Sunday, 20 May 2012

Pulled Work Embroidery - Cushion

Apologies for the not-quite-up-to-it photograph and the fact that I haven't block-pressed this yet, so it's rather wonky.  To my shame, I did this in 2006 (if you zoom, you might be able to see the initials and date in the top left corner) and still haven't constructed it.

It's the work/technique I wanted to feature.  This was the first pulled work project I did (from a very old magazine; it would take me a year to find it amongst all its friends in my craft room) and I must say that I enjoyed it enormously, once I got the hang of it.  I discovered that the secret to a good result is using a very good embroidery frame.  The ones I use now are all from Needle Needs: they certainly aren't the cheapest on the market, but in my opinion are the best.  Because of their quality and the way they are constructed, they allow you to mount the fabric until it's drum-tight and it actually stays that way throughout.  Very important for this technique.


Firstly, the butterflies are drawn onto the fabric and these are worked individually, using satin stitch for the bodies, and stem stitch and eyelet stitch on the wings.  Then, all the background is worked in the 'step stitch' around them, pulling the threads of the fabric together really tightly with each straight stitch.  Borders, of course, last.  I decided not to embellish this because I feel that the work, in itself, is enough.

I've always loved self-coloured embroidery: this one is on linen and I used an ordinary DMC thread in the exact same colour for the design.

I also made an identical cushion - but white on white - which I did get constructed, before giving it as a gift.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Repeat Motifs 2

Another example of how working repeat motifs can be really effective.  This cushion is embroidered in variegated silk and embellished with beads and metallic thread.

A slightly different take on the technique.  I added a row of pockets to a plain kitchen cork board, each with the same motif.  Again, variegated silk embroidery.  Very handy for holding keys and other bits and pieces.


Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Microphotography Inspiration

OK.  This might be a little out of line with my other posts; nevertheless, I think it's interesting enough to share.

I can't remember how, or when, I first hit upon this idea, but I regularly look for unusual sources of inspiration to bring to my crafting - whether that be art, embroidery - whatever.

Here are a couple of examples of microphotography which had a real impact - they just 'sing' to me.

I've also been known to rewind and pause the tv when I see something I think is really beautiful so I can  take a photograph of it for future inspiration.  This is, perhaps, my very favourite from that source...

Tomorrow...another idea like these for inspiration.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Variegated Threads

I originally posted my small gold cushion which I made using this pattern, a while ago.  But I thought I'd point out how using variegated embroidery threads can really add interest to a project like this  Also, I'm going to add a useful tip on coping with complicated and/or very detailed patterns.

For this sample, I chose a silk thread, from Oliver Twists, in blues.  (Cotton variegates by DMC and Anchor are widely available, though in fewer colour choices and I much prefer sewing with silk, anyway)  I think this thread gives an interesting 'chinese porcelain' effect.

The design itself is a form of counted thread work and consists solely of straight stitches.  That said, I found it a particularly challenging piece of work.  When I'm faced with something like that - complex, in one way or another, I resort to a technique I devised purely out of necessity.  If such patterns are presented in the form of a graph, then the threads are usually marked in tens by more heavy print.  I mark my piece of fabric in the centre, then mark out the same grid of tens, working from the centre marked on the pattern, using a very sharp 2B pencil.  It helps enormously in aiding concentration.  The pencil lines are easily removed by washing on completion.

If you click on the photograph to enlarge it, you can see on this, better than on the gold variation, how each 'flower' is different.  I embellished the centre of each with a tiny, opalescent sequin.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Floor Quilt

For this small quilt, I took a block pattern and repeated it to get the size I wanted.  At the time, I was also very much into 'inchies', - still am, really - so used them for the middle border.  I like to think it adds some interest to what could otherwise be a very ordinary design.  I like leaves and this project contains all of my favourite colours: my whole living room is done out in them.

It was originally intended as a wall hanging but, somehow, it's become a rug, in front of the fireplace.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Grandmother's Little Angels

This is a small quilt with 3D 'little angels' made separately and appliquéd.  I love it.

It's from this great book, which has lots of really different and innovative designs...

