New Tutorial For Twisty Bin


Back in January I showed you the Twisty Thread Bin, finally I have completed the tutorial which you can find on the tutorials page.

I always have my bin next to me when I’m either machine or hand stitching so that I don’t leave little piles of threads and fabric snippets laying around. They’re great for workshops or when stitching on the go too as they simply twist closed containing all the bits until you get home or can dispose of them.

You don’t have to use them exclusively for stitching, they’re great for kids to keep by them when crafting or for pencil sharpening when drawing; perfect in the car to prevent rubbish piling up in the cup holders; on the dressing table in fact anywhere you just need a small bin!

I hope you like the tutorial and find it straightforward. Where will you put yours?


Fabric Purse Success

Back in March I posted about trying out some purse designs – exercising the little grey cells, March 13th – I’ve continued to work out paper samples so decided to try another using some of the ‘hope’ collection fabric left over from my messenger bag.

Handmade fabric purse/wallet with expanding sides

This was much more successful. This purse has card slots, a zipped coin section, slots for bank notes and 3 spaces for receipts/notes etc. There are a couple of modifications I would make – the overall dimensions could be reduced slightly and the expanding side panels made a little smaller, I would also attach the bias tape by opening it up, machining one side then folding over and finishing the other side by hand – just to make it look a bit neater.


The zipped section has a contrasting lining and on the right you can see how the sides allow plenty of room for expansion.

This is a nice easy project that can be made up quite quickly, a great way to use up small amounts of left over fabric.

Crazy Patchwork Square 2

Embroidered crazy patchwork square 2

This is the 2nd of my embroidered crazy patchwork squares.

When I go on holiday I like to take small pieces of prepared backgrounds that I can pick up in spare moments to stitch on, these patchwork squares are ideal for this.

What are your favourite holiday projects?











Fabric Crazy

Whew what a productive week it has been.

Block printed fabric samples









I had a small stash of procion dyed fabrics that I decided to decorate with some wooden block printing.

Some of them have been printed using a ‘tone on tone’ effect which hasn’t photographed particularly well; the strip of lime green fabric in the middle of the picture has lovely little leaves all over.

The red fabric on the left of the picture was decorated using a comb dipped in the paint and pulled randomly across the fabric.


These next few fabrics were printed with individual motifs so that they can be cut out and used as single prints.

The first two samples were done with Stewart Gill glitter paints through stencils. I love Stewart Gill fabric paints, they’re made here in Scotland and come in such a variety of colours and finishes. The website is here: it is well worth a look.



All these samples have been produced with fabric paints that have been iron set once dry, this way any finished items can be washed. If you’re not planning to wash the item there is no need to use fabric paint, acrylic paint works well on fabric too.

Addicted to Pinterest!

I don’t know about you but I can’t get enough of Pinterest! This week I have become obsessed with crazy quilting, there are so many beautiful examples to be seen. Crazy quilting starts with a randomly pieced block which is then embellished with stitching, applique, beading, whatever you like really.

I like to have small hand embroidery projects on the go that I can pick up and work on in front of the television or to take on holiday and I thought this would be ideal. So here are my crazy patches ready for embellishment.

I really like the fact that these patches can be foundation pieced so quickly. There is no need for the fabric to be cut to specific sizes so it’s great for using up scraps.

See my tutorial page for how to make up these freeform patches.


 Keep checking back to see how these progress.

I’ve still been working on my mini stitched sampler cards for Embroiderer’s Guild and completed another two, I forgot to photograph them though!

The second of the Future Learn courses I signed up for has started so I’m now studying Shakespeare and cognitive poetics concurrently; both fascinating courses, totally absorbing and FREE!

Enough for now I think except to say well done to Edinburgh Young Embroiderers who have just won second place in the annual De Denne competition and may have their entry included in the Embroiderer’s Guild Collection. Excellent work everyone.

Exercising the little grey cells!

My attention has been diverted from sewing a little these past two weeks as I signed up for a couple of courses with I’m currently taking ‘Shakespeare and his world’ with Professor Jonathan Bate of the University of Warwickshire. This is a fascinating course that combines looking at items in the collection of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust with studying some of the plays in order to have a better understanding of the cultural background and influences on his work.

I’ve also signed up for a course with Professor Peter Stockwell of the University of Nottingham called ‘How to read….a mind’, this introduces cognitive poetics, the application of cognitive science to literary reading. Something different to stretch the mind!

