Staying Home HQAL

Back in 2020 I finished a quilt called Coming Home, with the leftovers I made a quilt which I called Staying Home, pretty apt for the time I thought! The embroidered blocks were from a free stitch-a-long from ‘Hugs and Kisses’ in Australia, if I remember rightly each block was designed by a different quilter. I then added the house blocks to make it bed quilt size.

Since then it has sat in my to do pile, stored together with the spare fabric to make the backing from. Having recently put our house on the market we have to make it all look wonderful for potential buyers, I have a design wall in my sewing room, rather untidily hung up from a line of picture hooks. I decided that rather than having an empty design wall looking untidy I would hang my quilt on it. It looks rather nice if I say so myself!

This arrangement has also had the added bonus that I’ve been able to ponder how to quilt it whilst I’m working on other projects and I think I’ve come up with a plan!

I’m going to hand quilt it, it would seem a shame to machine quilt something with so much hand embroidery on and I do enjoy hand-quilting now! My plan is to quilt round the edge of the embroidered blocks, the houses will probably be round the edge and then just inside the house. It was the borders that I’ve pondered over the most, I’m now thinking of a heart design centred on each corner stone. I’ve cut out a template and now I just need to decide on the orientation of the heart. I’m leaning towards the left-hand one at the moment. Any other quilting suggestions gratefully received!

Hopefully in three weeks time when I next share my progress I’ll have made a start.

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 and Tracy

Posted in embroidery, Quilt-a-long, Quilting | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Cartography Course

Several of our Skipton Stitchers members have done on-line embroidery courses with Zara Day and they’ve always enthused about them so one of them mentioned she had just signed up for her cartography course I decided to check it out.

I’ve always loved maps, even as a child I could sit for hours looking at or drawing maps. I’ve been mulling over an embroidery idea for a map of the Yorkshire dales for ages, so I’m hoping this will help. It’s a six week course with about an hours online course each week, not bad for £45 I think so I signed up straight away.

We had our first live session this week, we were stitching routes on printed maps. She showed us how to do a screen shot and crop it for printing, turns out it’s very simple even for a non-techy person like me! Zara shared with us her thought processes for different maps she has worked on or incorporated into what I would call textile art.

We have two bits of ‘homework’ this week and I’ve just finished the first one…

The hardest bit was choosing an area and finding a suitable map, obviously I wanted an area that means something to me that I can also find a suitably sized map for! I decided to do a walking map, originally thinking of one which would cover all the long distance walks my friend and I have done, but that would involve a map covering all the north of England and the lower end of Scotland. I settled on a map of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and got my OH to print it off in colour.

As instructed I ironed some interfacing onto the back of the paper, I used a cotton based one as I felt that could make a better stitching base than vilene.

Conveniently the Dales Way route was already marked on the map so all I had to do was back-stitch along it. Zara recommended back-stitch, or stem or split stitch. I like split stitch generally but I thought that would weaken the paper more as there are two holes right next to each other so I used back-stitch. I chose a variegated purple as all my walking gear is either purple or teal!

Having stitched along the Dales Way, I plotted the route of the Bay2Bay walk. This is one we did over two years as the guide books started at Grassington and then walked either way to the coast, so one year we did the 100 miles east from Grassington to Barrow-in-Furness and the following year we did 100 miles west from Grassington to Robin Hoods Bay. I stitched in purple the route across the National Park/ though maybe plotting it with a silver pen wasn’t a great idea!

Over the last 18 months we’ve also been doing the Dales 30 challenge, aiming to climb all 30 mountains within the National Park, so I used French knots to mark the mountains we have climbed so far. I tested one out on the side first as I wasn’t sure how well French knots would work on paper but they sat neatly on the top rather than pulling through to the back.

Here’s my finished map…

With hindsight I think a brighter thread for both routes and mountains may have been better, even staying with the purple colours it would just have shown up a bit more, but that’s why you do these courses and practise pieces, to learn and develop your own style. All in all I’m pretty pleased with it.

