Saturday, 6 October 2012

One of Two

This little guy has been a long time in the pipeline but as of today he's done...only thing is, he's just one of a pair!

My first Goldcrest of two
You might have guessed that I'm really enjoying embroidering on this striped fabric, I think it adds a little quirkiness to the designs.

I have plans for these birds, which you'll see when the second one is done (it might take a while!)

God bless,


Sunday, 30 September 2012

Moving In

I have just moved in to a new place, it feels a little bit more grown up than anywhere I have lived before, just because I am no longer a student and I am starting my first full-time job tomorrow!

The house is really lovely, but since I was so disorganised dealing with my move, first from where I was in Watford back home, then up to my aunt's place and now here to my new house in Newcastle, there are a few things that I didn't have sorted, so I used all my innovation to make things nice here.

Firstly was the coat hanger crisis.... well I realised that I needed some coat hangers.

I wanted them to be pretty, but for two reasons I bought very cheap ugly ones. Firstly on the day I went to get them, I couldn't seem to find a coat hanger anywhere, so once I finally found two options in Morrisons, I had to choose one of them. Secondly, I don't like parting with my money very much, especially since I probably won't get paid for a little while, so I went for the 'cheap, lots of ' option.

I did have an idea though to make them more attractive....

Like a true girl guide I used a ball of string and some knots to customise my hangers...

You pretty much just wrap string around, but pass it through the loop on your way round. This makes a half hitch on each go, so produces the little bump or line along the bottom that you can see in this picture. As long as you go the same way each time it stays even.

This is my new 'Rachel Berry' dress that I bought in Oxfam for a fiver :)

Here it is with my nice new dress  on! It's quite time consuming so I have only actually completed five of the ten that I am going to do, but I probably could complete one an evening just sitting in front of the TV.

The other thing that I was missing was a way to hang my pictures up. I can't fix anything to the walls without permission, and I wanted to find a creative way to hang things so that I could still see them and without having to resort to the devil blu-tak.

So I devised my photo-bunting. I have done this with post-its before when I was revising Russian vocabulary, but the photos and post cards are much more jolly than random Russian words.

I hope you like my little ideas for making dull things more pretty!

Love and God Bless


Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Tiny roses!

This is another TAST challenge from and quite a challenging one too! This week was drizzle stitch which took me a while to master, but here is my (second) attempt at a little sample of this stitch.

I was impressed with the way that the stitches fell when they were complete, and made nice little spirals, which, I found, with a little anchoring stitch to hold it in place I could make little spirally blobs that look like tiny roses!

Tiny roses on (my current favourite) blue and white cotton.

I learnt the bullion knot as well, so that I could make tiny leaves to go with my roses. I put together different shades of pink, with light green for the leaves, on a background of blue and white stripes.

I think it's quite cute, and could be a motif for some kind of weddingy something!

God bless,



Here's a better photo:

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Love Heart Pin Cushion

I have been brewing a little idea about how to make and present a pretty pin cushion. This is partly in response to the fact that I don't have one yet (or at least I didn't until now!) So when I decided that I wanted to try the TAST (Take a Stitch Tuesday) Challenge from I thought I would combine the two ideas.

The TAST challenge, challenges you to try a new stitch, and there is a chance to get involved each week. This week is the Linked Double Chain stitch. It provides an unusual effect and I really liked the way that it created an element of texture to the piece - especially with my uneven stitching!

The first stage of the project

With the linked double chain stitches, I kept them quite narrow, which meant that it is more the weight of the stitches that shows rather than the shape of the chain. I should try again giving myself more space, but for this project, I enjoyed the texture and the handcrafted feel that this gave.

As I was getting excited about texture, I decided to finish it off with my other new skill - french knots. Lots of! 
The finished motif
I chose an ombre pattern with my french knots, I don't mind admitting that I got knotted up all over the place doing these knots, front and back of the fabric and everywhere I didn't want the knots to be. But we got there in the end! And now I have a lovely new pin cushion:

The finished article
I mounted it on a glass bowl, I think the whole lot looks like a fancy ice cream!

God bless,


P.s. If you are in London anytime soon, pop down to the crypt at St Martin in the Fields, where there is a wonderful exhibition of embroidery created to celebrate the Olympics and Paralympics by members of the Embroiderers Guild. I loved it and found lots of great ideas there.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Bows and Flows

Well, I have just become an entrepreneur. When I actually make a sale, I will call myself a businesswoman... as yet I have just published my first listing on (which is ebay but pretty!)

The piece that I have made to try and sell is called Bows and Flows, after the Joni Mitchel lyric from Both Sides now:

Bows and flows of angel hair,
And ice cream castles in the air,
And feather canyons everywhere,
I've looked at clouds that way.

So my inspiration came from clouds, and flowing hair and feathers. This is the first piece of really abstract work that I have completed, and I must say that I enjoyed the freedom and the flexibility of working like this.

Bows and Flows
I used some of the leftover lace from my revamped T-shirt from a couple of weeks ago, as a sort of background for the embroidery. This was a challenge to work with, just to make sure that the detail did not just blend in with the lace, but it has certainly produced a delicate kind of pretty!

