Friday, 22 September 2017

A walk in the park!

Several months ago the Embroiderers Guild sent out a request for contributions to a forthcoming exhibition to be based around books. The exhibition would be called Page 17, although the solicited exhibits could be based upon anything to do with a book not just the 17th page. The exhibits would be on display at the Knitting and Stitching shows in Harrogate and London and, it was hoped, would also travel to other venues later in the year.

Existing works that might suit the theme were to be submitted by the end of April for consideration and a deadline of the end of August was set for exhibits created specifically for the exhibition. At the time I think this distinction created some confusion as I saw several comments on how little time there was to submit a piece. Undaunted I sent off an email to say that I was interested in submitting a new piece and then started thinking ... and thinking ... and thinking :)

You will not, I am sure, be surprised to know that I finally finished my piece for the exhibition the day before the submission deadline!

When our boys were little one of their favourite books was Lynley Dodd's Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy, and now it is a favourite of our gorgeous grandson too. So, I decided to have some fun with the characters in the book for my embroidery. I knew that my drawing skills were not up to reproducing the characters exactly so decided to show bits of them as if they were being seen through holes in the fence.

Each of the dogs in the book has an accompanying description, so Muffin McLay is like a bundle of hay.

My Muffin McLay is a bit curly for hay but I think he is still recognisable! I used a New to Me stitch for Muffin, drizzle stitch, which is apparently Brazilian in origin. It was great fun to stitch and is definitely a great addition to my stitching repertoire.

I stitched all of the dogs, apart from Hairy Maclary, on to a cotton backing fabric then joined the sky and fence fabric together to place over the top before adding Hairy Maclary and the fence and tree detail.

I spent a while trying to work out how best to deal with the cut-outs for the embroidery and finally used another New to Me technique.

Spray starch sprayed into the aerosol lid

then painted on to the seam allowance of the circle cut-outs and ironed in place before being placed in front of the embroidered cotton. To my surprise it worked!

I wanted Hairy Maclary to stand proud of the rest of the embroidery so used wool on canvas and another New to Me stitch, Turkey Stitch, to create his fluffy self. (Apologies for the somewhat blurred photo I was running out of time when I took it!)

I was very pleased with how it all turned out and when the piece has finished travelling it will be another addition to the gallery on the gorgeous grandson's wall!

If you haven't read the books the characters are from the left;

  • Schnitzel von Krumm with a very low tum
  • Muffin McLay like a bundle of hay
  • Bitzer Maloney all skinny and bony
  • Bottomley Potts covered in spots
  • Hercules Morse as big as a horse
and Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy :)

 Linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts

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Friday, 25 August 2017

Firsts and Seconds

It is the 25th of the month already, how did that happen? You know what that means, time to open up this month's New to Me link party.

If you haven't come across the New to Me link party before, it is where we celebrate the trials and tribulations of giving something a go for the first time. So, join me as I share what I have been up to this month and join the link party if you have had any new experiences this month too. The link party will stay open until the August 31st so there is still time to have a go at something new and join the party :)

My New to Me's are definitely a mix of highs and lows.

The high?

My first ever entry in to the Hobbies and Crafts section at the local horticultural show and it came second!! I entered my Still Waters piece from the Embroiderer's Guild Capability Brown exhibition into the Tapestry item class. I wasn't 100% convinced that this counted as a tapestry but I was told that the organisers were not too strict on their definitions, and there was no other class that it could have come in so I went ahead and entered. I was very glad that I did when I went to collect it at the end of the show.
Next year I might even enter something in the Quilted Item class :)

My next New to Me has been a definite mix of highs and lows.

We treated ourselves to a new AGA range cooker in preparation for our new kitchen. If you haven't come across a range cooker before it is a very different way of cooking, and one that we are still trying to get our heads around. Instead of setting the temperature for a dish there are three ovens, all of differing heats, and the mantra is to "find the appropriate heat". We haven't starved since the oven has been put in, but there have been some occasions when the local fish and chip shop has seemed like a very attractive option!

My final New to Me is a mix of old and new, old - cross stitch and new - on paper. I picked up the paper cross stitch bunting kit on our last trip to France, and have been stitching away now and then ever since. When finished it will be another gift for the gorgeous grandson who, can you believe it, is about to turn one in a couple of weeks! Now that time really has flown :)

So, that's my New to Me's now it is your turn to link up. As always the link up will remain open until August 31st. Visit your fellow linkers and leave a comment or two as we all know a little encouragement when we are learning new skills is always welcome.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

A Day out in the Sunshine

We have had a rather wet and miserable summer here in Scotland, so opportunities to explore more of the region have been thin on the ground. The rain held off long enough recently for us to visit Culzean Castle and it was definitely worth dodging raindrops for!

