Monthly Archives: December 2015

Chocolate Spaniel Embroidered Cushion

chocolate spaniel cushion

Some time ago I made an embroidered cushion for my neighbour featuring a Black Spaniel embroidery to reflect her two spaniels, Mollie and Meggie. One of Mollie’s puppies was purchased by local villager who has often admired the cushion. Eddie is a Chocolate Spaniel and I was asked if I could make another cushion, but this time featuring a “Brown” Spaniel on a Duck Egg Blue cover. Even in my massive stash of fabrics I could not locate any suitable fabric and having trawled the internet finally purchased a ready-made cover featuring a Duck Egg Blue spot heavyweight cotton fabric. I misread the description of the cover so was disappointed to discover that only the front was the featured fabric and the reverse was plain cream calico but was advised would still be acceptable.

I set up the embroidery unit on my Brother 4000D machine with a 100% cotton plain Cream-coloured fabric and identified the different threads to be used for the design which was purchased from

There are 7 different shades of thread in the design which for the 7” x 5” design is made up of 21,425 individual stitches and took approximately 45 minutes to stitch.

I took the original Duck Egg cover apart and stitched the now embroidered panel to the centre front. Then I put the cover back together whilst taking the opportunity to add my own printed satin ribbon label.


Finishing some unfinished projects!

In an attempt to bring some order to the chaos that is my sewing room, I uncovered some unfinished projects. Don’t pretend that you don’t have some as well!

2015 ufo scandi cross stitch cushion

This Cross Stitch Fairisle Heart embroidery was worked last year just prior to Christmas. Unfortunately somehow or other it acquired a very small stain on the lower left hand corner. I applied Vanish stain remover and put the embroidery through the wash. The stain was not so noticeable but still there, disappointment reigned as the stain had not come out completely. The embroidery was therefore consigned to the “roundtuit” pile. However, I really don’t like unfinished projects hanging around so decided to finish it and if necessary donate to a local charity shop.

The embroidery had been “filed” in the box together with some more linen for the reverse so I set to and finished the job! I applied some Dark Red satin piping and made an envelope closure for the reverse. As I had no spare cushion pad, I used some plain curtain lining from my stash and some polyester toy stuffing to make the pad. To finish off, I inserted a sachet of Christmas scented granules into the back. Now the cushion does not look half-bad and has been placed on an easy chair in the lounge. That’s one unfinished project cleared – now onto the next….

chicken scratchings

Last week at Franklin’s Patchwork & Quilting class, Emma introduced us to “Chicken Scratchings”. This is a form of hand embroidery worked over gingham fabric. We were provided with all that was needed to make some chicken scratchings of our own – patterns, fabric, thread and needle. As many of you are aware, I don’t “do” hand stitching let alone embroidery, but I thoroughly enjoyed stitching and weaving this design. When I got home I wondered what to do with my sample stitchery. Having pressed well and fused some interfacing to the reverse, I placed the “squared” piece of work onto some plain Red cotton fabric, outlined with Jumbo White ric-rac trim and completed a small cushion. The reverse is also in Red fabric and has an envelope closure. As I still had some scented sachets, I inserted one into the reverse of the cushion which adds to its charm. The completed cushion measures approximately 9.5 inches and now sits perfectly displayed on our bed.

Samples for Upcoming Workshops – January 2016

Meg of New Threads has posted a couple of sewing workshops to be held in January 2016 that I will be teaching using Simplicity patterns.

The first is for a basic bag that I have made several times as gifts for my sewing friends. As a demonstration for the pattern, Simplicity 2164, I have made up view B in a charming 100% cotton print called French Hens on Cream. The pattern calls for the bag to be padded for which I used a 2 oz polyester wadding. The lining is in 100% cotton calico and has a slip pocket, there is a removable plastic bag-bottom-stiffener and the handles are made from 100% cotton webbing in Bright Cerise Pink.

simplicity bag

This bag design is a great starter project for new and returning stitchers that also provides lots of opportunities for development, to add your own individual “stamp”, e.g, patchwork, applique, embroidery and straight line or free motion quilting.

The second workshop is for a stuffed toy. Simplicity 8044 which has patterns for a Dog, Bear and Rabbit. I made view B – the Rabbit. I used another 100% cotton print, a ditsy floral on a Salmon Pink background. This is a great pattern that uses only 1 metre of 114 cms wide fabric and there are only two pattern pieces. Seam allowance is only ¼ inch so you have to take care to ensure that raw edges are level and that there are no gaps in the stitching through which the stuffing can escape later!

The most time-consuming part of construction was stuffing and then stitching up the back. The rabbit sits squarely on her shaped bottom and measures approximately 14 inches high in that position.