Zara does lots of different embroidery courses, if you’re interested I’d suggest following her on instagram or e-mail her to be added to her mailing list.

Posted in embroidery, Serendipity, Workshops | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

A Winter Wreath Quilt

Three years or so ago I stitched a Spring Wreath quilt, it was a design by Andrea Walpole of Raggedy Ruff Designs. I’ve made several of her designs and kits now, they all raw edge applique with free motion machine embroidery and they are beautiful designs, this is the spring one…

Isn’t it gorgeous! Well she has since brought out a summer and an autumn one which are lovely but I have resisted so far. However as soon as the first block for the Winter Wreath appeared I was smitten!…

I have quite a vivid memory from many years ago (last century!!!!) when I was driving home from work along a country lane. As I turned a corner I disturbed a barn owl in the middle of the road with what was probably it’s tea. It rose up off the road in my head lights, it was quite a magical moment. The centre block of this quilt is just how I remember that moment…

The quilt looks like it will have a similar layout to the Spring one as the star is starting in the same place. I love the way Andrea does her backgrounds, they’re very subtle but with little pops of colour and variety both in fabrics and blocks.

With these quilts the components of the applique bit are drawn on freezer paper, ironed on to the batik and then cut out. Batik fabric doesn’t fray as much as standard quilting fabric as it’s a denser weave. Andrea just holds the pieces in place which she stitches them in place, I’m not that brave so I use a tiny blob of fabric glue. The first task is just to stitch them all down with some brown thread. I used to worry how neat (ornot!!) this bit was, but I know know that actually it doesn’t matter if this bits a little wobbly as it won’t be noticeable at the end. This is what it looks like at this stage…

Next is the ‘fun’ bit, adding all the detail. Andrea’s instructions talk you through each stage and it’s actually a very forgiving style fortunately!

I had to google barn owl pictures to check on the colour of their beaks and legs, yes they are pale grey! So here’s a close up of my owl…

I’m well chuffed with him, looking forward to doing another block, though I’m going to alternate this quilt with making the other quilt kit of Andrea’s I’ve started called The Secret Garden.

If anyone fancies a go at one of these designs do have a look at her website, she has several block of the month quilts as well as stand-alone designs, I find doing a block a month makes it manageable and affordable. For all the fabric, design and instructions it’s about £30 per block and she sends out one block each month. She’s doing a gorgeous panda one at the moment. If you like the designs but don’t fancy the applique bit she also has lovely printed panels.

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

Textile Book SAL

Well my stitch-a-garden project has had to take a back seat over the last three weeks, what with trying to finish the cot quilt before Hugo was born, trying to sell the house and the worry since the little one was born, I haven’t managed to do any more stitching towards my garden fabric book.

I have managed to do a little stitching though which was started for a fabric book on bees, but I’m now having second thoughts…

I’ve a few little cross-stitches of bees and some crazy quilting with bees on so I had this idea to use them all in a fabric book about bees. I spotted this pattern ages ago on one of the destash sites and thought it was rather pretty. It’s a design by Country Cottage Crafts and it’s been my handbag project for the last couple of months. With my new job I get an hour for lunch, so that’s 20 minutes eating and 40 minutes stitching! My original plan was to stitch it in two haves for facing pages in my bee book…

I’m using some lovely dyed linen with DMC threads, the pattern uses different threads but does give DMC equivalents for all but the variegated ones so I’ve chosen ones I think will work.

I stitched to the approximate half way mark, adapting it slightly to level it off at the bottom of the words…and then decided it was going to be too long for a page, top to bottom there it was 6.5 inches and a border would be needed. The bottom half would be shorter too. So I’m currently stitching it in one piece, I’ll then decide what to do, thoughts at the moment include making it into a concertina book so that can be a double page spread, though that would mean folding it, or I might abandon the fabric book plan and use a nicely bound book to stick work in, or I could make it a bigger book, possibly using it as a cover…or I could just get it framed as a pretty picture, but I have run out of wall space!

