Peace Embroidery No 1 January 2017

One of the tasks on my list for 2017 was a "Peace Embroidery" for each month of the year. Personal Peace is what this months saying concerns.  It comes from George Fox, one of the founders of the Quaker Movement and was written during the 1600's.  But the sentiments are true today.

"Carry around some quiet inside thee."

Having a quiet spirit is an enviable attribute.  In our world today, with it's many distractions it is sometimes hard to find.  In my classroom I had positive affirmations posted on the walls to encourage a positive learning environment.  I think the same approach, of having quotes that catch our attention and remind us of things that are important,  is applicable in our daily lives.

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I have to say I rushed this piece.  It was the noisiest embroidery I have every stitched  It was insistent that I keep stitching and get it finished.  It wasn't happy with the colours I had choosen and I found myself stitching with different colours altogether.  I told it that it would just have to put up with the frame I put it in as it was all I had to hand and I can see it has moved slightly..

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With all that pressure I made mistakes so the chart is slightly different from the finished embroidery. (Only at the corners of the border)  It is stitched on 32 count even weave linen and I used 2 strands of DMC embroidery cotton and a 26 Tapestry needle.  I'm not quite sure how many hours are in the stitching as I did so much 'reverse' stitching but I think it wouldn't take more than a day or so.  A quick easy project.

Download Peace 1






Sewing, sewing.

Oh that sewing of gifts.  I just think of new things to do all the time.  There are some gifts that cry out to be put into a bag so I have been making bags to put things into.  The Magic 3's bag is just perfect for some things.  This gift, which must remain a secret until it arrives at it's destination, needed a bag which was a bit bigger , so I just increased the size.  Works perfectly and I can make more than one in a day, even with all the hand sewing I put into it.

Screen Shot 2016-12-18 at 9.52.25 pmThe more I use this pattern the more I like it.

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It is also a great stash buster as well.




No housework, no exercise, couldn't go for a swim, I stitched on the weekend.  I now have this one by the throat!  A couple more weeks and all the embroidery will be finished.

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And I finally worked out a way to do those isolated stitches without running my thread across the back of my work.  On this fabric it would have really showed through.

I tried taking photos of this but I think a diagram is clearer.

First thing I did was tie a quilter knot in the end of the thread. (There are lots of tutorials on You Tube.)

Step 1

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Step 2

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Step 3

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Step 4

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I'm not sure if this is the correct way to do this, but it works for me.






A tale of 3 little fabric bowls

My friends have given me little fabric bowls as gifts over the years.  Two in particular I find just doesn't work but they were given to me by a friend that has passed on and I like to look at them and think of her.  But that still doesn't make them work! 

The problem is that I use these to put the ends of threads in and the opening is too small.

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I keep looking at them on my desk and try to think how I can fix them.  The sides have been machine stitched, so I have tried undoing this  a bit, but that opening is still too small.  So today I completely undid the sides of one, folded down the flaps further and re stitched the sides by hand.

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It works a lot better.  But is still not as good as the one that I made as gifts for my friends a few years ago.

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Luckily I put up the pattern in April 2009 as a free download,  so I was able to get it down and make another one using some scraps I had left over.  I tried to dress it up a bit by beading the edges.  I was just going to do the corners but got carried away.  Then I thought it could use some buttons, so I made some.

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The pattern for this can be found on Mary Hickmott's blog.  It is a fair way back and is titled "Yorkshire Buttons".  She has included templates is several sizes, from small, like mine, to large.  She said you shouldn't start with the small size, but I don't listen very well.  I also made mine out of 3 strands of DMC cotton, which is a bit challenging, but I'm please with the result.  I have now put those other thread bowls on tables I don't use as much. Then I looked at them again and have had a better idea, wool bowls!

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Now I originally made my thread bowls back in 2009, 7 years ago as Easter presents and filled them with chocolates.  I think I will make some more this year as Xmas presents.  I have lots of scraps and I can get some more practice on those buttons.








Nearly Xmas

The pace of the parties is increasing, there seems to be some thing on every day.  Children of friends and family are flying home from overseas for Xmas so this has increased the party list.  We went to a wedding lunch yesterday.  The actual wedding was in Boston in the USA but this was the Australian celebration.  Michael is my son's best friend and has been working in New York for the past 10 years and has now married, bought a house and settled there.  So we all came to celebrate and to welcome Louisa into our circle of friends.

Secret Santa rules at most of the parties and at one there was a gift of a little bag.  I was curious about how it was made and sat down to work it out.   Then someone sent me a YouTube link for a fat quarter bag but that didn't answer the question of how the maths worked.  I found that it all worked on the magic number 3.  It doesn't really matter what size you want to make the bag as long as the side of your square can be divided by 3.