Although because of the fabric choice my rabbit is definitely a girl, by changing the print this toy would also suitable for a boy.

NB. If the toy is to be given to a young child then the features must either be embroidered or omitted and the ribbon bow around the neck should be removed to prevent any accidents.

Handmade Christmas Gifts

As I said in a previous post, whenever possible I like to hand make gifts for friends and relatives. This year has been a particularly busy one as I made some additional gifts for my new friends at Franklin’s Patchwork & Quilting group.

Most of this year’s gifts were either festive scented embroidered cushions, sewing room accessories or tote bags. I tried to match embroidery designs or fabric prints to the personality of the intended recipient so there are subtle prints, exotic prints, redwork and scandi-style, a real “Heinz 57” variety of designs! I made a couple of long-line waterfall fronted waistcoats and two fully reversible aprons but apart from that have steered clear of “clothing” to avoid any “size” issues.

waterfall front waistcoat 1  plaid waistcoat 1

   elephants 01 light side

For most of the bags I used cotton fabric purchased from Fabricland and Simplicity pattern 2164 as the basis for the design. For each bag I changed the dimensions slightly dependent on my fabric choice and length of fabric available. Some bags had internal pockets, some external pockets and a couple NO pockets! I also changed the handles again dependent on fabric availability. All the bags were padded with 2oz polyester wadding which adds an extra layer and enhances the feel of the bag. I will be tutoring a class at New Threads, Weyhill Fair in January 2016 for making this bag and my Christmas gift making has provided me with plenty of practice with the pattern!

antheas tweet bag barbaras pretty polly bag gails bag 5   jennys ochad bag

mos bag

The nautical print bag was made with oilcloth purchased from Fabricland in Salisbury. It is the Carousel Carry-All Tote bag design but this time there is no hardware on the handles and I used a strip of velcro for the closure of the flap. The Linen “Owl” print bag is another Carousel Carry-All tote with Brass “O” ring hardware on the straps which are slightly shorter, and velcro fastening.

judiths bag 1 jennys bag

For sewing accessories I made two Armchair Sewing Rolls using a pattern and instructions devised and developed through Sprat & Winkle Quilters. I owe Lizzie grateful thanks for re-sending the pdf as my original copy has been mislaid. I used Tutti fruitti print cotton fabric in two colourways, purchased from Fabricland plus some plain White polyester cotton from my stash. The pin/needle cushion in the centre of the Sewing Roll was stuffed with polyester toy filling. The zips were from a length of continuous zip purchased from Dunelm Mill. Now that I have just about exhausted the supply of zips left by my father who once worked as an Engineer at Opti-lon zip factory I am a convert to continous zips except that as yet I have never managed to apply the zip pulls. For that I usually enlist assistance from one of the members of our P&Q house group!

armchair sewing roll armchair sewing roll open 2

The other sewing room project was a Thread catcher and pin cushion which can be laid on the edge of a sewing table next to your machine. I have had the pattern and instructions for this for many years, source unknown but probably from the internet. The base of the pin cushion is two layers of cardboard from Whiskas cat food cartons. They provide stability and prevent pins and needles from going through to the work surface beneath the pad.

thread catcher and pin cushion

The Fragrant Festive cushions were made using a variety of embroidery designs mostly purchased from I used Red cotton fabric from New Threads, Weyhill Fairground and either White or Stone coloured thread for the embroidery. The various trimmings were from my stash. Each cushion measures approximately 14 inches square and has a separate pad made from curtain lining. The pads are filled with polyester toy stuffing. I used a zip with lap insertion on the reverse of the cushions which are made either from more of the Red fabric, or a contrast e.g. the same fabric as to that used for piping or borders. The fragrance is provided by sachets “Christmas” or “Winter” from Greenleaf. 

carols cushion glennas cushion jeans cushion maggies cushion

I made one other larger cushion from a fabulous “country wildlife” printed linen purchased from B&R Textiles in Salisbury. The cushion measures approximately 18” square, has a Cream satin piping and is totally reversible as I hand stitched the opening behind the piping.

jackies cushion

In addition to sewing, I did a little knitting. This year not as much as last year when I made an extremely l-o-n-g scarf! This multi-coloured striped scarf is a pattern from called “The Hitch hiker Shawlette”. It is made from 100grms of a random-dyed 4-ply sock yarn. A very simple pattern that I have enjoyed knitting and plan to repeat – next time in “Spring” shades.

cathys hitchhiker shawlette

Finally, at Christmas time last year I designed and part-made a linen cushion featuring an appliqué of a leaping reindeer with a fabulous set of antlers. This year I got around to finishing it! The cushion measures approximately 16 inches square, has a linen front, cotton print piping and reverse with lapped zip closure. I made the pad to fit using polyester toy stuffing but now find it is rather flat so will make another pad and this time, stuff it really firmly!

leaping reindeer

My final project for 2015 is a commission for an embroidered cushion featuring a “chocolate” cocker spaniel.