Click here for link to book on Amazon

Would also love to do the design on the cover.  Ah so much to do...

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Hand Lettering

I wrote in my last post about really wanting to get into lettering.  Well, I've actually made a start.

This really is my first attempt, so I wasn't too careful, nor was I prepared to waste good-quality colouring materials on it.  That said, I think I could produce something acceptable using this technique - perhaps for a card, or certainly in the art journal (once I get back into it).

The inspiration for this came from what I think is a wonderful book...

Click here for link to book on Amazon

It includes all different sorts of alphabets, ideas for creating your own styles of lettering and lots of suggestions for using them.

Here's another example...

...and this novice's attempt to do something similar...

Yes; if you look carefully, there is an 'E' monogram in there - somewhere.  I'm keen to carry on with these, incorporating my stash of really beautiful colouring materials - blending and embellishing them.  I've also started to formulate my very own special lettering alphabet.  More of that later.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Alphabet Sampler

On 32 count linen, using various colours of embroidery thread.  One of my favourites.



Sunday, 15 April 2012

Peter Pan Collar - update

Well - here's the finished product.  Yes; I know: I should have made sure it lay flat before I took the photograph.  Grand-daughter is delighted with it and blatantly intent on telling all her friends back home in London that she made it herself.  Shameless!

I've now been commissioned to crochet a collar for smaller granddaughter.  Hey ho.

She and I spent a wonderful couple of hours at The Crafts House this morning with the wondrous Sandra, who took said grand-daughter through the basics of creating a craft journal and filling her with confidence in her budding efforts to reach the artist within her.  It was awesome to watch.  I spent the time starting on a relatively new skill - that of lettering:  it's something I've wanted to explore for oh so long.  Again, Sandra was an absolute inspiration.  I'll certainly be pursuing this one.  After all, it's not as if I have anything else to do!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Peter Pan Collar

Something current.  My daughter and two grand-daughters have been staying with me for a few days and the eldest, 14 year old, hinted, strongly, that she would like a detachable Peter Pan collar.

She chose fabric and lace from my craft room and so I got down to it.

After I'd added the lace, she decided she wanted to embellish it in her own special way - at which point I stepped back a bit.

On the plain half collar above, I would have liked to just add a lace daisy.  The photo below shows what she actually chose to do with it.  Don't miss the three tiny star buttons at the narrow end!  And apologies for the different picture exposures - they really are the same thing.

It's obviously a generational thing!  Just off to put the two final parts together and sew satin ribbons on the back to tie in a small bow.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Bed runner

When I first came across this image, I fell in love with it.  At the time, I was redecorating/refurbishing bedrooms and would have loved to simply do the whole thing.

Reality set in and so I decided to take just one element and use it in my spare/guest room.

I have become a bit overwhelmed with full quilts of late, so thought I'd translate the 'check' design into a bed runner.  The overall colour scheme of the room is sort of mulberry and gray.

So, here's my take on it - close up.  As you can see, I appliquéd flower motifs on it, just to make sure the total effect wasn't too 'masculine'.  Another project in progress  (don't like the term 'unfinished' - too negative).  I'll post a photo of the finished project when it materialises.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Repeat Motifs

It occurred to me only recently that something I do regularly is take an embroidery motif pattern and repeat it.

This example was made into a small cushion - with a 'dimpled' button in the centre - originally for Christmas.  That was several years ago and I never did put it away with the rest of the decorations.  I like it too much.

As always, the fabric is 28 count evenweave and the embroidery cotton is variegated red.  The photo doesn't show up the embellishment well, but it's metallic gold.

Of course, you're not restricted to making a 4-square like this: I've used the same technique for table runners and rectangular cushions.

All down to imagination, again.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Crocheted motifs as window hanging

Not the best of photos, but I decided to join up all of my motifs and hang them over the kitchen window.  AND they flutter in the breeze!

I think I'll be doing the same thing for the kitchen door.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Crochet - now that's more like it!

In situ

Having refamiliarised myself with crochet after many years, have now managed to produce a doily.  All set now to tackle some of the wonderful stuff I mentioned in my last post, from Pinterest.  Hooked!

