Merry Christmas

I would like to wish everyone who drops by this blog a Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2018.

Instead of a plant themed Christmas greeting I am sharing with you my Christmas sewing and craft projects this year.  I have really embraced my love of sewing and embroidery this year and made some lovely new friends through it.  Apologies for the poor quality photos, they are from my Instagram account and have lost something in quality in the transition to the blog.

The top photo shows a wall-hanging I have made this year.  The centre is embroidered in red work and has a quilted border.  It’s only my second wall-hanging  so I am pleased with the outcome.

The cushion was designed and made for my Embroiderers Guild Christmas competition.  The theme was ‘stars’ and I was thrilled to claim second place against tough competition. You can see the other entries on our Facebook page (see 16th December). I have to say though that sewing on white felt wasn’t the best idea and I learnt that I’m not very good at repetitive things.

My final project is a ribbon wreath.  It was very easy to make just involved a lot of ribbon cutting and tying – simple but effective

I hope you enjoyed seeing something different to my usual plant themed photos.  If you are interested in my handicrafts I share them on my Instagram account and maybe I will share some more on the blog in the New Year.

So it just leaves me to say Merry Christmas.




Festive Stitching


I am rather pleased with myself for having finished my Christmas sewing projects before Christmas.  I did think I was being somewhat optimistic at one point especially when I got distracted for a few weeks with knitting a poncho.  I wasn’t too ambitious but I wanted something festive and simple which I could occupy my hands with in the evening without having to concentrate too much.  I am really pleased with the little bird photo, he looks like some form of Blue Tit but is actually an American Chickadee, so pretty.


I’ve also done three cards for my nearest and dearest.  Seeing them in the photo I realise that I really should have ironed them before mounting them – opps! They are now under a pile of books to try to flatten the fabric but I am sure they will be fine and the creases won’t be so obvious when they are stood up.

Now they are done I can go back to knitting the poncho….


Sheep Pincushion finished

2014_12060021I am thrilled with the Sheep Pincushion now it is finished. The kit is from Lorna Bateman and it is one of two kits I bought to help me learn some new stitches and try some different types of embroidery.

Whilst doing this kit I learnt how to do drizzle stitch and couching.  I was also meant to have a go at stumpwork by making some thread covered horns but to be honest I was concerned that they would dominate the finished piece of work.  I have found doing the faces and ears of the sheep challenging.  I can do the stitches but achieving the effect I am after hasn’t quite worked. The sheep above looks more like Dennis the Menace’s dog than a sheep!

2014_12060023What really impressed me was how the piece of work was completely lifted when I added the grass and flowers.  The cording is not as regular as I would have liked and I know that I didn’t quite get the technique right.  But then again I think this has more charm to it than bought cording.  Assembling the pin cushion was very easy as you just gather up the edges of the piece of work and slide it over the pad which is screwed into the wooden base from below.

2014_12060025My next project is a scissors case which will give me the opportunity to have a go at some beading work and also learn stitches such as bullion knots, roumanian stitch and palestrina stitch.  And of course it means that I get to play with the pretty sparkly beads!

I have bought some fabric so I can practice the stitches first and I plan to work up a sampler over the course of time just as I have seen on Pintangle

Once I have done this kit I will have my sewing kit all ready and I then plan to go back to crewel work which I think is more my style – I prefer the neatness and patterns it uses to the freestyle approach above.

More Paisley or should I say Whales?

2014_09190017Donna’s comment on my last post that the first paisley motif made her think of a whale with flowery eyes made me chuckle and since then all I can see are whales. I have completed the second motif now which looks even more like a whale than the last one!

This motif is much better than the last one as I have abandoned the waste knot starting method so the ends are secure.  I haven’t got bored of french knots yet but I am more and more convinced that I get more enjoyment from the crewelwork I did in the last project.

Two more small motifs, or whales to do, and then I have to decide whether to do some motifs on the back of the cushion and then to sew it all up and finish it!

2014_09190018In the meantime I am looking for the next project which will be crewelwork or maybe a go at Needlepainting.  I think I want to get a little more experience and practice under my belt before I launch into the design course.

Paisley Ponderings

2014_09090002I had been making good progress on the paisley designed cushion cover but I suspect I am about to take some steps backwards.

In my last post I mentioned how frustrated with the transfer method suggested with the pattern in the Stitch magazine I was.  I used a transfer pencil and despite repeating the process several times the pattern was barely visible even with my glasses on!  So I decided enough was enough and drew in the design freehand which turned out to be quite easy really given the simplicity of the design.  I definitely prefer the pounching transfer method.

Anyway having transferred the design I have made good progress on the largest motif.  The outline is in stem stitch, with the flowers made up of detached chain stitches and French knots.  I have to say that I have felt that any doubt I might have had about French knots have definitely been put to bed. I also enjoyed the crewelwork project much more as I like the complexity of the stitches and effect achieved.