I also discovered the secret of the french knot (either that or I have invented the Watford knot) in any case, I have fallen in love a little bit, and you can expect more knots in my future projects.

If you would be so kind as to visit the listing on Etsy, you might just make my day! Here's the link (It has had about 3 views so far, and I'm pretty sure they were all me!)

God bless,


Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Log Cabin Quilt

So my housemate and I were very impressed with a friend's quilting, and we thought it would be a great idea to make our own as we thought we'd have a quiet summer. We pinned a lot of quilting ideas onto pinterest, and then made a start. Inspiration is a great thing, but actually making the thing takes a lot longer than googling it!

I chose a log cabin pattern, pretty much on impulse. I suppose it is mainly because they are so pretty, but they also look quite traditional, well it is a traditional pattern to use. I even found some brilliant instructions to follow here.

For my own work, I decided to hand sew the whole thing, this is partly because I don't have a sewing machine, but that wasn't the only reason (honest!) I have always enjoyed sewing, even if I haven't always been the best at it, and perhaps things do fall apart moments after I have sewn them together sometimes, but I'm always trying to learn.

It's something that women in the past have always been able to do. It is such a simple and essential skill, attaching fabric together using needle and thread is just so basic and fundamental, and yet when artistry is involved it becomes a fine craft. I am amazed sometimes when I see historical garments to think that they have all been hand sewn, and I have such respect for the women of the past who would have done this work to clothe their families - and it seems so strange that as we rely more and more on manufacturing, we lose the intricacy and artistry of clothing that there used to be.

In any case, I have pieced this quilt together by hand to practice for when I take on a more intricate project. It's not finished yet, the next step will be to add a border around the edge and then I think things will get even more complicated, so I'm looking at loads more tutorials in the interim.

My log cabin quilt pieced together.
Also I'm loving buying all of the tools and equipment I need to do my sewing projects. For example see my lovely new scissors below!
Embroidery scissors (from John Lewis incidentally also  available at the V&A)
God bless,


Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Inspiration - imperfections

I was in the V&A again last weekend (before going out onto Brompton Road to watch the men's Olympic road cyclists whizz past) and I found some wonderful pieces that I've not seen before.

These pieces are absolutely stunning, such skilled work, all done by hand, mainly by women in past centuries, however what really caught my eye was the fact that these amazing pieces were still not perfect. It makes me feel better about my own work when I see things like this, and it reminds me that, like in music when you play a wrong note with confidence, it is an interpretation, when your needlework is well designed and beautiful, the imperfections are character!

Chair back cover by Jane Vigor from the collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
This is one of the pieces I spent an age staring at! I was amazed at all the detail, and the way that the colours were used but I did spot that on the right hand side - you won't be able to see it in the photo- there are some pencil marks around the flowers, where she clearly has changed her mind about how they were going to look. It was fascinating to see that because it teaches you something about the way that the piece was made, but also just the fact of being able to see that the piece was not immaculately perfect.

I know that my work is not perfect, far from it, so to see a piece like that, which I know is amazing, which also has imperfections it makes me hopeful that I can make my work better, and tells me that what I do is fine too.

I have plenty of choice when it comes to showing you some of the imperfections in my work, so I thought I'd show you a first glimpse of the cutwork that I am working on...

A first look at my cutwork project, you can see how it's gone  a little bit frilly!
I'm learning as I go, so some of the stitching is a little bit messy, but I think that it will still look nice in the end, and the more important thing is that the next time, I will know how it's done!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Summer T-Shirt Revamp

I read a fashion article about lace, and 24 hours later the following ensued....

I took an old t-shirt in blue...

My t-shirt before revampage (with my -second- 21st birthday poster)
bought some lacy trimming from the nice lady at Watford Market...
Watford lace
did some cutting and stitching and ended up with this....
my new favourite t-shirt
I must say, it was a rather pleasant affair, what with the sunshine, our newly tidy(ish) back garden and the odd G&T, so I might repeat the process in the coming weeks!

Perhaps one day when I've combed my hair I'll show you what it looks like on!

God bless,



I took a picture with the t-shirt on this morning (in fact I took about 8 pictures before I got a decent one, but that's life!)

I'm really pleased with it

God bless,

Monday, 16 July 2012


I made some butterflies! I wanted to make butterflies that I actually see, so below you can see my red admiral and my cabbage white (along with a little sample of stem stitch around the outside.)

I really enjoyed making the cabbage white, because looking at the images up close, I could see so much detail in something that I thought was so simple.

I'm looking forward to sending this one off to its recipient, I think she might know who she is!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Inspiration {2}

In this post, I want to show you where some of the inspiration has come from for the flower designs on my skirt project.

I bought a pack of Christmas cards from Oxfam a couple of years ago, and they are so pretty I have hardly been able to make myself send them out! I decided to keep one on my wall as inspiration, because the embroidered nativity scene is so beautiful.

