Stitching pretty….

Half term has meant that I have a little time to get myself ready for day 4 at the RSN next Saturday – so in amongst the report writing (and thinking how to say, tactfully, that some ones child is somewhat challenging in class), I have found a few spare hours to complete some of the homework I was set. Honestly, I don’t know how people manage to complete each piece of work during the 2 week intensive courses at Hampton Court – I must be on week number 3 already and I know I still have some unpicking to do!

So I set up my trestles by the bedroom window and got started – the view isn’t in quite the same league as the one at the palace – but it is quite a light place to stitch and the Cornus is looking lovely at the moment!DSC_0008

My main focus has been on finishing all the chain stitching on the right hand branch. I then started on the raised stem stitch vines around the branch. First I put in some evenly spaced bars in a ladder formation and then stem stitched into them. It produces a nice raised stitch (as the name implies) and you can add shading detail by varying the colours of wool that you use.

I have to say that I am quite glad that I have finished this area of the design – as the chain stitch really is hard on the eyes! I am still a bit worried that the whole design looks a little flat and uninteresting – but am sure I will get lots of feedback on Saturday. I only hope that I don’t have to unpick too much as it can be a little demoralising! All I need to do now is outline the mistletoe leaves in stem stitch.

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Unpicking, 5 steps back…..

As predicted I spent much of day 3 at the RSN unpicking! But funnily enough, not the chain stitching that I had anticipated, but the trellis stitch. I have to admit that I was on the verge of doing this anyway as it was not very accurate, far too small,  and I was unsure how I would fit in all the filling stitches I had planned.

Once I had finished the trellis grid I then went on to filling the second hillock with brick stitch. This is described in the RSN guide as an arrangement of stitches that have been sewn so that they are offset from one anther to produce a shaded filling. I wanted to follow the shape of the hillock, but it was suggested this might be more difficult – so I have ended up running the stitching in line with the grain of the fabric. I also made a start on the vines around the main stems using raised stem band stitch – which I also took out twice! The mistletoe leaves have been split stitched around the edge and filled ready to go over with satin stitch – although this will be done again as it looks very untidy. Here is the progress so far….

So my homework for the next two weeks is to outline all the leaves in split stitch, finish the satin stitch leaves and chain stitch stem – ready to be unpicked on day 4!!!

Happy stitching……

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Getting to the heart of it!

With one week left until I can continue with my Jacobean crewelwork, I decided to make a start on the little heart brooch, designed by Jenny Adin-Christie. It is the last of the three kits that I bought from her. As with all her kits, everything arrived beautifully packaged and labelled and included a very comprehensive set of instructions with full colour illustrations.


It was lovely to get back to some goldwork – I really enjoy this technique, although it is tiring on the eyes! I spent an afternoon and evening preparing the padding and stitching the outline – now the fun can begin – adding colour, beads and sequins!

Hope this will be a nice addition to my brooch collection!

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Bit of a break?

I am booked in for day 3 of the RSN certificate course in two weeks time. Much as I would like to spend the intervening period getting as much of my crewel work piece as possible done – I have decided it would be more prudent to stop stitching. I am really worried that the composition is just a little too conservative and brown – and don’t want to spend all of day 3 unpicking! Maybe once I get to work on the flowers and hillocks it will look more colourful as I plan to do much of these in greens and oranges.

So, to keep busy, I thought I would work on the recording of my progress and how decisions have changed after talking with tutors on day 1 and 2.DSC_0131 (2)I am not quite sure what form these notes are supposed to take and I have not seen any examples of other peoples work – so am winging it a bit! I have made little pockets out of brown card and slotted all plans, inspiration and any other notes into these. I thought I could hand sew a cover too – quite pleased so far! I have also prepared a couple of examples of stitch work which I will attach to the back of each page – somehow!

If nothing else – it keeps me busy!

