Friday, November 17, 2017

Gift tutorial and more Christmas ideas...

We have moved a LOT.
House 21 times, towns 11 times, and states 5 times - all in 26 years.

Over those years and in all those places I have made some lovely 'far away' friends and some of them them like to stitch or quilt, so a few years back I designed a cute little needle-book to slip inside their birthday or Christmas cards.
It makes a lovely gift, so simple and also appreciated.

(Do we ever have enough needles or pretty pins??)

You can download the cover design HERE in my shop.
The pattern file has six covers ready to be printed onto one sheet of paper...

Shall we make one?

Gather your supplies. 

A pack of 6½” square scrapbooking papers will allow me to make two cards per sheet.

 You'll also need:

* a roll of double sided tape (or glue)
* rotary cutter (use an old blade, not the one you're currently using for your fabrics)
* cutting board and ruler
* some scraps of cotton or wool quilt wadding/batting
* an assortment of needles - both hand sewing and machine are a good choice

Use your rotary cutter, ruler, and cutting board to accurately cut out the six Stitcher's Friend labels from the free sheet you have printed.

Cut the 6½” square of scrapbooking paper in half.
Place strips of double sided tape across the back of a label, covering the four side edges. Peel the backing from the tape and position the label inside the right hand half of your scrapbook paper...

Fold the paper in half to create a card and machine sew a line just inside the folded edge of the card. This helps to keep the card closed when you have finished it...

Gather your assortment of needles. Three or four needles will be enough...

Sew a scrap piece of cotton or wool quilt wadding/batting inside the card. A straight line across the top edge is all you need. Place the needles in the wadding...

A nice touch is to write what size needles you've added and pop in a pretty pin as well.

How easy was that!

Now, who will you be sending these to?

If you'd like to make something special to post to your non-sewing friends what about a lavender sachet, bookmark or gift tag??

The trio of "Three Lovely Gifts" is a pattern set I've just added to my shop...

These projects  can be stitched and made up in an afternoon.

You'll find the pattern HERE in my shop. 
(Go to the top right and choose 'newest' in the drop down menu if you're in a hurry)

Are you a Christmas planner?

Kerryanne at Shabby Art Boutique is sharing free planner pages to help you through the festive season...

Visit her blog here.

If you scroll through you'll discover free Christmas cards, gifts tags and a sensible wish list as well. Kerryanne has generously thought of everything we'll need.

I've not done a proper Christmas plan before but this year I'm adding the pages to my Household Folder and intend spending a quiet afternoon with a cuppa and some cake pondering and planning ahead.

For those who loved all the new stitcheries inside the November issue of The Stitchery Club they are now available as single purchase patterns in my shop now!
Choose the one (or two!) you love and enjoy bringing it to life in your own special way.

Well, that's me for the week.
I'm about to grab my bag and head out the door to meet up with Blossom and Cully May. Those chubby little arms wrapped around my neck overflow my happy tank and we can never have enough 'happies' in life, of that I'm sure.

I do hope your day holds something rather wonderful too!


Monday, November 13, 2017

Rose Tattoo - a free design...

Remember back in June when I embroidered a little posey onto my blue cardigan?

Well my daughter Aisha thought it was beautiful so I asked if she'd like me to stitch another for her and she said, "Oh Mum, would you?! I'd love an embroidered cardie of my own."

I bought a black cardigan because that's a useful colour for any woman to have in her wardrobe, and sketched a spray of roses to stitch as they are Aisha's favourite flower. 

Last time I'd trialed the Sulky product but this time I used the Legacy brand.

It was a little easier on my hands, not quite as much gummy resistance to push the needle through, and it washed away quicker as well. 
I still don't like either product though.
They are not kind to arthritic hands but they serve a good purpose for projects like this when you're embroidering onto dark clothing and cannot easily trace the design in place. 

The three large roses are chain stitch and the rest of the design is a mix of backstitch, blanket stitch and colonial knots.
(I made these leaves)

Simple red and green on black.
Very effective, and Aisha was thrilled with her mum-made cardie. 

It doesn't take long to stitch this up so I thought you might like to have the pattern.
Embroidered cardigans would make lovely Christmas gifts...or embroidered mittens, gloves or scarves?

