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Author: mariees26

Retired Nurse Practitioner. Irish Woman abroad. Devoted granny.
Further thinking and stitching.

Further thinking and stitching.

When I worked on the stitched piece for my last studio post, I still had a decision to make about adding ‘something’ to the central square. I had left it blank and I was unsure about whether or not to add anything to it. Looking at it again in time for this post, I decided to add some more fabric scraps and further rows of running stitch to secure them to the background linen.



This is my stitching as I had left it on my previous post.


I have added a variety of small fabric squares into the centre blank square of my stitched piece, and I have managed to fill the blank space quite well. The fabrics I chose complement the fabrics that are already on the outer border, and measure about 1″ – 1  1/2″ square ish!

I have added a row of double herringbone stitches at two edges of the stitching, to secure the edges of the fabrics that I feel are not secured well enough with the running stitch.

The orientation or direction of the stitching echoes the outer border.

Whipped running stitches add definition to the inner square, and to the outer smaller squares, and add to the overall effect.


I have really enjoyed adding more stitches to this piece. I continue to find stitching very mindful, and calming. I am so pleased that I found this linen sheet at the charity shop that day, a lovely happenstance.

I think the completed work looks good, I will decide about adding some machine stitching and perhaps a little applique, as another layer when I look at it again.  Open to suggestions from you too of course!

I have another hospital stay looming when this post is due, so I probably will be late in acknowledging comments, but I will read them.




Meditative stitching.

Meditative stitching.

My post this month, is about how some hand stitching can be both calming and mindful. It really does not need to be complicated, and any design element choice can develop as you work on the piece.

I am often on the hunt for fabric to reuse, and in my favourite local charity shop in May this year, I found a linen bed sheet. I could not believe my luck, not a mark on the sheet either. I thought this would be ideal for some stitching and/or embroidery, so I washed, ironed and put it safely away. This is the sheet half opened on my bed. Not the best photo, just lovely, lovely fabric.

I cut a piece of fabric that I thought would be neither too big or too small for my exercise. It did feel quite wrong to be cutting the sheet.  The piece I cut measured 18 inches square. I have some embroidery floss in various colours, and I started with a running stitch from one corner of the fabric. I decided to do 3 or 4 lines with each colour, and to stitch down a little piece of cotton fabric as I went along in the manner of ‘boro’ stitching. I used 2 strands of floss throughout. A grid seemed to develop, and I marked the grid with a thread colour that I was not using for the stitching. Each square of the grid is approx 4×4 inches.






I continued around my work with the only other decision to make was the direction of the stitching on the opposing sides of the work, and what, if anything, should I do in the middle?

I really enjoyed stitching like this, I think the little pieces of fabric really add interest, and I will continue to do some meditative sewing next year. I will probably use one or two other stitches to add some variety. I really like using different colours too. This is how the finished piece looks now that it is ironed, and all the wrinkles removed. I have left the centre free for now.

There are any number of women (men too, probably) online who stitch, or who do some ‘daily stitching’, I am not in any way aligning myself to these artists; here are two women stitchers I follow on IG, or became aware of during the last year, and one article (of many) about ‘boro’.

Karen Turner

Claire Wellesley-Smith

Boro stitching is a popular method of visible mending today. The method has a long history, this is from the V&A


A patchwork repair for a friend.

A patchwork repair for a friend.

Thankfully, the before and after experience of the abdominal surgery I had in July was not as bad as I thought it would be. But, there were some surprises with the things that we all take for granted, for example, it can be a big surprise to discover that sneezing, coughing, laughing, or even the thought of these things, will remind you to hold onto your belly for dear life, for fear of it splitting open. Similarly, turning over in bed, or getting in and out of bed will have you puzzling about the safest position to do these manoeuvres without your belly once again splitting open. Now, several weeks later, the anxiety of a split belly following a sneeze has gone thank goodness, and only the odd twinge remains to remind me.

 I needed some stitching to keep my mind occupied while recovering, and I had some simple meditative stitching to keep worries at bay. My friend helped me a lot with the usual distractions. She also had a bed coverlet – given to her by ?, but now forgotten relative – and it needed to be repaired. It was a handmade hexagon top stitched onto a background fabric, that was folded over (top, bottom and sides), to the front and the corners mitred. There was no wadding or batting in the middle. She thought this would be a good project to keep me occupied, no time scale, just to do something if I could.

