Friday, 28 February 2014

Crow Bobbin Holder

I spoke too soon! 

I found a big tibetan silver crow charm on line and I had to have it. I added a lobster clasp and attached it to a bobbin holder stitched with, you've guessed it, my favourite crow and strawberry design. 

The charm is for decoration but it is also big and heavy enough to use as a weight when I am separating threads or making cords. 

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Totally Crow Crazy!

I used my jewellery making skills to make two pretty position markers. They are made out of silver plated stick brooch pins with caps, small lengths of silver plated chain, black beads, cream semi-precious gem beads and a crow charm.

I used the same black beads in the shape of small hearts to decorate some long dress making pins. 

I think I have got those crows out of my system now!

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Matching Crow and Strawberry Pin Cushion

The second accessory is a matching pin cushion featuring my favourite crows and strawberries. 

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Inside my stitching project folder

This time I've left the lining plain. When the folder is open it acts as a thread catcher and most threads show up clearly on the brown. 

I've added two little accessories. 

The first is a small needle case. It clips to the folder with a silver plated lobster clasp and it is solely intended to store my needle and a spare. 

I'll show you the other one tomorrow.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Crow Project Folder

The next thing that I wanted to create was a folder for my current stitching project. I didn't want to repeat the same cross stitch pattern but I wanted to keep the crow and seasonal theme to match the Crow Hussif. 

I wanted something that would sit on the arm of my favourite chair that would hold everything that I need to stitch a cross stitch 'small.' 

I wanted something that would keep it clean and safe from muddy paw prints when I wasn't stitching and something that would double as a thread catcher when I was stitching. 

This is what I made. 

For the front I took the ground and the crows from the original pattern and added a scarecrow and pumpkins. 

For the back I chose sunflowers, strawberries, corn and more crows.

For consistency, I used the same thread palette and added new colours where necessary. I also adopted the same green cross stitch frame and the same brown felt lining. 

Friday, 21 February 2014

Inside My Crow Hussif

I stitched the Prairie Schooler pattern on cream 14ct aida using the recommended DMC threads. I then used some iron-on interface to stiffen the back of the embroidery. 

I'd decided to make the interior from brown felt but I didn't want to leave it plain. 

I cut pockets to fit my magnetic pattern board and line markers, cross stitch ruler, scissors, needles, cotton etc. Then I planned where I wanted the pockets to sit in the hussif. I decided to add a needle rest and thought about the decoration. 

Rather than simply surround the pockets I wanted to incorporate the pockets into the design and of course the decoration had to follow the crow theme. 

I thought about the crow and the seasons and came up with the designs for summer (strawberries) and autumn (pumpkins and falling leaves). I considered embroidering pictures into the felt but in the end I tried my hand at felt applique. 

I cut and stitched the applique into place before I sewed the pockets and joined the interior to the cover.

The strawberries are actually the needle rests.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Crow Sewing Set

As soon as I saw the Prairie Schooler pattern called 'As The Crow Flies' I was hooked. There was never any doubt that I would sew this pattern! The only question was what to do with it when I finished it. I don't really go in for framing things and hanging them on the wall. 

I decided upon a unique finish. I made it into a hussif. The main picture forms the front of the hussif. 

I used the second picture for the back but it wasn't large enough and so I added an extra picture using the larger crow with the strawberry.

For the spine I took a smaller crow and a sunflower.

I'll show you the inside of the hussif tomorrow.... there are more crows!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Storage Solution for lace and ribbons

Some time ago I was given a wooden DMC thread box with a cut out lid and a limited edition pattern that I knew I'd never sew. The threads are long gone but I still have the box. 

I've chosen a striking pattern for the lid which I am currently stitching in DMC 115. I was hoping to have it finished yesterday but I've used a whole bobbin of thread and I have about a hundred stitches left to do, arrgh!  Now I have to get some more thread before I can finish.

My plan is to store my collection of lace and ribbons on old fashioned 'dolly' pegs in the box. I've just purchased a pack of pegs for less than two pounds and last night I wound all of my lace onto the pegs.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Sew which way do you slant?

As a means to ensure neat stitching most books recommend that you stitch each cross stitch in two passes. The first pass is a half cross stitch in one direction and the second pass finishes the cross stitch with a half cross stitch in the other direction. Nothing new there. The method ensures that all of the top stitches point in the same direction which is undoubtedly aesthetically pleasing. It also keeps the back of the work neat and tidy. 

