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Choppy and the Universe

My son had a little dog called Chopper. ( Named after a notorious criminal, Chopper Reid.)  We was a Jack Russell, King Charles Spaniel cross and he had the sweetest personality.  He has been part of our family since he was a pup.  We always looked after him when they went on holidays or had to go somewhere where they couldn't take him.  He would tear up and down the beach in sheer delight and loved to find ways to escape.

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He and Charlie, my dog, have always been the best of friends and have grown old together.  When they were puppies they romped around.

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My grand daughters have grown up with him and Charlie.

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As a little thing they would always stay close and play next to her.  Here she turned around and told them they were making too much noise!

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But now he has grown old and ill, so the decision had to be made to put him down.  He was just in so much pain.  It is very sad to loose a family member and the girls have given him a funeral and buried him in the garden.

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Monique has her own telescope and often he would sit beside her as she looked out at the skys.  This inspired an embroidery for one of my Children's Classes a few years ago which was made into covers for the lids of boxes. I called the embroidery " Download Choppy and the Universe .  In memory of Chopper I offer it as a free download.

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For Baby - 2

This is quite a long post so you might like to get a coffee or cup of tea before you start reading.

I decided to embroider some decoration onto singlets for my Godson's new baby, due in January 2014, and back in early December '13 I was looking at the Semamori Patterns I had found at Sri threads .

Since that time I have been doing a bit of experimenting  with those original patterns.  There were three major constraints to take into consideration. 

The fabric.  The kiminos that these designs were originally embroidered on were woven fabric, I am using knitted fabric and a rib knit at that.  Added to this was the variability of the rib between different brands of singlets.  This meant that I couldn't use the original stitches.  They wouldn't accommodate the stretch of the fabric and the babe could catch their fingers in the stitching.  The other problem with the fabric was how to transfer the design onto it?  I had about three or four experiments before I found a solution.

The thread.  This was originally a cotton thread but again this just didn't work with that stretch fabric.

The size of the designs.  When I charted them out I found that they were quite large.  This is fine on the back of a garment but there wasn't the same amount of fabric available on the chest of the singlet.  Now, this was my own assessment about the size of the design.  When I did a survey amongst family and friends, the men all liked the large designs, the women the smaller ones.  So I think size is very much about personal choice.

I decided to select my singlets from Target and Coles stores because these were the most readily available.  

 Thread - I experimented with both cotton and silk threads and found that 1 strand of the Madeira silk thread gave the best results on both brands of singlets.  I did try a z twist silk but found this one behaved better on the rib fabric and washed well.  (Mary Corbett reviewed the thread here.)


Fabric - Both were labeled 100% cotton but there was a difference in the feel and stretch of the fabric.  

Target  home brand had a smaller rib and held it's shape better.  (Made in Cambodia.)  This made it easier to stitch on.


Coles singlets were made by Bonds were very soft to the touch but the rib was floppy.  (Made in China.)  This required more care with the stitching.


(Both singlets were labeled the same size but the Bonds singlets were quite a bit smaller.)

Embroidery Stitches -

The best was stem stitch and for shorter distances straight stitch.  Other line stitches didn't express the essence of the patterns and back stitch was straight out horrible.

 Transferring the Design -

The best results were achieved using a water soluble pen and a firm surface under the pattern. ( Don't use transfer carbon it just stains your fabric so badly you will have to bin the singlet.)


  1. I made pin holes in the pattern at line points. P1020592
  2. Marked these points onto the fabric with the pen. 
  3. Removed that pattern and joined up the dots.
  4. On the small patterns I didn't put in all the dots only the main ones. The smaller details were added after I had stitched the main parts of the pattern.
  5. After stitching I washed the marking pen out under COLD water.

The size of the Design -

So here are the five samples that I stitched and I think the size comes down to personal choice. 

Target home brand singlets, two large motives one small, (middle).


Coles Bonds singlets, two small motives.  (The third singlet is in the bin.)


I have included fourteen different patterns with both sizes for each design as a PDF download.

PDF - Download Good luck motives 2

Conclusion -

These designs make charming motives on babies singlets, are original, not gender specific and have meaning.  I will be using them again.



Old emboirdery stitches

I came across another old book from the Anchor Needlework Series.  Book No5 price 1/-.  From the designs in the book I would think that it was published in the 1940's or 50's.  Not all of the pages are there  and many of the stitches seem to have been inspired by Indian Embroidery. 

There are two little birds that have been used  as a design to stitch around the hem of a babies dress.   The stitching is very fine and delicate and there are 12 birds around the hem of the dress.  I have enlarged the images so that I could see the stitching.  I think that it would work as a larger desgin stitched in a thicker thread and would make a great motive on a tote bag, although the eyelets and drawn thread work might have to go.

I have redrawn the birds so that they are around the 5" size .  Download Anchor birds 

Another thing I have to stitch.




Easter Monday

We had a wonderful Easter sunday with family and friends all arriving for breakfast.  My husband tried to help with the cooking, not the best, but I am still very slow on my feet.  Some times I despair that I will ever be back to normal movement.  But I can move which is a blessing.  I have now been fitted with surgical stockings and have a new physio who has done wonders draining the lymph out of my leg.  We caught the lympodema just before it became irreversible.  (I hope)  Still, I have to suspend all long air travel until there is some improvement.

Part of my new exercise plan includes swimming 3 times a week so I am off to the pool this morning.  I'm going to have to find a heated pool as the weather gets cooler.  Then I will start an embroidered table cloth that I want to make.  (And put off the TAST sampler, I hate satin stitch.)

