Antique Fair Shopping

Embroidered Bird in Oval Frame

I am not a great fan of shopping on the high street as everything is so generic, you know exactly what you are going to get before you even leave the house. Of course it is fantastic if you need those everyday items such as a washing machine or bedsheets but it doesn’t really fulfil the ‘hunter gatherer’ instinct.

However, the great joy of visiting an art exhibition, craft or antiques fair is that you can never anticipate what treasure might catch your eye. Occasionally I will visit my local antiques fair at Ardingly with a vague list of what I might need. Today I was looking for a floor lamp and a sideboard for the hallway. Needless to say I found neither but I did come away with some beautiful linen to make some new blinds for the study and this fabulous embroidered bird.

He is not very big, only about the same size as a sheet of A4 paper but he is so quirky and the stitching is exquisite. It is worked in silk embroidery thread with a very high sheen so they almost look metallic. Each stitch lies perfectly flat against its neighbours further enhancing the shine. The colours are not an obvious choice for the design but they work so well together and complement the black frame.

How much did I pay for this thing of beauty ….. just £12 – perfect!


Do I Unpick or Just Start Again?

Very often an idea springs to mind when I am doing the most mundane tasks. This little juggling seal started life as a scribble on the corner of a spreadsheet.

I started stitching him yesterday and I think the red bunting has worked rather well. To keep the satin stitches quite small I added an extra line of back stitch down the centre of each triangle and it has created a three dimensional effect with very little effort. As a finishing touch I should be able to find some silver beads to add as little bells.

I started his fur in the evening, when the light was fading, and I now think the grey is too dark, it is going to hid his smile and little ear. The dilemma now is do I unpick or is it better to start again? There are rather a lot of grey stitches to frog and the linen is never quite as crisp and even second time around so I think I have my answer – back to the light box with a fresh square of linen and my favourite erasable Frixion pen!

I will update you on progress shortly and I think there may also be a rabbit brewing. Let me know if you like these hoop embroideries and I will look into options either as a PDF pattern or kit.


Hoorah!! These Fellows are Finally on the Website


Oh my goodness, it seems to have taken me an age but I have finally popped these Staffordshire cushions on the website and I will take some to the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate next week …..hopefully I have made enough as they seem very popular!

I first started making these after finding a little Victorian ceramic Staffordshire figure of a dalmatian tucked away at the back of a cupboard in my parents’ house. The thought of a big, embroidered cushion version sitting on the sofa, looking at its muse sitting on the mantelpiece, rather tickled my fancy. He is a little damaged on the base but I don’t think that detracts from his charm.


I have now designed quite a family of cats and dogs as well as a rabbit which is currently sitting on my painting easel waiting to be transferred to fabric. They are all designed so the fabric may simply be stitched up as a cushion or there is sufficient thread in the kit to embroider the entire design – it really depends on what appeals.

Hope you like these little fellows!


Staffordshire Dogs & Cats

Oh my goodness, it seems like an age since I first thought about making some cushions inspired by Victorian Staffordshire pottery figures, but they are finally finished. I was rather tickled by the thought of them all lined up on a sofa with their ceramic cousins sitting on the mantlepiece.

Designing them proved to be much more of a challenge than I had imagined. My first mistake was to paint them full size only to find it was impossible to scan them into the computer. Careful photography, many hours on Photoshop, two fabric test prints and I was finally happy with the designs.

The embroidery turned out to be relatively easy ….
The problem was that although the critters and thread were highly portable and easy to work on, I did not always remember to carry my notebook to record the quantity of thread being used – essential for the kits! It also proved tricky to find enough time to fit the embroidery around all my other jobs. Thank goodness for my fabulous neighbour and good friend who stepped in over the summer and embroidered endless French knots on the poodle for me.

Today, I am on the final stretch writing the instructions for these creatures. Unfortunately my old, faithful computer did not appear to be aware of the looming deadline for printing and conked out two days ago. Thankfully I have a back-up drive and second computer BUT I no longer have my stitching software and my most recent uploads to iPhoto were lost – They just happened to be photographs of the steps to make-up the cushions – Arrggghhh!

It has been a rather frantic rush to embroider another fabric panel simply to be able to replace the missing photographs, but I have done it. Fingers crossed there will be no further mishaps – these chaps have an appointment at the Knitting & Stitching Show in less than three weeks time!



Doggie Bags

Doggie Bags - 1

I really should stick to one type of packaging, but I flip between so many different project ideas that the each requires rethinking. I have customised these cotton tote doggie bags using inkjet transfers and I am rather pleased with how they have turned out….

