Skipton Stitchers

One of our members is celebrating an amazing 50 years in the Embroiderers Guild, and she is still just as involved within the organisation and enthusiastic about embroidery. She decided to celebrate by organising a competition for our members and she would provide generous prizes.

She is very keen on recycling and repurposing textiles and has a large collection of the free cotton bags which these days are often given out at events. She brought a big pile of them to Skipton Stitchers meeting earlier in the year, there was also a selection of fabric book samples, the sort that curtain shops have. Those of us who wanted to take part took a bag to decorate and a fabric sample to make something.

As usual I left it until the 11th hour, spending the weekend working on my entries – my OH would argue that that is what the eleventh hour is for!!

My bag had a circular motif on it for a gin festival…

An idea came to me in the small hours of Friday night and luckily I remembered it when I woke up in the morning…I would use the scalloped circular edge to make a button design. I wanted to make a practical but pretty bag that I would be happy to use and this definitely fitted the bill.

I rummaged in my quilting fabric stash and found three purples that went well together. The plan was to use bondaweb to stick them all together and to add embroidery to embellish it. As bondaweb does add to the thickness of the design I added the three layers in turn, starting in the centre with the little four circles on the central circle, using buttonhole stitch to go round the ‘holes’. I added some fly stitch and French knots in the middle.

Once the centre was stitched I could apply bondaweb to the centre circle and attach it to the outer ring, using herringbone stitch to edge it. I felt it needed a little more definition so I added a line of chain stitch along the edge

I could then apply Bondaweb to the outer circle and cut it out so it would just nicely fit in the printed ring. Once I’d ironed it on to the actual bag I could then buttonhole stitch round the edge. This bit wasn’t as fiddly as I thought it might be, I managed to stitch round without catching the handles or the back of the bag in the stitches!

My first entry was ready, I’m pretty pleased with this, I didn’t win as there were some gorgeous entries, but I can see this bag being well used.

Posted in embroidery, Sewing, Skipton Stitchers | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Stitching my Garden SAL

Earlier this year I signed up for an on-line workshop with Nicki Franklyn from The Stitchery called Stitch a Garden. I’ve admired Nicki’s work for a while, it’s so pretty and delicate so it didn’t take long to persuade myself to enrol.

The idea is that you create an embroidery of either your own garden or a garden you love, or even an imaginary garden. Nicki is stitching Beatrix Potter’s garden at Hill Top in Cumbria. I’m stitching our garden, but rather than a picture, I’m making a textile book. My walls are covered in pictures and I think a textile book will make a rather nice record of the garden.

Earlier workshops were on things like planning the stitching, colouring fabric with paints, stitching trees and bushes. I haven’t got very far with mine, here’s some of my trees…

Whilst I have in my head how I’m planning to create this book I haven’t got very far in the actual stitching. Hopefully making this my SAL piece will encourage me on. I think it’s a bit like a blank page at the moment, once I actually start it will be a lot easier!

Ideas so far; rather than one map of the whole garden I’m planning to do three or four maps, one for each area, i’m also thinking of a simple embroidery of the roses in our garden and their names, little scenes such as the pots, the arbour, pond, summerhouse., maybe I’ll do an embroidery of the birds who visit our garden too.

I’m also planning to include quotes or poems about gardens, which is where my current piece comes in. I can’t remember if I’ve shown you this before, but it’s a design by Soukiesoo. She hand draws her designs on linen with a heat erasable pen, so once I’ve finished I can just iron it. Unfortunately this also means I can’t iron it for a photo – I so very nearly did this morning!

Her designs are lovely and I think they compliment Nicki’s very well. At the moment I’m just stitching the words with satin stitch…

It’s taking quite a while, although it’s not very big, it’s about 6″ by 7″. I started doing the satin stitch properly with a split stitch edge to stitch over, but I felt it was actually neater without, maybe because it’s a thin area.

Hopefully in three weeks time when I next show my progress I’ll have a few more letters stitched and maybe some designs painted too.

This Stitch-a-long is organized by Avis from Sewing beside the Sea, we post every three weeks with our progress on our chosen project, it does help to keep me motivated on a big project! Please follow the links to see everyone else’s work.


Posted in embroidery, Garden, Serendipity, Stitch-a-long, Stitching my Garden, Textile Books | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments


Having made H a pretty pink dress I then turned to her elder sister’s dress. She is 10 and likes everything in neutral shades, my original thought was to make a simple pinafore like her sister but without the sleeves, but then I thought she probably won’t want one too similar to her little sister so I started looking at the other patterns on Little Lizard King.

One pattern jumped out, the Evora dress, it’s a simple bodice at the front but the back has a crossover, perfect! Whilst my daughter Helen was home we popped into Harrogate and called in to the Remnant Shop, there I found a broderie Anglais, a little heavier than usual, in an off-white, stone sort of colour, it definitely came under the neutral colour!