I took the pattern from an old tablecloth that my daughter- in-law brought from Holland.  She thinks it might have been her grandmother or great grandmother's stitching.


I still haven't worked out what thread was used, partly because it has been washed a lot.  It looks like a broder thread, then again it might be two strands of stranded cotton. ( If you click on the image you can increase the size to see the actual stitches.)This design is interspersed with small sprays of flowers that are in the centre of the medallion.


I have drawn out the pattern and it is included here as a PDF file if you would like to use the design  . Download Tablecloth

Hem 5

My TAST hems for March were all based on a simple drawn thread method.  Nothing fancy here but they still require you to spend the time on preparation. Firstly tacking out the hems and then withdrawing the threads.


Then the removal of one thread followed by the weaving in of the second thread so that there are no holes in the hem. 



I find that if you remove one thread and then weave in the next the fabric sites better. 




This is even more important when you want to remove more than two thread.  Make sure that you begin in the middle of the row to remove the thread and then withdraw each end.


The thread is started by hiding the back stitch under the turned over fabric and then stitched from left to right gathering three threads at a time.   Two threads doesn't really show the stitch to the best advantage, expect when you are using a corse fabric, and four threads is just a bit much unless you are going to split the bundles later.


 When I come to a corner I take 2 small hemming stitches to hold the hem firm.


If I want to have a more linear finish I take my thread down to the bottom edge through a stitch and then stitch the bottom of the gathered thread into the main body of the fabric.  Making sure that I pick up the same number of threads all the way around, I find that 2 threads works well.


If I want a zig zag appearance I withdraw 4 threads and then make each bundle an even number so that they are balanced when split.  I take my thread down the length of the withdrawn threads and catch it into the first stitch on the fabric side picking up 2 threads.


Two threads from each bundle are joined in the same way.  That is working left to right and picking up two thread of the fabric.


This is an easy yet attractive hem finish.


So these are the three hems I have used and they are relatively quick and easy to stitch.  I have to admit these are the hems I use the most on my work. 

New Samples

I am working on some embroidery designs for the Saturday Children's Creative Embroidery Classes.  In the process I'm trying to build in some structure to the learning and document how they should be taught and why, whilst still allowing choice for the students.  Difficult when you have a range of abilities and ages, from 8 years to 14 years. 

After our holiday class which was based on a sampler I have decided that the children could select a shape and then fill it with different stitches.  This could then be used as a panel in a small bag to hold their stitching.  I selected a bird shape but it could be any shape that you can draw lines in.  I also selected a cotton Osnaburg fabric which is inexpensive and almost an even weave.


Because the fabric is such an open weave I layered it over a piece of very thin pelum and put it into a hoop for stitching.


The other thing I have found is that most children like stitching in an embroidery hoop.  But there are a few things that must be taken into consideration.

The hoop should be no larger than 16cm (61/2") in diameter.  This will mean that the child will have to move it around the fabric to stitch.  In reality this means the tutor or parent will need to do this.


The embroidery hoop should have a screw that can be tightened with a small screwdriver so that the work can be held tight.  Again, this will require an adult with a small scredriver in their sewing kit to help.


Because this piece is for children I used lots of bright colours in No 8 perle cotton and a crewel embroidery needle.


( Download Untitled     I have enclosed a copy of the pattern which has a heavy outline, no need for a light box.)


DSC03569I really liked those elephants around the border of the Kantha Quilt yesterday, so I did a drawing of one to embroider.  Here it is as a free download. Download Elephant

I never meant it to happen, but I have collected a small herd of elephants over the years.  Statues that is.  They come from India, Thailand and Africa and some from various airports in south east asia when I didn't know what to buy as a gift.  I also stitched a whole section of my 'The devil is in the detail'  challenge that was based on elephants, here, here, here, and here. 

I saw this elephant in Rajestan, live,

and this one painted on the wall of one of the hotels we visited.

 I have two painting on silk of elephants I bought in India as well.

The other day reading Pam's blog and her video about the embroiderers of the Tambani project I remembered that I had bought 6 of these embroideries from Ina in Houston a few years ago.  Amongst them was an embroidery of an African Elephant and the story that went with it.  All the embroideries have stories from the Venda people of South Africa.

Isn't he the most excellent elephant?


Each embroidery comes with a copy of the story that the embroidery illustrates and a small card about the stitcher.  I found this stitcher's story touching.  It was only a few words but it showed her as a person of great resourcefulness and a great faith.


You can buy these embroideries online at their website.  After going back and reading some of the stories I see that I have to buy more embroideries,  just to have the whole set for each story that is.  They are very special and I intend to tell my grand children all the stories and also about the women who stitched the pictures.

Threads exhibition 2

There was one section of the exhibition that featured Indian embroidery, much to my delight.  I love Kantha Quilts and there was one there, worked on silk.  It didn't hang very well as the fabric had dropped on one side and viewed from a distance it wasn't striking.


But up close the stitching and designs were wonderful. 

The acknowledgement with the quilt is a bit blurry but readable.


It was the detail that was stunning.

The border design where running stitch is used so effectively.


And those wonderful motives, all of which could be an embroidery composition in their own right.


In amongst all this detail I found one panel with birds, parrots I think.


I have added these to my collection.  I'm designing a piece using all the birds I have spied. 

Here is the first one as a PDFDownload Indian bird 1