Other than that my next projects will be something completely different – I have many, many ideas and plans so we will just have to wait and see what magic happens in my sewing room.

Longline Sleeveless Coat – Kwik Sew K3977 versions 1&2

kwik sew 3977

Whenever possible I enjoy making Christmas gifts for my friends and relations. This year has been a slow start in the preparation but now I have got going.

I have seen lots of sleeveless Vests/coats on the internet and having browsed through the pattern books came across Kwik Sew K3477 which looked very promising. Would it really be a quick sew?

Having made two, yes TWO, versions in approximately three hours I can confirm that the project is definitely a Kwik Sew!

For the first version I used a Black wool mix tweed fabric that had been donated by a friend. Having noted that the seam allowances were a mere ¼ inch I cut out the Large size and added ½ inch at the side seams so that I could make faux flat fell seams. The remaining seams were sewn with the overlocker and all outside edges also finished with the overlocker. I omitted the pockets as I wanted these vests to be really streamlined.

The second version was cut from some bold Black,Grey and White “tartan” wool blend that I purchased on Saturday from Fabricland’s Salisbury branch. Pattern matching at the side seams was straightforward and having already made the first vest, this second one also stitched up really FAST!

So that is two Christmas gifts made, now on to the other dozen!

Christmas Cherubs Blouse

christmas cherubs blouse

I like to make a new themed garment to wear over the Christmas season. In the past this has taken the form of various dresses, blouses, appliqued tee shirts and aprons. This year I browsed through my stash of Christmas fabrics for inspiration and came across a 2.25 metre length of cotton with a charming print of Cherubs on a Navy background. Just enough for a ¾ sleeve blouse.

As I had very little time to make the blouse – I needed it ready to wear in two days time, I hooked out my TNT blouse pattern “Loralie” and quickly cut out the fabric.

This design is a “hack” from a couple of patterns as described many times before. To make a feature of the shawl neckline and highlight the shaping against the busy print I used some ready-made Dark Red satin piping. I made the sleeves ¾ length, added a continuous strip placket and a 2inch wide cuff. I even made a couple of patch pockets but sadly ran out of time to apply them. Maybe later!

There are five Red buttons down the front of the blouse which came from my button box. Unfortunately, there were no more of the same buttons for the cuffs, for them I used a couple of Santa Claus buttons which came from a bargain bag of mixed Christmas buttons.

cose up cuff and button

I have worn the blouse just once so far, but it will get a couple more airings this year before it is put away until November 2016.

Embroidered panel – Carousel Carry-All Tote Bag II


I know that I had not planned to make any more bags, other than the Multi-purpose tech/tablet bag for the workshop at New Threads, Weyhill Fairground, but then things in my house rarely go according to plan!

I had set up the embroidery unit on my Brother 4000D sewing machine and enjoyed creating some lovely embroideries for use on Christmas gifts. One of the designs was a heart shape with various items associated with the word “Crafty”. I had stitched this out on a spare piece of denim (left over from the bias hem frilled skirt) and wondered how I could incorporate it into a project.

Aha! A Carousel Carry-All Tote bag would be ideal.

This time I reduced the height of the bag slightly so that it is more square in shape. I used Brass O rings for attaching the handles and finished with a Brass twist lock and lots of contrast top-stitching which co-ordinated with the embroidery.

I will be teaching a workshop for this bag sometime next year so this version will be an ideal demonstrator for the many different types of fabric that can be used together with an example of personalisation.

Now, back to the sewing room to finish my Christmas blouse….

Deby Coles Multi-purpose Tech/Tablet Bag Workshop

anne liz

Yesterday I tutored my first workshop for the Deby Coles Multi-purpose Tech/tablet bag. It was held at New Threads, Weyhill Fairground and attended by six eager, able and enthusiastic ladies. Each bag was made from cotton print fabric, the diversity of design was lovely and each bag a delight. Pictures above and below. We had a most enjoyable time and by the end of that busy day each lady had a completed bag to take home with her together with a spiral bound workshop manual and kits of hardware with which to make further bags.

sue bsue s

I will be taking a break from teaching until after Christmas when there are two more workshops planned for January – a basic bag for those new to sewing and a stuffed toy in the form of a teddy bear, a dog or a rabbit – ideal for the young and young at heart!

yvonne fennyvonne wcaroline