workbox #7 tape measure cover 2

This Allium (aka flowering onion) is for the other side of the tape measure cover. The flower heads were embroidered with three or six strands in the needle which meant it only took an afternoon to stitch. I normally embroider with only one strand in the needle and I didn’t think that I’d be happy using six strands, but it was quite liberating. I’m pleasantly surprised with the end result.

box of birds branches

I made ten samples for a tree branch and the final choice is between #2, #3, and #4.

For anyone interested in the methods employed:

#1 Soft cord wrapped with a scrap of furnishing fabric and stab stitched to the calico background.

#2 Soft cord wrapped with crinkly dyed muslin and stab stitched to the calico background.

#3 Couched lengths of knobbly yarn with scraps of green crinkly dyed muslin applied to suggest moss.

#4 Portuguese knotted stem stitch in various sizes with three strands of Anchor tapestry wool stitched onto onion netting and then applied as a slip.

#5 Soft random-dyed yarn stitched as a raised stem stitch band.

#6 As #1 but with different fabric.

#7 Silk scarf scrap wound around polyester toy filling and stab stitched to the calico. Moss as in #3.

#8 Same yarn as #5,  various stitches with over-stitching also to suggest roundness.

#9 Wire inserted into a cotton rope and overcast with Anchor tapestry wool.

#10 Rope as #9 with different sized straight stitches close together.

wheatfield and wild flowers

Hadn’t realised that it’s been nine days since my last post here but I’m busy with several stitchy things this week as well as getting to grips with a new mobile phone plus making a new cover for it, downloading some drawing apps, Instagram, Dropbox, and realising how far my techno skills have slipped over the last four or five years. I don’t believe that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, I just think it takes longer. A lot longer.

The least interesting thing I’m busy with this week is taking up trouser hems so I’ll say no more on that subject.

On my embroidery hoop is a slight variation of ‘August’ from Lala Ward’s 1989 Countryside Embroidery Book. I made several attempts at stitching the wheat like Lala’s version of small satin stitches over ‘bump’, which according to the book is the technical name for the soft cotton thread used for padding. I didn’t much like the look of the finished wheat in the book and even after trying the suggested method on a few stalks of wheat I liked it even less so gave up on the ‘bump’ altogether and interpreted the wheat my own way. What with all the stitch trials and drawing my own mouse to suit the reduction in the wheat size, it’s taken more than ten hours to get this far, so goodness knows when it’ll get finished.



The last thing I’ve been playing around with is a mixed media piece – a calico ground fabric with scraps of fabric, ribbons, braid, string, crochet cotton, and threads added by hand and machine stitching. The thicker threads and yarn were also used as bobbin threads and machined with the reverse side of the fabric uppermost. Diluted acrylic gesso was scraped all over the surface and when dry, acrylic paints were applied to suggest plant life and sky. I think there’s room to add a few more plants etc but I’ll let it swill around in my brain for another day or two.

wild flowers


fast piece applique

Ever on the lookout for something new to try, I was browsing through my Quilting Arts book and found Rose Hughes writing on how to fast piece appliqué a landscape quilt and realised that I had watched her YouTube video on the technique a while ago: Her method looked fairly easy so with the the book to hand yesterday, I gave it a go.

quilted leaf

Rose recommends that the shapes are simplified but obviously I didn’t heed her advice since there isn’t a simple shape to be seen in my leaf. Freezer paper is used for the shapes template and this remains on the pieces even when overlapping one piece to another and also when stitching them together. My iron was certainly well used yesterday! The raw edges are trimmed back on the top only and once all the pieces are stitched together, the stitching lines are couched over with fancy yarns to hide the raw edges. Still with me? The video makes more sense! I don’t do fancy yarns so I just pinned my trimmed and stitched leaf to the background and then free machine stitched along each join, followed by double thread satin stitching to cover the mess I made of the first stitching.

Not having pieced a quilt in the traditional way I’m in no postion to critique Rose Hughes’ method but I’m glad I tried it and particularly glad that my leaf ( approximately 12″ x7″) wasn’t any smaller but I’m not sure that I’d use this method again. My first go-to these days tends to be fusible web which leaves a neater edge for satin stitching over if I want to.