It’s been a while since I made little girls dresses, my little girl is now in her 20’s and makes her own, I measured chest and waist, compared it to the pattern and cut out a size 7, she’s a slim young lady. I’d measured length before I chose the pattern, she wanted it short and her mum said below the knee! The pattern is designed to be 1.5″ above the knee, so I added three inches to the skirt. What I had completely forgotten is that a 7 year old is generally not as tall as a 10 year old!

The pattern was pretty straight forward to stitch, the instructions for the crossover bit at the back were easy to follow. I lined the bodice with a cream fine cotton. from my stash. The skirt could either be a circle skirt or a gathered one, I chose gathered as I wanted to use the broderie anglais pattern border round the skirt. It was meant to be stitched in two halves with pockets but I cut it in one piece so I kept the flow of the fabric pattern.

It was only when I finished the dress and hung the two dresses together that I thought about the height difference, as the dresses were similar lengths. I then had a panic that it would be too short, though I was sure P would be happy with too short! Or maybe the bodice would be too short…

It fitted beautifully and she loves it.

They haven’t quite got the idea of posing for my blog, I wanted a back view but I did smile when I saw the photo as it looks like they’re in trouble, stood by the fence 🙂

I ordered some labels as I was making H’s dress saying ‘Made by Grandma with love’ they arrived the next day, they looked lovely…and I’ve not seen them since!

It’s nice having children to sew for again and in June my first grandson is due, a little brother for these two. I’ve already got a quilt planned.

Posted in Dressmaking, Sewing | Tagged , , | 13 Comments

Pretty in Pink

A couple of months back my two ready made granddaughters asked me to make them each a dress. Of course I was delighted to but as it was the first item of clothing I’d made for them I did want it to be right. They recently reminded me and asked when they would be ready, I rashly promised them for Easter, not realising at the time that Easter was only two weeks off!

The youngest one is 6 and just requested something pretty and pink. I spotted the perfect fabric in B&M Fabrics in Leeds. It’s cotton with lots of hearts in varying shades of pink, very pretty.

I had looked in the pattern books and not seen anything that jumped out, so I had a look on line, as at least with a child’s pdf pattern you’re not going to have dozens of pages to print out. I remembered seeing Little Lizard King mentioned on facebook a few times so I had a look and they have some lovely designs. I chose the Albany for H as it was a basic pinafore dress with flutter sleeves.

It went together very easily, the instructions and the pattern were great. I lined the dress with a pink batik from my stash. I bought some smartie buttons in the palest of pinks but they were just too big when I got them home…so I looked in my stash! Why did I not look there first! I had some ideal pink and white heart shaped buttons.

Initially I stitched the white buttons on the back, however I then added some pretty pockets which needed a button on to finish them off, the pink ones were just a bit too big so I swapped them for the white ones. The pocket pattern is from Tie Dye Diva, it’s free and it’s so cute!

I’d decided not to add the sewn in sash as per pattern as it looked like it would be quite bulky and structured, fine when it’s say a party dress or a bridesmaid, but I wanted this more as a pretty summer dress so I bought some satin ribbon and stitched a belt loop on the side seams so she can wear it with or without the sash.

I think that definitely covers pretty and pink! We visited them yesterday and she loves it.

Posted in Dressmaking, Fabric shops | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Sewing Room Cross-stitch

Over the last couple of months I’ve been stitching a sign for my sewing room. It’s a pattern from Stoney Creek, it’s a little dated in style, it’s typical of the 80’s and 90’s, but it appealed and it seems to include all aspects of sewing I enjoy, patchwork, embroidery and dress-making. I changed the colours from pink to purple to match my sewing room.

Last time I showed you my progress I’d just made myself stitch the metallic bits on the sewing machine…

Well I cracked on and I’ve just finished it…I think!

At the top is writing in deepening shades of purple. With hindsight I would have been better with a slightly darker shade at the bottom as it doesn’t show up much. Now I’m not going to start unpicking all that, but I could outline the bottom rows with a little back-stitch in a slightly darker thread.

The last bit to stitch was the thread on the sewing machine in long stitches of purple, I think it gives a lovely finishing touch.

Once I’ve decided whether or not it’s finished I need to put some fabric borders on to make it a little wider as I have a sewing machine shaped hanger for it which is a little too wide. I have some sewing themed fabric which I think will go nicely.

I’m pretty pleased with it, I love the cotton reel border in particular! I do think the spacing of the different elements is a bit off, so like the patchwork blocks are pushed into the lower corners rather than spacing them more evenly. There was actually meant to be another 6 empty rows above my name which I missed off. All in all though, I’m happy with it.

Mini happy dance time!

Posted in cross-stitch, sewing room | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Four Season Skirt Pattern

Last month I made myself another skirt. It was one of those projects that seemed to take a lot longer than it should!

