Still here

Way back in January, I suddenly wasn’t sure if I wanted to carry on blogging so I gave myself a break. I was chatting about it with a friend this morning and as a result, have decided to come back to it. As in the past, most posts will be about my endeavours in embroidery and sewing, the latter being mainly things I’ve made from materials which have been upcycled or donated to my local British Red Cross clothing shop and then put out for sale. The occasional dog related post will be thrown in for good measure.

If you search on Facebook for @BRCCheltenham, you’ll find posts with images showing things the craft group has made. These posts are a fairly recent thing for the craft group so there isn’t too much there yet but do have a look and please share the page with your friends. It’s all in a good cause.

I’ll ease you in gently with just a couple of items today. The first one is big enough for small toys but would equally suit a household with a couple of hundred clothes pegs. Fully lined with appliqued hearts because I was fed up looking at just stripes.

Three decent sized lined pouches for those little things that you can never find at the bottom of your handbag like:- plasters; a tape measure; the kit with a screwdriver inside to tighten the screw that holds the leg of your specs securely; lip balm; that special offer voucher you forgot to use. You get the idea.

Big Sis’s wip 4

Another update on my progress with Big Sis’s wip. Not much more to do now.


hems and stuff

Not so many years ago it seems, there was always something that I needed to be sewing. Curtains, or clothes for myself and our sons, or repairs to school trouser knees (lots of those!).  Costumes for various themed school days were a favourite challenge for me and a decade or so ago I enjoyed making fancy-dress party outfits regularly for four adults and I even made a camel costume for an amateur pantomime production which was particularly satisfying to make.

I miss those former challenges and with no young children in the family to make things for and none of the adults asking me to sew them clothes or anything else, I potter and faff and flit from one idea to another and end up ‘making samples’ or just ‘having a play’ and rarely make anything really useful that anyone but me would find a use for. Lots of people seem able to find one area of expertise and happily run with it in all different directions but all my life I seem to have run in all different directions with lots of different things and acheived only a general level of expertise in anything. At times I think this is okay and at other times like now, it leaves me frustrated and frequently without a path to follow – evening embroidery projects excepted.

I blame the gremlin who sits on my shoulder telling me that the next thing will be the one area of expertise that will provide the ultimate in satisfaction so I should/must therefore buy the book(s)/DVD/equipment/course and give it a go.  The gremlin hasn’t been right so far although it’s been fun trying all these different things but I’m still left with my ‘what shall I sew now?’ dilemma.

After several sessions this week of pulling various fabrics out of my boxes and putting them back again with a sigh, I was delighted when JP presented me with his favourite denims and asked if there was anything I could do about the frayed hem. I don’t generally inspect trouser hems when tossing laundry into the washing machine and JP does the ironing otherwise of course I would have noticed sooner that the hem was fraying had a huge hole in it and would have repaired it Right Away. Anyway, it was a chance to vent some frustration by free-motion zig-zagging over a scrap of denim and I saved a future repair by doing the same on the other hem.

Riding this mini roller-coaster of successful sewing, and after watching yet more You Tube videos on stitchy stuff, I made a rubbishy scribbly free motion appliqué rabbit. I refuse to use the word sampler for it since it is big enough to be useful as one of those things you put between other things to prevent scratching, so excuse me while I go and put it in the pots and pans drawer.

denim hem repair

scribble rabbit

custom pencil case

I want to take a selection of drawing stuff with me next week in case I get the urge to doodle create a masterpiece whilst on the train but I hate having to rummage for a particular pen or pencil in a single slot case so after I returned from a trip to the cinema to see Jurasic World followed by lunch at my favourite Chinese restaurant, I spent the rest of the afternoon yesterday making myself a multi-slot pencil case that hopefully will work for me. One part now holds only pencils, another pens and a set of artist brush pens, and the middle pocket is for the flat and or small stuff like a set square, ruler, a rubber and a sharpener so they will always be easy to find.

pencil case


a mixed bag this week

OK. So I said that I was either going to take the painted tower apart and rebuild it, or make a new one. The coin toss came down in favour of a new one so I began painting fabric to use as the walls but didn’t care for the colour it dried to and after free machine embroidering an indication of a few bricks, I realised that they would need to be much smaller than I had made them. I also then knew I’d get bored sewing the same things repeatedly over such a large area so I’ve given up on them for the time being:


After that I cut off the two layers of interfacing that hadn’t been stitched and just free machine doodled for few hours. This was more enjoyable! When I ran out of usable stitching area, I took a photograph and used Photoshop Elements instead of colouring with paint or crayons, thus avoiding another actual painting failure. It was only just before I stopped for dinner that I realised I could add texture as well as colour (see green leaves at top right). Too bad I didn’t add some to the flowers which are quite flat looking! Click the image a couple of times if you want a closer look:

stitch doodles 3

I’ve been meaning to show these presser feet for a while. I bought the two metal ones online at a ridiculously low cost from two different suppliers. (The non-metal foot is the standard darning/free motion foot for my low shank machine). I reckoned that if they didn’t fit my Janome or caused problems of any kind then I hadn’t wasted lots of money. Well, they do fit and they do work well and I’m extremely pleased with them as I can see much more of the stitching area (which was the hopeful reason for buying them). I haven’t worked out what the notch on the closed foot is for and there was nothing online to explain it. Anyone out there know?

presser feet



3 little birdies

I made this piece of fabric yesterday from some of the scraps left over from the latest felt flowers I made the other week. Of course, once the fabric was made I didn’t know what to do with it (so what’s new?!). Then I read this post on Gina Ferrari’s blog Fan My Flame and decided my ‘new’ fabric would be ideal for making some birdies of my own so that’s what I’ve done today. I’d cut and sewed around the edge of the bird body circles before I remembered that I hadn’t taken a reference photo of the fabric so just laid them back in place.


felt scrap fabric


3 birdies


Stitched Safari

The Stitched Safari book by Tomomi Maeda was delivered on Saturday and I have no doubt I’ll be attempting one or two of the animals before long. The rhinoceros looks really appealing with his armoured hide made from varying shades of grey, brown, beige and off-white felt, and the flamingo is really sweet. Unfortunately there are only two dog patterns, a Pug and a Shiba, neither of which is my favourite type of dog but I’m sure the patterns could be easily adapted to a different breed.

The instructions are well written, accompanied by lots of diagrams and there are plenty of photographs taken from different angles, something which is often lacking in other similar books. 21 gauge plastic wire is used to give limbs stability and flexibility but I’d probably just use wire from my supplies as I’ve never had a need for plastic wire and therefore don’t possess any. The patterns are printed on fold-out sheets attached to the inside back cover with a recommendation that the patterns be photocopied rather than cutting the original patterns. The pattern pieces for each animal are grouped together with the name of the animal printed nearby but it might be easy to select a pattern piece that didn’t belong to the animal you were making since the pieces are not individually identified with the name of the animal, only the body part (see image below). If I planned to make several of these animals at the same time, I’d mark my copied pattern pieces with some kind of code to identify the animal, and store the cut pattern pieces for each animal in separate envelopes. DSCF8034

I’m looking forward to making my first animal but not just yet as I’m still enjoying the stumpwork and yesterday I began another one!


I’d sue otherwise

If these little houses were built from bricks and mortar I’d sue the architect, but since they’re only figments of my imagination constructed during twenty or so minutes of somewhat jerky hoop movement under the sewing needle, I don’t need to. Free-motion embroidery, on polycotton fabric, approximately 4.5″ x 4.5″.  I thought the Juliet balcony in the last one would be an excellent selling point although the roof would need to be re-attached to make the place watertight!

cottage house

wonky house

tall house

new pockets

I was playing around with more free-motion machine embroidery yesterday but instead of just tossing the samples into a folder, I used them this afternoon to make two more tissue pockets. This evening I’ll be doing more shading practice before I attempt to hand embroider a flower or two from Trish Burr’s book, Needle Painting Embroidery.


Sunday stitches

The tissue holders are now made and I prefer the one with the children on it. I used sew-in interfacing on the blue fabric and lined it with quilting cotton which has given it a little more substance than the birdy one. The birdy version was lined with more of the outer fabric and is much softer. The pouch itself seems a little baggy but if I’d made it any smaller it might have been difficult to put the tissues into it. Because I hadn’t measured exactly where to place the children (duh!), they didn’t match up equally to the edge when folded in so I made that one as an open pouch but I think it’s much better and it shows off the lining nicely.




The floral panel was made to liven up the front of an otherwise extremely boring lightweight canvas shopper. I ironed freezer paper onto polycotton fabric then cut them to A4 size before printing the design in greyscale. I stitched it to a larger piece of identical fabric so that there would always be fabric in the hoop as I moved it around when free-motion embroidering. Trimmed to size when finished and edged with some satin ribbon. Something to do on a wet and windy Easter Sunday!