Monday, 2 April 2012

Make your own perfect pressing board...

Practicalities today.  Despite the photographs, this isn't really about crochet, but what I think is an invaluable technique for all sorts of crafting.

From the beginning...

I taught myself to crochet over 40 years ago, when I was pregnant with my first child, but it was never my first craft love and I certainly can't claim to be anything like an expert.  However, while trawling on Pinterest recently, I've been greatly Pinspired by all the beautiful photographs of, and ideas for using, it.  (If you're interested, just click my Pinterest button on the top right of my home page here.)

Or just click on these links to get the general idea...

Classy band of crochet on cushion

Beautiful lace and crochet hearts

My favourite - polymer clay bowl with crochet/lace embellishment

BUT now for the main purpose of this post.  While refamiliarisng myself over the past few days, I was reminded how important the process of pressing is, in order to get the motifs symmetrical for finishing.  When I say 'pressing', I''m not talking about normal 'ironing': crafters usually know the important difference.

Last year, I came across great articles and a video tutorial on how to make your own 'pressing board'.  I was convinced.  Having paid all of £2 for an offcut of wood at my local DIY store, I used a staple gun to cover it first with wadding, then with thick cotton twill.  The board doesn't 'give', so you get a far more 'crisp' press.  It made such an improvement when working with quilting blocks.

Here's the link to Sharon Schamber's video, courtesy of Leah Day

One important extra - I went a step further and drew a measuring grid on the edge of mine. (Waterproof marker, of course.)   I use pins to place the piece I'm pressing very precisely.  Perfect!

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Embroidered Heirloom Style Monogram

The pattern for this embroidered monogram came from a very, very old magazine.  It's rather intricate and took quite a lot of sustained concentration.

I've done others as wedding presents - with the two monograms of the couple inter-twined in the centre (quite a design task in itself) and these were very well received.  You can't tell from the photograph, but this one was embellished, very very subtly, with a gold glitter spray.

I can't help thinking, in retrospect, that it would look really nice done in redwork - perhaps as the centre of a cushion.  As only by the imagination!

Friday, 30 March 2012

Colour Combination

How to develop a
colour scheme:
whether that be for
the interior
decoration of a
whole room; or for a
single project.
Find an object - rug, picture, ornament, piece of
clothing etc. - which you find really appealing.
2. Have a really, really good look at its colours.
3. Analyse the colour scheme of the object by
noting down which colours appear in terms of
percentage eg 40% light blue, 25% deep blue,
15% red, 15% green, 5% white. (You don’t need
to be that exact, just a rough idea will do.)
4. From a selection of all your craft materials,
collect those which match your colours.
5. Create on cardstock a square, 3” and then divide
this into 9 equal 1” squares.
6. From your various materials - paint, papers,
fabrics etc., cut 9 x 1” squares.
7. You don’t need to stick to the exact ratio of your
original object. Try different combinations of
placing your small squares on the grid until
you’re happy with the combination.
8. You can embellish the squares as you wish, with
stamps, sequins, threads etc. If you decide to
embroider any of them, it should be done at this
9. Glue the squares onto the grid firmly. If you
have any cardstock showing through gaps, then
simply fill in with coloured pencils or pens.  Use to embellish cards, on the lids of boxes etc.
Of course, you can vary the size of both the inner
and outer squares. You could also try joining and/
or expanding some of them.

You can see here 2 sets of decorated 'inchies' in colours taken from the original image above. 
Using the same principles, and thinking on a broader scale, you could, for instance, decorate a whole room with your colours.  Remember - if you loved the original and follow the steps, you can't fail to be satisfied with the results.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

When I came across this pattern several years ago, I was enthralled.

I didn't particularly want to make a quilt from it, so decided to make it the featured design on a schoolback-pack for my young grand-daughter.

It's so very versatile, that it could be used for anything, really.

I had great fun making it, especially when I got round to embellishing the costumes:  I embroidered designs on them all and added bead 'necklaces' on some.  With a bit of imagination, you could create all sorts of other figures.

The back-pack is well aged now and has been passed down, over the years, to other grand-children and never fails to elicit compliments, even from strangers.