As part of my ongoing organisational efforts I've been reviewing my collection of patterns. Now I must admit that I've been a bit of a hoarder in the past and collected patterns even if I had my doubts that I'd ever sew them. You just never know, right? Whilst my intention was to try to thin them out a little, it actually got me thinking. Each designer recommends the method that I've outlined above but the starting stitch varies which obviously means that the top stitch will then vary from designer to designer. Is there a right and a wrong way? If so, why and does it really matter?

My top stitches always slant from top left to bottom right. I have no idea why but that is just my preferred choice. I am sure someone somewhere will say that that is a strong indication of my character! For me, it just makes it far easier to pick up and put down work easily.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Matching Bobbin Holder and Needlerest

I was so pleased with my new Needlebook that I decided to make a matching Bobbin Holder. 

I simply stitched one quarter of the main design for the front of the Bobbin Holder. Then, I took the heart and leaves from the top of the design and stitched it on the back because I didn't want to leave it plain. 

This pattern is really quick to stitch on the 18ct cream aida and I finished it in an afternoon. The fiddliest bit was inserting the eyelet. I have two tools for this and I don't find either particularly easy to use. One is very difficult to squeeze closed and doesn't permit use of a washer for the back and the other does allow use of the washer but requires a hammer. Both tools were purchased economically as an experiment. I am now wondering whether I'd benefit from buying the more expensive tool. 

Next, I threaded the Bobbin ring through the eyelet. The ring is medium sized and will comfortably hold approximately twelve plastic bobbins full of thread which is usually about right for stitching a 'small.'

Now I know that many people make these Bobbin Holders purely for decoration but I like to add function as well. I always stuff my Bobbin Holders so that they can double as Needle rests because I just don't find scissor fobs comfortable to use. 

Friday, 14 February 2014

Inside My New Needlebook Continued

Middle pages

Last page

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Inside My New Needlebook

I hate sewing the same thing repeatedly - too boring - but I wanted the pages to be embroidered. I also wanted the same 'look' as the cover with the same 'Tree of Life' theme.

I included a little felt pocket on the inside cover for a favourite needle threader/cutter tool. 

Each page shows part of the tree, leaves and birds taken from the cover. I've used the same simple font to insert needle size and recommended fabric count. 

I put thin padding between the pages because I wanted the feel of padded pages but I didn't want to make the Needlebook too bulky to close easily. 

I'll show you more tomorrow!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

New Needlebook

I've needed somewhere to store my collection of gold needles for quite for a while so I decided to design something. 

I wanted something that is pretty. 

I wanted something big enough to store my whole collection of gold needles. 

I wanted something that specified the size of each needle.

I wanted something that would remind me of the recommended fabric count for each size of needle because I can never remember!  

I decided on a 'Tree of Life' theme.

This is what I made. 

The cover features a Joan Elliott pattern stitched in DMC threads on 18ct cream aida. I added the additional text in a very simple font using the same red as the designer recommended for the apples. I chose brown felt for the back and a pretty glass bead and leather loop for the catch. 

I'll show you the inside of the Needlebook tomorrow.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

My Finished Upcycled Embroidery Frame

I make my own accessories because I've never been able to find tools that are right for me on the high street or online. This is my latest experiment. Only time will tell if I find it more comfortable to use than the original wooden clamp frame...

The final stage was to choose a cover for the padded frame. 

I was going to use a fabric that I have in my stash. It has little houses and black cats on it. I think it would make a pretty cover. I also have enough for a matching bag to store the frame and my work in, but I decided to do something completely different.

I adopted a more personal handmade approach. I chose two Donna Kooler designs called 'Birds' and 'Squirrel' and stitched them up really quickly on 18ct aida. Then, I simply back stitched the long edge to make a tube and inserted the frame.  

The hardest part was deciding where to 'position' the embroidery on the frame. 

I didn't want it where I will attach the 'small' to the frame for stitching, so the top and the bottom of the frame was out. Also, I didn't want the embroidery where I hold the frame. 

I worked out where it was most comfortable to hold the frame and put the embroidery higher on that side and lower on the other. 

I love the two little designs and I'm pleased with the 'look and feel' of the finished embroidery frame. 

Monday, 10 February 2014

Hummingbird Afghan

I'm sad to say that I've made very little progress on my Afghan. It has been on the stand a month today and I only have a few lines to show for it.