The site has been the home of the chiefs of Clan Kennedy since the 14th Century, although the building you see in the photo above is the converted Castle designed by the celebrated architect Robert Adam for the 10th Earl of Cassilis. The Castle has been owned by the National Trust for Scotland since the Kennedy's gifted it in lieu of death duties in 1945. One stipulation of the gift was that the top floor of the castle be retained as an apartment for use by General D. Eisenhower, who did visit four times during his lifetime. Nowadays you can walk in the General's steps as the apartment is available for rent

Culzean Castle sits in nearly 600 acres of grounds, so as well as exploring the house with it's magnificent Oval Staircase there are some wonderful gardens to discover.

The Fountain Court garden in front of the Castle was closed to the public the day we were there, as they were setting up marquees for a wedding that weekend. A marquee wedding is a very brave thing to book in Scotland, even in August!

The Walled Garden, which was split in to a kitchen garden and pleasure garden was entered through these imposing gates.

As well as pleasant avenues,

the Walled Garden contained an apple orchard and a meadow garden.

Between the Walled Garden and the Castle sits the magnificent Camellia House. The 10th Earl certainly knew how to splash the cash around, didn't he?

We decided not to see everything in one day so have left the Swan Pond, Ice houses and Pagoda for another visit.

Instead, we indulged in coffee and cake in the Stable Coffee House and enjoyed the view (and the rare glimpse of sunshine!).

Sunday, 6 August 2017


On a recent visit to a local Farm Shop I came across a basket of china dishes for sale.

Closer inspection revealed this stamped on the lips at each end.

 And this message stamped on the inside.

I have no idea what these were for or, indeed, what the Patchwork products referred to in the inside are or were, but, really, I couldn't not buy one now could I??

Friday, 4 August 2017

Stag do!

I have had a Reverse Applique project on the go for ages, it has been taken apart and re-done at least three times.

First of all the patchwork back for the applique didn't fit the applique outline, so needed to be reworked to fit the frame. Then, I really struggled to turn under some of the allowances on certain parts of the design. All in all it has been a complete pain in the proverbial, but I am delighted to say that I have finally completed the Reverse Applique!

You will not be surprised to know that the antlers were where I really struggled to turn under the allowance. I discovered when I compared this to the magazine photo that the antlers on my version are a lot narrower than in the pattern version. I do remember taking the pattern to be enlarged at a local printers (don't you just hate patterns that need to be enlarged!) and have a vague memory of having to compromise on the final size, so that presumably accounts for the difference.

Having seen these magnificent beasts on a recent visit to a Deer Park, I think the antlers in the version above are pretty accurate though, don't you?

I did not help myself by picking a linen blend fabric for the top fabric, as it was fraying where the applique points are narrow before I had even got to stitching it down!

So, I went for a belt and braces approach by hand stitching the turned applique and then machine topstitching. Next up an application of Fraycheck to be sure, to be sure :)

The piece will become a cushion eventually when I have sourced some Deer Horn buttons for the back!

Linking up to

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Ready for the sunshine

Since we have moved to the coast one of the joys in life is sitting outside with a cup of tea (or glass of wine!) watching the passing parade, weather permitting of course, it is Scotland after all!

For a while now I have been wanting to update the tablecloth for our garden table, as it was cotton and purchased before the table, so didn't have a space in the centre for the parasol pole. I did cut a space out a while ago, but as we tend to leave the parasol in the table it meant that the tablecloth had to stay put too. That parasol is too heavy to be lifting in and out on a regular basis :)

I did start to make a new tablecloth a while ago, using some plasticised cotton that I had lurking in my stash. Sadly, I completely messed up the measurements so had to ditch that particular project. However, on a visit to cuddle the gorgeous grandson a while ago, I came across Flo-Jo boutique, which had a great selection of oilcloth. So, after lots of calculating and re-calculating between the staff, my daughter-in-law and myself we worked out how much fabric I needed (lots!) and the purchase was made.

Then the bag sat in my sewing room for several weeks as summer sewing for the boy took precedence, but with a visit from the gorgeous grandson and his parents on the horizon I thought that I had better get cracking with that tablecloth as baby mealtimes are not the most tidy of occasions :)

I measured the radius of the table, cut a piece of string to that length then attached a tack to one end and a Frixion pen to the other and with the oilcloth fabric folded in half lengthwise I drew out a half-circle for the tablecloth. I added an overlap at the middle edge so that I could add hook and loop tape to one of the radii to make the tablecloth easily removable. The weather changes so quickly here that it will be good to be able to whip that cloth off at the first sign of rain!

