TAST Week 5 & Scaredy Cats!

Here is my week 5 sampler for the TAST challenge – Herringbone Stitch:

The first sample on the third row (left) is threaded double herringbone stitch, this proved a real challenge! Even with the instructions in front of me I had to rip it out and do it again 4 times!! I just kept getting the the order of which threads were on top and which underneath wrong so when I came to thread with the contrasting thread they wouldn’t lie correctly – I ran out of my purple thread but I was so frustrated by then I just left it.

My guidelines had disappeared before I completed the bottom line and you can really see the difference when attempting to stitch a regular pattern – the regular repeating / flipped / mirrored stitches look much better when accurately spaced.

The tufted stitch at the bottom is created by working 3 layers of closed herringbone stitch in 6 strands of embroidery cotton, one on top of the other. The stitches are then cut through and trimmed – this is known as Victorian Tufting.

I have also added some more stitching to my Zentangle inspired sampler.

Scaredy Cats!

Earlier in the year my daughter found this wonderful Timeless Treasures fabric called Scaredy Cats which she decided she would like made up into a blazer style jacket…………… she has a very unique fashion sense!

From a distance this just looks like a nicely patterned jacket but when up close and you see the wonderful expressions on the faces of the cats it really makes you smile.

I used a covered button and picked out my favourite face: 

I wasn’t sure about this but my daughter liked that it is one cat’s face on another when the jacket is buttoned up!!!

I think she likes it………….


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?

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!

Just opened a shop on Etsy!

Firstly I must apologise for the long gap!

The reason for my absence is that I have been working hard to finish stock for my Etsy shop!


Small zipped pouch with wrist strapThis has been a huge step. I’ve been working on designs that might be suitable for some time, refining the embroidery motifs and the production to make them the best products I can but it’s quite nerve wracking to see how they will be received.


Having built up a stash of dyed fabrics from my low water immersion experiments, https://stitchednotions.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/dyeing-for-some-colour-2/ I was keen to find a way to use them in a practical way.

You may have noticed that I love making bags! Zipped pouches are a logical extension of this passion and they are SO useful, I always have 3 or 4 on the go for my camera, Kindle, sewing projects and stationery as well as for toiletries and cosmetics.

These are just some of my designs –

Dragonfly Cow Parsley Lighthouse

















Please take a look and feel free to let me know what you think I would really welcome your feedback.

Summer Holidays

La Corbiere Lighthouse, Jersey, Channel Islands

Sorry for my absence over the past few weeks; holidays, exam results/back to school & life in general have kept me away from the blog, but I have been busy!

We were home in Jersey for a week visiting relatives and friends; the weather was glorious and, as always, I got to visit my favourite lighthouse – I have a bit of a ‘thing’ for lighthouses!


Back in Edinburgh and the Festival is in full swing. The ‘StitchEdinburgh at 60‘ exhibition by the Edinburgh Branch of the Embroiderer’s Guild is going very well; members are taking turns to steward the exhibition where lots of beautiful work is on display. Images from the exhibition will be available on the branch website soon – http://www.edinburghtextileart.co.uk

My first task on return from holiday was to make a costume for a friend going to Comic Con in Glasgow in September – he is going as Spock from a very specific episode of Star Trek. I will post photographs when I have them of the person in full costume and make up!

Messenger Bag – Pattern from The Bag Making Bible by Lisa Lam  https://www.u-handbag.com/

My teenage daughter is just about to start college so I have made this messenger bag from the Michael Miller ‘Nevermore’ fabric that I won back in February – https://stitchednotions.wordpress.com/2014/02/

To make this quilting cotton stand up to the rigours of student use I backed it with an upholstery weight cotton secured by stitching around the various shapes in the design. Woven interfacing was applied to the back of this double layer fabric and fusible wadding was applied to the lining fabric, this gives the bag body and strength.

I inserted a fairly large zipped pocket on the back of the bag.




The lining is 100% cotton dyed using procion dyes – https://stitchednotions.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/dyeing-for-some-colour-2/

I have inserted another zipped pocket into the lining and added a pen holder with space for 6 pens/pencils and an elasticated pocket. I have also attached a lobster swivel clasp on a fabric strap to the side gusset for hanging keys on.

I used all the same hardware that I used on my ‘Hope’ Messenger – https://stitchednotions.wordpress.com/2014/04/09/hope-messenger/                            This was all purchased from https://www.u-handbag.com/

A word of warning, if backing a finer fabric with upholstery weight fabric use a larger machine needle – I used a 16/100. The seams do get quite bulky so where they join the needle has to penetrate several layers. I also remade the adjustable strap using only the quilting cotton with a strip of fusible woven interfacing down the centre as it was just too bulky with the upholstery fabric included.

A tip for sewing across bulky seams

Among the accessories included with my machine are 3 strips of plastic of varying thicknesses; when sewing across bulky seams – when using denim for instance – the machine foot has to travel at a sharp incline over the seam and sometimes stalls. This is where these strips come in.



As the foot starts to rise at the front stop stitching with the needle down, raise the presser foot and place the strip/s behind the needle. 

When you lower the presser foot it is level which makes it much easier to stitch across the seam.           You don’t need to have these plastic strips as you could easily use folded paper/card to level out the presser foot.


I hope you find this tip useful, if you have a favourite sewing tip to share I would love to hear it.