It’s still looking decidedly crumpled despite a good press, I think it’s going to need a bit of Best Press when it’s finally finished!

This stitch-a-long is organised by Avis, we post our (supposed) progress on our chosen project every three weeks. Please follow the links to see what everyone else has been stitching.


Posted in cross-stitch, Serendipity, Stitch-a-long, Textile Books | Tagged , | 12 Comments

Mums and Babes

Little Hugo was born on Wednesday afternoon, my first grandchild (I do have two ready-made ones as well) He’s gorgeous, though I’m probably somewhat biased! I’ve not yet had a cuddle as unfortunately the midwives realised within minutes of him being born that there was an issue with his oesophagus. He was whisked off to intensive care and yesterday had a 7 hour operation. As you can imagine it’s all been very stressful, trying to support mum and dad whilst coping with all our own worries.

As soon as I heard I dashed up to my sewing room and grabbed the first two blue fat quarters that came to hand. I cut two 5.5″ squares from each one, stitched two together round the edges, leaving a gap for turning. I could then turn and press them and hand-stitch the opening closed.

I gave these two squares to mum, the idea being that she tucks one in her bra to get the scent of her skin on it, the other goes next to Hugo, every day they are swapped so he always has her smell around him and she has something positive to do. It’s meant to help with bonding when they are separated like this. She loved them and yesterday they sent me a photo with one of the blue cotton squares next to him, together with a cuddly duck I bought to go with the quilt.

I found it helpful to have something practical but simple to stitch when my mind was on overdrive with worry, hopefully it will help them bond as a family too. I think most of the hospitals here in the UK have something similar to my blue squares, sometines they’re heart shaped, some crocheted, all made by volunteers. Mum had been given a pair by the hospital but felt mine were softer.

Hopefully grandma can have a cuddle soon 🙂

Posted in Serendipity | 20 Comments

Hugs for Hugo

Over the last few weeks I’ve been busy making a cot quilt for my new grandson who was born on Wednesday. When I asked re colour schemes and themes a while back mum said she liked neutral colours and maybe some lemon. At the spring quilt show I spotted this quilt kit which was the perfect colour scheme together with gorgeous little ducks and ducklings. It was £40 for the kit which seemed quite a lot but it did include all the precut squares, the border fabric and the binding.

Having made the basic top I realised I could quite nicely include his name on the front of the quilt, having checked first there was no chance of them changing their mind! After trying different fabrics I plumped for the border fabric. I drew the letters by hand and bondawebbed them on, hand-stitched round with dark grey blanket stitch which brought the letters out nicely.

It made up beautifully, here’s the quilt top waiting to be quilted…

I’d given myself sufficient time to make the quilt, until I decided to hand quilt it about three weeks ago!! I made the quilt sandwich with some lovely soft blue for the backing with the words ‘threaded with love’ all over it, I used 505 spray to baste the three layers together, then it was ready to quilt.

I used a variegated grey gutermann thread and started with the name squares. I just went round about 1/4″ in for these.

For the rest of the squares I did a simple cross-hatch which is fairly quick and easy to stitch but effective.

It took me a while to decide how to quilt the border, hearts, lines…I decided in the end to do a meander and to my surprise it’s so much easier to meander by hand rather than on the machine, I think with the slower pace you can plan a bit better. I finished quilting it last night, talk about eleventh hour!

I wasn’t sure about the stripy binding when I first bought the quilt, but it is perfect. The only thing I id have to watch is that I usually stitch my binding strips together on a 45′ angle as it spreads the thicker seam a bit. With stripes there was no way I could match the pattern, so I straight seamed all the joins. machine stitched it to the front and then hand-stitched it to the back.

All I had to do then was to embroider a label. I started this last night and finished it this morning before I went to work after I happened to wake up at 5am!

