playing footsy, sort of

Rather than toss away all those oddly shaped fiddly scraps of felt I’ve been keeping, I free-motion appliqued a load of them into what might become something useful another day. I removed the paper from a piece of Madeira Washaway Avalon Fix and pinned it to some calico, adhesive side up, then added the felt scraps in a very random manner.

I was really testing a new embroidery/free-motion/darning/call-it-what-you-will presser foot. I know, I know, I have several more than enough already of these feet but this one had the largest transparent plate that I had ever come across – approximately 2 cm square! And yes, I did my usual tweak of inhibiting the hopping action (which I cannot abide) and then I modified it further by increasing the viewing area with the addition of a piece of yoghurt carton plastic reckoning that this might allow for even teeny tiny pieces of felt to be stitched without being moved or catching on the foot edge which is often what happens. It was reasonably successful. The smallest piece I measured was less than 0.5 cm long.

Here’s the new foot in its original state, then after the hopping tweak, and lastly with the yoghurt carton addition. 

I didn’t measure the extra plastic before cutting it and it probably doesn’t need to be quite as large as 8 x 7 cm, and if my centre cutout was a smaller round hole (I had used a paper hole-punch), it would be less likely to lift the  points of the smallest pieces when they are not adhered to the ground fabric beforehand. I expect those will be my next tweaks. Honestly, you’d think I had nothing better to do all day.

replacement pin cushion

Finally got around to making a replacement pin cushion for the one that was stolen

Molly’s stand-in

Meet Romeo from Kerry Lord’s book Edward’s Menagerie Dogs which Big Sis had on her bookshelf this summer. The crochet pattern said the loop stitches for the muzzle should be 6cm long but when I cut the loops, they neither seemed long enough nor to be enough of them (no photo unfortunately). Eventually I ripped it back and re-crocheted the muzzle area without any loop stitches, then added the beard as if I was hooking a rug. Once his eyes, nose, and ears had been added he looked more like the schnauzer he’s supposed to be and I was happy enough to give him as an early birthday gift to Molly‘s mum. I always intended him to be a kind of fun stand-in as it was possible that no pup would be available until next year but even though he’ll only be on stand-in duty for two weeks, I think Romeo will be a keeper. No insurance, vet, or food bills, no late-night necessary walks, no groomer costs, what’s not to love?

puppy bag

My friend is eagerly anticipating bringing home a miniature Schnauzer puppy next month so I said that I would make a cross-body bag so that Molly pup can be taken out and about and become familiar with the sights, sounds, and smells of the world of humans before she’s fully vaccinated and allowed to go walking outdoors. I included a zipped closure to keep Molly secure with a padded neck rest to lean on if she tires, and a waterproof lining in case of little accidents. For my friend’s comfort, I attached two adjustable straps and some padding for her shoulder.

I had no pattern and just basically designed and stitched, altering where necessary as I went along. Made from old denims and some rip-stop nylon, Molly’s bag will be used for only a few weeks at most and most of it can then be recycled. I hope to be able to show you some images of Molly in the bag rather than my very biddable but more miniature than Molly will be, doorstop called Dexter who looks sightly alarmed at being put in a bag.




upcycled #10

In years past I’ve made and clothed rag dolls and made coats to cover a teddy’s bald patches resulting from constant cuddling but I’d never made clothes for a doll with a rigid body until this week. “It’s only a doll”, I told myself, “How hard can it be to make a dress for it?”. It might have helped to have had a dress pattern to begin with and some stretch fabric would have been useful too but I had neither. Undaunted, I measured the doll and ‘designed’ and cut out a prototype simple sleeveless shift dress with a generous back opening. It went on over her head but then I couldn’t get the arms through the armholes. If I pulled it on feet-first I had the same problem. I had a cup of tea and pondered an alternative.

Dress design number two was a sleeved dress but if I included a back seam, the opening had to be sufficient to get over the angled limbs and I had no suitable elastic or tape to then gather the resulting gaping neckline closed. This project was becoming a ridiculous waste of time for a doll that might not even sell so I tidied everything away and turned my attention to framing the now completed Facade kit.

When I went back to the dress, I added a couple of tucks at the neckline to prevent it slipping off her shoulders and a scrap of lace trim added some detail. What had been intended as the back seam became a front opening and two child-friendly Kam snaps were used as closures. Job done. Never to be repeated.


Earlier in the week I made four more teacup pin cushions and I think I’ve made enough of these now.

more teacup pincushions

Here’s the Facade needlework kit now repaired, stretched, mounted and framed. As per the pattern, there are very few straight lines of stitching or felt applique. I wouldn’t want to have done the whole kit as all the wonkiness would have annoyed me no end but it doesn’t look too bad in a frame against my hall carpet!

