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Author: mariees26

Retired Nurse Practitioner. Irish Woman abroad. Devoted granny.
Completing my sample book.

Completing my sample book.

The previous post on the start of my sample folder is here:

For the pages of my folder, I have used some more pieces of the linen sheet that I had discovered in a charity shop. The pages I have made are double sided, so I have eight pages in total, along with the front and back inside covers.

I stitched some more pieces of fabric, and the fabric elephant shapes to the pages. The fabric pieces are hexagon shapes from a previous project some years ago.



I have also used 2 fabric placemats, and I stitched these to 2 of my linen pages. These are not really practicable for use as placemats, but they are very decorative items. They had been gifted to me by a family member following their visit to Japan some years ago. So I have more of them for other uses – I wonder if I could use a couple for nuno felt? An experiment for next time perhaps.


The linen sheet is really interesting.

There is a line of fine mending on the linen that is not immediately noticeable, but on closer inspection it is more visible.  See below photos. The repair to the linen is lovely and gives further life to this fabric. It can be imagined that it’s life was not part of a ‘throwaway’ culture that is often talked about today. The cloth can still be used as bed linen or to make clothing, and now, many years later it remains useful to me. I think this repair shows how skilled women and girls were at mending and needlework. Fabric may not have been as plentiful or affordable perhaps, world conflicts will have impacted many people, and make do and mend became the norm.



I have placed some of my flat felt sample pieces in my folder.




The pages are attached along the centre of the folder using a few stitches with embroidery floss and tied to secure.

I am really pleased that I have a place to keep these little pieces, and that I will know where they are in future rather than rummaging around in various drawers/boxes. I may add more pages in due course.

Fabric folder.

Fabric folder.

I needed something to keep my various sample pieces in one place, and that I would know without much head scratching or searching around for any particular piece of work. Of course, I would need to not misplace this folder too!

I had a fabric tote bag that had become a little frayed at the edges of the straps; the pieces of tweed used to make the bag were fine, with no damage or fraying. The bag just needed a wash.

The bag had been a Christmas present to me from my daughter several years ago, and I used it daily. I am not a ‘bag’ person, that is, having a bag for every and any social occasion, or day of the week for that matter. This bag was made at Garvald Textiles, this is a textile studio offering creative opportunities for adults with various learning disabilities, and the studio sells many of the items made by the artists there. My daughter worked for this registered charity in Edinburgh when she lived there some years ago, and much of her present buying that year was made from this source. Leonor may be aware of them, I think she lives in Edinburgh? Photo of the label attached, and remaining leftover bag pieces.

I have made another bag for myself from scrap pieces of tweed fabric bought when I visited Harris in the Western Isles.


To make the folder, I cut the body of the bag into smaller pieces and the stitched them onto a shaped piece of spare calico. I was hoping that I would have enough squares, but I did use another spare piece of tweed to complement the colours. I used my sewing machine to zig zag each piece together onto the calico. The size I was aiming for was an open A4 folder.


For the inside I choose to use up many small pieces of fabric, and to quilt them on to another piece of calico using a ‘crazy’ quilting theme, and also using hand stitching/embroidery. I embellished some pieces with embroidery, a piece of lace, a crinoline lady, and a couple of heart shaped pieces of fabric. I had 2 vintage hankies, and these I folded into ‘butterfly’ shapes and stitched them down

Both the inside and outside were completed separately, and then stitched together, inside out, before turning the right way out and securing the opening. I did think of adding some bias binding to the outside edge, but in the end I just stitched all around the edge with a blanket stitch.

I added a few felted leaves to the front of the folder, I had made these ?last year, and I think they complete the folder front very nicely. I added 2 pieces of ribbon to use for closure, but I will review this in time for my next post, and I will add some ‘pages’ to my folder to attach my work to.

I am very happy with this piece. I have reused some items, and other pieces I used were already in my fabric scrap box.


A new life for a coat.

A new life for a coat.

Another clothing post from me this time.

I found this coat in a charity shop. It is a long/mid calf length coat from a UK/British designer, the label has ‘Out of Exile’ on the tag inside the coat. I was not aware of this design label, but on checking with Mr Google, this brand does make desirable items of clothing and, are expensive to buy new. I paid £5. The coat had a good weight, and is probably a viscose mix fabric. Please excuse this photo, it is the only photo showing the coat length that I managed to keep on my phone. I probably need lessons in photographing black fabric!

This coat is destined for No 1 grand daughter – she loves dark/black clothes and loves a ‘Goth’ image. I showed the coat to my daughter and she liked it too, and agreed that grand daughter would love it.