I gave it to his mum and dad today and they love it 🙂

Posted in Quilting | Tagged , | 14 Comments

The Seaside Quilt HQAL

It’s finally time for a happy dance with my seaside quilt. Three weeks ago I had finally finished the hand quilting and just had the binding to stitch on, but first had to find the right fabric as I’d used up what I saved making a cushion…

After an unsuccessful trip to Leeds I ordered some of the Lewis and Irene bumbleberry fabric on line. I do like this range of fabrics, they do it in lots of colourways and it’s a great blender. I had decided on a narrow flange of red to give a little pop of colour followed by a dark blue binding, I usually do a 2.25″ strip folded over for binding, this time I wanted it slightly wider so I went for 2.5″ instead! I know it’s only 1/4″ but it just helped to balance it.

I machine stitched the flange and the binding on the front and then hand-stitched the binding to the back. Some people hate the binding part but I enjoy just sitting and stitching without having to think too much! I’m pleased with the red flange, it does give a nice pop of colour.

I’ve really enjoyed making this quilt, it is such a happy quilt, I’m not usually into seaside themed stuff but this brings back so many happy memories of both my childhood holidays with my grandparents in Prestatyn and then holidays with my own children in Whitby on the Yorkshire coastline. Of course my walking buddy and I have walked from Saltburn at the top to Filey which is probably about 2/3rds of the way down the coast. So lots of happy memories. The author and designer of the quilt also had many holidays around Whitby so the embroidered applique pictures are very reminiscent of the area. The quilt is by Kathryn Whittingham of Patchwork Katy, she kindly gave me the book after I loved her Cottage Garden quilt so much. If you fancy making the quilt, I’d happily recommend the book, the instructions are nice and clear, it’s written for hand sewing but you can machine piece and hand embroider too like I did.

Here’s some closeups of the blocks;

I’m still trying to decide on a name for the quilt, every quilt traditionally has a name. Ideas so far include Happy Memories, God’s Own Coastline (Yorkshire is known as God’s Own County!) at the moment I’m leaning towards Cockles and Candyfloss. Any suggestions welcome!!

So here’s the finished quilt, I tried photographing it on the floor but despite standing on an old pine chest, my arms just aren’t long enough, so you have the lovely backdrop of the garage instead!!

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 and Tracy

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

Affiliate Link; Although the book was gifted to me by the author the views and opinions expressed are my own and I don’t receive any commission for sales linked to clicks from my blog.

Posted in Quilt-a-long, Quilting | Tagged , , | 18 Comments

Flowers for a Wedding

At home flower arranging tends to stretch to plonking in a vase and that’s about it, luckily I quite like the plonked in a vase look! I think I may have been on a couple of workshops on Christmas table decorations and that’s about the sum of my flower arranging education! My mum used to do the church flowers so I must have absorbed a bit, though the main thing I remember her talking about is how easy it is to ‘lose’ the balance of a big flower arrangement. Despite this I rashly agreed to help with decorating the church for the wedding of my closest friends daughter. This was what I call a covid wedding, it was meant to be in May 2020, then May 2021, and now it was actually happening!

I was thinking of a few pew ends, so I did take a big gulp when she mentioned that her daughter wanted two arrangements in milk kits. They’re a farming family so they still had the old fashioned big milk churns (or kits) around the farm. Milk kits were going to be big arrangements, especially as they were to be viewed from all sides, I did warn her that it would take a lot of flowers to fill the kits! When we were at the Harrogate flower show we wandered round the floral art tent so I could get an idea of what they wanted.

The wedding was on Tuesday, so on the Sunday before we met at the family farm to make the pew ends. I’d raided my garden for foliage, especially eunonymous, osmanthus, and box. I’d wandered up the back lane too for some ivy and some cupressus and suddenly spotted the huge philadelphus bush on the back lane was in flower. Perfect! Philadelphus has creamy white good sized flowers which have a wonderful scent.

