More stuffing please…

I have made a little (and I mean a little) progress on my beetle brooch. I drew two pictures of a stylized beetle onto cotton poplin, backed by calico and popped these into an embroidery hoop. I then tried two ways of stuffing the image.

I covered one image in muslin and stitched over the lines of the drawing, leaving a gap at the bottom of the abdomen. I then stuffed this and created striations along the abdomen by stitching down into the stuffing. This method was reasonable quick to complete – but you need to be careful when stuffing as the muslin is easy to tear. I am not quite sure what I will do with the head section yet.

For the second beetle I used the more traditional felt stuffed method. I have yet to add further padding to create the ridges over the body. But not yet sure about this as I might embroider two wings and attach these over the body.

Both methods were reasonably quick, but as you can see I have left the more difficult head shape for later. I will also need to think about how to attach six legs!

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And sew it is finished….

A day of rest following a lot of paint stripping (we are redecorating the outside of the house), and I finally managed to finish the ‘Bird on a Wire’ goldwork project by Helen Stevens. I am quite pleased with the results, although I think that I will need to work further on my ‘s-ing’ (the technique used to form the branch) as this is not of equal size along the length of the branch.


I have learnt a lot of new techniques during this project, including basket weaving and using gold plate, and have to say that at the moment I am really enamoured (maybe a little strong!) with goldwork. But what to do with this piece next – is the only option to mount and frame it for a wall? Any ideas?

And sew to the next project……. anyone who knows me, knows that I love brooches and that before becoming a teacher I worked as an entomologist studying ground beetles (amongst other things) – what better project could there be if I combined both interests? I bought Jane Nicholas’ book ‘The Stumpwork Beetle Collection’ sometime ago and have been wanting to attempt one of her projects for a long time – but did not feel I had the appropriate skills in goldwork. But why not now?

The thing is – I want to go big! I love the stylized gold beetle so maybe I will use this, although the appearance of 8 legs does not sit right with me, so he needed a little adapting. Apologies but drawing is not my forte…


Now all I need to decide is which method of padding to use – do I follow Jane Nicholas’ method, or maybe simple stuff an outline of material as I did for the 3D goldwork bird by Helen Richman.

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Feel the tension……

In a quest to see how much sewing could be completed from the little canvas project – I am happy to report that you can sew two squares. Although it has to be said that if I had thought about it earlier I would have positioned the canvas into a bigger hoop at the start. As you can see – I ran out of space in my hoop. The last two stitches that I chose to use on the second square were Moorish stitch (a) and Half Rhodes stitch (b).

At this point the tension in both squares was still good. Once I removed the samples from the hoop I ran into a small problem – there was not enough canvas around the second sample to put it into a hoop – so I improvised and used the canvas I had available to me – before putting the second square back into the hoop.

I know – it looks very messy and the tension was not that good – but if you like to ‘make do and mend’ it was an easy option. You can see the difference in tension when you compare the two squares side by side.  The only thing I did run out of (apart from the brown edging wool) was a little bit of the purple wool.

I think that if I am careful I should be able to make both squares up into pin cushions, although will have to be careful about the fraying canvas edges. Happy stitching one and all!


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Finished … or am I?

I managed to finish the little canvas work sampler this week, and as I was unable to get to a sewing shop or on line – decided to keep stitching to see how much more I could get out of the kit resources. The brown ran out first, meaning that I had to resort to counting on the squares before stitching – but I think that the other coloured wools will stretch to another 25 squares! So if you ever wonder if you are provided with enough resources – you certainly are with this kit.  Now that I am home I managed to find a similar brown to tent stitch around the boxes.

One thought though – it is far more difficult to tent stitch the edges after the main stitching has been put in place – resulting in uneven looking stitches.

I have chosen to use 6 new stitches in the second square. These include (so far), byzantine stitch (a), chequer stitch (b), alternating cross stitch (c) and star stitch (d). I quite like the look of the byzantine and chequer stitches as they have a smooth finish to them, but did not enjoy the alternating cross stitch – finding the edges looked messy however I tried to finish them off. Just hope that I have enough canvas at the bottom of the square for the final row!


As to my garden, well it can always be described as a bit of a jungle – but following a holiday – the jungle has got a little out of hand. The lilies have all gone over and the phlox now takes centre stage. As I cut back the dying foliage it is great to find my other artistic efforts in metal work and pottery!

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Sew and tell…..

Sew far, this holiday, we have been lucky enough to have had the sunshine with us and have enjoyed lots of long walks with the dog along the beach. The evenings have been quiet allowing time to rest and recuperate – and to do a little sewing. The canvas work is proving the perfect project as it is not too taxing on the brain. I wondered at first if I would enjoy it as I used to do a lot of tapestry work many years ago – most of which involved tent stitch, tent stitch and more tent stitch – hence the reason I stopped. But this little project uses a number of different stitches and also allows you to see how colour (and colour mixing) changes the look of each stitch.

I particularly enjoyed stitching the reversed cusion stitch and rice stitch – which can be seen in the top two boxes. Hopefully I should finish this over the rest of the week and then can think of what to do with the finished piece after that.

Finally a couple of photos of a few old birds that we have met on our travels!

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Holiday project…

Everything has come to a standstill with my goldwork bird as I cannot take it away on holiday with me – I think that many of the sections will become damaged and cracked if packed away with all my other bits and pieces. So out of the hoop it came to be replaced with a piece of canvas from the Rachel Doyle Canvas Stitches project.

This is a far more robust project and the little pack contained a selection of different coloured wools all bundled neatly into colour themes, a very generous piece of canvas and a full colour instruction booklet. Once the sun goes down I will make a start – just don’t want to spend too much time indoors when the weather is so good!

Happy holibobs everyone, and happy stitching!


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Just not cutting it!

I have been continuing with my goldwork bird whilst the rain hammers down outside (so much for the British summer!), mostly working on the cutwork leaves. From a distance they look quite tidy, but under closer inspection I am a little disappointed. I know the theory – if you cut the pieces too long they will buckle and crack, too small and you will not fill the space – but in practice I just can’t get it right!

I think I am getting the hang of s-ing, but, because of the order that we did things in, I am finding that I keep catching the little shards and causing them to crack.


I have used super lizerine  to outline the body of the bird – this is like pearl purl except finer and tougher to stretch and cut. I have learnt a lot by sewing this little piece but, as with everything, I would probably do a lot better on a second attempt.

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