Wednesday, 29 June 2011


Firstly the positives, some stitching on the crazy patchwork ............

and some more research material ...............

Now as to why I'm horrified.  Idly looking through some google images I came across something which looked familiar and clicked, expecting to find either somebody's interpretation of a design I'd seen in a book or a coloured photograph of the author's work.  Yes, in my opinion, it was somebody's "interpretation" of said design but, according to them, it was a pattern they'd recently designed and which they were selling!  Well, I got my book out to be sure I wasn't imagining things as us embroiderers do often see very similar work from different people and sometimes take inspiration from other embroiderers when we buy their books or attend their courses.  The shape of the object was exactly the same, the shapes and lines of embroidery were exactly the same - nothing had been changed as far as I could tell!  It's sad - very, very sad and, if I'm right, criminal!

Saturday, 25 June 2011

What is a Scrap?

I seem to be overflowing with scraps so last night was time for a sort out.  Out came all the odd bits of embroidery, stuff which could be used for backing, odds and ends of cords etc. which filled one box then the leftover blue and yellow strips from the kitchen window blind in case I need them for the next one.

Bearing in mind that it's only pieces say 6" or less that get put into scrap here there's a sizeable amount of stuff which could be used for crazy patchwork.  Oh and some brown strips that may just be enough for a small coiled bowl:

They're making some quite nice backgrounds ............

Then we're left with the real scraps which are but fragments really with nothing much more than an inch wide.  Horror of horrors this little lot of snippets weighs 650g which equates to more than 4 yards of the average quilting cotton thus up to £40 or more of fabric and being added to all the time.  That's scarey!

Offering them to somebody who might make more imminent use of them did cross my mind but what about all the blue bits for my seascape (the one I've been thinking about for perhaps 10 years and for which the frame will be warped if it spends much more time standing on end before I do anything about it)?  And there's the selvedges I saved should I want to do something fun with them?  Space is at a premium here .......... I need to make some rash decisions!  When my husband asked why I was actually saving them, I started to reply, rather hesitantly, with "I could .............." .  He stopped me with "I could" means you don't actually need them at all.  Use them or lose them I think .......... I better get thinking fast!

The postman didn't bring my zips for the bag today but did bring a disappointment.  I bought (or should I say won) a couple of FQs of "American patchwork cotton" on ebay.  One is lovely but the other is dressmaking fabric.  It's not worth making a fuss for the small amount I paid but I am disappointed that a "quilting shop" sent this out and I have let them know.  I expect I'll find a use for it at some point but it won't be used for the next I Spy quilt as planned.

He also bought a lovely surprise though.

Some months ago I won the above book in a little compeition via The Sewing Directory but never received my "prize".  I had a feeling that the book was coming from elsewhere so just the other day decided to mention it (I must have been feeling brave for a minute or two) ............ not only have I now received the book (the original appears to have been lost in the post somehow) but some fat quarters as way of an apology.  I'm going to sit and have a read this evening to see if there's anything from the book I can use for my crazy quilting blocks (smile).

Friday, 24 June 2011

Easy Elasticated Inner Bag Pocket Tutorial

Up early this morning, it's been nice and peaceful so I've photographed, step by step, the making of a small elasticated pocket for the inside of the bag.  There will also be a zippered pocket so it doesn't need to be too big - just large enough for a mobile phone or keys etc.. The first one I ever did, following instructions from a book, had raw edges inside - I really don't understand why go to all the trouble of making a bag nice on the outside yet roughly finished inside so I came up with my own method.  My finished pocket is approximately 4" wide and 4.5-4.75" deep.

   Cut fabric 7" x 10".  I'm using a dressweight cotton ie. poplin.

  Bring short ends together and stitch across with a decent seam allowance.

 Press seam open flat

  Turn raw edges to wrong side (about 0.5")

  Turn right side out and press keeping the turned edges as even as possible (they will need to line up when it comes to stitching the picket on) and with the previously stitched seam to one edge (the seam will be on the bottom edge of the pocket)

 Stitch across top folded edge of pocket about 0.5" from fold (or a distance appropriate to accomodate the chosen width of elastic) ensuring stitching is secure at both ends.

 Insert elastic and securely stitch, back and forth, through the fabric and elastic about 0.5" from the end.

 Pull elastic up until pocket measures 4" across the top and secure the end as before.  Trim elastic so as the ends are not visible but without being too close to the stitching.

 Mark out position of pocket and pin.  At this stage you may wish to tack the folded edges (sides) together before pinning if you're not confident with machining the two folded side edges of the pocket accurately together to the lining fabric.  Try to keep the pocket on the grain of the fabric and fold a single pleat in the bottom so the bottom is the same width as the top.  I've stretched the top of the pocket about 0.25" before pinning so it's not too floppy (any more and it will probably pull in the interfaced lining fabric too much).

Stitch close to the edge around the pocket securing by stitching a few stitches back and forth at beginning and end and keeping folded edges of sides neatly together as you sew.  You may wish to tack before completing this last step, particularly if using a slippery fabric.

I hope somebody finds this useful though pink on pink isn't wanting to photograph very well indoors this morning so do say, please, if the pics aren't very clear and I'll remove the post - no point being here otherwise lol!

Thursday, 23 June 2011


Simplicity are doing a Summer Tote Sew Along on Facebook with their patttern 2396 which I thought might be fun.  I don't actually have the pattern but had a look at the specifics and instructions here and could quite easily get round that.  Make it smaller (handbag size), fabrics put together in a different way with some embellishment, an alternative fastening ....... . I wouldn't really be "sewing along" at all so maybe I'll just stick to my own thing.

Another ruffled bag in progress, in fact a replica of the one I made our daughter for Christmas.  I shall sit tonight and stitch the plastic canvas in the bottom then hopefully the zips will arrive soon so I can get on with the lining, pockets and fastening.

I've never been a fan of hexagon quilts with most of what I've noticed in the passt being rather a mish mash of random fabrics.  Quaint I know but not quite for me until I saw, on somebody's blog, the start of some lovely floral hexes in sunflower colours on a white background.  I was captivated and, although I left a comment, now can't find said blog ............. sorry!

Playing with hexagons in pretty colour combinations is fun.  My husband isn't keen and I've yet to tell him that just this week I've read of someone completing a hexagons quilt  which has been 35 years in the making!  Maybe he has a point lol!


Friday, 17 June 2011

Old Stuff

Periodically coming across old stuff, like one does, a few samples that haven't seen the light of day for years.  Some of them rather tattered now but all using my hand dyed fabrics and threads to demonstrate some different decorative techniques.

Machine pleating, trapunto, tied (with beads) quilting, stuffed and ruched tubular viscose yarn:

Turned edge applique, (flat) echo quilting, hand embroidered french knots:

Pulled scrim painted and applied over a quilted background fabric with beaded silk yo-yos:

More painted pulled scrim applied over a quilted background and embellised with beads and straight stitches:

I try to keep my blogging almost exclusively textile related but there are a couple of recent revelations that I just have to share.  

Over the years we've tried all sorts of home made batters for fish ............ beer, lager and all sorts.  Most have been ok but not quite how we'd like them to be until a recent find by Marguerite Patten:

4oz SR flour (or Plain + tsp BP) sifted
2 eggs
1/4 pint milk
2 tbsp water
2 tsp oil

Blend ingredients for the batter, adding oil just before coating fish and whisk briskly.  Coat floured fish and fry for 3-5 minutes depending on thickness of fillets at 180.  Smaller items can be fried at 185 for less time.  By far the best battered fish we've cooked at home.

The next is faggots.  I've always wanted to give them a go but never got to sourcing any caul.  She suggests filling an oven-proof tin or dish with the mixture and cutting the top part way down into portions to break apart when cooked.  I just can't believe I've never thought of anything so simple and will be trying them for dinner tonight!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Meet "Hope"

When I won the lovely box of Coats threads for my comment on the "Threads of Feeling" exhibition at the Foundling Museum I just knew that I had to make something in keeping with the exhibition and the foundlings.  My token isn't suitable to be pinned to a page of a ledger for hundreds of years, it has no reason to be, but it is apt.

Why a camel?  Well, the camel remains largely unchanged and adapts itself well when faced with the most severe living conditions.

The first pair of boxer shorts came my way when, after just a couple of wears, they were torn (probably more due to user error than substandard goods) and I felt the fabric too good to part with.  Within a year or two I had accumulated 8 or more pairs.  Fabrics from the clothing of my own family and having laundered them day in, day out over a number of years - as a compilation I would recognise them anywhere no matter how long I had been parted with them.  What better fabric to use?

From the Coats collection, Duet 100%  polyester thread has been used to stitch the patchwork and then camel together.

Every cloud has a silver lining so my token has some decorative stiching on the patchwork of the inner legs in silver Alcazar again from the collection.  The same thread is also used on the tail.

Shisha mirrors to ward off evil.  Actually they're large sequins which are a little more flexible for a stuffed object but the purpose is there.

The hand embroidery threads, beads and sequins were items I already had and the stuffing is from a pillow that I'd bought to use for making a cushion pad.  The buttons on the tops of the legs were from the shorts so nothing was purchased new.  Everything used, apart from the machine threads won, was already in my home.

