TAST Week 6 – Chevron Stitch

Well chevron stitch, whilst similar, proved a much less troublesome stitch than herringbone! ūüôā

I love the shapes achievable with chevron stitch, I especially like the half chevron worked sideways both in rows and mirrored. The mirrored stitches reassemble eyes.

When I started out I chose to work quite small scale samples, two reasons for this, the 1st being that it will be easier to maintain and see the challenge through and the 2nd that I can eventually make these up into a reference book. Now I am finding the potential of some of the stitches I want to do more and more, especially when I see some of the samples from others doing the challenge.

One of my favourites to catch up with each week is Sarah from Knitting_and.com¬† Sarah’s samplers show an amazing number of stitch variations all beautifully worked, every week she has at least one variation I haven’t thought of.

There are 1,816 members of the TAST Facebook group from all around the world and there are quite a number of us that post samples each week. A number of countries know the stitches by different names and have unique ways of working them. It is also interesting to see the fabrics people choose to work on; some have constructed quilt blocks, others work on patterned fabrics and a number have dyed/painted their own fabrics. Lots of people are working pages for stitch sampler books and many are adding the stitches to larger pieces of fabric either highlighting areas of the printed cloth with each stitch or building up large samplers.

I hope Sharon is pleased with our contributions, it is quite something that she has started! I thought I had a comprehensive stitch bible until I discovered Pintangle.com! The site is an inspiring resource for beginners and experienced embroiderers and there is a good mix taking part in this challenge all encouraging and learning from each other, pop over to the TAST Facebook page and take a look.


TAST Week 4 – Cretan Stitch

Cretan Stitch

I wasn’t terribly inspired by this stitch¬†and¬†have been a little unimaginative in my samples. The beauty of the TAST challenge though is in encouraging creativity with unfamiliar stitches¬†that opens your eyes to their potential.¬†There are a lot more permutations to be explored but for now this¬†is what I produced.

  1. I have used straightforward cretan stitch; closed cretan stitch; a curved line of closed stitches and a leaf shape.
  2. I turned the stitches to produce a tree shape by gradually increasing the stitch width; I widened the central crossed area to couch down a piece of ribbon and overlapped rows of stitches.
  3. The square on the right contains layers of cretan stitch worked completely randomly in a variety of threads, the uppermost layer of stitches are worked into the other stitches without going through the ground fabric at all, these stitches are pulled slightly tighter than normal almost like a lacing. I like this layering of a single stitch, it creates a lot of depth and interest.

Inspired by¬†‘Zentangle’¬†

I’ve begun adding stitching to my ‘Zentangle’ inspired canvas:

Zentangle Canvas

I started with the challenge stitches but couldn’t resist adding some extra stitching –

  • Left – Feather Stitch
  • Center (top to bottom) – Cretan, Buttonhole & Fly Stitch
  • Right – Back Stitch in purple woven with yellow alternated with lines of Cable Chain Stitch

I’m really enjoying the TAST challenge; it’s nice to focus on hand stitching for a while and the range of samples produced every week are inspiring.

Colour, colour everywhere!

I think Summer is passing us by here in Edinburgh, it’s been mostly wet and cold – we even switched our heating on – IN JULY!!!!!

Frustration with the weather has spilled over to my torn strip sample, it isn’t really going anywhere! Since last time I have worked on the areas that didn’t feel right and added some more strips.

Torn strip sample

Torn strip sample

It is interesting how looking at a photograph helps me to see things I don’t notice looking directly at the sample – the yellow strip on this bottom left layer needs to be trimmed back.

Where now though? These are the ideas I’ve had going around in my head:

  • I’ve been playing around with some ideas in Photoshop using circles and squares/rectangles, the idea being that these would be¬†stitched in heavier threads using a solid line – back stitch most likely.
  • Another thought I had was to take a variegated thread and stitch loads more horizontal lines of running stitch over the whole thing.
  • Shisha mirrors! As I’ve said before¬†I love stitching Shisha mirrors, is there room for some here?
  • Maybe I should just cut the whole thing up and use strips of it elsewhere!

All that colour has me a little uncomfortable, I tried converting the image to black & white and have to say the tones looked okay. I keep thinking that I need to add something really dark, maybe the shapes?

As you can tell I’m very undecided. Do you have¬†any thoughts?

Take A Stitch Tuesday 2015, Week 3

Okay so I know it’s Monday but I’m just getting around to posting last weeks TAST stitch sample – Feather Stitch.

TAST 2015 Week 3, Feather Stitch

The unusual looking light green sample is Spanish knotted feather stitch, this is a completely new variation of the stitch to me, to the right, just above the 2 coloured sample, is a closed version of this stitch – it’s like a heavy braid and looks quite different to the open version.