The measuring and cutting proved to be the easy bit of this process.

As oilcloth doesn't fray I could have just left the cut edges raw and, indeed, that is what I did with the centre cut out for the parasol pole, but I wanted to finish the tablecloth off with a bound edge. Just call me a glutton for punishment :)

My rather rusty maths proved my undoing as I discovered that my order of green bias binding was about 0.5 metres too short. Fortunately, rifling through my ribbon bag uncovered sufficient of this deep pink bias binding to bind the tablecloth and still have some left over.

So, with the Teflon foot attached I set to work.

Boy, was it tough going. The oilcloth wasn't very easy to manoeuvre around and the weight of it kept knocking the needle off centre when I stopped to straighten the fabric under the needle. By the time I had finished stitching the binding to the front my poor arms had had a thorough workout, and I still had to go around again to stitch on the back.

Fortunately, the hook and loop tape that I had purchased along with the oilcloth was the adhesive type not the sew-in, as I really wasn't looking forward to trying to sew that on. I have had enough trouble in the past stitching it to fabric, I can only guess how much more difficult it would be trying to keep to the small margins at the sides whilst wrestling with the oilcloth and using a Teflon foot!

Eventually my tablecloth was complete, but I couldn't rush out to try it out as this was the view out of my sewing room window.

Our forecast for today was sunshine and showers and we have definitely had the showers but the sunshine hasn't been very much in evidence. As I write I have been waiting for hours for the rain to stop and the sun to come out so that I can finally get a photo of the finished tablecloth. If the photo below is of the cloth on the kitchen table you will know that my wait was in vain!

 Five minutes after I finally took this photo the rain came back!

I could do with ironing the tablecloth particularly where the seam is but I am a bit wary of doing it, so if you have any tips I will be all ears :)

So that's my finish for this week's TGIFF, now it is your turn to link up and celebrate your finishes this week. As ever don't make this a solitary celebration click on your fellow linkers and leave a congratulatory comment on their fabulous finishes. Grab the blog button and add it to your post so that your readers can join in the fun too.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Shorts, shirts and shirring

Welcome to another New to Me Link Party, come celebrate or commiserate with me on the highs and lows of trying something for the first time!

This month I have sewing related New to Me's for a change.

First up, I tried a New to Me pattern for Baby Bloomers from Vagabond Stitch

The pattern was so easy to follow that I stitched it up twice more!

Of course, shorts need a t-shirt to go with them, so I tried another New to Me pattern from Brindille and Twig

This pattern is free too, so if you need to whip up a t-shirt or two for a child then it is definitely a great one to try. The sewing wasn't altogether without incident, but all troubles were entirely self-inflicted. I was not able to convince myself that no-one would notice the upside down dachshunds from my first cut but, fortunately, I was able to rescue the fabric to make the sleeves! I found attaching the sleeve binding a tad difficult so would probably add that before stitching up the sides next time. This t-shirt is for 12 - 18 months so I suspect it would be even more difficult if I had been making the t-shirt for a newborn. Other than that it was really straightforward to do.

Sadly my third New to Me wasn't anywhere near as successful.

My niece is coming to France for the first time in a couple of weeks and I thought that I would upcycle this dress to make a sundress for her holiday. I don't know her exact size so thought that a shirred top was the way to go. I checked out lots of tutorials, who all stressed how straightforward a technique it was. I found the shirring elastic for sale in the local supermarket, chopped up the dress and set to work.

I stitched the first couple of rows and it wasn't quite as tight as I had anticipated but a couple of the tutorials mentioned that the first few rows might be looser, so undaunted I carried on until I had run out of elastic in the bobbin. Bobbin rewound and replaced I stitched another row, what a difference! Now this looks more like it.

When I had finished stitching with the second bobbin, I had a very tightly shirred piece of fabric but on testing the stretch I think that it is now too tight!

Clearly something is not quite right and I need to find that happy medium between too loose and too tight, so I am hoping that wiser heads than mine out there will be able to tell where I have gone wrong and what I need to do to produce a piece that is gathered but not so tightly that it would be better placed around a wrist than a chest :)

So, these are my New to Me successes and failures this month, now it is over to you. As always the link party will remain open until 23.59 GMT on July 31st, so if you are thinking of trying something new this month but haven't yet here is the nudge that you need. Grab the link party button and take the plunge! Check out the linkers and give them some blogger support for their endeavours too.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Then there were three

Once I had made the gorgeous grandson some new shorts for his summer holidays, it was time to get cracking on a couple of t-shirts to complete the ensembles.