I decided to make Vogue 9090 in a Abraham Moon wool. We’re lucky in that the Abraham Moon mill is in the next town and they have a mill shop, their wool fabric is gorgeous, it feels lovely. Last time we popped in they had a table full of 2-3m lengths at £5 a metre, a huge bargain – even in the mill shop it’s usually £20 a metre! I now have rather a large stash of Moon fabrics!

This is the third time I’ve used this pattern, the image on the front of the pattern isn’t particularly inspiring but it’s actually a lovely skirt to wear. I made it in cotton last summer and baby cord a couple of months back…

This was one of those makes that took a lot longer than it should! It’s a very simple make, I could probably make it in an afternoon if I concentrated and didn’t faff about. I used a coordinating cotton to line the pockets and also for the waistband lining, it all went together very easily.

I wore it a couple of times and decided it was a touch big, sitting on my hips rather than round my waist. I decided the easiest fix would be to simply take it in down the centre back seam. I carefully unpicked the zip and a bit of the hem and stitched a new back seam…

It didn’t take long, just long enough to lose the zip!! I hunted high and low for that darn zip, couldn’t find it anywhere. Eventually I gave up and bought another zip. It fit’s much better now and I’ve worn it several times.

My daughter was home for a few days over Mothers Day weekend. We visited the RHS garden in Harrogate, Harlow Carr, a perfect spot for a photo…

…and a selfie…

Of course the zip appeared as soon as I had stitched the other one in…it was in the dog bed!

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Bee Happy

A few months back I decided to make a fabric book of bees, my plan is to have various small embroideries of bees, interspersed with words about bees, such as poems, facts.

I have a lovely cross-stitch bumble bee which I’ve stitched three times now, and as I gave one to my mum a couple of years before she died, it’s now back in my possession. I’m thinking of changing this one from a pin cushion to an entry in my book.

I’ve quite a few bee themed fabrics to use and over the last few months I’ve been keeping my eye open for bee embroideries. I spotted a pretty kit on Etsy of a bee on clover and ordered it.

It’s not taken me long to stitch it, it was small enough to be a handbag project, though most of it was probably stitched at home during coffee breaks. I was a tad disappointed when the kit arrived as the picture on the front is computer generated, not stitched. This suggests to me that the designer hasn’t actually stitched it. It also means that the effect on the image may not be reproduced with thread.

I used a subtly coloured evenweave linen instead of the white aida provided. I started stitching in the centre as usual, but it was one of those designs with lots of scattered colours which make it difficult to remember where you are. I used my usual tactic in this situation, I made a bee-line ( ‘scuse the pun!)for the edge and then worked my way back inwards.

I like how the designer has used half cross-stitch in different directions on the clover and the bee, my only issue was that only one thread was used which really didn’t show up much. The photo shows the single thread stitches on the bee and the top of the clover as well as the trial of two threads on the leaves…

I decided to use two threads for everything apart from the wings. Once all the cross-stitching was complete I just had to add the back-stitched detail. The pattern uses black for most of it, I decided to use a very dark maroon for the lighter areas of the clover so it wouldn’t be quite so contrasting.

I finished the bee last night, I’m pretty pleased with it and happy with the changes I made. It’s definitely one of those that look better from a distance though! I’ve just got to decide how to make it into a page for my book.

Posted in cross-stitch, embroidery, kits, Textile Books | Tagged , | 8 Comments

The Seaside Quilt HQAL

I’ve made good progress with my seaside quilt over the last three weeks, I have everything I need on the side table in the lounge so when I’m watching TV with my OH I can sit and quilt.

This lovely quilt design is from the book The Seaside Quilt by Kathryn Whittingham, it’s hand embroidered, raw edge applique and now being hand quilted. The book instructions are for hand piecing too but that’s a step too far for me, mine is machine pieced.

Three weeks ago I think I was about a third of the way round and still undecided how to quilt the little star blocks…

Well I’m pleased to say I’m now about three-quarters of the way round the main design, though I’ll still have the borders to quilt once the blocks are quilted.

For the little star blocks in the top left and bottom right of the quilt I decided to stitch in the ditch, for non-quilters this means I stitched right on the seam line. I found this much easier by hand than when I’ve previously tried on the machine! I couldn’t use the clam shell pattern here as the stars are based on 1.5″ squares, whereas the rest of the quilt is in 2″ squares.

Last night I reached the top edge on the right hand side, so I’m getting there. For the wide border I’m going to follow Kate Chiconi’s suggestion of wavy lines, they can represent the patterns on the sand left by the sea.

I tried taking a photo of the whole quilt, standing on tiptoe with my arms stretched out, not my best position with my lack of balance! Hence it’s a bit out of focus and I still didn’t manage to get it all in the picture…

…when I’ve finished the quilting I’ll hang it on the washing line for a better photo!

