Thursday, December 26, 2013

And a Merry Christmas to All

I realise I'm a bit late with Christmas greetings but I've been sewing up a storm in recent weeks. I made these Christmas stockings for my cousin and her husband: crazy patchwork with gold embroidery and charms for Robyn and something more subdued for Greg.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas is coming

I was recently asked to supply some stock for a craft stall and, because I was only planning on making 3 dresses, a quilt and a couple of crazy patchwork cushions before Christmas, I decided to make some Christmas stockings (yes, like most textile people, I always think I can fit in more).

After all my effort, I didn't sell any at the stall (although I did sell some bags and purses) but have since sold five.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Stripy bags

After traveling around the Mediterranean Ocean, I'm finally back at my sewing machine and finishing off a few projects (I started both of these months ago).

The first bag is made from leftovers from Pa Ywel's quilt.

Some years ago, a friend gave me a box of fabric strips (one of those grand plans that languish along the way). The strips include a wide range of colours but I think these autumnal ones made a nice bag.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Silkies for a princess

My son and his family went to England a few months ago and, while they were there, Emma acquired a tiara and turned into a princess. When she returned, she requested silkies - long satin nightdresses - because, seemingly, that's what princesses wear to bed.

So I made her two silkies for her birthday:

And, of course, I made a dress for her as well:

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Very Hungry Caterpillar saga - part 1

Recently, being unusually organised, I went in search of fabric for a quilt for a baby that's due at the end of October. I found a kit for a Very Hungry Caterpillar quilt and was immediately won over. So I purchased the kit and made it up the next morning (it's so easy working with a centre panel and ready cut strips). 

I've always quilted my quilts myself but the one in the shop had been commercially quilted with a caterpillar, butterfly and leaf pattern (see detail of reverse below), so I sent it off to be quilted and was very pleased with the result.

So, I'm all organised for the new baby nearly 2 months in advance? Nah! Why not? Well, a colleague thought it was the perfect birthday present for a one-year-old and bought it off me. After all, I had plenty of time to make another and the parents might prefer something different anyway ...

... to be continued.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Winter warmer

With spring just around the corner (although it's bitterly cold today), I've finally finished this jumper, which I've been working on for a few months, and given it to my son for his birthday. Oh well, I'm sure he'll find it useful next winter. :)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The mysteries of scissors

Late last year both of my pairs of embroidery scissors went missing. I knew they must be in my craft room somewhere, possibly tucked away with WIPs, but I couldn't find either pair. I decided I could use another pair and looked around the sewing shops but couldn't find anything I liked. John then bought me a pair of fine-point craft scissors from The Scissorman - and the missing scissors suddenly emerged from their hiding places, including these beautiful German scissors:

Unfortunately, the other two pairs, including the newly-purchased craft scissors, have since disappeared - perhaps they ran away with each other. So at the craft fair last week, I was like a kid in a candy store at The Scissorman stall. First of all, I saw these cute and colourful scissors - they have very fine points and cost only $12 for 3 pairs:

Then I saw these - more expensive but they contain vanadium. I have no idea what vanadium is but it must be good - right?

And then I saw these - they're smaller than the others and they were on special.

Okay, so perhaps I didn't need another 5 pairs of embroidery scissors but the real question is: how long will it be before these scissors also disappear into a worm hole?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Blue silk

I had a piece of light blue and white silk twill (which I forgot to photograph). It looked a bit anaemic, so I overdyed it with turquoise - and was very happy with the result. 

And then, of course, I made it up into a croissant bag:

and an evening bag:

and a little coin purse, with a bead zipper pull:

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Jodie's socks

Some years ago, I knitted a pair of socks - just because it was something I hadn't done before - and gave to my niece Jodie, who likes to wear warm socks on winter evenings. She recently mentioned that her husband had rudely referred to the my hand-knitted socks as her clown socks. Well, that sent me off in search of the brightly coloured sock yarns, although they didn't actually looked quite as lairy once they were knitted up.

Jodie was very pleased to receive a couple of extra pairs of socks - she liked the pink and grey ones best.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Postcard from Tuscany

Many years ago, I came across Sue Newhouse's Creative Hand Embroidery.

I liked her techniques and ideas, and completed this daisy field based on the project in her book:

I then looked around for an idea to use the techniques in a work of my own design. When a friend showed me a photo she had taken while holidaying in Tuscany, I knew I'd found a good subject for my work. However, while I knew what I wanted to do in the foreground, it took me ages to figure out how to do the background and the stone building. I eventually solved those issues (I drew the background trees and stone building with water colour pencils, rows of running stitches give the stone effect for the building and a few small straight stitches for the door and windows) but had just started stitching the grass when I started having problems with my hands. So once again it got put on hold.

It finally resurfaced last year and I've now completed it - after 3 attempts at the olive tree. Unfortunately, I've mislaid the original photo but here is my completed piece:

And here it is framed:

I enjoyed handing it over to my friend recently. She didn't know I'd been working on it, so I think it was a bit of a surprise.

Monday, May 27, 2013


I recently took part in another fabric postcard swap with the theme 'Recycled' and received this lovely postcard.

