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Category Archives: Embroidery

Put your heart into it

Hearts are an eternally popular symbol, but sometimes I’m a bit tired of seeing them used as just a fun design shape. It’s easy to forget what they mean: love, and living your life with warmth and kindness in your heart. With this in mind, I try to be careful how I use hearts and reserve them only for really special projects.

One such project was this heart embroidery filled with flowers, worked on crochet fabric, which I made as a decoration for our wedding:

Heart embroidery on crochet fabric

It was surprisingly simple to make by gradually building up the picture, starting with the stem stitch heart outline. Then I made the big two-tone straight stitch flowers, the chunky bullion knot blooms and the dainty satin stitch petals. I filled in the remaining areas with stems made of straight and feather stitches, and then tiny satin stitch buds. I used one of my favourite yarns, DMC Natura Just Cotton, which has some lovely, natural colours.

I wanted this heart to symbolise my love for my now-husband, which is like a warm garden full of beautiful flowers in all sorts of colours, sizes and textures, with new blooms developing all the time. I love looking at it!

It’ll have a new home once our house renovations are finished, but for now it’s hanging up with some other treasured items (including the lovely Welsh spoons gift we had, with the date of our wedding on):

Heart embroidery home

The other heart-themed project I made for our wedding was this chiffon wrap, trimmed with crocheted hearts:
(Sorry this photo is a bit rubbish – did you know that photographing white chiffon is really tricky?!)

Heart-trimmed chiffon wrap

I wanted to make a wrap to use as a cover-up in case it was cold, or if I felt a little self-conscious of showing off too much flesh! It was easy to make – I just bought 1m of chiffon (1.5m wide), folded it in half and hemmed around the edges, leaving a turning gap. I turned it through to the right side and topstitched around the edge, before sewing on the crocheted hearts by hand.

It was very simple to make, although I have to admit that I… um… totally ruined the first piece of chiffon that I bought by using a really old needle in my sewing machine. It pulled on the threads like mad – whoops! As soon as I got off my lazy rear and inserted a new needle, the second piece of chiffon ran like a dream through the machine. It was ok though, I cut up the ruined piece and used it for some other projects, which I’ll tell you about another time…

Anyway, so on our wedding day, it sat quite nicely around my arms and was handy for putting around me when it started drizzling! You can see me wearing it in this photo:

Me wearing heart-trimmed wrap

Here’s a close-up of the wrap, which featured cream hearts along each side and a blue heart at each corner:

Heart trim close-up

I used a lovely yarn to hook the hearts, Cascade Ultra Pima Cotton, which feels really soft and has a slight sheen that adds a luxurious look.

I wanted the hearts on the wrap to symbolise my love for handmade. With each stitch that I hooked, I thought about how much I love creating unique items by hand and I tried to put my heart into making each shape special – partly as a special gift to myself, but I also thought about the hearts being viewed by all our loved ones at our wedding and hoping they’d smile as they realised that of course I’d made it myself! When I finally wore the wrap on our big day, I definitely felt some of that love keeping me warm.

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Posted by on April 10, 2018 in Crochet, Embroidery, Sewing

 

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Embroidery bling

Brace yourself for a bit of bling! My latest project for Simply Crochet is a sparkly one and with Christmas round the corner, what could be better than a bit of metallic thread in the shape of stars:

Embroidered crochet coasters

Embroidered crochet coasters

I made these simple little crochet coasters to accompany my technical feature in issue 38 of the magazine, which is all about how to work embroidery stitches on crochet fabric.

The stars are so simple to create that I’m hoping to see these embroidered metallic stars on all sorts of other crochet projects, and even knitted and sewn projects – they’re not just for Christmas, you know, they’ll look great all winter. I’m secretly hoping to see one large embroidered star on the front of a sweater, Christmas jumper style – that would make my day!

If you like them and want the pattern, you’ll need Simply Crochet magazine issue 38, which is out now.

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2015 in Crochet, Embroidery

 

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Crafty ideas on the bus

My journey to work is an hour on the bus each way, which can get a little dull. Usually, I take a crochet project or something to read with me, but the other day, I was caught out with nothing to do. Sometimes it’s nice just to look out the window and watch the world go by, but on this occasion, the bus was so busy that there were no window seats left.

So I resorted to looking through my handbag for interesting items to entertain me, and I came across a couple of crafty business cards that I’d picked up the last time I went to St Ives in Cornwall.

One was for Grace Face Boutique, www.gracefaceboutique.blogspot.co.uk:

Grace Face card

Grace Face card

They primarily make lovely vintage-style dresses using quirky printed fabrics, but there’s also adorable buttons, cute purses and inspirational notebooks – I love the one that says ‘Don’t quit your day dream’. Apparently, Emma has since closed her studio in St Ives and moved to Northampton, but it seems like she’s still brimming with creativity.

