Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Love Heart Pin Cushion

I have been brewing a little idea about how to make and present a pretty pin cushion. This is partly in response to the fact that I don't have one yet (or at least I didn't until now!) So when I decided that I wanted to try the TAST (Take a Stitch Tuesday) Challenge from I thought I would combine the two ideas.

The TAST challenge, challenges you to try a new stitch, and there is a chance to get involved each week. This week is the Linked Double Chain stitch. It provides an unusual effect and I really liked the way that it created an element of texture to the piece - especially with my uneven stitching!

The first stage of the project

With the linked double chain stitches, I kept them quite narrow, which meant that it is more the weight of the stitches that shows rather than the shape of the chain. I should try again giving myself more space, but for this project, I enjoyed the texture and the handcrafted feel that this gave.

As I was getting excited about texture, I decided to finish it off with my other new skill - french knots. Lots of! 
The finished motif
I chose an ombre pattern with my french knots, I don't mind admitting that I got knotted up all over the place doing these knots, front and back of the fabric and everywhere I didn't want the knots to be. But we got there in the end! And now I have a lovely new pin cushion:

The finished article
I mounted it on a glass bowl, I think the whole lot looks like a fancy ice cream!

God bless,


P.s. If you are in London anytime soon, pop down to the crypt at St Martin in the Fields, where there is a wonderful exhibition of embroidery created to celebrate the Olympics and Paralympics by members of the Embroiderers Guild. I loved it and found lots of great ideas there.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Bows and Flows

Well, I have just become an entrepreneur. When I actually make a sale, I will call myself a businesswoman... as yet I have just published my first listing on (which is ebay but pretty!)

The piece that I have made to try and sell is called Bows and Flows, after the Joni Mitchel lyric from Both Sides now:

Bows and flows of angel hair,
And ice cream castles in the air,
And feather canyons everywhere,
I've looked at clouds that way.

So my inspiration came from clouds, and flowing hair and feathers. This is the first piece of really abstract work that I have completed, and I must say that I enjoyed the freedom and the flexibility of working like this.

Bows and Flows
I used some of the leftover lace from my revamped T-shirt from a couple of weeks ago, as a sort of background for the embroidery. This was a challenge to work with, just to make sure that the detail did not just blend in with the lace, but it has certainly produced a delicate kind of pretty!

I also discovered the secret of the french knot (either that or I have invented the Watford knot) in any case, I have fallen in love a little bit, and you can expect more knots in my future projects.

If you would be so kind as to visit the listing on Etsy, you might just make my day! Here's the link (It has had about 3 views so far, and I'm pretty sure they were all me!)

God bless,


Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Log Cabin Quilt

So my housemate and I were very impressed with a friend's quilting, and we thought it would be a great idea to make our own as we thought we'd have a quiet summer. We pinned a lot of quilting ideas onto pinterest, and then made a start. Inspiration is a great thing, but actually making the thing takes a lot longer than googling it!

I chose a log cabin pattern, pretty much on impulse. I suppose it is mainly because they are so pretty, but they also look quite traditional, well it is a traditional pattern to use. I even found some brilliant instructions to follow here.

For my own work, I decided to hand sew the whole thing, this is partly because I don't have a sewing machine, but that wasn't the only reason (honest!) I have always enjoyed sewing, even if I haven't always been the best at it, and perhaps things do fall apart moments after I have sewn them together sometimes, but I'm always trying to learn.

It's something that women in the past have always been able to do. It is such a simple and essential skill, attaching fabric together using needle and thread is just so basic and fundamental, and yet when artistry is involved it becomes a fine craft. I am amazed sometimes when I see historical garments to think that they have all been hand sewn, and I have such respect for the women of the past who would have done this work to clothe their families - and it seems so strange that as we rely more and more on manufacturing, we lose the intricacy and artistry of clothing that there used to be.

In any case, I have pieced this quilt together by hand to practice for when I take on a more intricate project. It's not finished yet, the next step will be to add a border around the edge and then I think things will get even more complicated, so I'm looking at loads more tutorials in the interim.

My log cabin quilt pieced together.
Also I'm loving buying all of the tools and equipment I need to do my sewing projects. For example see my lovely new scissors below!
Embroidery scissors (from John Lewis incidentally also  available at the V&A)
God bless,


Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Inspiration - imperfections

I was in the V&A again last weekend (before going out onto Brompton Road to watch the men's Olympic road cyclists whizz past) and I found some wonderful pieces that I've not seen before.

These pieces are absolutely stunning, such skilled work, all done by hand, mainly by women in past centuries, however what really caught my eye was the fact that these amazing pieces were still not perfect. It makes me feel better about my own work when I see things like this, and it reminds me that, like in music when you play a wrong note with confidence, it is an interpretation, when your needlework is well designed and beautiful, the imperfections are character!

Chair back cover by Jane Vigor from the collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
This is one of the pieces I spent an age staring at! I was amazed at all the detail, and the way that the colours were used but I did spot that on the right hand side - you won't be able to see it in the photo- there are some pencil marks around the flowers, where she clearly has changed her mind about how they were going to look. It was fascinating to see that because it teaches you something about the way that the piece was made, but also just the fact of being able to see that the piece was not immaculately perfect.

I know that my work is not perfect, far from it, so to see a piece like that, which I know is amazing, which also has imperfections it makes me hopeful that I can make my work better, and tells me that what I do is fine too.

I have plenty of choice when it comes to showing you some of the imperfections in my work, so I thought I'd show you a first glimpse of the cutwork that I am working on...

A first look at my cutwork project, you can see how it's gone  a little bit frilly!
I'm learning as I go, so some of the stitching is a little bit messy, but I think that it will still look nice in the end, and the more important thing is that the next time, I will know how it's done!