Friday 28 February 2014

My finished 'Sampler in Blue'

These last few days have been busy, busy, busy here but, I did manage to find a couple of hours one afternoon this week when I was able to finish off my 'Sampler in Blue'.  The pattern I used was designed by Gail Pan Designs. In the pattern Gail gives instructions for the completed embroidery to have fabric borders added and then, to stretch it over a canvas to make it into a piece of art.  I really liked the idea of using the embroidery in this way but, on this occasion, I did not finish my sampler like that.

I simply added some fabric borders along with some hanging loops and made it into a small wall hanging.  I really love how the design and colours have all come together.  Next time I will certainly try the canvas wall art idea but, this time I just needed to use what I had to hand rather than buy new supplies.

Thursday 27 February 2014

I was not the only one!

It would seem that I was not the only one 'getting ready for Spring'.  When I was out with my dogs recently, I could see that Mother Nature had the same idea! The mornings getting lighter, the temperatures mild and signs of Spring everywhere....

I started work on my Easter Sampler ....

And then overnight this happened....

Perhaps I was being too optimistic!! But, at least the sun is shining!!

Have a wonderful day!

Tuesday 25 February 2014

A new mug rug!

I hate to waste bits of embroidery and fabric that I have used as 'samples', although I do have to sometimes admit that there is nothing else for it but to throw them away! You may remember my recent post about the differences between blanket stitch and buttonhole stitch and, recall the three little appliquéd hearts that I stitched round to demonstrate the two stitches.  Well, I really didn't want to throw those little hearts away.  So, I added a little more embroidery and used them as the central panel in a new mug rug.

The zig-zag-type stitch that you can see running between the hearts is called 'Glove stitch'.  I love using this stitch.  It was originally used to finish off the cuff edge of ladies gloves.  That was in the days when ladies wore gloves almost all the time!

Mug rugs are such fun to make.  So, quick and easy.  With this one, I just added a few scraps of my favourite Tilda fabrics to the central panel, quilted it and added some binding and there you are!  I really enjoyed putting this little mug rug together and, it was nice to make such good use of the hearts.

Monday 24 February 2014

Getting ready for SPRING!

I was reminded the other day when I was reading a very interesting blog post concerning photography, written by Bronwyn Hayes of Red Brolly Designs that, prior to starting the Girls Own Stitching Club project 'Le Jardin' Quilt, Bronwyn had published several other free patterns you could use to get practising your stitches.

One of these was a really gorgeous Easter Sampler.  I had printed it out ready to make but, unfortunately, did not get round to stitching it in time for Easter 2013 (not even started!)  So, when I saw a photo of it on her blog recently, I thought I'd get the instructions out and get started on it ready for Easter 2014!!

Here it is all ready to go!  It makes me feel like we're getting ready for Spring!!

Friday 21 February 2014

Blanket Stitch or Buttonhole Stitch?

While working on finishing the edges of some fused appliqué shapes recently, I started thinking about the differences between blanket stitch and buttonhole stitch.  Over the years that I have been sewing I have noticed that these two stitches are often confused and many people seem to think that they are the same stitch but they aren't.

Blanket stitch

Blanket stitch, as the name tells us, was used originally to reinforce the edges of thick fabrics, such as those that were used to make blankets.  It is worked by putting your needle into the fabric a short distance from the fabric edge, bringing it out at the edge and catching the thread round the needle at this point before moving on to the next stitch.

Buttonhole stitch: can you see the little knots at the edge?

Buttonhole stitch, also as the name implies, was used originally to reinforce and secure the raw edges of buttonholes (before sewing machines were invented that do this for us!!)  This stitch is worked by putting the needle down at the raw edge and bringing it up through the fabric a small distance from the edge, winding the thread round the tip of the needle and then pulling the needle through making a small knot which sits on the raw edge of the fabric.  It is this knot which makes the stitch strong enough to withstand the use it would get as a buttonhole, especially if the stitches are worked closely together.

These days we don't finish off many blanket edges or hand sew buttonholes but, both stitches are used decoratively in embroidery and, both can be used for finishing off the raw edges of fused appliqué shapes.

Long and short blanket stitch

Up and down blanket stitch

Blanket stitch is faster to stitch and is a very versatile embroidery stitch, as it is easy to change the look of it by creating long and short stitches, stitching it closed, stitching it up and down or using it to make flowers, etc.

Closed blanket stitch

Blanket stitch flower

Buttonhole stitch is slightly slower to work because of the action of wrapping the thread round the tip of the needle. It is generally used in cutwork embroidery such as 'Broderie Anglaise' Where the cut shapes (such as eyelets) in the fabric need to be stabilised to stop them fraying.  Or in Hardanger Embroidery where the fabric is sometimes cut away from the edge of the embroidery and, again, needs to be stabilised.

Hardanger embroidery sachet
(No buttonhole stitch in this example)

Hardanger embroidery sampler
(No buttonhole stitch on this one either!)

Neither of these examples of Hardanger Embroidery show buttonhole stitch because neither of them have been finished with a cut edge but, I thought you might like to see a sample of what Hardanger Embroidery looks like!!

I like to use buttonhole stitch to finish my appliqué shapes as I find it stays in place on the edge of the appliqué shape better and does not 'roll inwards' as can sometimes happen with blanket stitch.  It is also better at stopping the raw edge of the fabric from fraying. Of course, this is only my personal preference and, as your sewing-style is as unique as your handwriting, it is important that you do whatever feels most comfortable for you.