As ever I used my go-to Brindille and Twig Lap Neck Tee pattern.

First up, this fun Whale Organic Jersey from Jelly Fabrics that has just been waiting on my shelf to be stitched up into a t-shirt.

Next up, this lovely Organic Jersey stripe fabric from Jelly Fabrics again. I have resisted using stripe fabric before as I worried about the difficulty of matching up the stripes but actually it turned out fine. I think it was probably easier that it was a simple stripe that I was matching. I have some knit fabric that looks like a Fair Isle pattern that I am planning to use for a Christmas top for the gorgeous grandson, but I might need a bit more practise with stripes before I attempt that :)

Last but not least was this Lap Neck Tee made with this fun Flying Hedgehogs Organic Jersey from you've guessed it (!) Jelly Fabrics

I found all of the Jersey fabrics to be 'slippier' than the heavier knits that I have made these t-shirts with before, but that makes them ideal for the lovely weather that the boy will hopefully get on his first summer holiday.

I wish these patterns had been around when my boys were little, not to mention access to such fun fabrics, I could have been a Pro at stitching up boys clothes by now if they had been :)

Friday, 21 July 2017

Summer Stitching

The gorgeous grandson is growing at a rate of knots and is also about to go on his first summer holiday, so if these aren't an opportunity for some summer stitching I don't know what is :)

Cathy at Blueberry Patch has a grandson a couple of months older than our bundle of joy, so she is a great source of pattern inspiration. Recently she posted photos of shorts made from a pattern from Vagabond Stitch. Needless to say the pattern was very smartly downloaded after I had read Cathy's post!

And here's my first attempt at a pair of Baby Bloomers! I am rather proud of them :)

I made the 12-18mth size and as the gorgeous grandson is not yet 1 year old I was worried that they might be too big, but his mum informs me that getting him dressed is a bit of a struggle at the moment so bigger is better!

Of course I couldn't stop at just one pair now could I?

So, once I knew that the size was alright I rustled up a spotty pair for the holiday wardrobe.

and a plain blue pair just because!

The pattern was very straightforward so they came together in no time. Stitching in elastic is really not my favourite thing to do, but apart from that they are a cinch to stitch up. Well, they are if you don't put one of the cuffs in the wrong way round, but we will not go there.

Next up, some new t-shirts to go with these shorts :)

Linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts

Friday, 14 July 2017

Good to Go

Remember this hat?

Well, I couldn't just send a hat off to my friend's new grandson, so I dug through my stash of knit fabric from previous projects for the gorgeous grandson and found enough fabric to make this.

My go-to t-shirt pattern from Brindille and Twig. I am definitely getting good use out of that pattern!

This one seemed tiny even although it is only a few sizes smaller than I am now using for the gorgeous grandson.

With the addition of a matching pair of leggings, pattern you will have guessed from Brindille and Twig, I had a much more respectable gift to send off in the post.

Next up some summer sewing for the gorgeous grandson's first holiday :)

Linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

The Pearl of the Adriatic

Dubrovnik, the "Pearl of the Adriatic" was my first foreign holiday destination after I started gainful employment (many moons ago!), so I was keen to introduce this fantastic city to my husband who had never visited.

Our lunch stop en-route from the airport to our ship gave us our first view of the walled city, and it did not disappoint! The bright blue skies and crystal clear waters certainly didn't detract from the view either :)

Once we were settled in to our home from home

it was time to get out and do a bit of wandering in that beautiful walled city.

Many of the roofs have been replaced since the Croatian War of Independence (1991 - 1995) during which Dubrovnik was under siege for a time, so the tiles are often a uniform colour rather than the mottled shades of the original roofs. As you can see above the alleys running off the main thoroughfares are narrow and steep, I definitely felt sorry for the poor tourists lugging their heavy cases up those in the heat!

Up close the stonework on churches was amazing.

Although it is a magnet for tourists, and apparently becomes very crowded in July and August, the city is still home to many Croatians, so washing has to be hung out somewhere!

I couldn't resist taking a photo of this lady's washing line :)

Recently the city has also been used as a location for the TV series Game of Thrones, so if you are a fan this part of the city might be better known to you as the harbour of Kings Landing! Sadly we didn't have time to take a Game of Thrones walking tour of the city, so will have to leave that until our next visit.

If you ever get the chance to visit Dubrovnik is definitely worth seeing!

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