Blossom would like a grey embroidered cardie so at the moment I'm thinking of designs that would suit her.

A little stitchery certainly adds something special to a cardigan, don't you think?

You can download my free "Rose Tattoo" pattern HERE.

Hubby and I had a fairly relaxed weekend. Did you?

On Saturday morning we visited Blossom, Ross and Cully May, before returning home to finish our work - Mr E assessing his student's final end of year projects and me writing patterns for the next issue of The Stitchery Club.

As sunset drew closer my beloved asked if I'd like to go out for dinner and you know I said yes, right?! He took me to our favourite Thai restaurant and afterwards we drove along the water's edge with the cool evening breeze blowing around us. It was incredibly relaxing, so much so that we were in bed asleep by 9 pm. 

On Sunday morning we headed north to visit my dear friend Rosie who is recovering from a double knee replacement.  I baked blueberry muffins and took them along...

In spite of her pain and discomfort we laughed and laughed. 
Mr E and Rosie's son had us in stitches (they are both cheeky fellas!) and it was so good to see Rosie being just as cheeky back to them. She keeps us all on our toes!

You know, I've been fighting depression for a few weeks and it got so bad last week that I almost deleted my blog...but I have learned over time that I must not do anything extreme when depression has a hold of me, that I must be patient and wait until it lifts to make any big decisions or changes. 

Seeing Rosie yesterday was a tonic for me, as was a long phone call the other day with Fee. 
Having good friends (and I only have a few) who know you well and love you through the good times and the bad, can be the difference between sinking deeper into depression or reaching for the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm blessed to have these two women in my life and I hope I am a blessing to them as well.

If you're feeling like I was reach out to someone who knows you, a friend or family member who can come alongside and cheer you. It's not always as easy as that, I know, but being reminded that life has so many good moments that you can both laugh about and reminisce over is a tonic not to be overlooked. 
Don't forget to be that friend to others as well. 

Something I've just realised is that when the dark end of life takes hold of me I stop eating healthy, snacking on sweets and ice cream instead. I know that having good nutrition is very important to mental health so it surprised me to acknowledge I'd blindly forgotten all about this and done the complete opposite for three whole weeks.

Today I put aside the sweeties and chose to get back to the delicious natural foods which nourish my body and my mind.
I started by making 2 litres of fresh veggie juice and then prepared some roast vegetables to use in lunchtime salads through the week. 

I cut pumpkin and sweet potato into small pieces, then tossed them in coconut oil and salt before roasting them on trays until they were soft inside and slightly golden on the outside.

Sometimes I blend the roast pumpkin with chicken stock, roasted garlic and a little curry paste and heat it up in a saucepan for a spicy pumpkin soup lunch.  SO delicious!

I don't waste the pumpkin seeds either.

Removed from the pulp I toss them in coconut oil, salt and Cajun spice before roasting until they are golden and crisp.
Seriously, these are better than every other snack food I've tried.
In fact, these disappeared in 5 minutes.

Fortunately Mr E doesn't like pumpkin so I never have to share.  

It feels much better knowing I'm doing something positive for my health again.

Later in the week I have some great Christmas planning and Christmas gift ideas to share with you, but for now I have to trace pattern sheets and check them for accuracy before putting Friday's new issue of The Stitchery Club to bed.

Memberships for this issue close on the 16th so if you'd like to join just head over HERE.

Have a blessed week, and be sure to stop and enjoy the view.
Life is too short not to smell the roses.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

The things we cannot see...

I was reading 1 John this week and for a few days kept returning to this verse as a reminder that each day is an opportunity to invite the Holy Spirit to reveal the hidden sins I cannot see.

And you know, He is faithful to do just that, but not so He can swat us on the backside and give us a stern talking to.

He wants to correct our path out of danger, set our heart on a right course and lead us into a closer walk with Jesus.
Every time we allow the Holy Spirit to dig out the weeds, turn our green light to red, or close a door in our face, it's because of LOVE.

As a parent I many times have had to remove my children from situations that were not safe, or reprimand their bad behaviour. Not because I wanted to ruin their fun, but because I could see the lurking dangers that they could not.

