Stitching News September 2018

Dates for your diary:

I am teaching two workshops for Roseland Mews Studio this autumn. The first  in late October and the second one in early November. If you are interested in either of the days, please contact Jane Lockyer for details, as she organises the workshops, and takes the bookings for her business  Her contact details are on her website, as are more details about her classes    

Tuesday 30th October 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 if you make your own, they are unique!

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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 bring the paints, acrylic medium and compressed foam for those who do not have any. You will need to bring the other requirements on the list, which will be sent out by Jane. It will be a great “play” day. Above is a little note book I made with two gulls printed on the front. One is printed onto inked tissue paper, and the other onto card, that I have previously washed over with dilute inks.

Jane has actually moved house since these arrangements were made….not far, but she is no longer in the studio, as that has been sold. The classes will now be held in the Old  School, Menheniot, PL14 3QS. Go on up the hill, just a mile further on up into the village, past the turning to the studio. As you approach the village you turn right, and the old school is about 100 yards in front of you, with the church on the left.  She still intends to offer light lunches, as before,  for the ladies who would like them.

Tuesday 6th November is the second workshop to make a Hussif; an old fashioned name for a sewing kit, that the armed forces use for essential repairs when they were away on active duty.

Mine is a contemporary version, which hangs around the neck, and has three sections. The back pocket has an extra three little pockets on its back wall, for holding tools such as scissors, pencil, 6″ x 1″ ruler, etc.  Threads etc 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!

In this months newsletter I have included:

  • My stitched projects over the last four weeks
  • A round up of the charity workshop
  • Pattern cutting course
  • New patterns
  • A new business venture for Julia and Vicky.

I have been beavering away since I wrote the last newsletter and I completed a little denim cross-body bag, made from recycled denim.  This one was specifically made as a gift.

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The two photos above show the front and back. The Kam Snap on the front is a closure for an inside pocket!

The bag has a red zip, and red lining, and although they are very understated I have stitched three red rows of red running stitch on the front, between the white stitching!

In the photo here on the left you can see the internal denim pocket.

I am very fond of these little denim bags, but equally delighted that this one is going to a new home!


I loved the book cover with the beautiful stitched Sashiko design on it in the August newsletter, and was itching to have a go myself! I worked a couple of samples earlier this month. Accuracy and concentration are required! Although, having said that, I found it totally absorbing, therapeutic, and addictive!

I decided to work on a piece of my hand dyed cotton and to stitch with hand dyed threads. These are the two panels that I tried out. They are the same design, but different colour ways and have been stitched on hand dyed cotton.

I learned a lot from the tints, shades and tones of the coloured threads that I used, and how the placements can change the appearance of the same design. The sample on the left will go into my “work book” detailing the technique, choice of fabric and threads.

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The sample  on the right, above, has become a panel in the front of another little denim bag…for me this time! I decided to add extra detail to that on the left hand sample and was pleasantly surprised at what a difference it made! I added a stitch across each of the stitches in the diagonal rows. It was an orderly and organised activity! just up my street!

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DSC00974 (3).JPGBefore I stitched the long rows of white stitching on the denim, which you can see in the photograph to the left,  I cut a layer of a medium to heavy weight cotton, just a little larger than the front and back of the bag. I tacked this to the wrong side of the prepared front and back. In effect this became my “layer of wadding!”

The denim itself is a really firm recycled jeans denim, and I didn’t want to add the thickness of a traditional wadding as it would have become too bulky for my liking.


The firm cotton gave the “weight” I was looking for before adding a lining, which was incorporated at the same time as I sewed in the zip.

If you would like to read about the zip and lining technique, I wrote a tutorial in the February blog:

You may notice now, that beside the tiny additional “cross stitches” there are small white French knots stitched regularly across the panel.

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I needed to anchor the decorative stitched panel to the underlayer, so that it wouldn’t “balloon”, and I chose to do this with the French knots. The use of white thread here, has linked it to the stitching on the denim as well.



I also made a stitched back pocket for this bag. The same dyed fabric was used for the outside and lining of the pocket, and a strip of denim helped to make the pocket wider.