The second card was for Little Binks, www.littlebinks.co.uk:

Little Binks card

Little Binks card

They make unique handmade clothes for little ones, many of which have a seaside theme, which would just look adorable on my nieces during the summer. They use vintage and recycled fabrics for an eco-friendly edge, and there are a fair few dresses with a hint of 1970s floral bedspreads, which is oh-so cool right now. Prices are reasonable, too.

On the back of the Little Binks card, I’d written this:

Leila Shepherd

Leila Shepherd

I remember that she didn’t have a card, but I really liked her handmade lampshades, particularly one made with a map-style fabric. So I’d written down her details on the back of the other card. Her website is leilashepherd.com, although you can see many more of her creations on her Pinterest page, www.pinterest.com/leilashepherd

Finally, I found a receipt with the cards from the Poppy Treffry shop, where I got this felt flower brooch:

Felt flower

Felt flower

If you’ve not discovered Poppy yet, she creates lovely freehand embroideries. Go to www.poppytreffry.co.uk and check out her gorgeous seaside-themed goodies – I love the purses and bags, the mugs, the kits and the embroidered pictures.

Anyway, I love seeing the creativity of other crafters, and I had a lovely bus journey in the end, remembering my time in St Ives and all the inspirational makes that I saw there. Makes me wish I was in St Ives now…

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2015 in Embroidery, Sewing

 

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Buttoned up

I’ve just come back from our annual week’s holiday to the beautiful seaside town of St Ives in Cornwall. If you’ve never been, you really are missing out. Here’s just one of the many lovely photos we took of the town, on one of our many walks:

St Ives © Becky Skuse

St Ives © Becky Skuse

As well as beautiful views, friendly people, delicious food and great galleries, there are also some lovely crafty shops and other tempting goodies, which I spent far too much money on!

Unfortunately, my two favourite shops have closed down or moved out of the town: the bead shop (G J Beads) and vintage store Beaten Green.

However, there’s still a knitting shop (House of Bartlett), two stained glass galleries (including Jo Downs and Desiree Hope), a vintage tea room, and Poppy Treffry now has her own shop.

One of my best buys was not in any of these places though, it was in one of the gift shops…

Button earrings

Button earrings

Yes, it’s a pair of button earrings! I grinned from ear to ear when I saw them, and happily handed over a mere £2 to have them. I’ve already had several compliments on them and am now bursting with ideas for making jewellery using buttons.

I think it must be fate though, because only a few weeks ago, I joked to the gorgeous Becca (at Knit Happens) that we should start a button club and meet to compare our button stashes and undertake creative button-related challenges. We both had a good giggle, but since then, EVERYTHING has been coming up buttons!

I think it’s the universe’s way of telling me to get buttoned up… and who am I to argue?

So, button club anyone? Who’s in?

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2014 in Beading, Crochet, Embroidery, Knitting, Sewing

 

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Cutting edge of history

I’ve always been fascinated by history, particularly influential people and interesting genealogical stories. I think that’s why I like TV shows like Who Do You Think You Are? and Heir Hunters.

I’ve been on my own history adventure recently, thanks to a rather plain-looking pair of scissors!

Vintage scissors

Vintage scissors

I noticed these little scissors recently at my parents’ house, next to my mum’s jewellery box. In an instant, I was totally captivated by their vintage charm – look how fine the metal is around finger holes, and how beautifully the metal curves from here to the pivot point.

I joked to my mum that they looked ancient and she said she’d had them for as long as she could remember. She knows that I have a soft spot for vintage knick-knacks, so she insisted that I have them. (I resisted a little, but gave in quickly with a possible too-loud yay!)

Anyway, when I got them home, I had a good look over them. The blades don’t feel very sharp any more, but the pivot is still very strong (unlike some of my more modern scissors). The metal has a beautiful dark, matt quality, with just a little rust under the pivot point. Then I turned them over…

Vintage scissors: other side

Vintage scissors: other side

On this side, I realised there was some writing under the pivot, so I looked a little closer…

Vintage scissors close-up

Vintage scissors close-up

In case you can’t see, it says ‘W.P All W Parkin & Sons Sheffield’. I felt a pang of excitement as a I realised this could be a craft artefact with its own history, so I set out to find out more about W Parkin & Sons. A quick internet search turned into a 2-hour investigation! I’ve not found out all that much, but here’s what I do know…

W Parkin & Sons, Sheffield, were just one of many steel companies in the area during the 19th century and right up until the 1970s. In case you’re unaware, Sheffield was a hub of steel production in the UK, from the industrial revolution until its decline in the 1970s and 1980s, due to more competitive prices abroad. Sheffield’s steelworks were huge and played a key role in producing essential items for the war effort.

I’m personally interested in the craft tools they produced, which seem to have included scissors, knives and saws. According to various sources, W Parkin & Sons occupied premises in many different parts of the city, including Sylvester Street, Granville Street, and land between Solly Street and White Croft. All of these addresses are now either office blocks, housing estates, or crumbling, boarded-up buildings with no hint of the important activity that once occurred there.