Our God is a gracious and forgiving Father, a far better parent than I will ever hope to be, and it is in the moments when I bow my head before Him and pray for my loved ones, forgiveness, our needs or what direction to take, that I realise I too am still a child.

His child.

And a wise and loving Father will only ever lead His child towards righteousness.

be blessed,

Friday, November 10, 2017

Familiar comforts...

Many years ago a dear friend introduced me to the most wonderful book.
We were house sitting for her family so I had a week to immerse myself within those pages and the seed planted in the soil of my creative heart back then has never stopped growing and bearing fruit. 

The book was Jane Brocket's "The Gentle Art of Domesticity" and though it didn't expound on the virtues of living a domestic life (something I added to my life and blog in 2013) it does embrace the domestic 'arts' of baking, painting, reading, knitting, crochet, quilting, embroidery and other such pursuits. I quickly bought a copy for myself and over the next few years gifted more copies to some dear homemaker friends whom I thought would also find it inspiring.   

This past week has been personally challenging for me in a number of areas and I felt the need to take moments of rest and refreshment for an hour or two each day, time to separate myself from the many 'must dos' that never seem to disappear, and the 'need tos' that keep tapping on my diary door. 
So each afternoon with a cup of tea by my side, I settled down to re-read "The Gentle Art of Domesticity"...

Tea and this book are a marriage of serene bliss during times of weariness.

I find myself copying some of Mrs Brocket's quotes, the ones that lift my soul, onto paper and slipping them inside my journal for further contemplation another day, especially the ones which I could have spoken myself, so personally true they are to my life and experiences.

My bible in the morning and this book each afternoon...they've carried me through the week, gently nourishing my fragile heart and filling my thoughts with joy and hope and inspiration for each new day ahead. 

I love her conversational wit in describing the simplest things - like icing a cake, filling a vase with flowers, or spreading fabric across the floor to plan a quilt.  She makes me laugh quite a bit, but then I'll be captured in a thought and sit gazing out the window for ten minutes allowing my mind to travel where it wants, personal inspirations revealing themselves as I do.

The book could be called a springboard I suppose...because it has a tendency to be a starting point from where I launch my thoughts and let them fly free to land where they may, often times creating a new approach to my domestic endeavours. 

I wonder if we all have a book like this, one we gather close when something comforting, familiar and cheerful is required? A book we can get wonderfully lost in, which has the ability to bring a smile to our cheeks, reassure us that all is well, and give us inspiration to try something new or practice things we'd like to improve in. 

Do you have a special book like that?
I'd love to know what it is. 

Something else I've found relaxing this week has been the making of those coasters and finishing a design from last year as a cover for my sewing cushion.

I like all my designs but there's a few which I like more than others so after they've been stitched I store them in a special box where they wait to be made into a project when the time is right. 

 "The Flower Thieves" is one such stitchery.

I use cushions to rest my hands on as I embroider (I don't use a hoop) and one is rectangular and one is square. I have two covers for the rectangular cushion but only one for the square so it's been on my to-do list to make another for quite a while. 

The stitchery block was trimmed and simple borders added before the addition of some hand quilting around the applique sections and machine quilting in the green border. 

The back has a zipper closure and I finished the cushion with quilt binding around the outside edges.

I love how this cushion turned out, but I think it's just too pretty to be hiding under my hands as I stitch.
Perhaps I'll pop it on our bed.
And make a different cover for my sewing cushion. 

Some things don't turn out the way you expect and other things turn out better than you'd hoped. 
I think that's rather lovely as it keeps us creating, and creating is a gift we should cherish and use.

I pray you have a lovely weekend, that you find a book to inspire your dreams and a project that's in need of your wonderfully creative touch.
(and a relaxing cuppa while you're at it)


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Sew a set of Cottage Coasters...

My project ideas are often conceived in the most unexpected ways.

When Mr E and I were chatting over breakfast the other day he put his coffee mug down on my new table runner and when he lifted it again to take another sip there was a round imprint left behind. 

Thankfully there was no coffee stain, just an impression from the shape of the mug. 
But I wondered to myself, what if next time it does leave a stain?

