June Stitching News

Diary dates:

July 21st & 22nd – Cowslip workshops Summer Fair at Newhouse Farm, Launceston PL15 8JX :  £2 entry fee 10am – 4pm – Saturday 21st July. 10am – 3pm

Tuesday 31st July – August 4th  Flowerpatch Quilters 35th Patchwork Exhibition Central Methodist Church Hall, Launceston, PL15 8BA  10am – 4pm  Entrance fee £2.

Tuesday October 30th  and Tuesday the 6th November I am teaching two workshops for Roseland Mews Studio, Liskeard.  Further details are at the end of this newsletter.


What have I been up to this month?

  • Using some of my eco dyed leaf prints to good effect!
  • Working on my next stitched panel
  • White line printing
  • Phone case


Eco printing on paper.

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The first time I had come across Eco leaf printing, was when a wonderful friend, Janine, invited me to stay with her, and she had made a beautiful book for me, of the printed leaves from her garden in the Middle East. I was hooked from that moment.

To the left is a photograph of the book.

I have experimented hugely since then and learned such a lot.

I have been making and selling cards with my leaf prints for a while now, so have changed tack this month, and  decided to make tags instead.

To get to my intended end result is quite a labour intensive process, as you will  understand after reading what is involved. If you have never tried this technique, it is very simple, but be warned, it is also addictive! First is the actual Eco dyeing process, which takes up most of a morning, and involves cutting and concertina-folding paper strips, which must be soaked in a mordant. White vinegar is the mordant of choice and I use a high grade wall paper lining paper for the printing.

DSC00851.JPG The actual printing process takes place in a steamer. This should be a steamer dedicated to this type of activity, (not one used in food preparation). I asked around and fairly quickly found the couple that I use, one from a member of my family, who had pushed it to the back of a cupboard, because it badly burned! and another from a very elderly family member who also had a redundant one, again pushed to the back of his cupboard, because he didn’t use it any more….that one is an old aluminium pan!

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I also use a 3 lb kitchen scales weight (on  loan from dear friend Susie)  in the steamer, as it makes sense to me that the better the contact with leaf to paper, the better the resulting contact print should be! The weight is made from cast iron, and therefore also creates a reaction on the paper and probably in the steam as well. Here is an example of when I put the weight directly on top of an Acer leaf. I actually like it! I have used a bronze metallic thread and just stitched around rust mark. Will probably make this into a card!


If I have both steamers on the go, which is most times! I use a flat Cornish stone from the garden, which fits in the second steamer.

Leaves are then gathered, and a leaf is placed in between all the paper folds. Two or three of the concertina folded packages are then tied together with string, checking first that every surface has a leaf contacting it. They are put into the steamer, with a weight on the top of the pile, and steamed for about two hours. I check the water level every half an hour, and make sure that either the kitchen windows are open, or that the hob ventilation is on.

Until recently, everything I have read has suggested they remain in their bundles and tied up, over night, and opened up the following morning. I have wrapped them in newspaper, changing it a couple of times during the first couple of hours, and have put a pile of books on top to give as even a weight distribution as possible and left them overnight opening them up next morning to remove the leaves, and allowed the prints to dry.  This is always the exciting part!!

Recently, however, I was reading another article in which the author, steamed for one hour, and opened the results immediately, so I have tried that, and had good results as well! For me, it is always a “trial and error” process. Everytime I do it I build up my own information, expertise and reference. I learn which leaves give a good print, and which don’t, and if I obtain between 50-75% good prints from a session of dyeing, I am delighted. It is often a higher % than that! Virtually all my information has come from the internet. Pinterest has some excellent sites.

I have been experimenting for about three years now, just on paper. There is still so much to learn, and I haven’t ventured into printing on fabric yet, but I will do before long!

So, the steaming is the first stage of the process.

Next I look through all the results, discarding those I don’t think are worth working with, and chosing the ones I want to use.