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I have lost count of the number of little denim bags I have made since 2010! The first one I made was specifically for me. At the time I needed a small, compact shoulder bag which was literally just to hold purse, credit cards, phone and keys. I loved the reaction of friends when they saw it, and have made many since; some for sale, others for friends and family and I have always had one in use myself! No two bags have ever been the same!

I use mine so much that they literally do wear out. This month I reluctantly threw out my last one, which looked so sad and tatty. The bottom corners had seen many better days, as had the stitching. Indeed, I was quite ashamed of it, but it had been a terrific friend!  This will be a lovely replacement!

The charity workshop on September 11th at Cowslip Workshops was a terrific success. Huge thanks to those who supported us:

First and foremost to Jo, and her staff, for providing us with superb facilities and support; then the terrific ladies who came to sew all day;  the ladies who appeared from Cowslip itself which included customers on other courses; visitors to the shop and cafe;  other ladies working in the other half of the huge Barn, as well as some of Jo’s amazing staff. Many thanks to Rosemary and her terrific commitment over the last 18 months; huge thanks to the friends who had also sewn over the year, and had given lovely items for the sales table and raffle, and finally thanks to Rob, my husband who was invaluable helping with setting up, and manning all the stalls during the day, as well as counting up and letting all the ladies know that between us all we had raised a whopping £2,125, and not forgetting that he had made the marmalade for sale, as well!

I could never do as much as I do without his continued support over far too many years to tell you! More pennies will dribble in over the next couple of weeks, by which time we shall be able to split all the money in half and send to Cornwall Air Ambulance and ACA in Albania, where we support a sewing project for very poor women. They are taught sewing skills, which then enable a high proportion of them to become employed locally.

A significant proportion of those doing the workshop had travelled many many miles, between Hampshire in the south, and as far as from Herefordshire in the “north”! and many destinations in between and east and west! We were so thrilled and humbled by the way you all supported the day. These photos below just give a sense of the activity going on. It was a great day! I have not been able to show photos of everything, because of space constraints.

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Patterns for sale

Over the last few months I have been putting together some patterns which are presented in a brown, single fold card. As I explained last month, I am not going into a regular production.  I will try to keep a few available, for local sale, but at this stage am not envisaging sending them through the post.

Each pattern has a photograph on the front of the card. A small photograph with details of finished size and a brief description of the item is given on the back of the package.  Method sheets and templates etc are enclosed inside the card. It is then sealed inside a clear cellophane envelope. It is a laborious process, and the end result indicates nothing of the many hours of work involved! The March newsletter explained all the stages of preparation before a pattern can be packaged for sale.

All the items can be hand or machine stitched and all proceeds from the sale of them will still go to charity.  The four patterns are;


Funky Angel.  This is one of Rosemary’s designs, which she has kindly said we can sell in aid of charity.

Her outsized boots, wild hair and spindly beaded legs with knobbly knees just make me smile every time I catch sight of her!

The package contains; a list of requirements, and a page of templates, and a detailed order of work.

Price: £4.75





Concertina Booklet to create a Woodland Walk

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The photo which is in the front of the package shows a half completed sample that I have started working on for our three year old grandson. I have called it a Woodland Walk.  This sample will be displayed with the patterns; it is purposely only half completed. The remaining half illustrates what the dip-dyed pages looked like before I started working on them! I shall now begin another one!

This pattern is also “half kit”. It contains a ready dip-dyed concertina paper booklet, 3″ tall with 8 pages which are approximately 2.5″ wide….ready for the buyer to use their own imagination to produce an exciting and fascinating story…

It also includes two pieces of mount board, three small hand dyed buttons, and  a 6″ length of ribbon. A method sheet illustrated with coloured photographs explains how to make the mountboard covers for the finished booklet, with a button and ribbon closure. Ideas are also given for those who might need a nudge to get going!  Price £8-00

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An Angel Lavender Bag

The finished dimensions of the angel are:      height from the top of the head to the bottom of the dress is 3.5″. The width to include the wings is 2.5″.

It contains a list of requirements; a template sheet, and an instruction sheet giving a clear order of work. She can just be stuffed with soft toy filling, rather than lavender, if preferred! Own preferences for the adornments could make the little lady a real “one off”!

Price £4.75




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 Rooster Lavender bag

These very smart “Roosters about Town” pack a punch when filled with lavender!