I laid the coverlet on the  floor, there were quite a few missing hexagons, and some torn fragile ones. I was most struck by the variety of fabrics used to make the hexagons, how small they were, and what on earth had I agreed to do anyway? It is difficult to see any missing hexies from this photo above, you just have to believe me. I have placed a 50p coin to show the size of the hexagons.


I separated the hexagon top from the background fabric and set about replacing to torn, missing and damaged hexagons. I found one complete ‘paper’ and that measured 3/4 inch, measured against one of my 1 inch hexies. I replaced about 30 hexagons, and probably restitched that many again where the stitching had come undone. The hexagon top measured 84 inches x 45 inches, and the whole coverlet measured 104 inches x 65 inches when back together; it covers a single bed easily. The green background fabric is 2 pieces joined in the middle, and I think the width of each length is about ?40 inches.

Photos of some of the damaged areas, and fabrics in the coverlet.



When I finished the repair, the coverlet needed stabilising somehow, otherwise it was at risk of further damage. I decided to stitch the hexagon top to a piece of cotton – actually, part of an old duvet cover. This worked well, and then I stitched the top back onto the background fabric, this was probably the most difficult part of the job, trying to keep it straight, and prevent any tucks happening on the back. I wanted to do a sympathetic repair, the fabrics I chose from my bag of scraps fitted in very well, and I really had to look very closely to spot them when I had finished.

I used a few stitches to secure the top to the back in random areas. The above photo – on the right – is from my friend showing the coverlet on the bed in her spare room. I am really pleased with my efforts. I think this must have been started in the 50s or 60s, or even earlier? Maybe some of you can recognise some of the fabrics. I dread to think how long it took to stitch, but I am full of admiration for whoever did spend the time making this beautiful item. I am calling it a ‘coverlet’ because there is no middle layer, as there is with a quilt. However, if any of you know differently do let me know, I would love to have a definitive answer.


Nuno felt samples

Nuno felt samples

This is my attempt to make a nuno felt sample with some added stitching. I had two small pieces cut from a silk scarf, left over from making a tassel for a hat, and I wanted to try nuno felting. I did take an online class (paper fabric lamination) some time ago, and that involved nuno felting, but this is the first time doing it on my own – so to speak.

I have quite a few lavender plants in the garden, each year I cut some for drying, and leave the rest for the bees. I do love lavender, and I wanted to attempt a stitched sample of some lavender flowers. This is my favourite lavender plant, unfortunately the flower spikes are ‘going over’ just now, but the bees are still busy and happy there.


The 2 pieces of silk measure 14 inches long each and 8 inches wide. I wanted to add some machine stitching to the finished samples, so I layered both sides with my selection of wool and hoped for the best! I used a selection of blue, grey, purple, and green wool. I was quite surprised by how such a small amount of wool was needed for both samples. I laid the fibre lengthways only, but unfortunately I did not make a make a good job of covering all the edges. Next time I will pay more attention to these areas.


The finished size was about 8 inches in length, and 6 inches across.

Both sides of each sample looked slightly different, and I took some time choosing the two I liked best to use for stitching my impression of lavender flowers. I used a straight stitch on one sample, and a zig zag on the other, with a straight stitch for the stems. I placed some tissue paper underneath for ease of movement under the needle.


I feel that the colour has not shown up quite so well as it does in real life, probably the phone camera’s fault. I like both samples, but I preferred using a straight stitch, I think it was easier to get the shape of the flower spikes that I wanted. The zig zag stitch is quicker, but it was not so easy for me to manipulate under the needle. Practice is key for me, and I did enjoy the process.

A new look for a plain or unloved garment.

A new look for a plain or unloved garment.

I attended a community craft group a few weeks ago, and one of the groups was working on a ‘Make do and Mend’ topic. The idea of this group is to add some embroidery, or stitching to an unloved garment, and instead of adding it to the landfill problem, give it a new lease of life.

I have an unlined linen summer weight jacket, bought from a charity shop a few years ago, so I bought that along with me for the next meeting, and got some advice from the leader of the group. The jacket is a natural/neutral colour, and the care label states that the fabric is a linen 60%/viscose 40% mix, made in England, for BHS (British Home Stores), a much loved department store in the UK, now defunct, leaving a lot of misery in the wake of it’s closure in 2016.