The bride had bought lots of silk roses which were wired into a spray and also some garland lengths too. Silk flowers have improved so much in the last few years, they made the job so much easier too. For the pew ends we basically made a hand tied bouquet mixing fresh foliage with the silk flowers. We also added a branch of philadelphus to each one. They were tied with a matt green ribbon as the bride didn’t want noticeable bows, she also wanted the cut ends hidden so we just added a sprig of box to cover them up. I had a team of four or five helpers, I don’t think anyone particularly had any flower arranging experience but we had a good production line going making ten pew ends plus a spare! This is one in place on the end of the oak pew on the day…

The church at Gargrave has a beautiful rood screen and the plan was to tie garlands to either side of the arch, so we tied little bunches of foliage to the silk flower garlands and added philadelphus too. We had four garlands and two double ended arrangements which we padded out with foliage the same way. After a few hours work we had everything prepared. My only concern was that I wasn’t sure how philadelphus was as a cut flower, would it last or would I find all the petals in a heap on the floor…

Monday morning I picked some more philadelphus for good measure, a phone call from the farm confirmed that the philadelphus from Sunday was still looking good! I also picked some solomons seal flowers from the garden as they are a nicely arching shape. In reality the flowers were well past their best but they are so tiny it wasn’t noticeable, it was the shape I wanted. We took everything down to the church and started decorating. We tied all the pew ends on, we had an arrangement for every other pew which looked lovely.

There had been a wedding at the church earlier in the week and some of their flowers were still in place, including an arch of ivy and a few roses over the rood screen. I realised that an arch would actually be easier to attach then the original plan of swags either side as we were already pondering how to attach them at the outer edge where the screen meets a stone pillar. After a brief discussion with the mother of the bride we went for a full floral arch, we left the original ivy up and just hung ours over it. It turned out the bride wanted an arch initially so we knew she would be delighted.

Here’s a photo of me and another helper starting to put the garlands up, the ivy and the odd roses on the left were the ones from the wedding before.

Having worked out how to arrange them I left the team to it and they did a wonderful job, here’s the finished arch…

All that was left was the two big arrangements, I deliberately left them till last as there was a coffee morning on in church, including one of the ladies who did the church flowers usually…I didn’t want an audience, especially someone who knew all about flower arranging!!

At the suggestion of the florist who supplied the flowers I did both arrangements at the same time, that was good advice as it meant they were balanced together. I did it flower by flower, dephiniums first, then the huge hydrangea heads, which were gorgeous but so big they almost didn’t look real! Next was the lisianthus, larkspur and the roses, some carnations and the solomon seal around the lower edge. I added the philadelphus branches to fill any gaps, especially at the back, although the flowers were to be viewed all the way round, in reality there was a front where the hydrangeas were.

Here’s me and the brides aunt as we started, it does show nicely how big these arrangements were! The arrangements were also to be transported to the reception venue where another two milk churns would be waiting, the brides father had attached some tape handles to the oasis container so they could be lifted out so I did have the foresight to position these handles directly above the milk kit handles so they could be easily located, you can just see them in the photo….

The flowers were a beautiful shade of creamy white and pale pink, very pretty. We added lots of foliage such as eucalyptus, I covered the back of the oasis with hosta leaves.

I think with big arrangements like this it’s hard to know when to stop, you can titivate and add stems for ever but you can end up losing the shape or the balance of the arrangement. Eventually I decided they were done. Here’s one of them on the day..

I was well chuffed with them, proud as punch! They were positioned either side of the aisle at the back of the pews so it made a nice entrance. The scent from the philadelphus was beautiful too. We suggested the bride came down that afternoon to see the flowers as on the day they become a blur, she loved them…

They still looked good on Tuesday morning when we arrived for the wedding and they received lots of compliments, they even survived being transported in the back of a van to the reception! We had a wonderful day, the church service was lovely, and the fifteenth century Tithe Barn at Bolton Abbey was a stunning venue for the reception…and of course the bride looked beautiful 🙂

Posted in Garden, Wedding | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Stitch a Garden SAL

I’m way behind with both reading and writing posts as there’s a lot going on at home at the moment, I’ve had a few medical tests which although they were all as out-patient, it still takes up a lot of time, though thankfully everything has come back fine so far. We’ve also made the difficult decision to put our house on the market, I love my garden but it is too much for me to manage and I’ve also had more falls this year from my lack of balance, whilst I’ve only ended up with bruises, we do have areas which could result with a five foot drop onto concrete… With a big garden like ours I think it’s also better to try and sell whilst the garden is still looking good, rather than waiting till it’s run away without me!! The house is also bigger than we need with five bedrooms and three reception rooms, we’re now trying blitz it as the photographer is coming tomorrow!