DSC00836 (2).JPG The chosen ones are trimmed, with a rotary cutter and ruler , then a piece of card is cut to size. This takes a lot of time because each leaf print is a different shape and size, so the card shapes have to be bespoke!

After each print has been mounted using double-sided Cellotape, a hole is punched in the centre at the top and a hand dyed tie is threaded through the loop. Then I sign each one, dating it with the year the eco print was created. I have never found that the prints deteriorate with with age, in fact, rather the reverse!

A selection of four different ones go into a cellophane sleeve, and a price tag is attached.

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These will be for the Charity day sales table. You can get an idea of the finished sizes, by looking  at the photograph above this last one. The unmounted prints are on a cutting mat so sizes can be estimated. The finished sizes are aproximately half an inch larger. The tags clearly vary in size, but a packet of these would make a delightful little spontaneous gift.  They are useful as book marks, gift tags, and little notes. Indeed, I wrote a get well note on the reverse side of one just this week, to a friend who is poorly. It is a little different to the commercial get well cards and we all know how much pleasure a hand made card gives.


The photograph below shows work in progress on my “second in the series” of stitched panels, using a distorted grid.

This and the previous panel, (shown in the May Blog) is loosely based on the Fibonacci sequence.

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The main grid remains the same as in the first panel but I have removed the two additional lines which I added to that original panel, and this time I have added two different ones. I have also created trees. Green is the complementary colour to red, and certainly adds an additional zing to this piece, along with the HOT colour palette! Both panels have their very own “chemistry”! I am currently hand quilting  this, and all the while my thoughts are developing for the third panel!

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This close up allows you to see more detail.

Although I am definitely a “quilting makes the quilt” fan, I do feel that in these small panels, less is more. They could easily become far too fussy. The spaces offer a place for the eye to rest! The scale of the work doesn’t demand more than simple outlining, in my eyes. I shall continue with that, as there is quite a lot more to do yet and then I shall be able to review that decision again.










White line Printing

I had a very interesting day recently when I was a student (what a joy!) on a “white line” printing day”. The workshop was taken by Nicky Harwood, who is just finishing a degree course at Plymouth University.

She was very enthusiastic about this method and had some lovely art work with her that we were shown.

The workshop was at Roseland Mews Studio,  Liskeard.


We were given a small rectangle of soft 3ply wood, and we had to draw a design or “picture”. It could be abstract, or representational. Then along each line we had drawn on our piece of wood, we cut out a groove with a craft knife. These grooves would ultimately produce the “white lines”, separating all the different shapes with our design. The grooves, of course, create spaces!

I chose to draw an abstract design which related to my present textile work. Below are two of my prints sitting side by side. I had experimented all day, and came back to water colours, at the end of the day as I preferred them. The one on the right is a water colour print on paper, and the one on the left is also water colour, but I printed onto fabric. In essence each print is a monoprint.


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We were encouraged to experiment with oil paints, as well as water colours. Personally I far preferred the water colours, finding them a softer palette with more control over the depth of colour I was trying to obtain. I felt that the oils were much harsher and “brash”, certainly for my particular design. I think that the uneveness, blotchy finish, call it what you will, of the paint on these two samples was due to the fact that the oil paint I had previously been using on the plate, was resisting the water colour a little!

Although it looks quite simple, there is a lot to learn about the technique, and we all did many prints each.  We worked on the same “plate” all day, and then took it home with us and each print was hand printed. No press was involved.

We fixed our printing plate in position with a large tab of masking tape underneath it. It was well secured, so that it couldn’t move.

Then we fixed the paper or cloth, to the left of the plate, with a long strip of masking tape. The masking tape acted like a hinge, being fixed about 2″ in from the  left edge of the paper. We creased the paper well, just beside the masking tape so that it easily lifted backwards and forwards. Plate and paper always had contact in exactly the same position,  as both were fixed securely in place. It was clever!