Facade embroidery kit now framed


upcycled #7

Sewing related items for the Red Cross this time.

A wingless hen pin cushion made from quilting fabric and felt scraps. Stuffed with polyester toy filling and two small beads added for eyes.


Needle books made from two layers of fabric scraps, simply stitched around the edges to secure and then trimmed with pinking shears to avoid fraying.

Needle books with acrylic felt pages.


A small cutting board was homeless until I made this sewing accessories folder from a table runner remains and a scrap of dressmaking fabric. A simple button and hair elastic made the closure.

Sewing accessories folder interior. The large zipped and lined floral pouch is stitched to the folder along the bottom and another button closure keeps it secure when the folder is closed. Underneath the pouch is another pocket (not visible in image) which can hold a rotary cutter. The small square at the front is a needle book, also permanently attached to the folder.

where I’m at this week

An emery block was the next Home Sweet Home accessory to embroider and I did begin it but wasn’t happy with my stitching so I put it aside for a few days. That was weeks ago and I’m still not enthused enough about it to pick it up again. It’s not nagging at my conscience though since I didn’t set myself any completion deadlines for this project.

So, if I haven’t been embroidering, what have I been doing?

  • Watching YouTube videos and getting ideas for mixed media things (which may or may not come to fruition).
  • Trying not to be ‘precious’ about things I’ve sewn or made in the past and actually toss them if they’re not worth keeping or re-purpose them.
  • Properly reading and not just skimming through the content of books I have on design and colour and drawing, in the forlorn hope that some of it at least will finally stick.
  • Making a start on a fabric book
  • Joining a newly formed up-cycling group at a local charity shop. More on that as it evolves.


I made felt and wired fabric flowers a few years ago for my son and his partner’s coffee lounge but they were looking a tad sorry for themselves by last year so I put them in a bin liner, brought them home and tossed them onto the top of a bookcase. Two weeks ago I finally did something with some of them. Destined to be pages of a kind of reference book made of fabric for finished pieces of work as well as small samples that are currently randomly stored amongst fabric supplies.

Yes, I know that the fabrics in the first piece are not square with each other  – I was after a scrappy random look and yes, the stems are real twigs which will probably snap off in a book but it’s hanging on a wall at the moment, out of snapping danger and we have to experiment don’t we? The background in the second piece was painted a long time ago but why or with what kind of paint I don’t now remember. I free-motion stitched around the edge just to attach it to the stiff interfacing background.


yoga block cover

I bought a very firm yoga cushion at class this week but as it was just a rectangular block of compressed foam scraps, I wanted to make a cover for it. I used a kind of faggoting stitch on my sewing machine to join felt scraps to each other on a calico ground fabric and I think that was a better choice of stitch than the simple zig-zag stitch that was used to create a similar patchwork fabric for the twa dugs.



magnifier cover

I am unable to embroider the Victorian Street crewel work piece whilst seated on the sofa because the frame is wide and it’s just awkward to turn it over in a restricted space, but I wanted something to stitch in the evening so I made a cover for a magnifier I recently acquired. Two of the pieces from Sachiko Morimoto’s book Stumpwork Flowers embroidered way back in March/April 2014 were used for the outer cover and the lining is a synthetic batting which should protect the glass well. One flower on the cover is watercress and the other is viola.  This evening I might add some fancy stitching along the seam as I think it looks a bit plain. I only ever framed one of the completed flowers from the book and the rest have been in a cupboard since. Three down, fifteen to go. Any ideas on what to do with them?

Lowery stand frame adaptor

I bought a frame adaptor for my Lowery embroidery stand so that I could more easily use a roller frame and embroider larger projects without having to remove and re-position the fabric as much I might otherwise have to do if I used a hoop, and the frame can also easily be moved from side to side without much effort.

I recently put the Victorian Street WIP that I started in 1983 or thereabouts onto a large Elbesee Easy Clip Roller Frame but in order for the adaptor’s plates not to dig into the front of the fabric, I turned them to face outwards as you can see in image two. The first image shows the metal plates in the default position, i.e. curving in towards each other. Yes, of course I could have removed the fabric from the roller frame and remounted it as per the Elbesee instructions (i.e. with the back of the work visible on the roller bars) but I haven’t had any loss of tension on the fabric and the frame is still held securely this way so this is how it will remain. The third image shows how the adaptor is attached to the Lowery stand clamp.