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A quick update on slow progress…

As it was (yet again) a rather wet bank holiday, I decided to get a little bit of sewing done before my next visit to the RSN. This meant chain stitch, chain stitch and more chain stitch. In fact, a whole day of chain stitch. At the end of the day progress was again – slight, and I am a little worried that the end product will indeed be a little too brown. Not that brown is a bad thing – I happen to love brown – but I am not sure my picture will be in line with Jacobean crewel work. Oh well!

What do you think? More colour needed?

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Soggy Bottom…

Finally managed to finish my slate frame bag today – but it took most of the day again! First I attached the shoulder straps to each side of the bag – making sure they were at the same distance, and of the same length, on both sides. Then I pinned and sewed on the lining to the top of each side of the bag.

Once the lining had been attached to both sides – the two sides of the bag are opened up and the right sides placed together. I then stitched these together leaving one end (lining end) open. Then bag was then turned in the correct way before stitching the lining to the base of the bag. I then topstitched around the top edge of the bag to keep the lining in place.

And there you go – a weekend of sewing and a functional bag to boot. It is very large, not very pretty, especially with the off pink bedsheet lining – but it will make my life a lot easier – and I doubt anyone would want to bag snatch it! The big plus though is that it cost a fraction of the price of the shop bought counterpart!


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Bag it up!

I have heard a lot of people comment on how expensive the RSN courses are, but in all honesty I feel they are well worth the money and in line with lots of other workshops that I have taken part in. The tutors are very knowledgeable and available to help out throughout the day. What I do find expensive however, are the sundries that are needed to complete the work.

To start with, on the first day of the RSN certificate course, you are supplied with a slate frame (of good quality), Appleton wools, Linen twill, needles and webbing – at a cost. But this is only the start. A trestle is advisable as it is much easier to sew at home using one and these are not cheap! Luckily –  if you live with a handyman, a similar one can be made for a fraction of the cost (maybe I should set him up in business!). I have also found that a large carrying bag is of use – as you are only supplied with a plastic bag and the slate frame is very unwieldy. The RSN have some lovely hand made, water-proof bags, but – as I need to save money – I decided to make my own.


DSC_0119 (1)

A slightly cheaper version of a trestle for my slate frame!


Fortuitously, I was recently introduced to a lady from a local embroidery guild and she was able to provide instructions for what she called, ‘The simplest bag that you could possibly make!’ So how hard could it be? I rummaged around at the bottom of the wardrobe and found just enough material and wadding to complete the task, an old bed sheet will be used for the lining – it won’t be pretty or waterproof – but I hope it will be functional!

My first job was to measure the slate frame (a metre rule from school came in very handy) – and it was fairly large! I then had to sew two pieces of co-ordinating fabric together to make one piece large enough to cut up.

I planned to make a bag approximately 90cm by 90cm ( there is no gusset in this bag – so I needed to allow for the width of the slate frame) – so I needed two squares of the main material, two squares of lining material and two squares of wadding – all the same size. Once I had these I then needed to sew the wadding to the outside material – as I have never quilted before I decided to keep it very simple and sew in straight lines.

Because the bag is so large it took a long time to get to this stage – and it wasn’t the simple morning job that I had anticipated. Next – the handles. I measured the drop of the handles from the top of my shoulders to where I wanted the top of the bag to sit and then added a couple of centimetres for seam allowances. I wanted my straps to be 6cm wide so I cut my material 24cm wide by 79cm long. I then cut wadding slightly less than 6cm wide and the same length. The padding was placed on the wrong side of the material, lined up with the centre crease. The bottom quarter of fabric was then folded up over the padding.

The top edge of the fabric was folded into the centre so that both the raw edges were together – press. I then folded the whole strap in half again lengthways and pressed. Finally, I pinned it all in place and topstitched along both long edges. Make 2 straps of equal length.

And that was how far I managed to get today – I only hope that I can get the whole thing finished tomorrow as I want to get back to some more varied stitch work.

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