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I decided to make a 15" square.  I knew this would be small but it is just the right size to put a small gift into.  I choose 2 contrasting colours in fabrics which were slightly different weights and sewed around the edge leaving an opening to turn the square to the right side.  I did this and then slip stitched the opening closed.  When ironed the lining just showed around the edge.

Bag 1

Now came the magic bit.  I measured down 1/3rd of the side at both ends and turned this down ironing it in position.  Then folded in the sides so the made a straight edge on either side. When folding I made sure that the lining was showing.

  Bag 3

Bag 8

The top and bottom edges were sewn to make a casing for the draw string. I used the side of my sewing machine foot to define the distance and reversing at the start and finish.

Bag 7

In the videos and other bags I have seen like this, after folding the bag in half they machine stitched the side seams but I decided that I would get a neater finish if this was ladder stitched.

Bag 5

  I did the same to the overlap opening on the front and back,

Bag 6

then boxed the corners so the bag would have a flat bottom. 

  Bag 4

I used a rat tail cord for the drawstring and sewed a bead at the point of each triangle to give it weight. 

Bag 9

One easy bag that I now know how to make it lots of sizes.  Thinking about this bag you could do a small embroidery on each of those triangles.  An Initial would make it something personal.






























Purl & Plain

When I posted the pattern for Laura's Cowl I had a comment that some people can only manage plain & purl stitch.  This was me a few years ago.  I just wasn't too good reading patterns until I managed to work out how to read charts.  But I thought maybe it would be fun to design a cowl using only these stitches.  After working out the math I came up with the "Purl & Plain Cowl". 

Download Plain & Purl Cowl


It works on the principle that if you add an extra stitch  to a number of stitches that can be divided equally you would get a spiral pattern.  In this case I came up with a simple pattern of knit 5 purl 2.  I knew that a good cowl size was around 120 to 125 stitches in 8ply or DK wool.  This led me to cast on 127 which worked well.

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I keep saying how I like Bendigo Woollen Mills wool.  With just the one 200g of wool I was able to make the beret, Laura's Cowl and 3/4 of this cowl.  All for just $11 AU.  That is really good value and the qualilty of the wool is first class.


The other problem I solved was how to keep my knitting materials and equipment together  and neat.  Now this might sound silly but I had bought a couple of plastic fabric containers from IKEA.  I was going to use them as rubbish bins when I sewed.  I put 2 x 200g balls of wool plus my needles and pattern into one of them, just to keep them all in one place and then being lazy just took my knitting out.  This little bag works wonders as a wool feeder.  No longer am I chasing my wool all over the floor and then I just put my knitting on top when I stop.  I have tried so many containers etc to hold my knitting and feed the wool but this is just so good.  I think I will try to make a fabric version of this.

A new cowl for my daughter

Sometimes I wonder why I knit for members of my family at all?  Non of them seem to take care of the items that I spend so much time constructing, let alone consider the amount of money I spend on good materials.  But they keep asking for more.

Laura's new cowl is a good illustration of what I mean.  I spent a lot of time and effort making her a hat and cowl.  She really liked them.  Took them into the bush on an expedition and then lent them to a some one, who hadn't brought enough warm clothing.  This person then lost them or forgot to pick them up when they moved on.  Now there was a request for a replacement but could I make one "with no holes in the pattern?"  In other words not use a lace pattern.  


This is the result.  It isn't as pretty as a lace cowl but it will be warm.  I made it in an 8ply wool called "Rustic" from the Bendigo Woollen Mills.  (The best quality wool at the best price bar non in the whole world.)  I'm sure it would work in any 8ply (double knitting) and as it doesn't need to fit like a cardigan or hat the gauge isn't really critical.


I have written out the pattern as a free download.   Download Laura's Cowl

N.B.  The method I used to cast on was to make the stitches by knitting between the stitches.


This gives a nice solid edge.  I replicated this at the cast off end by knitting into the back of the stitch .


The Mouse Pin Cusion

At a normal Children's Class day the assembly of the projects seems to be where we have all the hassels.  Everyone finishes around the same time and there is such a rush.  I have been looking at the Pin Cushion and can see that this is going to be one of those "bottlenecks" near the end of the class.  So, here I sit pre-assembling 40 odd mice.


That is 80 individual ears that have to be stitched then attached to the head and then 40 heads to be attached to bodies.  See what I mean about potential bottlenecks?   I am in the midst of all these little pieces so I thought I may as well put up the pattern for the mouse and a tutorial on how to make it. 

All the patterns and instructions are included in the Download - Pin Cushion but I thought I would show you some of the techniques I used that might make it easier to put together. Also a picture is a lot clearer than words.

The ears

Don't try to sew those tiny pieces separately, you will go mad.  What I do is trace the pattern pieces onto my double thickness of fabric and sew the seams BEFORE I cut out the pattern pieces.  Make sure you reverse at the beginning and end of each seam so that the pieces don't pull apart when you turn them through.


