Just doodlin’


Some time ago Meg Evershed from The Nutmeg Company came to our branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild.  Her 3D embroidery kits are so cute!  I dug a Gingerbread House out from my stash. They involve cross-stitch and back-stitch, adding a few embellishments, and assembly. What could be simpler?  I thought this would be an ideal project after the long one I have recently completed. I even thought about preparing everything, making a start and putting it away to take on holiday later in the year.

A re-think is in order.  The roof of the house is stitched on evenweave, over 2 threads, using 2 strands of cotton.  I started by stitching the ‘snow’ by going along the ridge of the roof.  After a while I decided it would have to come out, so the unpicking tool was used.  It was much easier to stitch in the other direction and this time it looks reasonable.  However, I am struggling with the ’tiles’ on the roof, so it has been put aside for now.  I have looked on the website, and I notice that the roof parts are now stitched on aida – so much easier.

So now I am stitching the walls.   In spite of tacking lines at 10 thread intervals, the unpicking tool has been needed again, because I have stitched more than one window in the wrong place.

However, I am enjoying this as a diversion from the kind of embroidery I usually choose.

I think a break for a day or two might be in order, so I have got my doodling pens and pencils out. I looked into doodling on Youtube some months back, and found some useful tutorials.  My thinking was that I might come up with some designs for embroidery.

My first search was for mandalas, and this was the first attempt.


First Mandala

First Mandala


A Mandala starts in the centre. All doodles have to start somewhere. So next  was a doodle which started with a word.  It doesn’t really matter what is the starting point, as it may not be obvious when the doodle is complete.  I’m not sure if this is complete, or if I might add one or two tiny bits more.


Fiorst doodle

First doodle


Once I had done a few doodles, I needed somewhere to keep them.  I have some books which I have made mainly from recycled items. This one has a front and back made from a discarded book, and recycled A4 paper.  The cover is made from strips of scrap fabric, embellished with machine stitching and ribbon.


Doodle book

Doodle book


Anything that is A5 or smaller fits nicely in this book.  Some doodles are not to my liking, and as I do the main drawing with ink, so there are two choices. One is to carry on and hope it gets better.  The other is to abandon it, but rescue the best bits. They can then be the inspiration for other doodles.


A4 doodles

A5 doodles


I am quite pleased with the bottom page shown above., but again I might add a bit more at some point.

A doodle can be as small or as large as you wish – a spare moment using the back of a shopping list, or an hour or two with a nice large piece of paper.

The largest so far are on A4 paper.

A doodle gets more interesting with shading of some parts, filling in of others, and the use of lines with different thicknesses.  I haven’t yet tried using different colours.  I need to check first whether the ink pens are water resistant. If they are not, then careful addition of water with a soft brush could produce some interesting effects.

Doodling is so relaxing.  Like crazy patchwork there are no rights and wrongs, and I like the way ideas come to me as the piece progresses.


June 12, 2016. Tags: , , , . Crazy Patchwork, Cross stitch, Embroidery, Recycling. Leave a comment.

Schwalm Embroidery and Crazy Quilting

It’s a good thing photos have a date on them! This has made it easier for me to find the work completed in the last 2 years, to add to this blog.

I follow Mary Corbet’s blog, needlenthread.com.   It is a good source of information.  In 2009 Mary reviewed Luzine Happel’s  book ‘Basic Principles of Schwalm Whitework’.   I had been looking at different types of whitework for a while, and had tried Mountmellick.  The the idea of drawing out threads grabbed me.  The book (and several others that are available from Luzine) has been translated into English, so I sent for it.  I got impatient waiting, as the book was damaged and returned to sender, so I started this piece while I was waiting.  And of course there aspects of it that are far from correct, but nevertheless  I am pleased with it.




In fact, so pleased with it that I could not just consign it to the drawer where so many other pieces of complete work hide.  For some time I had the urge to make a Hussif,  so I looked on Pinterest for ideas, and this is what I came up with.





When the book arrived, I found it absorbing.  I had also been looking at Luzine Happel’s blog, where she shares so much information about Schwalm.  Schwalm is traditionally done using linen, so I had bought some linen offcuts for practice pieces, and a larger piece to make something more substantial.  I can now understand Mary Corbet’s love of linen for embroidery.  I would recommend both of these blogs.

In order to get more practice, I decided to make a sampler.  I planned blocks, and I also wanted to practice different edges.  As a result of using Pinterest I discovered how useful Youtube can be.  By following links I found a number of tutorials and spent many hours watching video tutorials for all sorts of things.  I particularly like the picot hem which is on the right hand side and the bottom edge. I found it easy to do and love the way it lies flat, as there are only two thicknesses of fabric, and many hems have three. The corner was not difficult to do.  Some of the blocks are from the book, others from the blog.


Schwalm sampler

Schwalm sampler


My next Schwalm was a pair of mats, again using linen offcuts  I found these on Luzine Happel’s blog.


Sunflower mats

Sunflower mats

I used different filling stitches in the middle, although when I stand something on the mats the centres are not really seen.  I still intend doing a larger piece of Schwalm, but it is still very much in the planning stage.



I also became fascinated by Crazy Quilting.  I like to work to a plan, as with the Schwalm embroidery, but also enjoy a piece where  I can make things up as I go along, and meander.  It is a good way of using fabrics and threads from my stash.

Again I made use of Pinterest, and followed links to find the information which helped me.  I also downloaded ‘The Art of Crazy Quilting’ by J. Marsha Michler from Amazon’s Kindle shop. It is just a booklet really, but as it is full colour, and easy to look at on a computer or tablet, it is well worth the 99p I paid for it.

Here is the first cushion.