The group leader suggested adding some embroidery stitches along the seams, the pockets and the collar. I chose two muted colours of embroidery floss that I liked, and thought they would suit the fabric, and began practicing the stitching on a piece of scrap fabric.

I stitched along the shoulder and sleeve seams, cuffs, and the pockets.


I had some narrow lace, but it was a little too white, so I had a root around (with permission!) in the group leader’s bag of goodies for a piece that was a better colour match, and I was given a piece to use. I attached this to the top of the pockets, and along the collar edge, using a slip stitch with a polyester sewing thread.





I added some more stitching to the centre fronts, I felt it was needed.


I am on the look out for some pretty buttons to replace the current four, but if I cannot find any I will reattach them with a similar colour thread that I used for the embroidery.

I am very pleased with this ’embellishment’ of my jacket. I will probably add some more stitching to it, especially to the back, maybe a little bit of boro stitching. I need to look for some small pieces of muted colour fabric scraps in my scrap bag(s) and then have a serious think about it. The group leader suggested some lazy daisy stitches for the pocket top edges, but I’m not sure – I wanted to keep the inside edge neat. The lace attachment is very neat using a slip stitch. I may change my mind about the pocket edges though.

I do not have any expertise taking photographs, just my phone camera, and then reducing the sizes for the post. I really hope the photos show how a little stitching can change and enhance a garment, and make it loved once more.


Remembering how to make felt.

Remembering how to make felt.

I have not made any felt since last November, and the possibility that I may have forgotten how to make wet felt was upsetting. So, with this post looming, I began thinking about what to do, and to make something that would reassure me.

I decided to make a vessel, and to use the few remaining heart shapes I had, for decoration. I had made some flat felt to make heart shaped lavender sachets, to be placed into Christmas stockings last year. Valentine’s Day is well and truly over for this year, but it was a good idea to use them up.

The last vessel I made did not have a nice flat bottom, but that was due to the shape of the resist, so for this one I used a disc shape. I also wanted it to stand up, and not collapse in on itself, and to be useful to keep ‘things’ in. The colour was dictated by the fibre in my plastic storage box.

This is how it looked when I finished my layout.

I used an 18 inch disc shaped resist and laid my fibre out and arranged the hearts around the centre, and decorated with a little silk. I wanted the opening to be in the middle. I placed the final heart on the inside, hoping that it would be visible when looking in.

I used quite a few layers on each side. I used a palm washboard (recently purchased)  for rubbing, it is so nice to use, and no missing any areas either. I rolled in all 4 directions on both sides too for good measure, about 400 times, and then when I could see and feel the resist beginning to curl at the edges, I cut a hole in the centre.

After a bit more rubbing, kneading and rolling, there was a satisfactory shrinkage, and I could see the centre heart. More rubbing, and shaping followed and a bowl shaped vessel emerged.

I healed the edge, and then I had to get the shape right. Some steaming with the iron, more rolling. The hearts kept their shape pretty well, although, now I feel that they were not quite in the centre, but I am happy that I remembered how to do the whole process.

I wish I knew how to get a rolled in edge on a vessel though. Is that even possible?


This is how it looks when dry, and the towel removed from the inside.

It is standing up nicely, keeping it’s shape, the heart inside is nicely centred, and there is very little fuzz. It would have been good if the inside had more white, but it was all I had. Not quite round either, but I can live with it, and it will be useful. It is quite magical making felt, and I will practice more often.

I called in at my local library the next day, and found Ruth’s book! I have borrowed it.


A felt clutch bag

A felt clutch bag

Last year I enrolled on Ruth’s class for Paper Fabric Lamination.

I really enjoyed this class, and once the initial mystique of the technique had dissolved, this method of making decorative felt was wonderful to discover.

This is one of the pieces that I made for the class. I chose the bright pink merino, because that was the largest quantity of wool I had at the time, and that I could use during the class.

The ‘net curtain’ fabric was nuno felted to the pink merino after it had been laminated. The areas of darker pink are from the pattern of roses that is on the curtain fabric. The lamination gives a lovely crinkled effect, caused by the acrylic medium that prevented the wool working it’s way through the curtain fabric

When I was thinking about what to make for my post to the forum for February, I looked at this piece again, and thought that it would make a lovely little clutch bag. I drew a rough pattern, adjusting it so that I could use as much of the felt as possible for the bag.