Embroidered nativity scene from an Oxfam Christmas card. I love the flower detailing and the  simple picture designs.
I think this shows how very simple designs, when crafted with care and accuracy can look both delicate and elegant. So I have been taking inspiration from some of the flower designs and reworking them on my skirt. You can see below that the blue flower is worked with reference to the large yellow one on the card.

And I think that the blue flower might be my favourite on the whole project... for now at least!

Monday, 25 June 2012

The Skirt Project

The second project I embarked upon having begin to do embroidery has turned out to be a pretty mammoth task! I have always had an ambitious streak when it comes to craft, I suppose it is the will to create something I will actually use. Perhaps at some point I will show you my second or third crochet project, that was a pretty big deal a while ago.

Anyway, what I wanted to do with this was to embellish a piece of clothing, and still actually be able to wear it. I chose big, bold colourful designs since the way the skirt hangs really demands something dramatic ... oh and I had just bought a large pack of brightly coloured threads!

It is by no means finished, and I'm still working on it bit by bit, but other things, mainly gifts for people took over my attention. So here it is in it's unfinished state, artfully hanging on a rosebush (where else can a girl display her handiwork?)

The skirt project, unfinished as yet, but it makes me happy to look at it!
This project will always remind me of learning various stitches, if only because you can see in it all the mistakes!

You will certainly be able to see from the next picture, evidence of my improving dramatically at chain stitch...

detail from the Skirt project, with chain stitching in the bottom left corner, and much better chain stitch towards the middle!

On the left you will see large clumsy chain stitches, and on the right small delicate ones, you just don't get this kind of character when a machine does all the stitching.

You can even see, in faint orange crayon where the next leaf will sit - when I get around to putting it there.

I have no doubt that you will be seeing this project again, hopefully when I've decided what to do with the rest of the white space - especially the back, I feel like I can't just leave the back blank when the front is so flamboyant!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Inspiration post {1}

So I went to the V&A museum last week with my Mother. This is the third time this year that I have been, and I am sure that there will be plenty more inspiration posts based on exhibits and collections on display there. For this one I am going to concentrate on the collection that I have been waiting for since January – the fashion collection.

Since I started getting interested in embroidery I have wanted to go back to the fashion collection at the V&A because I remembered a childhood visit there when I first saw some of the most amazing outfits and pieces of clothing that I have ever seen and I wanted to see how embroidery fitted into the story of fashion.

Well, the answer seems to be that artistic embellishment of the most beautiful design and style has been a part of fashion for hundreds, maybe thousands of years, and there are certain classic aesthetics that, over time, just will not go away. There is a particular style that interests me at the moment. One example of this kind of work is the background of this blog, which is from an 18th century waistcoat in the V&A collections – it is this botanical, floral, look, elegantly done in repeating patterns and rich colours on a pale background.

Evening dress
Evening dress by Balenciaga from the V&A Collection
The exhibit that interested me most this time was the dress pictured here. Made by Balenciaga in the 1950s, the embellishment could be 200 or more years older.

The distinctively 50s shape is complimented and enhanced by the timeless embroidery.  It just seemed to show me that great craftsmanship will look amazing in any era. Great work is always great, and therefore my interest in hand made fashion with great, beautiful embellishment is valid, there is a place for it everywhere.

I know I’m a long way off from being able to produce anything approaching this, but that’s why it’s called inspiration. I would love to be able to decorate anything in such a complimentary way as this.

God Bless,


Thursday, 14 June 2012

The First Post...

Well, this will be my first blog post, the purpose of this page is to collect and share pictures and writing about my embroidery and needlework.

I suppose I should start by sharing how took up sewing! The story begins on Ash Wednesday this year, when I decided (for better or worse) to give up all forms of TV for lent. This is quite a big thing for me, I wouldn't say that my favourite thing to do was to watch TV but I just seemed to be sitting in front of the computer screen for evenings on end watching TV on demand. Not fulfilling. So I gave it up.

The first night, I actually did my ironing for the first time in I won't tell you how long. But there isn't enough ironing to last me 40 days so I had to find something else to do and one of the things that sprung to mind when I was thinking was to take up embroidery. It seemed like a good idea so...

I popped out after work to get an embroidery hoop and some threads, and I downloaded some antiquated volumes about needlework from Project Gutenburg, and set to work on my first project. I started by embroidering a pillow case with some flowers and leaves, and sent it to my Grandmother, I thought she would appreciate being the first to see my work - by this time, I had made up my mind that this was not going to be a one off!

Since then I have been working on a couple of other projects, I have given my newly married brother and his wife a rose that I designed and embroidered for them and have been endlessly working on a white skirt, working extravagant flower motifs - you'll see that soon I assure you but today I want to show you my Grandad's sparrow. 

This little guy is on his way in the post to my Grandad, who enjoys watching the birds.

This was mainly done in encroaching satin stitch, which I learned here, with a little couched satin stitch on they eye, which I was taught by none other than Mrs Beeton. He's probably not ornithologically (which isn't a word) correct. But he has a lovely colour scheme, and has made me fall in love with browns and grays in an altogether new way!

So I will try to keep you updated with my endeavours in embroidery and quilting {my even newer hobby!} and show you some of the inspiration behind it.

God bless,