I’ve been getting a bit bogged down with trying to come up with new designs and trying to decide on a piece for the Embroiderer’s Guild exhibition in the summer so I needed to take a break. I haven’t abandoned sewing completely, I’ve been working on some purse ideas and making up some samples. Planning the dimensions and working out pattern pieces is a time consuming process! I know that there are plenty of tutorials and patterns online but I really want to create something that is all my own work.

This is my latest sample, made with some lovely fat qGEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAuarters purchased in New York a few years ago. I made the bias binding from a fabric covered in yellow taxis that I think coordinates well with the underground map fabric.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAThe purse has a zipped coin section, a notes section, two card slots and space for receipts etc.


I need to make some adjustments such as adding a gusset into the sides as it is a little tight.




Edinburgh Branch Embroiderer’s Guild 60th Anniversary Celebrations

The exhibition in the summer will be a great opportunity for fund raising so members are GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAmaking stitched cards that will be for sale; I thought it would be nice to stitch some ‘sampler’ cards.

The cards are A6 size so the hand stitched panels are easily manageable over a couple of evenings.


Hope to have done a bit more stitching for next time! Smiley Face


Feeling very fortunate this winter

It is impossible to put into words how sad it is to see the devastation experienced by all those caught in the floods in Britain. Let the rest of us remember that their plight goes on long after the weather improves.                                                                                 In Edinburgh we have been fortunate enough to escape the extremes of weather seen elsewhere and I can’t begin to imagine what so many people are going through.

Guitar Pedal Board Bags Completed!

Custom handmade bag for guitar pedal board

The completed bags are approximately 65cmx49cmx20cm with a zip around 3 sides so they open right up. The flap comes from the back so that the zip is covered and the waterproofing improved. Since this picture I have added long straps that are stitched to the base and back of the bag, this allows the weight of the boards to be supported better and puts less strain on the handle attached to the top of the flap.

I have to say that these bags became very cumbersome to stitch as they progressed due to the size and the fabric! PVC is very difficult to stitch!

I found this very useful tip all over the internet: Scotch Tape                                                         Instead of spending money on silicone feet for your sewing machine apply Scotch Magic tape to the bottom of machine feet as well as strips either side of the base plate, close to, but not over, the feed dogs. NB it has to be the semi opaque ‘magic’ tape as this is the only one that the pvc will glide over.                                                                                                This tip works like a dream and saved my sanity!

Close Fitting Tea Cosy

My daughter & I are in the habit of having a cup of tea and a chat when she comes in from school so I recently bought a teapot. Of course I would need a cosy, especially as the lid becomes very hot in use.

All the knitted/crocheted cosies seem to fit tightly to the teapot without having to be removed to pour the tea but all the fabric ones I could find need to be removed for pouring. As a dressmaker I wondered if darts could be used to contour fabric to the shape of the teapot then came across a wonderful tutorial by PlanetJune Craft Blog, just what I needed                So here is my version:

Russian doll fitted tea cosy

This is so practical as I don’t need to remove the    tea cosy when pouring the tea, it keeps the lid in place and keeps the tea hot!

Take a look at my own tutorial in the tutorials page.

Turtle fabric fitted tea cosy


This version was my first attempt, it was a little small and I felt it wouldn’t be very efficient at keeping the teapot warm. The version above covers the teapot more completely. I do love this fabric though it’s called ‘Hip Tortoise’! I didn’t have enough to make another cosy but my daughter did get a nifty bow tie out of the remainder.


A mixed bag

Embroidered felt flower brooches

I’ve been out of action a bit this week due to twisting and straining my knee so I have a mixed bunch of items to share.

I haven’t been able to work at my sewing machine so after a couple more felt embroidered flowers I decided to dip into my box of unfinished bits and pieces and my dyed fabrics and threads.

Since I’ve had limited mobility and had to rest my leg for a couple of days I took advantage of this time to catch up on a couple of DVDs that proved to be very inspiring. “Color by Accident : Exploring Low-Water Immersion Dyeing” with Ann Johnston:    and “In Stitches” with Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn:                                                                                                                                                                               Ann Johnston gives extremely clear instructions for this low water immersion technique and her fabric samples are stunning, I can’t wait to have a go but in the meantime the “In Stitches” dvd has inspired some embroidery.