I nearly forgot to mention that there's a good bit of DNA evidence that he's "mine" too.  There's many a hand stitched item that ends up with a speck of blood here and there but this one had more than a speck.  Pushing a large need from a button on one leg through to the other leg it went right through my thumb and quite a bit of blood escaped before I'd realised it was bleeding.  I used reputedly the best thing to remove it, the enzymes from my own spittle ............ it's still a bit noticable so I'll have another little go later. 

There are those, at home, who think he is more an interpretation of a dinosaur and has the neck of a serpent but, hey, this is my intrepretation and my new attempt to not be so self critical of my work in public lol!

Lastly, he's called "Hope" because there is always hope .............. nobody can take hope away from anybody.  Thankfully I've never been in a position where I've had to contemplate leaving my babies at the foundling hospital but he's my token "token". 

Edit:  Just realised that in my eagerness to take pics and get him put away I forgot to stitch in the mouth.  I shall get onto that now.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Beach Huts

I've yet to finish the camel so nothing textiley to blog about except more research material.  My self made list of jobs for today comprised ironing, hoovering, preparing dinner and finishing the camel.  I did the ironing and then we went out so I got more beach hut material ..............
Nautical blues with white and a hint of red ..............
I like the turquoise, pink, grey and pale blue together in this one .............

An interesting combination of stripes ...............

It was really dull out there but at least the rain held off this afternoon.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

More Inspiration

The last of the Cornwall stuff that I'm going to post.  I really like this pic taken across the harbour at St Ives on our last day whilst we ate our lunch from the Waterfront Restaurant - reminds me almost of a "Lowry".

We called into Launceston on our way home ............

The Warren family butchers (other people have blogged it) is probably the best I have ever seen and just a few shops along the road is a real nostalgic treat.  A small department store showcasing curtain fabrics with a few rugs on the first level before going up a few steps to rails of old fashioned dresses, a stand of brollies and another of hosiery.  The ladies remarked that we'd probably never seen anything like it before ............. I had but in the 60s when I was a child!

Back home to the trials and tribulations of everyday life but, hey, where there is life there is hope (the camel is "Hope" and, hopefully, finished soon)!

Friday, 3 June 2011

The Lizard

Who could not love Coverack ............... it's absolutely delightful!

Porthleven .................

15-20 years ago I would have bought this for my little girly .................... and she would have worn it lol!  I just didn't have anybody to buy it for but would love to make (a bigger) one.  The construction looks quite straight forward but need to work out what fabrics to use ............ something with body ie. outer clothing fabric/cotton duck maybe?

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Cape Cornwall

A busy day.  Some more bits for I Spy quilts from "Buttons and Bows" in Penzance.  Not a huge selection of quilting cottons but I was able to purchase just 10cm of fabrics chosen which is worth a mention.

There wasn't much happening in the kitchen garden at Trengwainton except the lettuces  sporting a favourite colour combination in harmony with the scattered Nasturtiums.

We grabbed some hot pasties in St Just which were cool enough to eat when we arrived at Cape Cornwall.  Needless to say I didn't manage it without getting crumbs all over the car!

I was about 6 feet away when my husband actually remarked that it was a bull!  He was a lovely bull though and laid very still while I photographed him.

Up the coast to Levant mine where it was a bit scary looking over the edge .........

I just had to take a picture of the spiral staircase.  Way back when, for the first term of C&G Embroidery, our subject was bridges and staircases and my chosen starting point was a stone spiral staircase in a castle!


Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Down to Cornwall

Any thoughts of visiting Clovelly on our way down to St Ives were quickly dismissed due to the rain on Monday.  Neither of us could remember if we'd been to Bude before - if we had it were more than 20 years ago so no harm done to have a little look.  Driving into the centre of the little town himself spotted the "Remnant House".  Oh my, I was in heaven!  A visit to the bank, lunch, drink and a read of the paper in the car and I was still looking!  Boxes and boxes of fat quarters to search though and even a box of cotton "scraps" at 40p a piece to delve into ............. perfect for I Spy quilts ................

Aside from the quilting cottons, rolls and rolls of dressmaking cotton.  Some I've seen in Fabricland and they're a little more expensive here but loads to choose from.  Some old favourites .............

I resisited the box of shiny and glitzy scraps on the floor being pre-occupied with quilts and bags in my head but now back home so wish I hadn't!!!!!

St Ives ...............

The shops were mostly closed but one can still look.  I fell in love with the wonderful vibrant colours in  the work of Yvonne Coomber

Ok, so my legs are long past showing such frivolous shoes to their best but ...............

and there just has to be shells of course ..................

There's a few more days of Cornish time to blog about but meanwhile, back on the home front, there's the camel ...........

Isn't it that someone is supposed to sit astride a camel not that the camel sits astride itself?  I just knew I should have put some darts at the top of the inner thighs to prevent flaying legs!  His lower jaw isn't very horizontal either ........ still, it is an original lol!