Hand-quilting these two quilts (the cottage garden quilt and this one, both by the same designer) has really swung me over to the hand-quilting camp. When I hand quilted the Down the Rabbit Hole quilt I thought never again. With hindsight it was too big for me for a first time hand-quilting. But I think my hand embroidered quilts deserve to be hand-quilted, and now I’ve found a pattern I find easy to stitch I enjoy the stitching. The finished quilts do have a different feel to machine quilted ones, much softer and cuddlier. I’ve even got my next hand-quilting project lined up! Having said that, machine quilting definitely has it’s place and can be an art on it’s own, I’ve two quilts to make before the summer and they’re definitely going to be machine quilted!

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 Theresa

I’ll also be linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday, please follow the links to see everyone’s progress.

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

A Seaside Cushion

A work colleague of mine has just made the big move to an island in the Outer Hebrides, an enormous change from the busy city life in Leeds. A friend suggested as a leaving present it would be nice if we could give her something more personal, such as a seaside quilt…I gently pointed out how much I would want to sell my seaside quilt…maybe a cushion instead!

I decided to enlarge the cottages block from my seaside quilt and machine embroider it. The seaside quilt design is in a book of the same name by Kathryn Whittington of Patchwork Katy This is the original hand embroidered one on my quilt….

It wasn’t as easy as it looks to enlarge it, especially the cliffs bit. I drew it out and then traced it onto the bondaweb. To fix them onto the background, the ones at the top of the hill need to be attached first as they all overlap slightly. It was only when I got to the last house, the one at the bottom, I realised that my cliff wasn’t too steep! In order to lower it slightly I added some steps to the bottom house!!

I’m quite pleased with my set of steps! The cliffs aren’t so great, but I added some waves with a shiny rayon thread.

With the basic panel made to about 10″ square, I needed to add some borders to make it a useable cushion size. I added a 1″ red border and then a 2″ dark blue border. I found some dark blue batik which worked well for the backing, I made a button closure with some wooden buttons and the cushion was finished.

It was her leaving do last Friday and she loved it, it will hopefully remind her of happy times and friends in Yorkshire.

Posted in Machine embroidery, Quilting | Tagged , , | 10 Comments


I do like a good workshop that gives me the opportunity to try a new craft, I’ve never worked with leather, so when a workshop by Diamond Awl was announced at my Skipton Stitchers meeting, I was interested to try it. Jason Young-Stocks and his wife Louise have a leather workshop in Saddleworth on the very southerly edge of Yorkshire, they teach people how to make a range of leather goods from purses to handbags using traditional methods. One of our members had already attended one of his two or three day courses and made a beautiful handbag.

At our meeting we were making a coin purse. Jason had previously cut out the basic leather shape with the needle holes already made, this is the thick and firm weight of leather, not the pliable leather you can stitch on a domestic sewing machine. There was a choice of colours but as purple wasn’t there I kept it simple and chose a brown leather.

Jason was a great tutor, explaining and demonstrating each process in turn. Our first task was to gently sand the edges with a nail file, removing any residue from the cutting process. We then used a very sharp tool a bit like a chisel to bevel the edges, we had some scrap leather to practise on, getting used to the angle needed to bevel the edge. Here’s a photo of my friend cutting her bevel…

We could then colour the raw edge with a special pen a bit like a wide felt tip, the colours were pretty subtle, especially if the leather was dark like mine. The raw edges were then polished with a Japanese traditional product whose name I did write down but now can’t find! It does make a gorgeous finish to the purse.

Now came the tricky part, learning saddle stitch. I must admit when Jason first showed us I thought I’d never get the hang of it as there are about six stages to each stitch! We started with a long length of thread which was quite thick and very strong, we threaded a needle at each end and put our purse in the wooden clamp.

Having practised in small groups we could then stitch our purse together. Once I got the hang of the different steps of the stitch I did get into quite a rhythm, the saddle stitch needed quite a lot of tension to pull the stitches tight and three weeks later I still have the scar from a blister on the crease of my little finger where I held the thread!

Having stitched across the opening edge we then had to stitch the sides together, which was pretty fiddly at first as we tried to line the holes up. Our purses were complete, we also then had the option of embossing our name or initals on the purse. I decided to put my initials and found it’s definitely harder than it looks, mine is distinctly wobbly, though that probably suits me really 🙂

It was a great workshop, everyone went home very satisfied with their lovely coin purse. Jason was a great teacher, very patient, we also discovered that we attended the same three schools just four years apart, so we had a great chat reminiscing about all the different teachers we could remember.

If you are within striking distance of Saddleworth and interested in learning a new skill, I would certainly recommend a Diamond Awl workshop.

Posted in Serendipity, Skipton Stitchers, Workshops | Tagged , | 5 Comments