Embroidered sample inspired by Jan Beaney & Jean Littlejohn

In their dvd Jan & Jean really exploit each individual stitch using weight of thread, layering and wrapping to produce beautifully textured work.

I worked this sample only in twisted chain stitch on a ground of procion dyed cotton fabric layered with procion dyed cotton scrim. I used various weights of my own procion dyed threads and yarns then added some wrapped areas and a little beading.


I love the texture on this sample, it will be interesting to push this technique further.


Crazy patchwork, foundation pieced with added stitching

After trying out the braided foundation piecing shown previously I had lots of fabric off cuts and decided to combine these with other fabric remnants to try out some random foundation piecing. I had abandoned this piece but it might be nice with some added stitching so I’ve made a start on this. I’m keeping the stitching quite subtle and using threads that tone with the fabrics at the moment but I might not stick with this plan! GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA


I plan to make some stitched book covers when time allows so I have spent some time this week making up signatures ready for stitching and binding.


I plan to put these signatures together to make up little sketchbooks containing various weights and textures of paper for use with different media.




Handmade signatures ready to be made into books – this website was a great recent discovery; they have some wonderful handmade papers in  a whole variety of weights that are suitable for many different uses.

Time to get stitching!   


Twisty Thread Bin

The idea this week has been to introduce you to the kinds of things I make and what you might expect to find here. Time, I think, to show you one more project from the past few months then to get on with this years projects and move to a weekly update of current work!

The Twisty Bin

Twisty thread bin

At a recent workshop I noticed that the tutor had a little fabric bin next to her sewing machine for threads and snippets – very handy – at the end of the day the bin was folded down keeping all the threads contained to be taken away and disposed of – brilliant!

Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to ask where this came from but felt sure that I would find it on the internet! Weeks later and I had found lots of different versions of ‘thread catchers’ but  none so practical as this.

Then I came across this post by Butterflyspain – eureka!

I found a couple of the stages a little confusing so changed them slightly and I also substituted a ring cut from the lid of a tub of ice cream for the tubing and this worked perfectly.


Twisty thread bin closed


twisty thread bin closed – base tucks just inside supporting ring

This is how the bin looks folded down – you simply twist it down and the base fits neatly just inside the edge of the ring. A great idea for taking on workshops but I can think of plenty of other uses as it is very easy to modify the size.

Another twisty thread bin

Lovely folds created when twisty thread bin is closed

These pictures show my 2nd version and you can see the lovely folds created when the bin is twisted down.

This is a really quick and easy project for a very useful item.




Some Patchwork & Quilting Items

A4 quilted bag using foundation pieced plait design

Like so many sewers I am fabric obsessed and as such have a stash of fabric lengths and fat quarter bundles that gets drooled over frequently but doesn’t dwindle.

*Fat Quarter – imagine a full yard/metre of fabric folded in half and half again then cut into these 4 pieces = 4 fat quarters. A normal quarter metre would be 25cm x full width of fabric.

Last summer I decided to address this and used some Amazon vouchers to purchase a wonderful book – Fabulous Fat Quarter Bags by Susan Briscoe ISBN 13-978-0-7153-2978-8.

All the bags use patchwork piecing, so some new techniques for me, and each project starts with the number of fat quarters required so you can immediately decide if you have enough fabric in your stash; brilliant!

Back of quilted bag showing 3 plait strips

The first project that appealed to me was a bag made from foundation pieced plait strips. No complicated cutting required just 2”/5cm wide strips of three different fabrics; the pattern is drawn directly onto the calico used as a foundation and the piece is quilted as you go, easy!

I just wanted to try out this technique so rather than complete the laptop bag project in the book I made this simple pouch. I pieced 3 strips then joined them together using narrow strips of fabric, I added a lining using one of the fabrics used in the piecing and this was then folded into this simple pouch shape, I added a small gusset and bound all the edges using a home made bias binding then added snap fasteners to close.

Pouch Inside

I had some small scraps of these fabrics left over so I made a couple of simple needle cases.

Quilted needle case

Inside of quilted needle case


Whilst in the mood to use up some of my fat quarter collection I made a pair of slippers and these 4 little bags with a wrap closure.

Fat quarter slippers


The purple wrap matches the purple fabric used to line these bags which are based on a simple folded square bag – a first tutorial perhaps?