All seemed well until I realised that my approach of using a waste knot was failing dismally. I had learnt this method of starting off a new thread on the previous project where it was great.  Essentially you start the thread off going down from the top side of the fabric a little way from where you will be stitching.  Then when you have finished you snip of the knot and the thread is caught up with the stitches on the back of the work.  This worked well with crewelwork due to the density of the stitching but with the current project it hasn’t work since the stitches are quite well spread out and so there is nothing really to catch the thread. I really should have twigged this a little earlier.

Therefore I am going back to my old approach for the rest of this project catching the thread under previously sewn stitches and I think I might have to re-do some of the work I have already done but I think I will come back to that at the end.

I am still pondering the Embroiders Guild course.  I think I might go for it as it will bring out my creative imagination which must be lurking somewhere, although if I could find some sort of distance learning course through which I could learn skills such as goldwork, blackwork or stumpwork I would prefer to go for one of those.


Roman Blind Project


I could start this post by saying its ages since I posted etc etc but I hate that so I won’t instead I will show you one of the projects I have completed this weekend – The Roman Blind.  I think it needs capitals as it became a bit of a cause celebre in my house and I am sure both my sons are pleased that it is finally completed and they don’t have to listen to me on the subject of ‘The Roman Blind’.

I have said before on this blog that in my late teens I used to make my own clothes including complex designer Vogue patterns without a second thought but with age and a loss of confidence for reasons I won’t bore you with I find myself struggling at time to believe that the project will turn out as I imagine it in my head.  I am also a very tough self-critic – never a good thing.

Anyway, the downstairs toilet has been a room that has been unloved by me since we moved here 9 years ago.  It is the domain of my son and was alright but not one of those facilities you would necessarily be in a rush to suggest guests use.  Last Autumn I decided to give it a face-lift.  The room was painted a soft grey to bring out the colour in the tiles and my youngest son put down a new floor which has a black slate effect.  Very smart, very masculine.  The room is a strange shape and has a recess which isn’t enough for a shower but is wasted space so we put in some book shelves – why not? I also around this time found a mahogany framed mirror at the local flea market and so I match the toilet seat to this and the whole space took on a new feel – masculine but more elegant; my eldest says it makes him think of a ‘Gentleman’s Club’! The only problem was that the room is flooded with sunlight and the books were in direct line of the light and I didn’t want the covers bleached.  I didn’t want another roller blind, as the old one was never used, but I wanted to dress the window in such a way that the strength of the sun was reduced.

I spent some time on Pinterest looking at instructions for making false Roman Blinds, before coming to the conclusion that I might as well go the whole hog and make a real Roman Blind. How hard could it be, after all its only a rectangular of fabric with some cording.  It’s not the cording that is the challenging bit but the mathematics that go with making such a blind.  I chose the material; a grey toile pattern which  I think added to the Edwardian feel of the space.  My local soft furnishing shop are very good.  They started off by giving me some printed instructions to take away to look at and which showed me how to work out the material I needed and how many folds etc I should have.  It wasn’t that hard once my head was in the right place so having completed my maths test I went back and bought all the bits and pieces – it came to around £45, a lot less than I paid for a similar blind on another window to be made.

I started at Easter cutting out the material.  I dither when it comes to cutting material as I am convinced I am going to make a mistake.  I did this time as I got confused somewhere along the line between the instructions in inches and centimetres so instead of adding 2″ for the slot along the bottom I added 2cm – whoops.  I have never made any window dressings nor lined anything so the lining took a while to work out but I got there.  By the end of the first session I had sewn on the lining and sewn the bottom slope for the bar that weights it all.


Two months have nearly passed while I have been busy with this and that mainly to do with the garden but also making excuses for not finishing the blind.  It sat there on the side goading me until this weekend I decided enough was enough and to deal with it.  I sewed the velcro along the top and then after some more sums to adjust my measurements for my decimal/imperial mistake I sewed on the tape and inserted the rods.  I was dreading the cording bit but this was actually the easiest task.

Luckily at this point my 6’6″ son came to help  and saved me from going up and down a step ladder. He put the other half of the velcro on the batten using the opportunity to play with my new staple gun! He then screwed in the eyelets and threaded the cording through them for me and hey presto it was up. The cleat that you wind the cords around to keep the blind up still needs to be done but this morning when I had another peak at the blind I was really pleased with the result.

It definitely reduced the glare of the sun and the folds are beginning to settle into shape. I think I now have the confidence to make another one for the landing window when I decorate that area, which is the plan for this winter.  I will though make some notes on the instructions including some large notes reminding myself not the muddle imperial and decimal.  Luckily the blind just fits the length of the window and isn’t really intended to be down much so the lost few centimetres don’t really matter.

So if you have pondered making a Roman Blind I would say go for it, just double and triple check your measurements and sums before you start!

PJ Bottoms Finished


I am rather pleased as I have finished my youngest son’s PJ bottoms rather quicker than I anticipated.  I think my biggest problem, as I said in the last post, is bringing myself to cut the material as I worry about cutting it wrong and material isn’t cheap at all.

The pattern couldn’t have been easier which is good as I am trying to get my confidence back when it comes to dress-making.  They probably only took about 5 hours maximum to sew together although I did them over a number of evenings this week.