Huge enjoyment.

Click here for link to website instructions.

Door Dangler

This is another small 'door dangler' (ie to hang from door handles), using 28 count tea-dyed evenweave, a geometric 'counted thread' pattern I devised and variegated silk thread.

I've made loads of these and they're always very well received as gifts.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Bead Bookmark

Bead bookmarks are yet another great way of using bits and pieces.

I make these for standard paperback sized books, so that's what you need to bear in mind when you cut a length of waxed thread to begin, leaving extra if, for instance, you want to create loops etc. at the ends, as I have here.  (In my local craft store, the thread is available in quite a variety of colours.)

Make knots about 1" longer than the length of the book, to make sure the beads stay where they're put.  Then just thread your selection of beads however you want at the ends.

The only slight difficulty I have with these is knotting after I've finished: the thread isn't exactly malleable; and it depends on the design, but so far I haven't been defeated in finding where/how to do the finished knots, securing each end so that they're not visible.  Look upon it as a challenge!

You can imagine, I'm sure, how different you can make these bead bookmarks look, depending upon what you use.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Flower Pin

Flowers seem always to be popular with crafters, in whatever shape and form.  I've been known to buy the odd one, just to take it apart and see how it's been constructed - then make my own variation.

There are lots of different instructions and tutorials on line, and especially on Pinterest - most very good indeed.

With this one, though, I just decided to play around from scratch - making different petal sizes from various scraps of fabric, then adding a button and bow.  It's all held together with a circle of felt on the back, onto which I stitched both a brooch pin and a hair clip - just for versatility.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Decorated Trinket Box

Papier-mâché products are so very inexpensive and come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes.  This is a tiny oval box, decorated for my grand-daughter, who loves teeny-weeny things.

After base-coating it, I drew the fairy in outline, then decorated her with different kinds of paints, using a translucent finish on the wings and a stick-on star for the wand.

If you're stuck for inspiration, or aren't too confident with your drawing skills, you can always trace an image.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Printing Photographs on Fabric

This is a photograph of a small cushion (3" x 2") I recently received as a gift, bought from a 'vintage fayre'.  Doesn't the imagination run riot, wondering what occasion these small children were dressed up for?  Whatever it was, they look as if they were hating every minute of it!

Anyway, it has given me a well-needed kick up the proverbial, since I've promised myself to experiment with printing on fabric.  I have so many ideas about what I could do with the technique(s).

Click here for link to ways of doing it...

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Decorative Fabric Boxes

I have to admit that my experience of box-making is virtually nil.  Again, it's one of those things that I always mean to get round to but never seem able.  I've always imagined how good it would be to have a stock of them - all different shapes and sizes - readily available for just the right occasion.

Just imagine the different effects you could get from all different kinds of fabric and embellishments.  This is a useful and fairly comprehensive set of instructions for several different kinds of box.  I'm sure once these basics are mastered, it would be really simple to elaborate further.

Click here for box making instructions from Homecraft

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Origami Rosebud Tutorial

I found a wonderful tutorial to make these beautiful origami rosebuds...

You Tube Tutorial and Printable Instructions

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Jewelled Keys

Aren't these beautiful?  Such a good idea for recycling.

Here's the blog they're from...

My Salvaged Treasures

Saturday, 17 March 2012


I've recently joined the Pinterest site and am already addicted.  (If you'd like to follow me on there, just click the button on the top right of this blog's home page.)

I've already discovered some amazing and inspirational things there.  To the point where my head is buzzing.

However, I'm still learning the mechanics and protocol of it all, so when I came across this beautiful image, I forgot to jot down its source.  So if the original 'owner' ever reads this - profound apologies.  It won't happen again.

I'll be expanding this blog's horizons, then, using Pinterest as a really useful source for inspiration, which I will share here.  I will most definitely be experimenting with this little bird and putting my own twist on it.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Soft Toy Bunny

This lovely soft toy bunny is going to be my next new project.  I just love the floppiness of it.

It comes from a wonderful book, which I can't recommend highly enough.

Here's the link to it on Amazon -