I am using my floor standing embroidery frame because of the weight and the size of the fabric and I am just not finding it comfortable to stitch. I must do better or it will never be finished!

Friday, 7 February 2014


Thursday, 6 February 2014

Must See RSN Sampler Exhibition in London

There is an exhibition of samplers dating from 1731 to current day in London. Places must be pre-booked in advance. 

Check out the Royal School of Needlework site for more information.

Dates: 20 January 2014 to 22 July 2014
Venue: Hampton Court Palace
Cost: £16

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Reminder to Self!

I've just unpicked a cross stitch owl on my current project. I followed the pattern accurately and used the recommended colours but I just didn't like the finished result! You'd think I'd have learnt by now! 

It got me thinking about some rules to ensure that I don't waste any more time unpicking my stitching. No stitching effort should ever be wasted! 

Rule 1: Choose the pattern carefully
There is nothing worse than spending hours stitching something to find out that you dislike the result. If you have doubts about a pattern or a colour scheme - don't sew it! Go with your gut! 

The chances are that if you have doubts going in, you won't like the end result.

Rule 2: Choose the right material 
You've chosen the pattern and accepted (or tweaked the colour scheme to your liking). How do you choose the right material? 

Consider what are you making and your ability level. Are you going to sew on paper, plastic, aida, linen or other? Which do you prefer? What does the designer recommend? What 'look' are you after? 

Many cross stitch books helpfully show the same pattern on linen and aida, making the choice much easier. 

If you are trying a material for the first time, choose a small design!

Rule 3: Count everything at least twice!
Most patterns mark the centre so that you can easily count out from the middle to the end of the stitching.  

Find the centre of the material. The easiest way to do this, unless you are using paper, is to fold the material in half and then into quarters. Finger press the folds and then when you unfold the material you'll see the centre. 

Count once, insert pin to mark the last stitch in the pattern in all directions. Then, count again!

Make sure that the pattern comfortably fits on your material - don't forget to leave enough fabric around the pattern to permit edging and finishing. 

Rule 4: Preparation is everything
Stop the edges of linen and aida from fraying by blanket stitching. It is a bit of a chore but it ensures a good strong edge that can withstand handling and washing. 

I always use a cotton that is the same colour as the fabric  and blanket stitch over two squares rather than one. It is almost invisible when done. 

Make sure that you have the coloured threads that you need and the right size needle. Get your threads organised and ready on numbered bobbins or a thread organiser. This is especially important if you are using a number of similar shades or creating colours by using different coloured threads together. 

One of the easiest and quickest ways to create a thread organiser is to take a strip of card and make holes in the card, one hole for each colour. Put the thread through the hole and draw the symbol for that colour next to the hole. Errors are now much less likely! 

If, like me, you prefer to use a frame, attach your material to your frame.

Start from the centre and work outwards. 

Don't start your sewing with a knot. Master the loop start. There are plenty of great video tutorials out there!  

Rule 5: Don't allow stitching to become a chore
The moment that you begin to make more errors than correct stitches or you find yourself getting annoyed with threads that keep knotting, take a break! 

Stitching should be enjoyable and not a chore! 

Tuesday, 4 February 2014


Monday, 3 February 2014

How I Upcycled An Old Embroidery Frame

I find it more comfortable to stitch with a frame but I just don't find handheld frames comfortable to use so I decided to try a padded frame. 

I first saw a padded frame listed in the 'materials' section of a cross stitching pattern book.  You can buy them but I just couldn't justify the cost given my existing large collection of frames so I decided to make one. 

I am hoping that it will be more comfortable to hold when stitching 'smalls' that are too tiny for my usual frames. 

I took the outer ring from an old round embroidery frame and padded it. 

The thing with 'making it up as you go along' is that it sometimes doesn't work! Initially I made a slip case, inserted the ring and attempted to stuff it. Sadly, I ended up with a lumpy mess! 

My next attempt was more successful. I used batting. I wasn't sure how thick I wanted the padding and so I chose a medium thickness. I decided I could always add more if the padding wasn't thick enough to hold it comfortably.  

To measure the fabric and the batting for the circular frame I simply wrapped a piece of string around the outer edge of the circle. I allowed a little extra for sewing (sides and join) and cut the fabric four times the width of the ring. I then simply folded it over and pinned it around the ring. 

I chose to sew it in place rather than glue it. 

I am really pleased with the result. My first impression is that it is really comfortable to hold. 

The next stage is to put the outer cover on it.