Monday, 31 March 2014

New Year Resolutions Revisited

I woke up this morning and realised that the first quarter of this year has already gone. Scary, really scary! I used this as a trigger to review my progress against three relevant New Year Resolutions.

1. Remember to build stitching time into my day 


I've finished a lot of cross stitch pieces so far this year and I've enjoyed sharing them with you. 

You can see all of my finished work in the Pinterest Gallery above (including sold items). 

I've also designed enough stitching accessories in my head to keep me busy stitching til the end of the year. 

2. Reorganise my craft corner


I am now working on my wardrobe.

3. Raise money for my favourite charities

Done and ongoing! 

I've been selling items and donating the proceeds to charity each month. I plan to continue to do so throughout the year. It is great! It means that I can enjoy my stitching time and know that I am also helping the animals that I love. 

Thank you to everyone who has helped me by buying my items. 

Friday, 28 March 2014

Garden Bird Pin Cushion

I stitched this sweet little pin cushion to go with my project bag.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Garden Bird Project Bag

This is a side view of my Garden Bird Project Bag when open. 

I included a tall pocket on each side especially for my cross stitch rulers and pattern markers.

One side also has a handmade label. 

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Garden Bird Project Bag: A place for everything 

The bag has two parts. A main section with plenty of room for my magnetic pattern holder and work-in-progress and an organiser section pictured below.

This is the pull-out organiser section of the bag. 

The cross stitch picture is an extract from the same pattern that I've used for the front of the bag. 

The organiser section contains a cord loop to which sewing accessories can be attached. There are some pockets for smaller items and an area for needles. It also doubles as a thread catcher. 

When I am not stitching the organiser section is hidden and it just looks like a little embroidered bag. 

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Garden Bird Project Bag

This is the back of the bag. It features a Rico pattern of a garden bird with flowers.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Garden Bird Project Bag

I began to design my own sewing accessories when I couldn't find exactly what I wanted in the stores. 

I wanted to make a project bag. 

I wanted a bag that wasn't too large. Just big enough to hold my cross stitch 'small', magnetic pattern board, pattern, scissors, threads and other sewing accessories. Something pretty that could sit on the table in the sitting room when not in use and look nice. 

I wanted an organiser bag to avoid everything slipping to the bottom of the bag. I get so annoyed wasting good stitching time hunting for tools at the bottom of bags!

I decided on a bird theme. This is what I made. 

The front features a detailed cross stitch of two garden birds and red berries. It is an extract from a book called 'Animals in Cross Stitch' by Jayne Netley Mayhew and Nicki Wheeler. 

The bag is made from black felt with a cord handle. It is approximately A5 size. 

I'll show you more tomorrow.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Is it just me or is it getting more and more expensive to sew? 

The bare essentials - fabric, thread, pattern are so expensive these days. I am dismayed every time I go into my local hobby store. I am staggered to see that kits (pattern, fabric, threads combined) are now selling for more than £30 each. A small printed pattern can be £9 or more. Add to that, specialty threads and recommended charms and it is getting just plain silly.

Sew, how exactly does one keep the costs down?

Find a stitching fabric in a colour that you like - aida, linen etc. Then, buy a large piece off roll and cut to size. It works out much cheaper. If you go for white or cream you can always dye pieces a different colour or paint them for a different look. 

Use DMC or Anchor threads which are less expensive than some of the specialty threads that designers now insist on recommending. They offer a full range of beautiful colours and specialty metallic or fluorescent threads.

Search for freebie cross stitch patterns on the web - try an image search. There are many generous designers and talented bloggers who give away freebie patterns. 

Look for kits/patterns on auction sites. It is possible to find a bargain. Last year I purchased a £40 kit that someone had bought, started, but never finished for less than a tenner (including postage). The only problem that I had was that it had sat folded for so long that there was a dust mark on the fold line which was very hard to remove. 

Have a go at designing your own pattern!

These days I don't buy a pattern unless I really love it. I just can't justify the expense when I have so many gorgeous patterns in my stash. I stitch so quickly that I could very easily spend thousands of pounds on patterns and threads in a year.