I just have to finish putting together the contents. The most beautiful fabric, printed with the dog and cat designs, arrived on a couple of very large bolts yesterday morning. I have industrial quantities of needles, beads, embroidery thread and bobble trim.

All I have to do now is finish sewing the samples, photographing, writing and printing the instructions – better get my skates on if they are to be ready for the Knitting & Stitching Shows this autumn!

Muffin the Mule

I have plenty of space for designing and one desk for paperwork…..

But the sewing is slowly creeping across the studio to cover this desk as well. It is no bad thing as I have discovered that a little cross stitching done whilst a file downloads or some printing is reeling off can make for quite a lot of progress by the end of the day. I just have to be careful not to get too carried away and forget to go back to the Excel spreadsheet!

I am rather pleased with my current work in progress. Not my own design but a vintage pattern of Muffin the Mule that I found in a favourite charity shop. At the time I didn’t buy him but having spent the evening regretting this decision I rushed back in the morning and thankfully he was still there, tucked away at the back of a large cardboard box.

The original pattern is dreadful, tiny black and white symbols that make one quite cross-eyed. A little time spent on the computer and I now have a lovely clear colour chart. It has also allowed me to get an idea of how the colours work – so a rather vibrant pink has now been toned down a little.

I am currently stitching Muffin on 12hpi waste canvas over a fine linen, a technique I much prefer to stitching on Aida as it offers an unlimited range of background options.

I have a lot of Photoshop scheduled for the coming week, so it may not be too long before Muffin emerges in his full glory.

Muffin on Desk

Belated Happy Birthday Your Majesty

Several years ago, to celebrate the Queen’s diamond jubilee, we had a fete on the village green. One challenge for the local residents was to make bunting for the village hall. I really hadn’t planned to start stitching but a very wet weekend stuck in the house seemed the perfect excuse for a quick project.

I always have plenty of calico to hand for testing ideas so armed with a Frixon pen I sketched the Queen (not particularly accurate), a couple of corgis (slightly better) and the flowers of the four nations; rose, shamrock, thistle and daffodil.

A reel of red thread, some rather dodgy zig zag sewing on my machine, a few sparkly beads, some gingham ribbon to  hold everything together and the resulting bunting, although rather rough around the edges, brought a smile to a few faces!

Anyway, sorry I am rather late, but, “happy 90th birthday your majesty.”

Queen and Corgis Bunting

Beaded Garden Birds

I am so fortunate to live in a village with ancient woodland and fields to the back of our house and garden….making a real haven for birds. At this time of year their chattering noise is a real fanfare to the onset of spring. Designing beadwork embroideries celebrating these visitors to my garden has been a real pleasure.

I shall be taking them along to the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show at Olympia 3rd to 6th March so if you would like a closer look please come and see us at B68.
Alternatively head to the online shop – hope you like them x

Birds and Snowdrops

Little Beaded Valentine Heart

Ideas come at the funniest time – whilst eating breakfast yesterday morning I suddenly realised I needed to embroider a Valentine’s heart in seed beads.

Fortunately I have plenty of fabric, beads and embroidery hoops to hand so within a few hours all was finished. The inclusion of embroidered initials within the heart would make for a lovely wedding gift or alternative shapes could be used for different occasions, a rattle for a new baby or a rabbit for Easter.

I have used size 11 seed beads for this example but it would be very easy to substitute French knots or seed stitches to give a similar effect.

If you would like to have a go please click below to see how I made my little heart – it would be fantastic to see your creations!

Beaded Heart Instructions

Beaded Hert Lifestyle Smaller

Tea Towel Transformation

Sometimes you come across an item that cries out to be used for something other than it is intended. I found this tea towel, designed by Holly Fream for Anthropologie, just before Christmas and decided it was far too good to be used to dry the dishes.

My daughter is quite obsessed with pug dogs so the design was perfect to create a cushion for her. I simply raided my stash of embroidery threads, popped the pug in an embroidery frame, stitched as the mood took me and finished his eyes with some jet black beads.

Making the cushion was simple, I just folded the embroidered fabric in half and stitched the edge seam before turning it the correct way and stiching a second seam to create a border.

Then the bobbles. Normally I would just insert a bobble edging into the seam but I thought I would try a crochet edging and was quite surprised at how well it worked.

If you would like to try, then hunt out those tea towels and click on the image below for a set of illustrated instructions…..

Pug Tea Towel Cushion

Tea Towel to Cushion