One of the internet results that came up was for the census records. There was a William Parkin in the 1911 Census, described as a ‘Steel Merchant’, aged 64. I found the same man in previous census records, described as ‘Steel Manufacturer’ in 1901, ‘Steel and File Manufacturer’ in 1891, ‘Cuttery Manufacturer Employing About 100 Hands’ in 1881, a Clerk Merchant in 1871, a Scholar in 1861, and no job in 1851 (but he was only 4 years old!). I’m not sure whether this is the founder or one of the forefathers of the company, but it’s still interesting to see one man’s career progression!

It’s sad that these once-thriving factories are now falling down, and that there doesn’t seem to be much record of a company that endured for so long, employing so many, and making charming historic items like my humble scissors. I’ll keep looking for more information…

 

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New Year’s resolutions

So the Christmas trimmings have been packed away for another year and as is the tradition at this time of year, I’ve been thinking about resolutions for 2013 – more specifically, crafty resolutions that I’d like to make…

1 I’d like to get my stash more organised. I always associate spring cleaning with the new year, and I dream of having a craft stash that’s perfectly tidy and ordered, so that everything is easy to find, uses space efficiently, keeps my tools well protected and my fabrics, yarns and threads safe from dirt, damage and dust. I’ve already got a few plastic boxes but I’m thinking of getting a few more – they don’t cost the earth, but aren’t very pretty. A nice workbox or workbasket would be lovely, but their shape is usually not a great use of space so it probably wouldn’t hold all that much. Perhaps an inventory would be helpful as well because I’m sure there are crafty goodies I’ve got that I’ve forgotten about.

2 I’d like to finish some of my unfinished projects. We’ve all got them – projects we’ve got planned to do or that are half-made, but we’ve never got round to finishing them. A couple of years ago, I put all mine together in one bag, in the hope that in between projects, I would delve into the bag and finish something. But it’s not happened yet…

3 I’d like to make some projects that use up all those little bits and bobs in my stash – odd balls of yarn and small amounts of fabric. So I’m thinking of making small accessories or little things for little ones, using striped or patchwork effects. Or something…

4 I’d like to try something different. The beauty of crafting is that there are always new designs, new techniques and new products to try! There are lots of things I’ve seen that I’ve thought “Oh, I’d love to try that some day”. Some of them are really basic, such as knitting or crocheting with beads and lacework – others will take more thought, such as making a quilt and using shrink-effect interfacing in a sewing project.

5 I’d like to teach someone to craft. There’s nothing more rewarding than sharing the craft you love with other people and watching their confidence, excitement and passion flourish – all because of you! So in 2013, I’d really like to spread the love of crafts a bit further by teaching other people how to knit or sew or crochet. I’ve also thought about joining a club, but struggled to find one close enough at the right time. Maybe I’ll start one at work… My nieces aren’t quite old enough to knit yet but they do like learning new things and there are plenty of other fun crafty things we could do.

6 I’d like to do some more designing. I think 2012 was a great year for my sewing designs and I’m really proud of the work I’ve done for Sewing World. It seems like there are loads of independent craft designers out there creating great designs, and they both inspire me (if they can do it, it must be possible for me to do it too) and terrify me (there are so many designs out there now, what if my stuff isn’t good or original). I recently joined Craftsy and it seems quite straightforward to list patterns for sale, so I think this will be my next move.

7 I’d like to set up a craft project for charity. Crafters are some of the most generous people I’ve met and there are always charity fund-raising projects on the go to get involved in. I regularly give money to charity and take part in other people’s charity craft projects, because it’s a great feeling to do something practical to help others. I’d like to take it one step further and set up my own craft for charity project. I like the idea of setting myself some kind of crafting challenge and getting sponsors.

Do you think seven resolutions is too many?! I think if I can achieve three or four, that will be pretty good going. Right, I better start getting on with it…

 

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Loving Embroidery

I can’t believe that we’re near the end of November and I’ve not posted all month – it’s just been one of those months where I’ve been too busy crafting to be blogging!

I’ve been working on this bookazine, Love Embroidery, which is out on 29th November:

Love Embroidery cover

You can buy a copy for £9.99 in newsagents or buy a copy online here.

Working on this has given me a new love of embroidery, which is no longer old-fashioned or shameful to be seen with! If you’ve not embroidered before, we’ve included plenty of step-by-step guides inside – and we’ve even got some of those new-fangled videos to help you learn the techniques. Have a look here.

Helping to create this bookazine has also made me look at my sewing machine very differently, because as well as hand embroidery, we included some freehand machine embroidery projects. I’m so intrigued by trying this technique, I got out my machine’s manual and discovered that I can lower its feed dogs! The joy!

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2012 in Embroidery

 

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