My effort was somewhat simpler - although hand-stitching into denim isn't easy, I managed to do it in an afternoon.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I really like the way denim ages and for me it's an obvious choice for recycling but I was very amused recently when I picked up a pair of new jeans, which my nephew had left here to be hemmed. I said that I must do something with them and 4-year-old Emma beamed up at me, "Make a postcard?" I usually let people wear their jeans a few times before I start trying to turn them into something else. After all, they need to be worn and washed repeatedly to get that wonderful unevenly faded effect. :)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Poppy bag

A few years ago, I started making this bag for a friend but decided to make a journal cover for her instead. I came across the machine-embroidered front a few days ago and decided to finish making it up.

I attached the red poppy with fusible webbing and then machine stitched over it, using a free motion zigzig for the centre. I drew the other poppies with a marking pen before stitching them.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mothers' Day Gift

Emma helped me dye this fabric, which I made up into a coin purse with a flex frame for her to give to her mother. It is lined with purple fabric (pink and purple are Emma's favourite colours, although her mother might have preferred blue) and filled with chocolates.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The perplexity of interfacing

I tend to use this blog as a way of recording things I have completed, whether they be sewn, knitted, embroidered or any other technique. However, things don't always go to plan. Sometimes I'm busy and don't get much time to do anything creative. And sometimes I spend a lot of time and energy working on things that don't work out how I wanted them to.

This week, I've been looking at the best support structure for bags. I've tried out some of the products I had in my stash, browsed the bewildering array of information available online (and found very good advice at and, acquired additional interfacings and tried them out.

But I haven't finished anything, although this bag is almost finished. I miscalculated when I cut it out and it's quite small, plus I made the buttonhole loop too small. I was going to discard it but a friend wanted it - she wanted to take it as it was but I persuaded her to leave it for me sew up the gap in the lining. And I replaced the buttonhole loop. Now I just need to attach a button. It's big enough for a mobile phone and a small purse but not much else.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Pa Ywel's quilt

When my friend Pa Ywel said that she wanted to make a quilt, I invited her to choose some fabrics from my stash. I had bought these purple/red/orange fabrics to make a quilt but then got cold feet about how to put them together. As you can see, Pa Ywel did a great job with her first quilt. And I managed to reduce my stash a little without actually doing any work. :)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Silk purses

I found a small piece of blue-green handpainted silk, left over from an earlier project, which I used for an experiment in free-motion pintucking, making it even smaller. However, despite the small size of the final piece of fabric, I managed to make a croissant bag:

And two coin purses, with beaded zipper pulls (they look rather large compared with the croissant bag but they are about 12 cm across):

And a card:

I even have some other small pieces left over that might turn into something else eventually.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Japanese bag

I haven't done much in the past week but I found these fabrics while rummaging in a box of quilting fabrics, so made this cute little Japanese bag. 

I've made this style of bag before and they are very quick and easy to make. And two more pieces of fabric transformed from scraps to something useful.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Silk & Potassium Permanganate

Following on from my previous post, the first piece of fabric I encountered in my attempt to tidy up the Cave was a piece of silk twill dyed in potassium permangate (Condy's Crystals). It was left over from a gift I'd made more than 10 years ago and was only 96 x 93 cm. However, I managed to make five items from it: 3 bags (approx. 22 x 25 cm), a croissant bag and a pyramid purse.

Unfortunately, the straps I made first were too short - so I ended up dyeing another piece of silk twill for the straps. I could justify this on the grounds that I already had the fabric in my craft room, so was still using up my stash. However, I now have another piece of rusty-looking silk twill to transform into something else - but that can wait for another day.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Cave

On 1 January, I proudly displayed my newly tidied craft room. Of course, the room isn't quite as tidy now but I can still get into it - and even work in there. However, I didn't reveal my secret shame - the Cave. This room opens off the craft room and is stacked full of fabrics and yarns, some of it sorted into plastic bins and some just cluttering up the centre of the room.

The window faces west and is usually shaded by an outdoor awning in summer, making it very dark, which is partly why I call it the Cave.

It is very difficult even to get into the Cave, let alone find anything in there, and I have made a few attempts to tidy it up. Unfortunately, as soon as I pick up a piece of fabric I get distracted thinking about what I could do with it. So now I'm trying a different approach. I grab the first piece of fabric that comes to hand and work out what I can do with it. So far, I've used up two (admittedly small) pieces of fabric. I wonder how long it will take me to clean it out. :)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Fabric postcards

I took part in the January and February fabric postcard swaps through the fabric postcards group on stitchinfingers. However, I only recently heard that the January card had reached its destination.

The theme for January was China, so I couched gold Madeira thread onto a red silk background in a fan shape.

Here's the lovely postcard I received from Teresa:

The theme for February was Vintage. I did this outline in brown thread on a burnt orange silk background (it looks much darker in this photo). I'm very proud of myself for tackling facial features - something I've tried to avoid in the past - but I'm still struggling with the ideas that the 70s count as vintage. Instead of being between 100 and 20 years ago, I think vintage should be from 100 years ago up to anything I don't remember. :)

The card I received from Faye is definitely and delightfully vintage.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Black bags

These bags are a variation on the red bags I made recently. However, I featured the collaged fabric as a panel surrounded by black fabric.

This one is black velvet:

And this one is black duchess satin:

Monday, February 11, 2013

Dresses by Grandma

I made Christmas outfits for Emma and Olivia but didn't manage to get photos of them wearing them at the time. However, they wore them on the weekend to the Multicultural Festival.

Emma in her dress and matching hat (I love her sandals):

Emma and Olivia posing with their grandfather:

Olivia's dress has cute ladybird buttons on the back: