Thursday, May 31, 2012

Craft tutorial - vintage style hanging decoration made from doyley edging

This egg shaped decoration features the crochet edges off old doyleys (doilies) recycled to show off the stunning handwork.  Often the embroidery is what is focused on keeping when you recycle a doyley.  I have tried  with this project to look for a novel way of using the edges instead.  The finished decoration also used vintage buttons and lace, and a recycled calico backing fabric. The finished decoration would be great for Easter, Christmas (or Christmas in July).  You could also fill the centre with lavender.

Finished size: 13cm long by 7cm wide


35cm square or small scrap of off-white calico
crochet edging from 3 or 4 doyleys
matching sewing thread
3 vintage off-white buttons
30cm of vintage ivory ribbon for hanging
Template of egg decoration (below)
sharp 2B pencil
small amount of fill
chopstick or turning tool

Enlarge the egg decoration template to A4 size.  Cut out the template.  Trace the template three times onto the back of the calico. Cut out the three calico shapes leaving a 1cm seam allowance around each shape.
Cut the crochet edging off 3 to 4 doyleys close to the edge. Pin and stitch small pieces of the edging to the egg shapes.  Work from both ends at once with the lace facing the top and bottom and use a small zig zag stitch.  Don't be too precise with the straightness of the stripes - they should be a little organic.

Work in with the stripes until there is a centre gap of about 2cm in the middle.

With right sides together, match two of the egg shapes together and sew from egg top point to egg bottom point on one side.

With right sides together, pin the third decoration shape to one of the other two joined pieces and sew a seam from egg point top to egg point bottom on one seam.  There are now three pieces joined together with one open seam.  Pin and stitch this seam from top to bottom, leaving a 3cm gap in the side seam about half way along. 


Trim back the edges of the egg shape and clip curves.  Turn through the egg shape (for help turning, check my previous craft tutorial on easy turning techniques).

Fill the egg shape.  Invisibly ladder stitch the hole closed.  sew on the three buttons - one on each face of the shape.  Attach a length of ribbon to the top for hanging.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Craft tutorial - Flower pincushion made from recycled doyleys

This project is a way to recycle doyleys (doilies) and is particularly suited to doyleys with lovely embroidery but where the body of the fabric may be a bit old or full of holes as you fussy cut the parts that are worth retaining and the interfacing adds stability to really old fabric.


2 or 3 doyleys (doilies)
light weight iron on interfacing (about 30cm square)
matching sewing thread
Pattern sheet (scale the image below to fit A4 size sheet)
small amount of polyester fill
sharp 2B pencil
chopstick for turning

Scale the pattern sheet to fill an A4 sheet and print out. Use the pattern sheet shapes to transfer 2 flower centres and 10 petal shapes to the non-iron side of the interfacing sheet (I used a bright window to transfer the shapes).  Cut out all the 12 pieces of interfacing.

Press the doyleys and turn to them to their backs.  Pin the 12 interfacing shapes into place on the back of the doyleys trying to retain as much of the embroidery in your positioning as possible.  Iron the iron-on interfacing shapes into position.  Cut out the 12 shapes.

Match the shapes in pairs right sides together: 1 flower centre and 5 petals.  Using a small stitch length stitch around each of the 6 shapes, leaving petals open at the petal base for turning, and leaving a 3cm gap in the flower centre edge for turning.  Turn through the shapes (for help with turning, try my craft tutorial on easy turning techniques).

Press all the shapes.  Stuff the shapes with fill - a tight filling for the centre and the petals with tight stuffing at wide end graduating to less stuffing by the narrow end.  Invisibly ladder stitch closed all stuffing holes using matching thread.

Following the picture guide, tack the five petals together to form a hexagon in the centre. Be sure to choose your favourite side of each petal to be the top. Position the flower centre into position over the top of the petals and pin the petals in place.

Using the picture as a guide, invisibly ladder stitch the petals into position on the back of the flower centre.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

My stitchery pattern Gentleman Caller featured in this months Patchwork and Stitching Magazine

 I was delighted to see my stitchery pattern "Gentleman Caller" featured in Patchwork and Stitching magazine Vol 13 No 3.  This stitchery was fun for me to create.  I was heavily influenced by Jane Austen's novels while I was designing it.  I was imagining the part of the Pride and Prejudice story where Mr Darcy first calls on Lizzie and wondering if he would have got a better answer from her at that time if he had presented a flower instead.  The cute little bird stitchery seemed a good way to interpret the character and making something that I use all the time - a pincushion and needle case, seemed a good way to enjoy the idea all the time.

Now, when I stitch I can contemplate one of my favourite stories while enjoying my stitching.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Unraveling the many meanings of Skein

I was listening to Sue-Belinda Meehan's show "Adventures in English" on ABC radio the other night,  and one of her callers discussed the term 'Skein Dubh' meaning a kind of Scottish knife.  

As an avid embroiderer, I was amazed by this use of the word skein, which to me has always been a bundle of embroidery floss.  I thought I'd investigate further and I found a range of interesting meanings to skein:
  • anything wound in or resembling a coil, like hair.
  • a flock of geese or ducks, in a v shaped formation of flight.
  • a series of similar or interrelated things
  • a mathematical concept(skein relation), and
  • the name of a comic book supervillain 
It's so enlightening when you learn something new about something you thought you already knew.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Never too Buzzy for Tea stitchery pattern featured in Creating Country Threads Vol 12 No 12

I just received a copy of this months Creating Country Threads magazine and was delighted to see my stitchery "Never Too Buzzy for Tea" featured on page 66.  This stitchery was actually a real challenge for me to complete, not because of the work in it (it's really not a hard pattern to achieve) but because I kept reading the wording while I was working and it spoke subliminally to me. 

"Drink tea", it whispered, "have a scone and sit with a cuppa". 

What a difficult choice - lovely stitching fun or a nice warm brew.  If only I was like the bee in the stitchery and had more hands to do both...

Craft tutorial - E-reader cover from recycled doyley

This craft pattern is to make an e-reader cover out of a partly completed doyley which is often the state of these lovely vintage pieces in the op-shops. The linen is usually wonderful, the stitchery very nice and neat, and this project utilises a project someone else didn't finish. This one is partliculary nice as it was very age marked which really appeals to me.

1 large partly completed doyley from a second hand store
20cm width wadding
20cm width lining fabric (I've used linen)
1 large snap fastener
collection of vintage buttons to decorate

Finished size: 21cm wide by 16cm wide approximately.  Yours will need to be fitted to your e-reader.

Measure your e-reader and add 2.5cm to the width and length.  Cut two rectangles from the doyley, two from the wadding and two from the lining to this dimension.  My measurements were 18.5cm * 23.5cm for each rectangle.

To make the e-reader front:  Pin a sandwich of fabric in the following order -  a rectangle of wadding, two layers of doyley fabric right sides together, and a second layer of wadding.  Stitch around the edge of the fabric sandwich on three sides, leaving top open, and using a 1cm seam allowance.  Turn through the front and press to neaten shape. You may want to use a chopstick to square out the corners.

To make lining: With right sides together, pin the two layers of lining on three sided, leaving a marked section open on the middle of the base of 5cm.  This hole will be used to turn through the cover.  Stitch around the edge of three sides of the lining using and 1cm seam allowance and leaving top and hole in the base open.  Do not turn through the lining.

To form the e-reader pocket: Insert the front of the e-reader inside the lining, so that right sides are together, matching sides seams.  Pin the layers and stitch.  Use the hole in the lining base to turn through the pocket.  Invisibly hand stitch the hole in the base of the lining closed and insert the lining inside the pocket, leaving an edge of about 5 mm of the lining exposed around the top as a feature.  Stitch in the ditch around the top of the pocket at the edge of the lining.  Press the completed pocket.



To add the flap:  from the left over portion of doyley cut a strip of 12cm wide.  Pin the strip lengthwise and stitch.  Turn through the strip and press.  Measure a length of the strip thats long enough to fold over the top of the cover.  Mine is 15cm.  Turn under both ends.  Pin and stitch one end to secure.

With the remaining end of the flap, turn in end and pin the flap to the back about 6cm from the top and about 1/3rd of the way along length.  Stitch in place.  Fold the flap over to the front and mark point to attach snap to the front.  Hand stitch the snap fastener to the flap underside and the pocket front.  Stitch some decorative buttons on.  I have put one on the flap and another four on the front of the e-reader.  Vintage buttons look best.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Craft tutorial - bunting from recycled table cloth

This bunting is a wonderful way to recycle an old embroidered tablecloth that may have seen better days but still has some lovely embroidery that is worthwhile keeping.

To make this recycled tablecloth bunting, you will need:

  • an old embroidered tablecloth (tea stains are fine - it adds to the patina)
  • some backing fabric (I have recycled an old child's bed sheet)
  • matching thread
  • some old buttons in various shades of white (32 assorted buttons)
  • 6 metres bias tape in matching colour (depending on how many bunting flags you make)
  • sewing machine walking foot (optional)
  • chopstick
  • pinking shears (optional)

My tablecloth made 8 flag fronts and my bedsheet made 8 flag backs plus an additional 8 complete bunting flags.

To start, create a template to cut out the bunting flags.  Fold an A4 piece of paper in half longways and draw a line from one corner of paper to the folded point.  This makes a nice size flag.

From the bedsheet, cut 24 flag shapes.  Pin and stitch 16 of the flags right sides together to form 8 plain bunting flags. Use a 1cm seam allowanceThe stitching is easier with a walking foot on your sewing machine as much of the stitching is across the grain. Set aside the remaining 8 flags as backing for those cut from the tablecloth.

From the tablecloth, fussy cut 8 flags focusing on getting as much of the embroidery in an interesting layout on each flag (fussy cutting means lying the template down to work out how the finished flag will look before cutting to maximise the design).

Pin and stitch the 8 tablecloth flags to 8 backing pieces cut earlier, matching right sides together.

Trim around all the edges of the flags.  A pair of pinking sheers gives a nice finish.  Turn each of the 16 completed flags through. A chopstick can assist in getting a neat point.  If you want extra hints on turning through the shapes, see my earlier tutorial on easy turning techniques.

Press the completed 16 bunting flags.  Divide into 2 piles of 8 flags: 4 tablecloth print and 4 backing print.

Cut the bias tape into two 3metre lengths.  On each length of bias tape, space out 8 flags leaving a tieing length at each end.  A space of around 7- 10cm between flags works well.

Pin the 8 flags into position, one plain and one print, by folding the bias tape in half.  Machine stitch in zig zag along length to complete. Repeat for the other length of bunting.

Decorate the top corners of each bunting flag with a hand stitched on button. Hang and enjoy.

Jointed paper doll making marathon


I have been on a jointed paper doll making marathon and these are the results.  I have been using many elements combined - paper, cardboard, upcycled images, stamps, ink, artist pencils, and brads.  Its been really fun revisiting this design after a couple of years.  I have become more fluid in drawing and the faces feel really evolved.  These dolls will soon be joining my etsy store.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

My ways of beating crafters block

I think all crafters have come up against an ideas roadblock at some time in their creative journey, when no matter what you do, you can't think of where your next idea will come from.  So here are some of my ways of dealing with this problem:

  1. Imagine you are walking around a craft market.  What would you want to look at and why?  Write it down - what you are interested in seeing is what you are probably interested in creating.
  2. Children's books especially colouring books are full of great design ideas - discover your inner child.
  3. Clean and de-stash your craft area.  Cleaning things out can be inspiring - I recently finished a donna cover for my daughter made from all the baby t-shirts of hers I had been hoarding.  I get more space and she gets to enjoy some of her favourite t-shirts again.
  4. Develop a specialist library and review it regularly.  I am so amazed at how looking at a book again can bring up a new idea or version of an idea.
  5. Keep a design library of your favourite ideas and see if there are different ways to use the same idea.  I have recently been exploring a Kewpie style design in paper, stitchery, on fabric, in two and three dimensions, and on brooches. It feels satisfying to really get extra out of a good idea.
  6. Keep a notebook and pencil handy if you have an idea, or email yourself to remember ideas!
  7. Write a list of all the birthdays and events you buy people presents for.  Could you make any instead?  You may find other people like you solution for the dreaded 'man' gift problem.
  8. Retail therapy – window shop for new ideas. You may be inspired (but leave the credit card at home)
  9. Think about all the things you would do if you won some money – is there anything you would buy or try with the winnings? Study, new supplies -  could you find a (cheaper) alternative.
  10. Commitment to crafting – make yourself practice a bit of craft everyday even if you are not in the mood. Doodle a little, or stitch a mini stitchery, or just craft something very small.  The skill practice will keep you in shape for when the idea does hit.
  11.  Write a list of household chores needing doing –  If all else fails, this will really focus you on craft. I would prefer to do anything rather than chores.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The evolution of the paper carnival doll

The next logical step in the evolution of my Kewpie style Carnival doll has come - she has become a paper doll.  I have gone back to the designs initial sketches and created one of a kind art paper dolls. 


Each features a hand drawn and coloured face and body, moveable arms, and a little carnival dress with special little trims.  Each is an individual and numbered. 

I hope you like this evolution of my Kewpie style dolls.

Three little birds on an apron

This is the apron I have just finished upcycling.  The apron was a purchased plain canvas.  I took off the pocket and decided to add some little birds and a badge to fasten the neck.

It now feels just right.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Mushroom story

I found this lovely mushroom in a pot outside.  It is a lovely colour, and finding it confimed my colour choices for my mushroom and button table runner.  This table runner features a collection of vintage buttons from the bottom of my button box and they seem to really match the colour of the genuine article.  Its good to find out your instincts when crafting are right.