small gifts

Now that my friend M’s birthday has come and gone, I can show the little needlebook that I made for her. I used two layers thick craft felt for the front cover and  a single layer for the middle ‘page’. The inner layer of the back cover was reduced in size to make a pocket for storing a needle gripper.  M’s birthday card was also handmade, using the September flower for decoration.



September flower 2

Here’s another free-motion machine-embroidered flower for September, based on the knapweed flower. As a practice piece after testing different machine settings and stitches, it was extremely useful. One layer of thin poly-cotton fabric was backed with medium weight iron-on dressmaker’s interfacing and then hooped before stitching.  Unfortunately, the wrinkles and puckers worsened as I increased the length of the stems and added a couple of leaves so I unpicked the leaves and shortened the stems but it didn’t satisfactorily cure the puckers. It could have been the stitch length or tension or the direction of the fabric weave or stitches, too thin a fabric, or a multitude of other reasons. Time to consult a book or two.

another flower


I added some more colour to this little landscape by way of flowers. I tried sewing a mouse but it was too small to be recognisable and a snail just looked like a bunch of threads being unravelled. The spider at least looks like a spider, albeit short of a leg or four.


number 12

The twelfth project, French Lavender, will be added to the wall later today and now that it’s done I have to admit to being less enthusiastic about doing the remaining six projects of the book. I’m becoming more critical of the book’s choice of colours (particularly the greens) but having set myself the task, I ought to complete all eighteen. My mother often said that I was too keen to begin something new before I’d finished whatever I was currently doing – ‘out of the frying pan into the fire’ was what she actually said – frequently, but there are too many stitchy things I want to try and life is too short to tarry with the things that I’ve grown bored with. Right again, mother.


not so juicy strawberries

Wild Strawberries now completed but I’m not happy with this piece. I don’t like the way the flower petals turned out and I’m not too keen on the berries either. These were both second attempts.

I knew that the berries would be the biggest challenge of this project and I didn’t have red coton a broder as specified in the book. My two local sewing supplies shops don’t stock it since there is little demand for it and I didn’t want to order just one skein online and then have to wait several days for it to be delivered so I improvised.

I found a skein of coton a broder in a sort of golden brown colour so dyed one length with poster paint and another with fabric paint. Both lengths took the paint colour quite well but the poster paint rubbed off on my fingers when dry so that was useless. The fabric paint didn’t rub off but the thread was now stiff so that wasn’t much use either. In the end I just used 4 strands of regular DMC embroidery floss but I found the needlelace particularly difficult to work on the padded felt and the sheen of the floss made it awkward to see which particular stitch I should be placing the needle into.

I’m not happy with the flower petals either. I used DMC Blanc as per the book but my petals look a tad grey compared to the book photo in which they appear much whiter.My leaf colours also seem to be different colours to those in the book photo but again, I used the colours listed. I could rip out the berries and petals and try again for a third time but I think it’s time to move on to the next one – Chilli Pepper, with more needlelace but this time done on a flat surface with a cordonnet which should be easier. I am nothing if not hopeful…


Flax finished

Flax is finished and I’m already looking forward to starting on Wild Strawberry as the fruits are made by first stuffing berry-shaped pieces of felt stitched to the background fabric and then applying needlelace over the raised shape. I’ve done needlelace quite a few times but never on a 3D shape before. Another skill to learn!



Viola now finished and I’m happy with this one. Thirteen more flowers to do!