While I was stitching I was enjoying it so much that when I went to buy the edging and the inner I bought enough for another one.  I knew to expect some shrinkage when stitching these, so I waited until first one was done, and measured it before buying the inners.

The second one was in a different colour scheme.


Ealry stage

Early stage


Here it is when I was just laying the fabric on the backing fabric.  There are different techniques which can be used to assemble crazy quilting, but this is the one which suits me.  When I am happy with the layout, I photograph it, then tack the pieces into position, with a narrow turn-under if on raw edges, making sure that there are no gaps. When this is done I stitch all round the outer edge with a sewing machine and trim off the excess fabric to about 1/4″ from the stitching.  There is no reason why more should not be added later if you wish.  What I like about crazy quilting is that there are no hard-and-fast rules, and if something doesn’t work there is always a remedy to be found.

Here is the finished cushion.




And here are a few close-ups of my favourite bits.




The blue one has a lot of buttons, and I also took the opportunity to use up some variegated threads



Here I have done some applique.   Some of the pieces of fabric are experimental or sample pieces. The flowery piece at the right is from when I attended a Textiles class, and experimented with painting on fabric.




Some scraps of guipure lace embellished with beads.  The lace below it is just caught down with stab stitch at the bottom edge, so that it didn’t flap about.




Another variegated thread and another way of stitching the lace edge.


My large project as about half done now, and the first two posts should be ready soon


Happy Easter to you all




March 26, 2016. Tags: . Crazy Patchwork, Drawn thread, Embroidery, Schwalm. Leave a comment.

‘Melancholy’ progress

Progress is slow with this piece.  There are 196 stitches per square inch, most of them cross-stitch, with  half cross-stitch for the background and a bit of back-stitch.  The finished piece is 10″ x 12 “.  That’s well over 23,000 stitches!  Anytime now it will be put away again and I will start something new.

I have also made a bit of progress with crazy patchwork.

This time I have used fewer pieces, and not used any ribbon.   I like it a lot better.

I had been looking at transfers of oriental panels, with a view to doing something quite large on silk dupion.  The content of the panels was much the same – a mountain at the top, water with birds at the bottom, a bridge over the water, trees, a pagoda, a path winding through  fields with corn sheaves stacked, and people.  I spent a happy afternoon with my A2 paper pad, and in the end came to the conclusion that the whole project was probably just too big.  So I am now thinking about doing one (or maybe two) smaller panel with fewer objects.

In the meantime…. I downloaded this design from the Dover Sampler which I subscribe to.  The original is on a black background, so I didn’t want to print it out, and use a lot of printer ink.  So I traced it from the computer screen,  tweaked it a bit, darkened the outline, and used my lovely 3-in-1 to make a copy. 

The colours are just to help me se the shapes.  I think I will tweak the design a bit more.  This may well be the design to use some silk hankies which have been waiting since the Knitting and Stitching Show last November.

July 20, 2011. Tags: , , , . Crazy Patchwork, Embroidery. Leave a comment.

Trial and errors

On Saturday I went shopping.  I was looking for scissors – goldwork,  hardanger and ‘lift and snip’.  I was really disappointed that the shop in the centre of Leeds had none of these – in fact I don’t think the girl who asked if I needed help know what I was talking about!  So I have ordered the last two from an eBay shop, and they are in the post. 

I had a rummage round the remnants stand in the same shop.  There were some very small pieces for between 5 and 40 pence, so I bought a few.  One of these is a piece of white cotton twill, long and thin, which will make two small embroideries – maybe crewel?  I could dye with tea or coffee for a better colour.

Then I went to the market to look at the haberdashery and fabric stalls.  A fabric still had a pack of  ‘fabric samples’ for £1, so I got one of those too. There were six pieces so I was pleased with them.

I had been intending to have a go at crazy patchwork, but wanted to do something small first.  This piece was going to make a small pouch to go in a handbag, to contain emergency items – headache and indigestion tablets, and some plasters.  I said was.  It has not been without a hitch or two.

Above you can see the pieces laid out, with Bondaweb on the back, ready for the iron.  I took a photograph of the pieces in position, so that I could get them back when I had removed the backing of the Bondaweb. I was being so careful!

At this stage I realised that the outer part would be in the seam, so I needed to reposition the piece with the rose, so that it would look good on the front of the pouch. Then I ironed the pieces of fabric and three pieces of ribbon in place, using baking parchment.  So far not so good. I had already made my first mistake.

I then decided to use the sewing machine, and stitch some of the edges with decorative stitches.  I liked these, soI did all except the ribbons. There was a crackling noise – it was coming from the two pieces of ribbon.  I had not removed the backing from these.  The paper was removed, and here is where I made the Big Mistake.  I switched the iron back on, to fasten the ribbons, which I could just have stitched down by hand or machine . And then……

I put the hot iron onto the piece, with no baking parchment, and the two ribbons melted.  The base plate of the iron took some cleaning!

When I had sorted that mess out, I snipped the remains of the ribbons out, and had a think.  I could us Bondaweb to replace the pieces, so that is what I did.  Then I realised that the ends of the ribbon would fray, and here is where I made the third mistake.  I dabbed the ends with Fray-check, and put the piece away. I just got it out again to photograph, before I sew in the ends of the thread and add the hand stitching, and the Fray-check has seriously marked the ribbons.









At this point I think I will put this piece in my samples folder. Unless anyone has a better suggestion.

I have learned a lot from this exercise-

1 –  THINK before you put a hot iron on anything at all

2 –  making the pieces so small was not a good idea – it made too much work

3 –  Fraycheck works, but it marks, particularly on lighter colours


And now for the good news.  Yesterday I reserved a place on a Goldwork workshop at our branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild.   That is when I hope to buy the Goldwork scissors

July 12, 2011. Crazy Patchwork, Embroidery. Leave a comment.