Two edged with buttonhole stitch and one with blanket stitch.
Can you tell which one?

Thursday 20 February 2014

A snowy afternoon project!

It is never a difficult decision to sew something when the weather outside is like this!

Last Sunday we woke to snow and it continued snowing on and off all day.  I decided that what I needed was a small project which I could finish off quickly to keep me busy.  For a little while now I have had an
 idea about making something and it just seemed like the perfect day to get started.

I got my supplies together (which is not easy at the moment as a lot of them are boxed up ready to move!) and started cutting fabric, drawing shapes, fusing and sewing.

What was the end result?

This cute little ornament.... which is now hanging in my kitchen.  
A very satisfying afternoon!!

Monday 17 February 2014

'In between' stitches

This past week has been a very busy week of sorting, packing, organising quotes and signing important papers!  In between all this activity, I have snatched a few moments here and there to work on my Gail Pan project 'Sampler in Blue'. (You'll remember that my version is actually being worked in a bluey-teal variegated silk thread)

Gail Pan is another Australian designer whose work I greatly admire.  I have several of her books and patterns which I love.  I especially like her little 'signature' details such as:

cute little birds, 

pretty baskets

and picturesque cottages.  'Sampler in Blue' has all of these details as well as a couple of embroidered patchwork-style blocks and lots of flowers.

I'm pleased with how my sampler looks now that all the stitching is complete but, I did make a bit of a mistake when I transferred over my initials and the year to the background fabric.  I didn't centre them in the space available very well so, I had more space on one side than the other. To try and hide this, I have added a stem and some leaves to the flower on the side with more space.  I'm hoping no-one will notice!!

It was also the first time I had embroidered an alphabet and numerals all in one place and and I was a little anxious how these would turn out as they are quite small and detailed to stitch. However, I found that as long as I kept my stitches small they worked out quite nicely and I am pleased with how they look!!

You may also have noticed that there is a slight change of thread colour in the running stitches on the left hand side (as you look at it) of the sampler. Much to my frustration, I ran out of thread just as I was finishing off the last line of stitches. I had to substitute with another colour so, I hope it is not too noticeable!

Gail Pan has a new book being published by Martingale shortly.  It is called 'Patchwork Loves Embroidery'.  I can't wait to add it to my book collection! Thanks for visiting!!

Monday 10 February 2014

A beautiful new book!

If you have visited my blog before, you may have gathered by now, I really LOVE needlework books.  Actually, I'm addicted to them... just can't resist them!!  Well, this weekend I found a lovely parcel waiting in my post box.  It was the beautiful book that I had ordered recently from Quiltmania.  The book is called 'The Home Patch' and is by Anni Downs

Anni Downs is one of my favourite designers.  Her website is called 'Hatched and Patched' and she runs a shop in Bathurst, Australia (unfortunately a little too far for me to visit!) which is also called 'The Home Patch'.  The book (which is written in both French and English) is fabulous and has some wonderful projects in it as well as a lovely introduction all about Anni and how she got started in the patchwork and quilting world.

I love Anni's designs and have made several small items in the past from another of her books 'Simple Pleasures'.  A couple of lavender sachets (sorry they are covered in plastic, they were wrapped ready to be posted) and a really cute little scene of a house on a hill which I made into a miniature wall hanging.

Can't wait to get started on a couple of projects from the new book!

Friday 7 February 2014

To bobble or not to bobble?

Since I have been home I have been trying to sort out a few things in readiness for my impending move to England.  While sorting through some bits and pieces I found the leftover balls of wool from the scarf I finished at the beginning of the year.  I decided that I had enough to crochet myself one of those cute little 'beanie' hats to wear with my scarf.  I spent a very relaxing evening watching television and crocheting and here is the result.

I was pleased with my hat and, I love the way it compliments my scarf but, I still had a few scraps of wool left, so I made a bobble.

I pinned it to the top of the hat and tried it on but I'm not sure whether I like it or not.  I think for the moment I'll wear it without the bobble and see how I feel about it in a week or two.  I'll keep the bobble somewhere safe in case I decide that it would look better with it!  What do you think?

Wednesday 5 February 2014

Progress on my sampler in blue

Just before I left for England I had managed to start a few stitches on my version of Gail Pan's 'Sampler in Blue' pattern. I decided on this bluey-teal skein of Stef Francis silk thread to stitch it with.

Since I have been back I have managed to stitch a little more.  This is the progress I have made to date.  I am really happy with how it is looking so far, the variegated thread is beautiful to work with. I hope that this week I'll have time to get some more finished off.... we'll see!

Monday 3 February 2014

Another trip to England and a couple more magazines!

Sorry for the gap between posts here, I have just come back from another trip to the UK.  My husband is changing jobs and, after 18 years living in Switzerland, we will be moving back to the UK.  I have just returned from a house-hunting trip.  It is very tiring looking at houses but, we think we have found one we like, so fingers-crossed all goes smoothly.

As usual on the flights to and from England, I found some magazines to read.  L'Atelier de Couture, I found locally here in Switzerland and enjoyed reading it on the journey out. The other two I found at the airport in England on the way home. 

Homemaker, published by Aceville Publications,  is a craft magazine, so has some lovely papercraft projects and some baking ideas along with the stitching projects.  It was lovely to browse through it on the flight back and, it came with this cute free project to make.

I also enjoyed reading Sewing Machine Style which is published by Future Publications and had lots of handy tips on various sewing techniques.  It is nice to be home again and, I am looking forward to working on some new projects before I have to pack up all my belongings to move house!!