You could trim your seams and notch them to turn them through but this takes time.  Another way is to reduced the length of you stitch and then trim close to the seam.


I find that doing the seams this way makes it easier to turn through, in fact it is twice as quick as the traditional method. 


The trick with turning these small pieces it to turn your fabric at the seams and then partially turn them through . 


I then run the rounded end of a crochet hook around the seam and you have it finished. 

You don't have to hold them open just give them a shot of steam with the iron.  (I find that if I use a fabric with a high thread count like a batik it is a lot easier to handle.)


When joining the ears to the head I prepare the ears by ironing them down the middle.  This makes it easy to fold them in place. 



Just make sure you attach them to the back of the head with the side you want to see facing down to the right side of the head.



Joining the head and the body.

Really fiddly.  Getting it all set up before you stitch is the key to not having to unpick.  Pin the centres and then the sides together, and then pin again between the sides and the centre with the pin point towards the seam. 

This way you should be able to sew over the pins.   Also turn up a small amount of fabric around the base.  I find that finger pressing it does the job.  Doing this will make sewing the closing at the finish a breeze.  Because these pieces are small and curved they can be difficult.  If you have the head piece on top it is easier to sew because the larger body piece will stretch slightly.  Before you stitch check that those ears are going to be slightly apart at the centre.  Now is the time to fix it before you sew.

The rest of the construction is straight forward.  Put the two side seams together and sew by machine or by hand.  Turn through and stuff.  Match the centre of the body with the side seam and wip stitch close making sure you attach your tail first.

Continuous thread needle case

I don't know about you but there are times I get sick of continuously threading needles.  Like, when I am tacking a quilt or sewing paper piecing shapes by hand.  Then I saw some one with a continuous thread needle case and had to design one for myself.  I'm not sure what dimensions theirs was but I wanted one just to hold the thread and another that I could have the thread and a thimble.  So this is my take on the one I saw.


I have made mine from scraps of fabric and wadding together with old buttons for trim and some left over ribbon for the closure.  If you were going to buy the fabric a couple of fat 1/8ths would get you 2 needle cases.  I think I prefer the smaller version and this is the pattern included. For the wider version just make the pattern 1" (3cm) wider and if you think you want more then 10 needles extend the length.

You can down load Download Needle and Cotton holder with the free pattern here.

I used a main fabric and a contrast for the suffolk puffs.   I also used 45mm Clover puff maker, but I have included a pattern for this if you don't have one.  If you haven't used one of these tools there are lots of videos on You Tube to show you how but personally I have given up sewing puffs by hand the tool is just so quick and easy and every puff is the same as the one before and after it.  This is a link to a tutorial by Pat Sloan.  

So, I cut out my puffs, pulled them up, sewed the button in place in the middle and set them aside.


When making the tounge, on the inner facing piece I took my piece of flannel, with the edges pinked and stitched it into position using a straight stitch on my machine.


With my main fabric and lining, right sides together, and the wadding behind this, I stitched a 1/4" seam around the edge leaving an opening to turn the fabric through to the right side after trimming back the fabric. I then turned it through, and ironed it flat.  (very important, the ironing.)

Now I find that I like to add my ribbon into the seam after I have turned the fabric through.  This mean I have to undo a few stitches in the middle of the curved end and push my ribbon into position.  Then I stitch close to the edge all the way around.  This closes the turn through opening and attaches the ribbon.


Now it is time for hand stitching those puffs into position.  You want the button on the outside. Start at the straight edge corner of your tongue and any position on the puff and over sew the two edges together leaving enough of the puff un-sewn to allow you to put your cotton into the space created.  This will change according to the size of the cotton reel you are using.


On the second case I sewed the puff on the inside of the tongue picking up fabric from the puff and the inside of the tongue.


I found that this gave a neater finish but this is purely a personal preference.


Now thread up your needles with your cotton, do not cut the cotton, just thread all the needles continuously.  Now you are ready to go.  Take your needle and pull the cotton through to the length required before cutting the thread.  Continue like this with each needle and then start again.


These are very quick and cheap to construct and would make a great gift for a sewing friend and think of all the scraps you could use.

Zippers 3

Zippers with fabric added to the seam opening.

This is a pattern that I used when teaching year 8 students.  It was quick and easy. Two tabs of fabric are added to cover the ends of the zipper these become part of the side seams.
This is not as simple are the previous zipper insertions and requires that you tack the zipper into position.
I have included a PDF, complete with spelling errors .

Download No 2 Pencil Case

You can use this same method for inserting a zipper at the top of the pouch as well.

That is enough about zippers for a while, I will be flying back to Brisbane today.  There are still a number of other methods but I will return to this theme next month.