Patchwork cushions

Several years ago, as part of my City & Guilds course, I made several patchwork blocks in a range of blue / grey batiks.  As I was a beginner each block took a long time and although I was enjoying the process I didn’t really want to invest the time in ‘just’ samples to sit in a drawer.  I did each one as a fully backed, quilted piece with the vague idea that I could make more and create a quilt. Well, time moved on and I made no more blocks.  Also when I put them together I didn’t really like the effect as I had created several different sizes!

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago – preparations for Christmas and the realisation that I needed new cushions for the sofa. Coincidentally I was going through some drawers in my workroom trying to find space for yet more ‘essential’ pieces of fabric.  I found the blocks, I gained drawer space and new cushions. Result!

I wanted to pipe the cushion covers because I think it gives a better shape and fortunately I had enough of the dark fabric for all the backs and piping so they look like a set despite being different designs.  I was once again thankful I’d invested  in a piping foot for my Bernina. Actually it isn’t the one marketed as a piping foot, which is number 38 and has a raised right hand side.  I like number 12 which is described as a bulky overlock foot and has quite a deep groove underneath which sits neatly over the cord and works a treat. I used to use the zipper foot but it never quite did the job well.

I do like Christmas preparations! This year I changed the colour scheme of The Table and made a set of place mats with cheerful green, red and gold seasonal fabrics.  I just cut squares in half and matched green with red, used insulating wadding and backed them with more glittery goodness.

Favourite embroidery books

From Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches

A very warm welcome to those of you who have come here from Mary Corbet’s website!
I have followed Mary for years and was surprised and delighted to be mentioned by her. I hope you will enjoy my blog and subscribe to be notified by email when I post (which is about every two weeks at the moment).

This post is a brief wander through the books that I keep coming back to. I have a weakness for books and every now and then need to weed some out of my over-filled shelves. These ones are perennials!

I suppose stitch books are basic essential and there are so many around now. Early in my embroidery journey I invested in Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches, first published in 1934.  No, I did not get mine that long ago – mine is the 1974 edition. Forty odd years on I still refer to it, and my scribbled notes in it.  Interestingly, Mary wasn’t an embroiderer; she was a journalist and her analytical and well-written approach has definitely stood the test of time. You can still get secondhand copies for a few pounds – but make sure you’re getting the original, not the large, colour paperback version published in the nineties.

Jacqueline Enthoven’s The Stitches of Creative Embroidery from 1987 gives you far more than how to work a stitch.  She is clearly fascinated by the origins and use of stitches and the accounts of where some of the more unusual ones were discovered by her and the  stories connected to them give a rich understanding of the history and pervasiveness of embroidery skills.



Then there is my indispensable Left-handed Embroiderer’s Companion by Yvette Stanton. Indispensable not because I’m left-handed but because I frequently have left-handers in my classes and this helps me demonstrate what seems to me an entirely unnatural approach to many stitches! Her diagrams are exceptionally easy to follow too. She also generously includes brief instructions for us right-handers.


Now we have the internet and talented and generous bloggers like Mary Corbet and Sharon Boggon who have established wonderful resources for us. And videos! So much information out there.  Oh, but I do love a book.

Book cover Windsor FryI enjoy stitch books from earlier decades, not so much for instructions  but to see how stitches were used in past and the different approach there was to embroidery design and execution. One that earns its place on my shelves is Samplers and Stitches by Grace Christie or, as the book has it, Mrs Archibald Christie. Convention on married women’s names was clearly different in 1920.  Another is Embroidery and Needlework by Gladys Windsor Fry from 1934. My 1946 edition has pasted-in colour plates.  How different to today’s full-colour-throughout publications.

What are your go-to books? Do you have a trusty volume that you wouldn’t be without?

Next post I’ll talk about my favourites on various techniques.


Piecing for a tuffet

I have covered a tuffet!  I went to a great class with Linda Chevin Hall at Bramble Patch and now have a beautiful footstool.

A friend of mine went a couple of months ago and said she had such a good time I was determined to go myself; she was quite right, it was a very enjoyable day.  We needed thirty strips of fabric and I wanted to use up some of my stash, not buy a new jelly roll or yet more fat quarters.  In the end I used mostly my material with just a couple of beautiful additions from the wonderful range at Bramble Patch to complete my colour palette.

Linda seemed to effortlessly have loads of time for each of the ten in the group and was especially helpful with colour sorting.  I based my scheme around the colour of a painted cupboard in the room it was destined for and my husband painted the wooden feet with some chalk paint fortunately left over.  I love it.

Exquisite embroidery

Last week I indulged in a visit to the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow. I’ve been before, to learn about the man himself, and his influence on the Arts and Crafts  movement and textiles in particular.

This time I went because there are now three rooms devoted, until January, to an exploration of his daughter, May. I’ve known about her role in the Morris and Co Embroidery Workshop, as manager from the age of 23, and some of her wonderful embroideries. The Gallery has gathered  some truly exquisite works, over 80, together with photos and other memorabilia documenting her significant role in the development both of active socialism and the arts and crafts movement, with women artists particularly.

A delightful, and enlightening, glimpse into the life and work of someone who has been too long neglected, in her father’s shadow. We were fortunate in the unseasonal warm and sunny weather and ate lunch on the veranda overlooking the park and very good day. There’s a good website here. All the pictures in the post are from the Gallery’s website.