Then and there my plans for the day changed from baking and writing patterns to sketching up ideas for a set of drink coasters and making some before the following day's breakfast. 

I still had some Tilda 'Cottage' scraps plus a good length of the same vintage flour sack fabric I'd used for my table runner, so after deciding on the design I began to sew. 

If you'd like to make some too, just follow along!

You will require:

Four, 1½" x 5" lengths of floral fabric
Four, 4" x 5" lengths of solid cream fabric
Four, 4½" squares of fusible Pellon
Four, 5½" inch squares of backing fabric
Four, 3/4" hexagons made from floral fabric
Perle #12 thread for hand quilting

1. Sew a length of the floral fabric down the side of a piece of cream fabric to make a 5" square. Press the seams open. 

2. Fuse a 4½" square of Pellon to the centre back of the 5" square.

3. Lay the front of the coaster onto the right side of your 5½" square of backing fabric. Pin the pieces together.

4. Sew the front and back together by sewing right beside the edge of the Pellon. Leave a 2½" opening along one side for turning out.

6. Trim the excess backing fabric away.
(make 4)

7. Turn the coaster right side out, push out the corners and press flat.

8. Ladder stitch the opening closed.

9. Make your hexies.

10. Hand quilt with running stitch 1/4" in from the edge of the cream section with the Perle #12 thread.

11. Carefully blind stitch (applique stitch) the hexie to the centre of the cream section, being careful to only catch the fabric/Pellon at the front and not stitch through the back.

12. Hand quilt around the hexie.

Make another three, or four, or five...however many you need.

Tie them up with string and add a gift tag if you're making these as a present.

Or tie them up with string and pop in the centre of your table just because (like me) you think they look cute that way!

Now to state the obvious.

Yes, I've used the same cream flour sack to make the coasters as I used in my table runner, the one which has indents left behind when Mr E rests his coffee mug on it.

And yes, if I was concerned he would one day leave a coffee stained indent on my cream flour sack table runner he could do the same to these cream coasters.

So WHY did I use more cream flour sack for the coasters and not a nice print fabric that would cover a multitude of coffee mug rings should they be left behind?

I don't really know. 
Well, actually I do, my heart loves flour sack. 

So there I was sewing these cute coasters in a wonderfully blissful state of mind, admiring the hand stitched hexies, the pop of floral against cream, the gentle rhythm of hand quilting...but totally forgetting the reason I made the coasters in the first place, to hide stains and save my table runner.

Oh well. 

I don't care, they were such a joy to make that we'll use them until such a time as I need to make more.
And then I'll enjoy the process again...but perhaps not use cream flour sack. 

Have a beautiful day,

Monday, November 6, 2017

How to make a "believe" heart...

For a number of years I would often create special gifts for family and friends from bits and pieces of fabric, lace, ribbon, beads, buttons, old brooches and other pretty things. They were gifts which employed a touch of creativity but really weren't as difficult to make as they looked.

One of those gifts was a "Believe" heart and I wondered if you'd like to make it as a Christmas gift for someone who may need a little 'believe' reminder of their own? 

I first shared this tutorial about four years ago but as it's such a pretty project it seemed a good idea to offer it once more.

Gather your favourite scraps of fabric, aged lace, glass and pearl beads, old brooches or even broken vintage earrings, a tassel, embroidery thread and a piece of leftover quilt wadding or fusible Pellon. 

I'll walk you through it step by step, ok?

What you'll need:

One, 4½ x 12 inch strip of a solid beige fabric (linen is good if you have some)
Two, 1½ x 12 inch strips of a blue background floral print
Two, 3 x 12 inch strips of a cream background floral print
3 x 9 inch strip red background floral fabric
A 12 inch length of 1 inch wide scalloped cream nylon lace
A 14 inch length of ¼ inch wide cream braid
An 8 inch length of 1 to 1 ¼ inch wide cream cotton lace
A 7 inch length of cream organza ribbon (at least ¾ inch wide)
A 1 inch diameter button, brooch, or decorative earring
A 2 inch long tassel (I tea dyed mine for an aged look)
One 6mm pearl bead
Four, 4mm pearl beads
A packet of small pearl seed beads
DMC Embroidery threads, 1 skein each of Ecru and 347
6 tea bags
12 inch square thin fusible Pellon
12 inch square backing fabric
Piece of Vliesofix or bonding paper for applique

Let's begin:

Download the free heart and wording templates here in my shop.