I can't help wondering if designers are pricing themselves out of the market. Is this something that they even bother to consider? I know that they are losing out to copyright theft but by making things so expensive they are penalising those who pay and making it easier for those who don't, to justify copyright theft. 

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Patchwork Bookmark

I bought this simple kit on a trip to Virginia. 

Every time I use this bookmark I recall the wonder of the Shenandoah in the fall and my first sighting of a wild black bear, just when I was thinking I wouldn't be lucky enough to see one!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

CrossedPaws Favourite

Every now and then a product comes along that I want to shout about because it is soooo good. Now I have no links to any product manufacturers and I don't have advertisements on this blog but I like to give credit to good design. The first CrossedPaws Favourite award went to the Siesta Lapman Frame (see January archive). It is simply the most comfortable frame to use. No more back ache.

The second CrossedPaws Favourite award goes to Craft Mates for their bead storage. 

I love this! It is great. It looks good and it works!

The beads can be organised by size, colour etc. whatever works for you. They are all secure and easily visible at a glance. The unique locking facility allows you to open one of the little compartments and tip out the beads, safe in the knowledge that the others stay put. 

I have two folders at the moment. One for large beads which I had to order from America because I couldn't find it in UK shops and the one pictured. 

The one pictured is for smaller beads which is available in UK hobby stores. 

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Wooden Box Lid Continued

Regular readers will know that I have recently finished stitching a lid for my wooden box. I chose a striking design in a variegated red thread. I liked the design in itself but I was very disappointed with it as the lid for my box. 

I decided to try again. 

This time I chose to stitch an extract from a design that is taken from the Country Diary of An Edwardian Lady. I've just finished it. See below. 

The next stage is to wash it, pad it and insert it into the wooden box as the lid. I do hope that I like it this time! 

Fingers crossed...

Monday, 17 March 2014

Poppy Thread Holder

I stitched this to match the case for my needles and the mattress pin cushion. I use it with a silver ring to hold my bobbins. The padding means it doubles as a needle rest which is a great way to avoid losing needles!

Friday, 14 March 2014

Poppy Mattress Pin Cushion

I've been experimenting to find the perfect sewing accessories for years. I decided to make a mattress pin cushion but I knew it wasn't really a tool that I would use a great deal. I came up with the idea of combining a pin cushion, needle rest and scissor holder in one. This is what I made. 

The front features the same Poppy Meadow design that I've used before. It is actually quite unusual for me to sew the same thing repeatedly but I loved the simplicity of the design. 

The sides repeat the pattern around the central poppy.

The back is made from black felt with a pocket that fits my favourite stork scissors. 

The little needle rest is embroidered with the bud from the back of the sewing companion that I showed you yesterday.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Poppy Needle Holder

A large Needle holder made to match my Poppy stitching accessories.

This time I left the inside and the back plain black felt. The only thing I added was a swarovski crystal bead and a loop to close.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Poppy Sewing Companion

Now I love Poppies and when I saw the Textile Heritage pattern called 'Poppy Meadow' I had to have it. 

I loved the design but I didn't care for some of the colours so I tweaked! 

The first thing that I made with the pattern was this little sewing companion. It is just big enough for my much loved stork scissors, a needle threader and some needles. The only thing that was missing was a needle rest. I find these invaluable tools when stitching and so I added a drop down needle rest featuring, you've guessed it, my favourite flower.

Inside I added a hint of embroidery and bright yellow blanket stitching. 

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Poppy Sewing Bag

This little bag holds my current sewing project and pattern when I am on the move. 

Now if you've been reading my blog you'll have guessed that I've made some accessories to go with it!

I'll share some Poppy sewing accessories soon.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Third Time Lucky

Over the weekend I unpicked the bias binding and undid the stitching on the pillow for a second time because the bird on the back was again the wrong way around! Then I ran back stitch all around the pattern in the same DMC thread and joined the two pieces together using overcast back stitches. 

Finally, I filled the little pillow with some of the excess lavender.

This time I love it! 

