using a doodle piece

I’m off to visit Big Sis next week and as usual I’ve prepared something to embroider during the lengthy train journey but I can’t find the little triangular needle case I made a few years ago so I had to make a replacement. It’s as basic as can be, using half of a recent free motion embroidery doodle piece for the outside and a layer of felt on which to park the needles. Being fairly bright and colourful it shouldn’t easily get lost.

red needle case 1

triangular box

A triangular box this time, with leaves and berries applied because the box was so dull with nothing added. The application of the leaves taught me that with a three-sided box, it would have been easier to embellish the lid before it was constructed. Ah well. I live and learn.

triangular fabric box

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

vines of a sort

This was also made on Wednesday as the backing for the bird box hanging but I decided it was too nice to just face a wall so I think I’ll mount it as an individual piece. Should there be a little bird on a branch or two? Free-motion machine embroidery on red felt.


The Seaside

My effort for the month of June’s stitchy piece on ‘The Seaside’, and yes, big sis has completed hers too. I think we need to adapt the challenge somehow – being able to complete them so far ahead of schedule kind of defeats the purpose of having a monthly theme.

I started off with machine appliquéd clouds and then went to town with free-motion machine embroidery. The border was satin stitched and then top stitched with the birds’ foot design on my machine.

The Seaside


a bowl of flowers

Wednesday’s work: hand and machine embroidery on appliqué, and the background fabric coloured with oil pastel crayons.

bowl of flowers

more machine embroidery

Yesterday’s machine embroidery effort on cotton, A4 size. I have no idea what I’ll do with this. I expect it will simply join the ranks of the other things I’ve made recently that I also have no idea what to do with.

The original book was The Ancient Mariner, and the cover artist was Willy Pogany, a Hungarian illustrator of children’s and other books. Sorry about the crap image (again!).

latest sewing thingy

Did this over the weekend. It measures approximately 20 x 20 cm. The colours are stronger than the photo suggests but I’m never sure what I should be altering in Photoshop to enhance them properly so you’re stuck with this poor attempt. (Found the image on a poster web site and adapted it slightly but don’t know who the original artist is. Hope I haven’t broken any copyright laws by using it as inspiration!)

Chinese junk



block busted!

Last week I was bemoaning a creative block but in the last few days I find myself once again with several projects under consideration, such as –

  • a wall hanging based on one of second son’s book illustrations
  • taking my basic tatting skills to the next level and actually tatting more than just simple circles
  • adding machine embroidery to the bottom edge of a silk scarf
  • making quilting sandwiches and then practising stitches from Leah Day’s excellent quilting website

Until I typed them out, I wasn’t fully aware that three of the four ideas are sewing projects. I have more than just dabbled in many other hobby pursuits but it would be true to say that since I was first taught to sew around the age of six, I have been addicted to it and ever since then, my leisure time has indeed mainly centred around fabric, needles, and thread. It’s never really occurred to me before that whilst other hobbies are tried and discarded (sometimes for good), I always come back to sewing in one form or another for the satisfaction and challenges it provides.

Family and friends would no doubt look at me askance to hear that, and remark that it was more than obvious that sewing was my main creative outlet but I think I’ve always thought of it as no more special a hobby than any other. It’s just one that I happen to have done for longer than any other.

At the age of ten or eleven, my grandmother’s ancient Singer treadle machine appeared in our home to fascinate and beguile me and since then, no matter where I have lived, I have always had a sewing machine and not to have one would be a form of torture for me. When the Singer machine that I’d had for almost forty years gave up the ghost, I almost wept.

I think that what I recently referred to as a creative block was because the Bernina was faulty and I didn’t want to use it until the fault had been rectified. In other words, my choice to sew or not to sew was taken from me and I was in a place where I didn’t want to be. Now that she’s back and fully functional once more (oh, yes, it’s definitely ‘she’), the ideas have been flowing once more and when I’ve done what small amount of work I need to do today, I’ll be back sorting out fabric and threading up the Bernina!

1907, treadle-operated Singer sewing machine.

This is pretty much the same machine as my grandmother’s but it looks as if this one has had a motor added. (Image from

educated in an afternoon

Quilt, the first,

and the following is how I imagine a quilting teacher would report on my efforts:

“This is considered a beginner’s project and should have been well within Crunchnrustle’s capabilities. She has spent many hours researching quilting via YouTube videos, books, blogs, and magazines, so she knew what skills and equipment would be required. She was also aware that she did not have a stash of standard quilting fabrics but went ahead anyway. The use of different fabric weights and textures has contributed to the skewing of the quilt. C only used a long narrow metal ruler as a cutting aid which she says was difficult to hold still against the rotary cutter and claims that this must be why the books are curving out of shape and why the shelf appears to be warped but this may just be an excuse for inaccurate measurement and a desire to make the quilt in one afternoon.


C had also recently discovered a quilting blog which provided demonstrations of hundreds of quilt stitches but she did not bother to practice any of them at any time, as is evidenced by the lack of consistency in the background quilting pattern size. The only redeeming feature of the whole quilt is the hand and machine embroidery on three of the book spines.
I suggest that if C intends to undertake any further quilting projects, she practices some basic stitches on a regular basis and builds a stash of fat quarters as well as purchasing a quilting ruler. I am undecided as to whether this quilt deserves a pass mark.”


I am as ever, undeterred.  I have even added quilting as a category in my blog so I guess that sub-consciously I intend to begin another quilting project, but not today – a crochet hook, wool, and a new pattern are tempting me. This first quilt will remain on view to remind me that it is not possible to become a master craftsman without first being an apprentice. Still, you gorra have a go, dontcha?  And I did learn a lot. Loads in fact, none of which will go to waste. Do you quilt? Was your first effort a success? Do tell.

Leah Day’s blog supplied all the little videos on the stitches I have spent hours just watching, fascinated by her talent. If you want to do the bookshelf quilt project yourself, the instructions can be found at Don’t Call Me Betsy.