Trace the reverse wording onto the smooth side of your Vliesofix.
Fuse the rough side of the Vliesofix to the back of your 3 x 9 inch strip red background floral fabric.

Cut out all the letters along the traced lines.

Place the 4½ x 12 inch strip of a solid beige fabric in front of you and make a pencil mark along the bottom raw edge, 2 inches in from each end.

Peel the Vliesofix off each letter, and fuse the word ‘believe’ along the middle of the beige fabric, in the 8” space between the two pencil marks. 

Using 3 strands of the red (347) thread, chainstitch through each of the letters.

(OPTION - if you're good at machine applique you might like to satin stitch around each letter instead of hand embroidering)


Trim the block to 4 x 12 inches.

Sew a 1½ x 12” strip of blue background floral print to the top and bottom of the appliqu├ęd block.

Sew a 3 x 12 inch strip of cream background floral print to the top and bottom. 

Fuse the quilt wadding (or Pellon) to the back of the block.

Place the scalloped cream nylon lace above the top blue fabric section, leaving ¼ inch between the bottom of the lace and the blue fabric. Machine stitch in place.

Cut out the heart shape from the pattern sheet. Lay it across the block, remembering you want the wording to be on a slight angle.

Draw a pencil line around the heart but do NOT cut your fabric yet.

Cut the braid into two sections – a 6” and an 8” length. Stitch the braid in place along the top of the scalloped cream lace, and ¼ inch under the ditch between the bottom blue and cream floral sections.

Sew the cotton lace ¼ inch under the braid at the bottom of the block.

Using the Ecru thread and your pearl beads, backstitch them across the ditch between the blue floral strip and the beige wording panel. 

Lay the organza ribbon across the top right of the heart shape you’ve traced on the block, and sew down at each end, just inside the traced pencil line.


Make a gather in the middle of the ribbon by tying a thread around it and pulling through to the back before tying off.

From just under the gathered section of the ribbon bring a double thread of Ecru through to the front and thread on 8 seed beads, a 4mm pearl bead, and 2 more seed beads. 
Pull the thread through to the back of the block and secure.

Repeat this beading process, but this time with 14 seed beads, a 4mm pearl bead, and 2 more seed beads.

Sew a decorative button over the gather in the ribbon, or add a brooch or vintage earring as I have done.

Backstitch seed beads across the scallop of the cream nylon lace.

 Make little bouquets of lazy daisies in the ditch between the worded block and the blue floral strip.

Use your heart template to cut out the backing heart.

Place the tea-dyed tassel on the heart block in this manner. You need the tassel to be in line with the middle of the rounded heart peaks at the top of the block. 

Stitch in place with a scant 1/8th inch seam.

Lay the backing heart face down on the block. Keep it in line with the traced heart pencil line, and pin in place. (you could remove the brooch or earring at this point if it's easier, and put it back on after the heart is completed)

 Sew the block and the backing together with a ¼ inch seam, leaving a 3 inch opening for turning out later. Cut around the completed heart shape, and clip the corners. 

 Turn right side out, and use a rounded tool such as a large knitting needle to gently push out the edges.

 Ladder stitch the opening closed.

 I made two 'Believe' hearts, very alike, but also different.

This would be a nice project for a craft group, don't you think?
An afternoon sharing trims, fabrics, cake and tea - memories are made that way.
And how lovely that everyone would go home with a heart.

You could even organise a heart swap with sewing friends far away or what about  making one for your own sweet self?

However you make your 'Believe' heart, be sure to enjoy the process. Let your creativity come out to play and don't be afraid to finally snip off a length of your treasured vintage lace or cut into that piece of fabric you've been holding back for a special purpose. 

Go forth and make something beautiful. 
I know you can. 


Looking for new embroidery designs?
Visit The Stitchery Club HERE!