The plate was painted up a section at a time, and then the cloth/paper lifted across to the plate. We rubbed the back of the paper/cloth, firmly over the painted area, helping to transfer the colour from the plate, repeating this process until the print was complete. For me, this result is a starting point. I would love to experiment further and I shall also think about how I would like to work further into both the paper and the cloth samples! A most enjoyable day.

New phone case

When our German friends came to stay at Easter, I noticed that Karin had an intriguing case for her phone. I asked her about it, and she had made it out of a thick, commercial felt. She was happy for me to explain the design in the newsletter. I don’t have a photograph of Karin’s, but this is how I made a similar one for my phone, using hand made felt which is not as thick, and therefore not quite as protective as Karin’s, but I love it!

The felt I have used was very generously given to me by Janet, who is an experienced felt maker. The colours are gorgeous, and right up my street. So, once again, many thanks indeed Janet. Very kind of you.

It is definitely not as thick as Karin’s, but I felt it was quite sturdy enough for my requirements, and, indeed, I have been using it every day, and there is no sign of wear and tear at all.

The “intrigue” was the fact that she had a little tab at the back of the case, which she pulled up, and the phone lifted out! The tab only needed lifting an inch, and this was quite sufficient to be able to easily remove the phone.

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The first photo shows the inside of the case, before assembly. I had cut a slit in the top back of the case after stitching a felt tab onto the end of the tape. Then I threaded the opposite end through the slit so that I could assess how much tape I needed, and where I was going to machine stitch the tape to the inside of the front. It is only necessary to stitch down about 3″ of the tape there. The rest of it “lines” the case, and then exits at the slit. When the phone is in the case, it sits on the tape. When the tag at the end of the tape is pulled, it lifts the phone! Ingenious! When the phone is placed back in the case, it rests on the tape, and pushes it down, resulting in the tab, resuming its inital position.

I have used a tape which is a faux tape measure, and have sewn two measured lengths of this tape together for sturdiness! Strength is not particularly required, as the phone is not heavy.

The second photo shows the outside of the case, after I had machine stitched the tape into position, and prior to the felt being folded in half, wrong sides together, and the sides being stitched.

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The third and fourth photos, immediately above, show the assembled finished case. I added the support strap at the back of my case, as the felt doesn’t have the strength that Karin’s commercial felt has. I decided that anything that might help prolong the useful life of mine, and maybe reduce the impact of wear and tear was worth doing. It all works a treat! 


I am teaching two workshops for Roseland Mews Studio in late October and early November. There are spaces available for both. Details of costs, etc are on the Studio website;    http://www.lynhervalley.co.uk/roselandmewsstudio/index.htm#courses

The first one is a printing workshop. Learn how to make your own printing blocks and try them out on paper and/or fabric. We can all buy commercial blocks, they are readily available from many sources, but when you make your own, they are unique!

We shall use compressed foam, erasers, and potatoes. Clearly potatoes wither and deteriorate after a few days, but they are great for spontaneous results, and will last a day or two. The other printing blocks will last forever! We shall use acrylic paints with a fabric medium, and print onto paper or fabric. I will provide the paints and medium, you will need to bring the other requirements on the list.

The second workshop is to make a hussif, an old fashioned name for a sewing kit, that the armed forces would use when away from home on active duty.

Mine is a contemporary version, which hangs around the neck, and has three sections. The back pocket has three little pockets on its back wall, for holding scissors, pencil, 6″ x 1″ ruler, etc.  Threads can be stored in the main back pocket. There is a front pocket, for other essential sewing equipment, and between the two is a thimble pocket, which is secured by a poppa. For this particular workshop, it is essential that students cut out all their fabrics before coming, and a thorough plan is given on the requirement list which Jane, who owns the business, sends out. This way, students go home with their project completed, rather than spending half of the morning cutting out!

What a lovely month June is, and we have been lucky enough to have more warm weather. It is a busy month for all of us who have gardens; so much to do all the time!

Enjoy, and hopefully you may be able to find some sewing time. It is such good therapy!

Happy Stitching.