Sunday, 30 January 2011


Another week has gone by since I last updated my blog. Life just goes on apace and, like everyone else, I wonder where the time has gone. If I have been sewing, then I have tangible evidence of time not wasted so here are my efforts this week.

Decorative stitches

The shapes of the flowers are drawn onto the right side of the fabric with a water erasable marker. I then play about with the stitches on my machine and fill in the marked shapes and beyond. The ‘beyond’ part is important as heavy stitching causes the fabric to shrink and distort.

I check whether they still fit into the shape of the flower before carefully removing the backing paper, from the fusible, behind the flower only. I position and stick the flowers in place and trim from the back.

Stitched flower

This part of the progress is fiddly and I am sure there must be an easier way. But once I have positioned one flower, I am encouraged to continue! Eventually the whole panel will go onto another rectangle of the coloured background fabric, and onto cotton batting so I can zigzag around the cut edges to prevent fraying. I find that the batting gives extra body to the work during the zigzagging, thus preventing distortion.

Building up the panel


Another project I have in mind is to make a patchwork throw for the small settee in our lounge, the only room that doesn’t have a quilt on display! As a member of a couple of sewing groups where I really need hand work to do, I could quilt the throw by hand, a technique I need to practice more. The curtains and carpet in the lounge were here when we arrived 4 years ago and, although they were not my own choice, I really like them. So they are the starting point for the fabric palette.


And here is the palette of fabrics I have chosen to make a patchwork throw.

Palette of fabrics

All I need to do now is find a pattern that is speedy to construct but interesting enough to challenge me and look effective. Watch this space!

Sunday, 23 January 2011


I find it hard to believe that there is only 1 more week until the end of January. Where does the time go? Most of mine went on sewing the side panels for my quilt. To this frenzy of sewing, add a trip to Warwickshire where I was the after-dinner speaker for a Christmas lunch, and a demonstration at Chester Ps & Qs and you will see that I have had a busy week. I am not a fanatical sewer but I do like to spend a couple of hours a day in my room.

Side strips

There is a lot of intensive work in these 2 strips. The pleasurable and creative part is the decorative stitching on the Jacobean flowers. The mundane and repetitive part is the zigzag sewing around the cut edges to prevent them from fraying and to join the layers together. Intensive work or not, I look forward to getting to my sewing machine in the loft, tucked away at the top end of the cottage. The coloured fabric and threads act like a magnet drawing me there on a regular basis. I know I can leave everything out and about, in the sure and certain knowledge that no one else will need to go in there. Being aware that I can just pick up where I left off is conducive to progress.

The threads constantly need changing on the machine for the decorative stitching, so they are always at hand. I use a variety of makes of rayon threads. Also to hand are the ready filled bobbins, with all the colours to match the rayon threads. I generally use a lightweight (50) thread in the bobbin.

Work in progress

This is the super little reference book that I use when I need ideas for the decorative stitches. It has a wealth of useful information inside its small covers. My designs and stitches won’t be the same because I am intent on using set machine stitches rather than hand sewing, but I can emulate the ‘flavour’ of the floral shapes.

Book of stitches

I am aware that so far I have made no reference to the creatures that habitually appear in this style of embroidery. They certainly came into my research and here are some of the simple sketches that I have made for future reference.

Creatures 1

Creatures 2

Creatures 3

Sunday, 16 January 2011


I have finished sewing and labelling all my machine stitches; this was really something I should have done when I first got the machine! Straight away I can see the value of having it to hand by my machine and hopefully it will save me time when I need to find the right stitch for the right job.

Book of machine stitches

It is held together with safety pins at present because the pages are too bulky to fit and sew under the foot of my machine. I need to perhaps sew the spine by hand to keep the ‘pages’ together.

Alongside my researched sketches, pictured in Blog 34, this book of machine stitches has already proved invaluable this week. I have started to decorate some of the floral shapes, using a palette of reds, oranges, greens and yellows. The stitching has to be done in a hoop, to prevent the fabric from distortion and a stabiliser is ironed onto the back of the fabric to give extra body. Here is an example and a detailed close-up:

Decorative stitches

Decorative stitches detail

You have seen Ella’s upholstered chair, and the little cushion I made to go on it. Now Ella is using her chair for refreshments and stories and here’s the proof! Aw bless!


Sunday, 9 January 2011


I have moved my workstation into the loft because it is too cold this time of the year to go into the garage in the present freezing temperatures!! And when I am greeted by this array of wonderful rich colour in fabrics and threads, what’s not to like! I can’t wait to get in there amongst it all and get started. My workstation is really my play station.

Creative clutter

When my daughters were 6 and 7, a friend of the family made them small, upholstered chairs of their very own. These have been stored in lofts for many years but have now been brought out for the next generation. Our grand daughter Ella is about to make use of them, one will go home with her and the other will stay here for her regular visits. I find it quite unsettling that my daughters are now 34 and 35 and ask myself just where did the time go?

Ella’s cushion

Ella’s chair

The research for my latest project on Jacobean embroidery and Crewelwork continues. I have never done this sort of embroidery so I have turned to my books to study the stitches and I record ideas on the pages of an old diary. If I can understand how the stitches are formed, just by drawing them, it should be easier to adapt them to my own designs. That’s the theory!

Stitches 1 & 2

Stitches 3, 4 & 5

Wednesday, 5 January 2011


Happy New Year to one and all!

I have made a good start to this new year by not making any resolutions. I don’t like to voluntarily put myself in a position where I can fail; life throws plenty of those situations at you anyway. So I will continue as I have always done, happy and content in my own little world. My essential needs are catered for; my wants are few and far between and I am healthy and love life.

Over Christmas and New Year I continued to work on my Jacobean quilt when there was space. The shapes on the top panel have been appliqu├ęd and this is how part of it looks.

Jacobean Top panel

There is still a lot of detail to add yet but I am pleased with my endeavours so far. It is draped on a door in our bedroom so that I can mentally appraise it when I wake up and I can make decisions on how it needs to be developed. This thinking time is an essential part of my creative process.

In the mean time, I have started to work on the negative panels. Rather than just sew the foreground fabric to the background fabric as I have done above, I need to challenge and develop my skills. So, what I have decided to do on these panels is to enhance the flowers and leaves with the decorative stitches on my sewing machine. I feel that doing it like this imitates the way the shapes were sewn with wools in original crewel worked hangings. It also allows me to use the stitches that, thus far, have been redundant on my machine! I am experimenting with fabrics, stitches and methods and here are my first attempts.

Stitched inserts

Stitched inserts: detail

As I am playing around with the decorative stitches, it has occurred to me that I can save a lot of time if I can refer to samples of all my stitches. So, before I go any further with my experimentation, I intend to make a little booklet of the stitches. Here are the first couple of pages, well defined and labelled for easy reference.

Decorative stitches 1

Decorative stitches 2