Despite taking it quite slowly and reading the instructions carefully I still managed to catch one of the pockets in the top waistband, as I was meant to, but so that it faced backwards!!!  I didn’t realise I had done this until he tried them on. He kindly said it didn’t 2013_11010002matter and that I wasn’t to unpick the waistband, according to him the fact that the pocket faces backwards as this is ideal for his iPhone – I think he is being very polite.

Anyway, they are made and he loves them.  The material a lovely soft cotton flannel has been a joy to work with and he is excited about them as they should keep him warmer in his student house.  When your room is on the third floor of a Victorian terrace near the top of a hill keeping warm becomes quite a priority.  Apparently the PJ bottoms are very on trend; and there was me thinking how old-fashioned they were.

Needless to say there has been a request for a second paid, so he must really like them. But first I have to make my eldest son a pair.  I suspect that by Christmas I will be a little weary of making PJ bottoms but at least they are really appreciated.


The First Cut is the Deepest…

2013_10240006….well maybe not the deepest but definitely the hardest and most challenging for me and I suspect it is the reason I don’t do much sewing.

Apparently when I made myself some Pyjama bottoms (see link on my other blog) I said I would make my sons some.  It was one of those throw away lines which I assumed no one was listening to.  But no!  They were listening and who would have thought it but both my sons (in their early 20s) have asked when I will be making them some winter PJ bottoms!  At least its only the bottoms as they will wear T-shirts on the top.

Procrastination has gone on for a few months.  The pattern, New Look 6321, was bought on-line and is about as simple as you can get.  I spent ages surfing the net looking for checked cotton flannel which apparently isn’t that fashionable, if you want ditzy flowers you are spoilt for choice but checks forget it.  It hard enough finding companies/fabric shops that do dress length rather than quilting fat quarters but checks forget it.  Anyway, I finally tracked some down at Truro Fabrics, which 2013_10240005my sons helpfully pointed out, we had walked past several times in June when we were on holiday.  They have a sample service so I ordered a couple of samples and the boys choose the one.  So not only do I have to make two pairs of PJ bottom but in the same fabric, at least they are the same size.

Two weeks ago I stopped making excuses and cut out the pattern pieces.  I find this incredibly intimidating as I worry that I am cutting the wrong size and I have no confidence when it comes to altering patterns at all.  Luckily men’s PJ bottoms have little shaping and so I went for the basic S size.  The 2013_10240001pattern and material have sat on the table for the last two weeks making me feel guilty.  However, my youngest is home from University next weekend and I would love to be able to give him his PJ bottoms to take back with him to keep him warm in his drafty student house.

Tonight I have bitten the bullet, moved the coffee table back and tackled laying out the fabric and pattern.  The material is checked and I have lined up a couple of key points on the cross of the pattern in a vain attempt to line up the pattern but I’m not too worried about it.  I get very nervous about cutting the material out more so than the pattern, I love the fabric and dread that I am going to cut it wrong or some other disaster.  I did plan to cut both PJ bottoms out this evening but it took me just over an hour to do the first pair and quite frankly crawling around the floor for that long is enough of a work out for me.

So the pieces are cut out and now I have to crack on and sew it up.

Today I made a skirt

Yes I know amazing isn’t it!

I used to do loads of dressmaking about 25 years ago and I want to start making clothes again but I need to find my confidence.  Back in the day I was a standard skinny 10 so dressmaking was easy now I am not so skinny and certainly not standard or a size 10 so more challenging.  However, the advantage of making your own clothes is that you should be able to get a good fit but then again to do that you need to have an idea of what you are doing and I have forgotten more about dressmaking than I can remember.  Anyway, having made a simple top a couple of months ago and some dolls clothes I decided that I was brave enough to make a summer skirt for my holiday.

The observant amongst you will be thinking hang on didn’t she go away the other week and you would be correct.  I bought the material and pattern in plenty of time but then I wasted many hours worrying about getting the pattern to fit properly.  I attempted to measure myself and the pattern indicated I was between a medium and extra large.  This made not sense as even I know I’m not that large but it also sent me into a flat spin about how to get the skirt to fit especially as I had bought reasonably expensive fabric.  In the end I cut out the medium pieces from an old sheet and tacked it together and decided that it fitted fine and I really needed a lesson in how to measure myself properly.   By this time there was no time left before we went on holiday to make the skirt and it has taken until now for me to get my courage back.

Anyway, today was forecast to be a wet day so I decided before I went to bed that today would be a sewing day and I would try to get the skirt made.  The pattern itself was fairly simple – Kwik Sew 3951. The material I bought from Gone to Earth and they are both Joel Dewberry designs.

Once I had cut the pattern out the skirt sewed up really quickly.  It is a simple wrap skirt with two buttons securing it at the top.  The hardest part was trying to remember how to do buttonholes on my sewing machine – it took about 6 attempts before I had managed to succeed with a practice one.

I am quite pleased with it, though I wonder if I should have  lengthened it but we shall see.  I think it will look quite nice with a black or navy top and navy sandles.  Hopefully the weather will now improve and we will have an Indian summer so I can brave wearing my creation to work!