My pattern:

The clutch bag would have a slight curved top, with a zip closure, and a wristlet for security – to use, or not, if desired.

I was not sure whether I could use iron on interfacing on the felt, so I decided to use a small piece of quilt wadding, and cotton fabric in a contrasting colour for the lining.

I had a piece of cotton fabric that I found in a charity shop, to line the bag, for the zip tabs, and the wrist strap.

I secured the wadding to the felt with a few decorative machine stitches, and then attached the zip. It was quite difficult to attach the zip, because of the thickness of the fabric and zip, and my sewing machine groaned a little during the effort, but eventually success was achieved. I had the same battle attaching the lining at the zip edge.


I decided to make a tab with a D ring, so that I could attach a wrist strap for security.

I used a little of the lining fabric for this, and a swivel clip. I wanted a pink zip too, but I could not find one locally, and made do with a beige coloured one that was in my box of ‘bits’.

I stitched up the sides, ‘boxed’ the corners and left a gap at the bottom edge of the lining for turning through. Once I turned the pouch the the right way out, I stitched up the turning through gap.

I think the bag looks very pretty, and it will hold a mobile, small purse, tissues, keys, lipstick or other small essentials for a night out wearing a posh frock!

Photos of both sides.

I enjoyed making this little pouch. It perhaps would have been easier to stitch if I had used an iron on interfacing, but the wadding  does give the pouch a lovely ‘squishy’ feel too. Just a shame about the lack of a pink zip! I am very pleased to find a good use for the piece of work that I made in Ruth’s class.

Spider Web cushion

Spider Web cushion

A little about me. I am from Ireland, but I have lived in the UK since mid 1970s. I trained as a Registered Nurse in Yorkshire, moved to Herefordshire in the 1990s, continuing to work in the NHS, and eventually qualified as a Nurse Practitioner. I really enjoyed this change and challenge in my working life. I retired from work 6 years ago, and decided to teach myself a bit more about sewing, and making things. A friend told me about a felt class about 3 years ago, and I was keen to learn about this magic of wool, water and soap. The class was provided by our local council, it was fairly informal, but we did have a ‘topic’ to focus on for each term. This cushion was my project for our ‘layered fabrics’ topic last January, although I did not know it would turn into a cushion at that time! This was to be our last term due to the funding for the class being withdrawn. The classes for most of 2020 were very ad-hoc due to COVID, and Zoom meetings were eventually introduced, and that was the only way to continue.

The inspiration for this piece of felt started last Christmas 2020. It was a very cold and frosty morning and I saw a frozen spider’s web on my washing line. It looked almost perfect, there was a few broken links, but still it was a thing of beauty on such a crisp cold morning. I took a photo of it.

After Christmas, we entered our third ‘lockdown’, and with so much information and misinformation in the media around COVID, my feeling was that I wanted to convey something of this with my piece of felt.

I made a piece of flat felt in white, with some strands of differing colours of yarn felted in on the surface. I wanted these floating pieces of yarn to appear as broken pieces of the web. To make the web, I used several strips of silk and organza fabric radiating from the centre, to form the spokes, and around the edge, and then stitched these down. I found some shiny white embroidery floss from a previous project, and used this to sew a chain stitch between the spokes. The chain stitch does not reach or attach to all of the spokes, again to illustrate damage to the web.

I had to think what to do to the centre of the web, and that there should be a spider present as well. I had a piece of very floaty fabric with pink roses on it. I cut out a rose and stitched it to the centre. I googled for an image of a spider and traced a suitable one onto the rose. I stitched the rose down, and then very gingerly I stitched over the spider, trying not to make a mess of it.

Now, I needed a phrase that referenced the spider, but that also had meaning for me, and these dark times that we were all going through. Google again, and I found the phrase that I needed. I had a little (child’s) alphabet stamp set, and stamped my phrase onto a piece of fabric, and stitched it in place on my felt.

I did not want to put my ‘masterpiece’ in the cupboard, so I thought I would make a cushion cover. I stitched the felt onto a piece of calico, and then found a lovely piece of fabric to make the backing.

I am really pleased and happy with the outcome.


Reference for quote:

“In the spider web of facts, many a truth is strangled” Brainy media Inc. 2021, accessed on 4/11/2021.

Paul Eldridge 1888 – 1982. Educator, poet, novelist.


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