Now I just have to decide what to use for the lid of my box and get stitching again. 

Decisions, decisions...

Friday, 7 March 2014


As the box lid will be visible from both sides I decided to edge it with bias binding. 


I loved the result but I was disappointed when I put it into the wooden box. I just didn't like it! :0( 

I left it overnight to see if it 'grew' on me. It didn't. :0(  :0(

I just wasn't happy with it as a lid. Having made the effort to stitch it I really didn't want to just 'live with it' I wanted to love it! What to do?

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Thank you!

I started this blog at the suggestion of a friend. She is usually the first to see my cross stitch and jewellery creations. She encouraged me to share them with others and when I mentioned reducing my collection of completed items she suggested selling them. Until then it hadn't crossed my mind. Now I sell to cover some of the costs of raw materials but mostly to make money for my favourite charity. 

Now I am about 6 weeks into it and thoroughly enjoying posting and reading the emails and comments on my work. Yesterday, I was stunned and delighted to see that I even had a follower for my blog. 

Today I would like to say thank you.

Thank you to everyone who has added a comment or sent me emails about my work. I read them all and I respond to everyone.

Thank you to my buyers. I am so glad that you are pleased with your purchases. 

Thank you to everyone who has ever added a cross stitch pattern freebie or a free tutorial to their blog. Without you my Crow Hussif and my felt Strawberries may not exist. 

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

How to use up odd threads when you don't know the thread number

When I first started cross stitching I bought kits containing everything that I needed - pattern, fabric, threads, needle. I think this is the way that most people start cross stitching.

After completing a kit I frequently found that I was left with quite a lot of unused thread. I didn't want to throw it away and so I got into the habit of winding it onto bobbins. This is still my preferred way to store and to use thread. I find bobbins more manageable than skeins and they are also of less interest to CrossedPaws himself! He likes to roll around the floor with the Skeins. He looks cute but my threads end up a soggy knotty mess that is only fit for the bin. 

By pure coincidence I found that most of the kits used DMC threads and so I began to add the DMC number to the bobbins. This is how I began my thread collection. But then I noticed that some designers supply DMC threads but don't give the DMC number. At first I tried to match loose threads to DMC numbers but as anyone who has ever tried this will know, it is actually an incredibly difficult thing to do. I learnt my lesson after a matching error which led to me unpicking hours of stitching - never again! 

I was left with a mass of bobbins without DMC number which I dare not use for stitching in case I run out part way through a pattern. I put them away and forgot about them until now. I've just uncovered them as part of my ongoing organisational efforts. What to do? 

I woke up today with a brainwave. I am going to use them to make hand made cords and tassels. If I don't have enough of one colour to make a meaty tassel I can combine different colours to make multi-coloured tassels and cords. I am so going to do this! I can use them on some of the many lavender bags that I will be making later in the year to use up the excess lavender that I purchased in January.    

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Oh Dear! When things go wrong they really go wrong

Before finishing the box lid I washed both pieces of embroidery and horror of horrors, the colour ran. I've not had this problem before but then I've never used DMC 115 before. Arrgh! Be warned!

Then things went from bad to worse. When I joined the two pieces together I got it wrong and the bird inside the lid was upside down when the box was opened. Being a perfectionist I couldn't just ignore this and leave it like that. 

There was nothing left to do but unpick my back stitches joining the two pieces together. It is at times like this that I am so glad that I always take the time to blanket stitch the edges of my stitching. It makes them that bit stronger and able to withstand more handling. Even with the stitching the edges were beginning to fray away. 

I think I need a break from this now. I'll pick it up again later in the week. Very carefully!

Monday, 3 March 2014

Embroidered Box Lid

A few days ago I mentioned that I was stitching a striking design for the lid of the wooden box that I am now using to store my ribbons and lace. I've now finished it. It is stitched on 18ct white aida in DMC 115. It is an extract from a Donna Kooler design called 'The Best is Yet to Be'. 

This will form the lid of the box once I have washed it and added the padding. 

Now I love pretty things and so rather than leave the inside of the lid blank I stitched another bird for the inside.