I’ve been stitching these samples in a quite formal way, using an air erasable pen to draw lines to keep my stitches neat and even as this will give me a good reference to look back on. The lovely stitched samples being posted have inspired me to think of a more decorative way to display my stitches though.

As someone who is uncomfortable with drawing/sketching I have occasionally been practicing Zentangle patterns and this seemed a good way to utilise many different stitches on one piece of work. I’ve started by creating a pattern to work to –

Stitch Tangle Design

Stitch Tangle Design

The design is 60cm square so plenty of room for lots of stitches! The fabric is a lovely heavy calico donated by my sister in law, I haven’t backed it but it is almost a canvas weight so should stand up to some dense stitching.

I hope to have made a good start on this by the time this weeks sample is complete, wonder what the new stitch will be?

Take A Stitch Tuesday & Not a stitch sampler then!

Take A Stitch Tuesday

Some time ago a friend was working on a wonderful crazy quilt sample that she was doing as an online class with Sharon B;¬†this was my introduction to¬†Pintangle. Sharon’s blog is dedicated to hand embroidery and crazy quilting with lots of patterns, tutorials and templates and the very popular TAST – Take a Stitch Tuesday.

Back by popular demand, I decided to to join in with this latest TAST challenge which is to produce and share a sample using the stitch of the week with a new stitch given, as the name suggests, every Tuesday. I thought this challenge might prove a distraction from/inspiration for my torn fabric strip sample!

Week 1: Fly Stitch


Week 2: Buttonhole Stitch


I already had these strips of calico backed with wadding so thought I would work as many varieties of the¬†stitch on each one to eventually make up as a stitched sample book. Others are embellishing patterned fabrics or producing pictures and fabric books, there is such a variety and it’s lovely to see everyone’s ideas and beautiful embroidery.

I don’t think it is too late to join the challenge……………

Not a stitch sampler then!

I eventually decided to add some more torn strips to my sample, sticking with running stitch to attach them.

Torn Strip Sampler

Think I need to trim some from the 2 attached at the top that have long expanses of yellow & purple Рthey unbalance everything.

I have some thick threads that I dyed at the same time as these fabrics so I’m thinking I might couch some down, just need to think about the design. I also like the idea of adding some shisha mirrors – just because I love stitching them!

Any other ideas would be very welcome.

Work in Progress

So I’ve been dipping into my stash of procion dyed fabrics and decided to use up some of the smaller pieces that I just couldn’t bear to throw away.

I really enjoyed making torn strip¬†samples on a workshop with Ruth Issett and, as much of my stash includes fabrics dyed following this workshop, I thought I’d make a larger piece in this style.

I started by gathering together my torn strips in varying sizes and colours then tacked them randomly to a ground of calico fabric.

I then thought ‘what now’ and sat around just looking at it for a while! Do you ever have that feeling, you get so far and then lose momentum?

I thought about free machine stitching everything in place in order to catch in all those frayed edges but I quite like them, they add a soft texture. So I decided that I would make this a hand stitched piece and I would use only my own dyed threads.

My starting point has been to use a simple running stitch to secure everything in place; I chose an orange shade as this contrasts nicely with some colours and tones in with others.

Close up of stitched strips

Close up of stitched strips

What to do next is the question.

I’m thinking some kind of stitch sampler but I will need to be careful that this background doesn’t just become distracting –¬†possibly a layer of organza on top to¬†knock back some of the colours a bit?

Thinking cap on till next time!

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?











1 Crazy Patchwork Square

Embroidered crazy patchwork square 1

Finally finished the stitching on my first crazy patchwork square. It took me a while to decide what to stitch; lots of the examples on the internet show patterns extending either side of the seam lines but my central motif prevented this so I just decided to go with a garden theme. The curved pattern on the far right is a bit too deep but I like the little butterflies.

Edinburgh Young Embroiderers

I mentioned last time that the Edinburgh young embroiderers had won 2nd prize in the annual De Denne competition the theme of which was ‚Äėtree rhythms‚Äô. Here is their winning entry which will now form part of the Embroiderer‚Äôs Guild collection; the youngsters range from 8 ‚Äď 15 years of age and each of them embroidered individual leaves/flowers for each season that were added to their handmade felt tree.

De Denne Picture

Edinburgh Young Embroiderers – De Denne competition entry 2014

Edinburgh Embroiderers at 60

Preparations continue for our 60th anniversary celebrations, we have bunting and postcards for display and stitched cards that will be on sale during the exhibition in August. The Edinburgh branch now has its own website where you can keep up to date with the preparations http://edinburghtextileart.co.uk/index.html If you are planning a trip to the Edinburgh Festival this year I hope you will consider paying a visit to our exhibition at St Mary‚Äôs Cathedral, Palmerston Place 1st ‚Äď 31st August.

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: http://www.stewartgill.com/¬†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 https://www.futurelearn.com/¬†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