did I need an extra potholder?

No, but I’ve got one now. The appliqué leaf from the previous post was lost in a sea of black, and quilting a substantial amount of fabric around it did not help. There was too much stitching to unpick so I chopped off the quilted surround, gave the leaf a bias binding edge, and a hanging loop to turn it into something useful.

pot holder

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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTsSR6efCks. 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.



Thyme and Dill

The Golden Thyme leaves were causing me much grief and a great deal of silent cursing so I moved onto Dill, with an abundance of theraputic french knots and some wire wrapping. Quick, easy and enjoyable.

There are eight leaves in the Golden Thyme project, all wired and needlelaced and you can see from the ruler showing centimetres in the photo below how small they are. The larger leaves are supposed to be constructed in a way that suggests veins but as you can see in (a), I hardly succeeded. I had already ripped out two previous starts and the cursing would have been vocal but for Big Sis being in the room with me. At that point I thought I might just not do Golden Thyme at all but that seemed like a cop-out so I then tried free-motion machine embroidery over a layer of organza and water soluble fusible web (b below), but although it looks more like a leaf, it’s not quite in keeping with the rest of the design. At that point I went away and did non-stitchy things for a while and then started on Dill but I didn’t want to be defeated by a few bits of wire and thread so I went back to the leaves, attempting one which doesn’t need to show veins (c below). This was more successful than (a), even though it’s smaller and therefore should have been trickier to sew. Perhaps I was just in the right place mentally. I haven’t finished all the whip-stitching around the edge which is why you can still see wire in places but that will be done in no time. I started on Santolina late yesterday afternoon and that’s nearly done but today I will make time to sew more thyme leaves and hopefully improve my technique before too long.

thyme leaves


This is Pokeweed, my latest piece from Sachiko’s book. I don’t like this one as much as the others I’ve done, probably because I had to re-stitch almost every part of it. Several times I mis-read which stitch I should have been using and a couple of times I had finished something then realised I’d used the wrong colour. Anyway, it’s finished now and I never need to look at it again if I don’t want to. On to something else after a much needed cup of tea.


silly little birds

Last week I came across a book on how to illustrate children’s books but the only thing I remember after a brief look was the recommendation that when you get an idea for a character, you should draw, draw, draw and keep drawing that same character until you can draw it inside out. I had been doodling some embroidery ideas for a bag front and when I got to the end of the page, I thought my leaf shapes looked a little like cartoony birds so this morning I took the idea further. The lines of birds were drawn from right to left but I’m not sure they improved along the way. I patently still can’t draw birds for toffee* but believe me, they look more like birds than any I’ve drawn in the past!


*I remember the phrase “I can’t (insert appropriate skill) for toffee” from my childhood but have never been able to figure out what relevance toffee had to not being able to do something. Do you know?

October challenge

Appropriately enough, this month’s stitchy challenge was Autumn, but I have to admit that I struggled with this one. I had ideas in abundance but found them awkward to put down on paper, never mind express in stitches. When I did finally commit to stitching, the ideas morphed into something quite different but at least I’ve actually made tangible things this month: I now have a new case for my specs and a bookmark, although the bookmark is less likely to be used since I mainly read from a Kindle these days. The third piece, begun at the weekend, is at the ‘not sure if this is worth developing any further’ stage and since big sis emailed to say that she had completed her Autumn piece but had also struggled with hers, I feel let off the hook somewhat so I’m throwing in the towel for this challenge.

1st piece – the specs case. It’s supposed to look like leaves blowing off the tree! Free-motion machine embroidered muslin and tiny pieces of felt on a cotton background. Hand embroidered seams using Palestrina (Double Knot) stitch.


2nd piece – the bookmark. A single leaf. Free-motion machine embroidered on a heavy duty water soluble fabric.



3rd piece – who knows what this will end up being? The leaves at the bottom are not yet (and may never be) attached. More free-motion machine embroidery  and appliqué with felt and cotton, and some done on water soluble fabric.DSCF9806