Inside the package is a list of requirements; a page of templates, and a thorough order of work.

Price; £4.75




I intend to put together two more patterns, one is almost ready.

I have already stitched the subject of the second one, but was not considering that she might be a pattern at the time! So, I shall make another so that I can photograph the stages of construction! I will get those up and running this autumn.

The Pattern Cutting workshop that I booked myself on, earlier in September in Stratford on Avon was amazing! (Nothing to do with the item above!) … but a course to learn how to create a pattern for dressmaking clothes to my personal measurements.

I cannot recommend it highly enough! It was everything I had hoped for. Excellent teaching, in an inspirational environment, with like minded people. Cake, tea and coffee were on hand all day long, and we took a sandwich for lunch. Although we worked really hard, we also had fun.


Over the two days, which ran from 10am – 5pm, I learned how to draw out a master block of a front, a back and a set in sleeve to my measurements.

This master block, which has the three components all drawn onto one large piece of dressmaking paper, will always stay intact. Any “new patterns” which have changes, such as a different neck and perhaps pockets; slimmer sleeves etc, will be traced from the block onto more dressmaking paper, and the alterations will be made on the new pattern. Those pattern pieces can then be stored in a fresh envelope and the new pattern can be named! A little sketch or a photograph of the final garment can be stuck to the front of the envelope. I hope I am going to have fun this coming year!!

There were four of us on the course, (there is room for a maximum of 6 students for this particular course) and we were all creating very different basic blocks.

Mine was an “easy fit Jersey block”. I had taken three favourite items of clothing that I love, and suit me, and the block I created can be used for all three. My jacket wasn’t going to be made in Jersey, but as it wasn’t a “fitted jacket”, it still comes under this heading.

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Jules was a wonderfully calm, very experienced and delightful tutor, and she just moved seamlessly (no pun intended) between us, even though we were all working on totally different items! I was measured by Jules, and recorded all my measurements on a chart. About four further measurements were taken from a “standard measurement chart”, and I added those to my list. Then I drew out my basic block for a jacket front; sleeve and back. This was a  very mathematical process, aided by a calculator and a list of instructions relating to my personal measurements. I had never done anything like it before, so had to concentrate hard. Jules was always there to help us if we weren’t sure at any stage.

From my basic block I traced off the three patterns pieces and added seam allowances everywhere, other than the neck line. This meant that we could clearly see where the neck line would actually sit. I cut everything out, pinned the paper patterns to calico and make a toile of an edge to edge, hip length jacket. For those who don’t dress make, a toile is a practice piece to check the fit. I was pleased with it! I didn’t need to make any adjustments, so then I learned how to draw the facings onto the draft pattern

I  drew out my final draft pattern pieces, individual facing patterns and am now ready  to place them straight onto a chosen fabric choice, cut out and make up!.

I learned how to make a cowl neck, and made a paper pattern for that, and also made a calico sample of an internal pocket with an external placket. What a weekend! A terrific workshop; combined with a lovely evening/night, in between the two days, with good friends in Gloucestershire.

In the middle of August, I had the pleasure of meeting with a  group of friends and was able to catch up with what has been going on behind the scenes! It was particularly lovely for me to see Julia Chappell as we hadn’t seen each other for several years. Julia and her daughter Vicky, are both talented and experienced in the textile world, and they are extending their business in a fresh new way as you can read below:

“Chappell&Co’s quilted cushion cover kits takes the pain out of patchwork piecing!

No Patience for Piecing?


Here is a photo showing the contents of a kit.

Each kit has a faux printed patchwork cover, which when quilted actually looks pieced! At £26.50 for the full kit, it would make a great Christmas gift for a friend (or just for you).This kit is for a cushion with a white background.

Below is a made up cushion with an alternative coloured background but in the same design.but in


Julia had brought along a finished cushion to show us. The quality of the linen and the reproduction of the indigo colours were first class. When she produced the cushion, none of us realised that it hadn’t been pieced! She briefly told us the story of the very long, complicated process that they had been through in order to obtain not only the high standard of printing, but also the quality of inks that they finally managed to achieve. More information about the products is available by clicking on the link  I wish them every success.

More details can be read by clicking on the link to their Etsy shop:


Happy stitching to you all over the next few weeks!