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 - 

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Heirloom Quilt

This is an exquisite publication.  A true heirloom quilt, with beautiful photographs and exceptionally clear instructions.

The main project is sumptuous - made from subtle shades of silk fabric, with a gorgeous array of embellishments - particularly its range of embroidery stitches.  It can be made by hand or machine.  If the latter, then quite a range of different 'feet' are required.

Detail of central motif
It also contains several bonus projects, - all heirloom embroidery - such as a bolster cover and this gorgeous cushion cover.

I've got as far as buying all the necessary machining feet for this VSP (Very Special Project), but haven't yet got the fabric together for it.  I think I'll probably do a practice one first, with cotton, rather than risk ruining silk.  Hopefully, the real one will then be a doodle!

Link to book on Amazon

Decorated Initials

Initials are quite widely available from craft stores.  While I've used papier mache ones in the past, I've found that the wooden variety are much better to decorate.

They can, of course, be painted but I used one of my favourite fabrics on this one - about 6.5" x 5".  It's an easy technique. Trace the outline of the letter onto bonding material (WondaWeb etc.), iron this onto the fabric, then cut around the shape.  Be careful to trace so that the fabric is the same way round as the letter!

Then peel off the background, place the fabric very carefully and iron.  All this after painting the surfaces which won't be covered by the background.

These make great, personalised gifts.

Of the ones I've been commissioned to do, my favourite was a set - made for a couple called Mel and Simon - ie their initials, including an ampersand (&).  Whichever way they decide to display them, I'm sure they cause amusement!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Hanging Tags

These are some of the decorated 'tags' I have hanging from kitchen cupboard handles.  They were firstly coated with an ink 'wash'; then sponged etc with more intense inks/paints and finally stamped.

I think they're cheerful!

On the top one, spot the tiny tea-cup drawn on a polymer clay tablet, meant to remind visitors in which place the cups are kept.

Friday, 9 March 2012

My First Machined Quilt

As I've said elsewhere on this blog, I've spent most of my life crafting by hand.  That's not to say I've ever been without a sewing machine: I inherited no less than three from my mother and last year, in a decisive moment, treated myself to a Bernina 440.

I was determined to rid myself of the feeling that sewing by machine was somehow 'cheating'.  Also, I recognised that I needed to get over my sense that I had more control when hand sewing.  In all, I needed to just go for it and devote as much time as possible to gaining experience.

Well, that worked, to some extent.  This was my first full quilt (oops, quillow) which was completely machine-made.  It was for my grandson, who is eight and we all know that boys of that age want nothing to do with anything whatsoever that smacks of girlie stuff, so I tried to make it as boyish as I could.  Quite easy, really, since he's a Newcastle United fan, so choosing the colours was a doodle; but what I tried to do was come up with something that would be equally appropriate when he's older, with, perhaps, children of his own to pass it on to.  He loved it.

So - how am I getting on as far as the hand v machine issue goes?  Sew, sew.  I have more or less conquered free style quilting, with the help of marvellous on-line websites and tutorials.  I still find myself coming back to the hand work, however - especially if there is any level of stress in my life.  I just love the mindlessness/meditativeness of it.  I have always felt the same way about knitting - especially formless projects like blankets.

I will perservere with the machine.  If only to justify the cost of the thing!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Canvas Work Door Dangler

I haven't done a great deal of canvas work, partly because I'm not sure the technique, in general, gives the effects that I prefer.

However, I did come across a particular book I found very inspiring, because the authors incorporate a lot of metallic threads in their designs.

Link to book details here

This small practice piece of mine, above, will probably go in the centre of a small cushion (one day!).

Here are a couple of photos from the actual book:

Monday, 5 March 2012

Door Danglers

"Door Dangler' is a term I came up with long ago, of necessity.  I couldn't think of anything else to describe the very small, sometimes tiny, 'cushions' I loved making and, since I hung mine on the handles of doors all over the house - from wardrobes to kitchen units - it seemed suitable.

I got the idea for the one above from an Inspirations magazine, in a design which featured many flowers, but I was taken by this rosebud in particular.  I decided to create a double running stitch grid and place one in each square.  The stitch used for the buds is padded satin stitch and the thread is pale pink, variegated.  There are tiny iridescent sequins at each intersection.


I've made others, using all sorts of embroidery techniques and have often given them as small gifts to those who particularly appreciate needlework.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Embroidery Knots

I've found that a lot of crafters seem afraid of embroidery knots.  I used to be exactly the same.  Personally, I think they're one of those things that you need to be shown how to do, rather than follow written/pictorial instructions.

Really, once you get the hang of them, they're just so easy that you can do them virtually blind-folded.  I use a method which you rarely see in embroidery books and yet it's foolproof.

I incorporate them regularly in my embellishments because I find there's no end to the wonderful effects they can give.

This was made as a small gift for a good friend.  Both she and I love old, antique effects, so I tea dyed the cotton fabric, making sure it left a few 'stains', and I 'shabby-chiqued' the frame.

I've no idea exactly how many colonial knots went into this; I wouldn't dream of counting, but it must run into the thousands.

The embroidery thread I used was a favourite (especially for Christmas projects) - DMC 115 - a wonderfully rich, variegated red.  Anchor do an equivalent, but is somewhat darker.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Embellished Quilt Block

I found a basic version of this quilt block in a book quite a few years ago.  But, with my love of 'fine' work, I couldn't resist embellishing it.


The flowers are from various fabrics of similar colour tones and were appliquéd by hand. The stems and leaves are sewn in straight stitch.

What I decided to add were - beads, sequins and gold knots in the centres of the flowers,  and outlining of  the petals with gold metallic running stitch.  I also seed-stitched (with the same variegated thread as the stems) inside the leaves, but kept the stitching 'random'.

It shames me to say that I've had 12 of these blocks put away for years.  Just one of many unfinished projects patiently awaiting my attention.

I also think that this design would make a very nice cushion cover.

(Oh - and spot the deliberate mistake?  There will be those among you who are already aware of the ancient adage - that a handcrafted project should never be without a 'mistake' since only God makes perfect things.)

Friday, 2 March 2012

Small Cushions

Small cushions are one of my favourites.  I find them so versatile - especially when grouped together.

This lot live beneath my living room window, on top of storage boxes, which contain all sorts of craft paraphernalia.  (My craft room is bulging at the seams, so quite a lot of my materials are secreted away, all over the house.)

Some of this collection are simple patchwork, some appliqué.  My two 'local' grandchildren each chose one of them to be their special bed-time cushion.

The 'box type' cushions, on which they sit, were made from silk, embroidered brocade.

The central one is rather different from the others.  I used a crazy patchwork technique and embellished it with gold metallic zig-zag..

Central, crazy-patchwork effect, cushion

(All of the above were made by hand - before I decided to get to grips with machining.)

Several, similar, small cushions sit on the edge of my stairs.  Whether hand- or machine-sewn, I really don't think I'll ever tire of making them.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Calling all crafters...

Here's a good cause which brought a smile to my face...