but I got there and sewed the basic cardigan. I’ve used this pattern lots of times so I knew it was pretty simple. It went together nicely, but I then wanted to coverstitch the hems…

Well about two hours later I finally managed to convert it to the coverstitch – you have to change plates, re-thread it, take the needle out of action….I was ready for throwing it out of the window at one point – in fact I had to leave it, walk away and have a large glass of wine! I finally got there and cover-stitched the hem.

McCalls pattern

It was finished! Now you have to use your imagination a bit with this one, as it’s designed to go over long summer dresses and skirts, only it’s October, cold and wet, and I wasn’t going to change for a photo shoot!

McCalls pattern

My second attempt on my new machine was a smock style Merchant and Mills pattern, it’s actually one I found in my mums house when we were sorting her stuff out. It’s not one I would have bought from the picture on the front, but actually I really like it.

The fabric was from Fabworks, it’s one of those where I couldn’t quite decide if it was gorgeous or awful!! I’m not sure what kind of fabric it is but it’s very soft to touch, cuddly! The smock went together very easily, I stitched the seams with my stretch stitch on the sewing machine and then overlocked them to neaten. I still haven’t got the tension quite right to be happy with the strength of the overlocked seam – or maybe I’m expecting too much! It’s got pockets at the front and raglan sleeves – I haven’t made those for years and I’d forgotton how easy they are.

Merchant & Mills smock

I’ve worn it several times and I love it, it’s a very comfortable, cuddly wear! It’s a bit like wearing your dressing gown all day! The pockets are very useful too – especially as I made them a bit bigger than the pattern says.

Merchant & Mills smock

I’ve still a long way to go to really know my new machine, but the second time I changed over to coverstitch it only took me 5 minutes, so it’s getting better! I’m aiming to set aside a day or two and just work my way through the instruction book, making lots of samples.

Posted in Dressmaking, Sewing | Tagged , , | 22 Comments