When I inspected the coat, I could see very little damage. There was a little tear at the back, and the buttons were a little loose. The damage looked to be easily fixable. No 1 grand daughter loves a hood, so I did have to think about how to make and attach one, I do have a large hood on my raincoat, so I made a pattern from that.



To repair the tear at the back, I used a piece of ‘grunge’ red cotton fabric. I cut a diamond shape and stitched that to the coat using a blanket stitch also in red embroidery floss. The coat is unlined, so I used a little black interfacing at the back of the tear. I cut two more diamond shapes of the red fabric and attached one to each pocket flap using a blanket stitch. I loved the effect of the three patches on the coat.


The coat has beautiful black shiny oval shaped buttons, and all were intact – no marks or scratches seen. I restitched the buttons using the red embroidery floss, and then restitched the button holes using the same thread. I added some black stabiliser to the rear of the buttons for strength. There was a little weakness there, but no tears were visible.


Fabric for the hood was very troublesome to find. Who knew that there could be so many shades of black? Anyway, I did find some that I was happy with – a dress from the charity shop, that had a lace overlay. I used the lace to make a outer layer of the hood, same pattern as the hood. I am so very happy with the coat and it’s new look, even though the photos don’t do it justice. I managed to salvage enough lace to attach a little frill to the cuffs as a finishing touch.



I am sorry that some of my photos are not of better quality, the model was less than enthusiastic on the day, and occasionally she is just not keen on modelling clothes for her Mum.

I do love mending clothing, and trying to fix a problem area on an item of treasured clothing that has been well made, rather than consigning it to the waste bin. Thank you for reading.



A Scrap Felt bowl

A Scrap Felt bowl

Click to access felt-scrap-bowl-tutorial.pdf

It has been a busy month for me, with family visits, and babysitting duties. With all that excitement I had totally forgotten that my scheduled post for the forum was due until the other day. What to do?

I have been wanting to try Ruth’s scrap felt tutorial for a little while, so I thought this is an ideal time to try my hand and make a bowl. The link for Ruth’s tutorial is above.

I have some pieces of commercial scrap felt in a variety of colours,  bought some time ago from a craft shop sale. I also have some small pieces of me made felt. Some glittery yarn was used. I found some Madeira Avalon water soluble firm stabilizer in a cupboard. I used a 12″square of the Avalon, or rather 2 squares of it, and sandwiched the felt pieces, and the glittery yarn in the middle. Ruth suggests to very lightly dampen the felt pieces to stop them moving about; I very lightly spritzed the arranged felt pieces before placing the water soluble Avalon on top. This definitely stopped the pieces moving. I placed a few pins around the edges to secure, and transferred to my sewing machine.


Stitching, was as Ruth suggests, in a circular pattern starting around the outside edge, and working towards the centre. Then further stitching in a spindle/spoke pattern to further secure all the pieces. All the pins are now removed and nothing is moving! Then I made some small circles all over the piece in a different thread colour.


Completed stitching, top and bottom.

The water soluble material was trimmed and I rinsed the piece in some hot water, for perhaps 20 – 30 seconds. Ruth suggests that some of the stabilizer should remain to help stiffen the bowl as it dries. I placed the felt over a glass dish to dry overnight.

I changed the dish to a tin of beans after an hour or so, and I think it will provide a  better final shape. I am really pleased with the outcome, so much so I made another bowl and that is drying just now. The second bowl is more ‘holey’ than the first, both are very firm, and wondering if I should have rinsed out more of the water soluble.

Photos of completed bowls, and holding some spools of thread (4 large, 7 small).




Thanks for the tutorial Ruth, I really enjoyed making them.



A cushion cover

A cushion cover

I feel that you can never have too many cushion covers for cushions. They are such useful items of soft furnishings, and they can help brighten a room in no time.

My offering this month is a mixture of felt, thread and fabric waste, and free motion stitching to make a cushion cover. I wanted to give the impression of looking into a puddle with leaves floating on top.


This is the front and rear, before cushion cover making.


I used a variety of left over threads, pieces of felt, and fabric trimmings. I placed all of these on a piece of white fabric, and covered everything up with a piece of tulle. This was stitched down very securely, and it did begin to look as if it was a watery puddle.



I had some pieces of felt, left over from another project, and I cut some leaf shapes from this, and placed them over the stitched down tulle. I added some leaf veining as I arranged and stitched them down, in a fairly random placement on the surface.

I do think it turned out quite nicely. Then I had to choose some fabric to complete the cushion cover, in a colour to complement the orange leaves. I had found some purple fabric with a oil slick type pattern, in a charity shop last year, and as soon as I placed them side by side I knew it was a perfect match.


When I was in hospital, there was a good view of some trees from the window of my ward. This is a tree that I became fascinated with. I am still convinced that I can see Mr Mer sitting in the branches! Maybe it is just me!!







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.