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Author: mariees26

Retired Nurse Practitioner. Irish Woman abroad. Devoted granny.
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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