New Tutorial For Twisty Bin


Back in January I showed you the Twisty Thread Bin https://stitchednotions.wordpress.com/2014/01/10/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?

A busy and productive May

F906-12 Butterfly fabric

This beautiful fabric is by Bright Spirit from Lady  Sew and Sew (F906-12), http://www.ladysewandsew.co.uk.

My daughter chose this for me to make a dress for her friend’s birthday.

Isn’t it joyous?



We chose Simplicity 1873_DS_EN_H5_R5.indd1873 view B at a length midway between the long and short version.








Cotton summer dress

The 100% cotton fabric is lovely to work with and the butterfly design makes for a lovely fresh, young summer dress. There is a lot of fabric in the skirt which is very heavily pleated so I decided only to line the bodice. I used a lovely bright fuschia muslin for the lining in order to keep the dress light to wear, I also pre shrunk both fabrics before using.

Unfortunately I couldn’t photograph this on my dress form as it is too small!






In complete contrastBlack Day of the Dead Fabric

This black ‘Day of the Dead’ fabric is from the Ditto fabrics website.


My daughter has a very quirky, individual style that means we can indulge in unusual fabrics like these!



This is a beautiful, fine cotton with a silky feel that I used to make this shirt from Simplicity 2189. 2189_SW_EN_AA_BB.indd

Day of the dead shirt – front

Day of the dead shirt – back












More embroidered pouches

In between these dressmaking projects I’ve been trying out some more embroidered pouches. I like the way that the shape can be varied simply by squaring off the bottom.

Embroidered Butterfly

Embroidered Flower

Embroidered Dragonfly




















Although the nice weather didn’t last long here in Edinburgh it certainly gave my sewing a boost this month. What projects are you working on this season?





‘More matter for a May morning’

(From Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare)

An appropriate title as I have been totally immersed in Shakespeare for these past 10 weeks studying ‘Shakespeare and his world’ with Future Learn. https://www.futurelearn.com/ This was a thoroughly enjoyable course topped off by a visit to the cinema to watch the live streaming of King Lear from the Olivier Theatre – my favourite play having studied it for A Level many moons ago!

The beginning of May is a busy time in our house as we have 4 family birthdays in the space of 1 week, so not a great deal of stitching done. Mostly I’ve been playing around with scraps of procion dyed fabrics and machine embroidered motifs such as this dragonfly:

Machine embroidered dragonfly over strips of procion dyed fabrics on calico backing

The background fabric is calico, one of my favourite fabrics to work with, small scraps of dyed fabrics, mainly silks, have been stitched down then the machine embroidery done over the top. I may have gone a bit mad with the scrolled lines and maybe need to keep the antenna straight, otherwise I quite like the contrast of the black stitching.

I decided these would be nice made up as zipped pouches, I do like my sewing to be useful! These are the couple I made up:

Zipped calico pouch with machine embroidered flower over strips of procion dyed fabrics

Zipped calico pouch – dragonfly














I have a few other drawings to try out as I think this style has potential, what do you think? I would value your feedback.



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?











‘Hope’ Messenger

I’m sure many of us have fabrics in our stash that we are saving for just the right project! I have finally used some of mine……

A few years ago I bought a couple of fabrics from Moda fabrics designed by Howard Marcus Dunn as part of the ‘Collection for a cause’ series. Proceeds from these collections are given to support various charities and causes.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAThese fabrics are from the ‘Hope’ collection supporting research into Motor Neurone Disease.

The fabrics are reproduced from antique quilts that are part of the Howard Marcus Dunn Collection. The ‘Hope’ fabrics are from a quilt circa 1830-1840 from New York that included fabric from the dress worn by the maker the day she met her future husband. I love this story and the beautiful colours in the main fabric.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve taken these fabrics out to use them for a project then decided to save them for something more special but that day never comes does it? So it was time to take the fabric out and make a decision!

The result

Messenger bag made using Moda fabrics designed by Howard Marcus Dunn as part of the ‘Collection for a cause’ series. This fabric is from the ‘Hope’ range

I decided to make an across the body messenger bag using a pattern from ‘The Bag Making Bible’ by Lisa Lam. GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAThe pattern is designed to carry a laptop so I made some slight adjustments; I left out the laptop harness, added extra zipped pockets and reduced the over all size a little. I have inserted zipped pockets into the front and rear panels of the lining and some pen holders.



I have inserted a further zipped pocket into the back of the bag – I chose a red zip to pick out the colour of the flowers.






I chose antique brass metal work to compliment the vintage style of the fabrics; it is the first time that I have used the twist turn clasps, they are a bit fiddly but the finish they give to the bag is well worth the effort.

Inspired to quilt

I wanted to show you the other fabrics from the ‘Hope’ collection and searched for some images without success, however I did discover a fellow fan of the ‘collections for a cause’ fabrics – Jennifer of ‘Seams Crazy’ blog – http://seamscrazyquilts.com/

There are many wonderful quilters websites out there and I have been left in awe of their skilful piecing. I’m not a quilter, I’m more of a fabric junkie, so I think it was the beautiful fabrics chosen for her ‘reach for the stars’ blocks that inspired me (see it here)  http://seamscrazyquilts.com/2014/04/08/sherris-progress-and-my-block-9/block-5/#main I look forward to watching how Jennifer’s quilt progresses and, who knows, I may even try a quilt myself some day!

Do you have treasured fabrics in your stash waiting for the perfect project? I would love to hear about them.