All this has made my garden book a little more poignant, it’s going to be my record of our garden in stitches. Three weeks ago I’d finished a Soukie Soo design…

I’ve now started one of the ‘map’ pages for my book, I’m starting with the patio area. I’m planning on three separate maps for the three main areas in the back garden, the patio, the Amber and Amethyst garden (AKA the beer garden!) and the top lawn with the summerhouse and pond. A while ago I painted some calico with background garden colours which could then be used as raw edge applique…

I drew a patio shape onto the brown area and started to stitch it. I used whipped split stitch round the outside and then just split stitch for the intermittent stitching to show the flags with a variegated thread which I found in my stash, it’s single ply and matt and not as smooth as DMC, it worked well for the patio. I was stitching from memory when I started it in the middle and only realised later that the there are actually eight segments on the first ring, with each row doubling the numbers. I think making so many to be true to life would actually have been too busy so I’m happy that my memory simplified it! I added a few French knots with a variegated DMC thread for the little self seeders we have.

I now need to mount it on bondaweb and stick it to the main page. I’m hoping there’ll be enough plants and structures overlapping the edge that it will be secure enough. I stitched it separate to the background as I wanted it to look slightly raised as it is in real life. It should only be getting light handling in a book anyway. I’ve just got to sort out the background now!

I got a lovely squishy parcel in the post this week too, I follow Soukie Soo on instagram as I do like her designs, she draws them onto linen with a heat erasable pen so all I have to do is stitch them. The page above was one of her designs. A couple of weeks ago she had a sale on for a mixed bundle of goodies for £25, I ordered one and I was really pleased with my bundle, there’s stamped fabric, drawn designs, flowers, butterflies, bees, thread, lots of things I’ll be able to use in my book.

Hopefully next time I’ll have started the patio page properly, I think once I start I’ll be OK, at the moment I’m prevaricating as to how to portray structures such as the arch or the arbour, never mind the mass of plants!

This SAL is organised by Avis, we post our progress every three weeks on our chosen project, please follow the links to see everyone else’s progress…


Posted in embroidery, Stitch-a-long, Stitching my Garden | Tagged , , , | 21 Comments

Seaside Quilt HQAL

I was hoping to have my dancing shoes on today with a finished quilt, but I’m not quite there! This is the seaside quilt designed by Kathryn Whittingham , it’s in the book called The Seaside Quilt. Three weeks ago I was on the homeward stretch of quilting the outer border…

Well I cracked on and finished hand quilting the wavy lines on the border. On the four patch cornerstones I quilted a clam shell, this brought it in nicely with the rest of the quilt which is lines of clamshells making a wave effect…

So all I have to do now is bind it. I had put on one side the dark blue and reds, planning a blue binding with a narrow red flange. Unfortunately I can’t find enough of the dark blue, I fear I may have used it when I made the seaside cushion for a work colleague! I was hoping to call into Fabadashery tomorrow as I’m on a WI trip to Halifax but they are closed on Mondays so I think it will be Leeds on Thursday now!

The Seaside Quilt

I’m really pleased with how the quilting has come out, when I look at the photo above, I do see the pattern as little waves rather than clam shells, and waves is what I was aiming for, so that’s good! I also love the way the back has worked, considering I pieced it like that because I didn’t have a big enough piece in my stash to back it in one fabric, I just used some of the left over pieces instead and arranged them to make another seascape…

…I’m also amazed that I managed to get the lines on the backing straight with the lines of the quilt!

Hopefully in three weeks time I will be skipping round my sewing room with glee 🙂

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 and Tracy

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

Posted in Quilt-a-long, Quilting, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , | 12 Comments