Coaster Mark II

As someone who really loves lurid colours, it probably comes as no surprise that, when it comes to fabrics, I really, really love batiks. There’s enough variety of prints, patterns and colours that I could probably be entertained forever. The ‘mottled’ effect you get from the resist dyeing process also means that one piece of fabric has a huge amount of variation within it, which for me all adds to the creative fun.

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Coaster Mark I

With the new Bernina safely resident in my apartment, rotary cutters, mats and some fabric that let’s just say I grabbed with convenience as my primary concern, I was ready to have a go at my first simple sewing projects. The plan: to do things small enough and not so labour intensive that it wouldn’t be heart breaking if I had to throw them away.

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Chaos, Routine and a Bernina

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The last six months have been a bit of a rollercoaster ride, with two moves, a new job and all the general chaos and upheaval that comes along with that. It has been rather exhausting and the whole thing has seen me decoupled from a lot of my crafting equipment, my stash as well as all my usual routines.

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Review: Ribbonwork Embroidery: Techniques and Projects

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Ribbonwork embroidery (or ribbon embroidery) is, rather unsurprisingly, the art of sewing with ribbons. This is often done in combination with embroidery floss and other materials. As well as being delightfully quick to work up, ribbon embroidery is excellent value in the effect versus effort department, with even the simplest of stitches looking very dramatic. Also, who couldn’t love something that involves getting to play with silk?

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I had the pleasure of taking a Royal School of Needlework Day Class with the author of Ribbonwork Embroidery, Sophie Long, over a year ago now. When I heard that she was going to be writing a book on ribbonwork embroidery, one of her specialisms, I was rather excited to say the least.

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Taipei and Yongle Textile Market

Being a tourist is often regarded as one of the most morally reprehensible things a person can be. No one wants to be the hapless soul, guide book in one hand, oversized Canon camera round the neck, clogging up the pavement taking photos of the local highlights, such as cracks in the concrete and public benches.

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Having lived somewhere was definitely a tourist trap in the summer I can sympathise with the tourist-hatred somewhat. I still have no idea how the floor can be so endlessly fascinating to squawking tour groups and quite why the secret to a good photography is maximum inconvenience to other passersby.

In the modern age of the smartphone and Google Maps, I’m usually fairly confident getting around independently. However, sometimes it’s nice for someone else to do the thinking, and as I only had a few days off for sightseeing in Taipei, I needed to be efficient about it and thus began my quest to see if it is indeed possible to take a photograph without causing a traffic jam and find out the local crafting hotspots.

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Make at 140, Plymouth

It’s an exciting bit of news to hear that there’s a new local craft shop on the scene, and even better when it’s not just a shop but home to a café with a mouth-watering menu and enough workshops to keep any craft addict happy for at least a good few months.

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Make at 140 is the latest addition to Plymouth’s craft scene, situated just between the city centre and historic harbourside. It opened its doors in November 2015 as a ‘creative space to craft, make and create’, run by Lizzy, who has a wealth of experience in button and jewellery design.

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Mounting and Framing Up

There’s a quotation I can never quite remember, allegedly from a Chinese philosopher, about how if you really want something to be a success you need to put the same amount of effort in at the end as at the beginning. How many of us eagerly dive into projects with high standards and expectations but by the time the last stitches are going in have lost all semblance of enthusiasm?

For embroidery, the final steps aren’t the last few bits of satin stitch, but the process of mounting the piece. Even if you’re breathing a sigh of relief about finally being free of doing two thousand French knots and ready to throw the piece in the back of the cupboard, it’s a process that is worth taking the time to do.

When I finished the ‘Roses Heart’ piece, as it was going to be a gift, I really wanted to make sure the mounting looked professional and well-finished. However, I wasn’t relishing the thought of trying to mount and frame it myself. Poor craft time-management and life chaos meant I didn’t have much energy to devote to running around looking for frames and mounting board either.

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Thankfully, help was at hand in the form of the fabulous Deborah Wilding who had agreed to take me through the whole process, from cutting the mount board to getting it into the frame. Deborah graduated from the Royal School of Needlework’s Future Tutors Programme in 2015 and teaches a large number of RSN classes, as well as privately.

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Crafting while Travelling

I’ve been travelling a lot lately, which is always its own mixture of fun, frustrating, tedious and exciting. I enjoy getting to see new places and explore new scenery but I’m not sure I will ever miss being bleary-eyed at airports, checking I have my passport for the five thousandth time and hoping I haven’t missed a last-minute gate change.

Unfortunately, airlines have yet to have a row of seats with trestles so the embroidery addicts can bring their frames as they fly, so my Jacobean crewelwork is currently hiding under the tissue paper at home. However, I always make sure I have a few more portable pieces to break up the tiresome waiting that always comes hand in hand with travelling.

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Travelling with your craft supplies isn’t always easy. First of all, you can’t bring your entire stash. After all, you do need to leave room in your suitcase for all those exotic new fabrics and yarns you will undoubtedly find on your routes around cities that just happen to cross every craft store in town. The other issue is airport security can be a little challenging when the contents of your hand baggage might come in handy if you need to dispose of someone on the plane…

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