This carpet is the reason I didn’t continue work on the canvas work for eight dining chairs when we moved here in 1990. As you can see the colours were totally wrong , not to mention the pattern. Its proved very serviceable  over the years, red wine, and small children, but it really wouldn’t have been my (our choice), but it was far to good to change.


But the colours go beautifully in the lounge now. So when I found it while sorting out last back end I decided the time had come to finish it. If you are new to my blog you can go back and look at where I started re-working it.


I got so carried away once I started the final stage I forgot to take photos until I’d got the first two sides on. The learning curve was a bit steep as usual as the canvas work is not quite a square (15 inches in one direction and 16 in the other). I wanted the overall cushion to be about 22 inches square (to fit the pad I already had – 26 inch feather cushion – I like my cushions plump and squishy).


On the photo above the four horizontal stripes were already done when I started re-working it. And although I found most of the original yarns, these have disappeared, used for other projects(?) in the long interim. (I’ll probably find them now it’s finished!). I did pull out some of the original work (the shape of the finished piece had to be different) out but wanted to retain as much of the original as possible.


The fabric is brown denim and has a definite nap which I used to effect. I realised that if I put the short pieces on the longest sides and the long strips on the short going the whole length of the fabric and canvas work with the nap going in the same direction, it would optically make it look square overall (or nearly). The required lots of careful measuring and checking, more than the usual adage of measure twice and cut once. Then squaring off to end up at 22 inches plus seam allowance.

I have not put fabric with canvas work before in this way, so in the end for the first two seams I’d ended up doing five rows of stitching to get it right. I’ve got used to quilting where the pieces are the same size and the seam allowance comes off both sides, so I’d not allowed the seam allowance to add the long strips! Also I wanted the seam to be right next to the canvas work stitches and the first seam wasn’t quite close enough. So three unpicked seams! I’ve spent so much time on the canvas work I didn’t want to spoil the whole thing but not making it up well.

I’m not sure if readers think I am just totally incompetent or whether it’s reassuring that others make mistakes too!


For the back I decided  to put in a zip. Yes, it’s a bit of a pain, but all the other methods I’ve tried, overlaps, buttons etc., have their disadvantages too, especially with over stuffed cushions.

I know that my old needlework teacher Mrs Hirons would turn in her grave if she saw the way I did it, but it seems an easier way to get an even seam overlap putting in what should be the second row of stitches first on a flat piece of fabric (and working upside down!). Then putting the other piece of fabric up close to the zip and stitching from the right side. These stitches are completely hidden by the flap so are much less noticeable if they are not quite straight. They are straight though I pleased to say. Looking at it I’m sure Mrs Hirons would have said it was a well put in zip, if she hadn’t know I hadn’t done it correctly. Also I committed another sin, I didn’t tack. Hence the unpicking on some of the seams!



Made up ready for the cushion, not pressed, nor trimmed inside, just in case anything needed altering I’d not burnt my boats.


It fits, it’s worked, it just needs taking out and cutting off the excess fabric and the corners snipping off (see bottom left).


Finished at last. Looks better square in the chair, but will probably be mainly used as a floor cushion. I’ve realised as I’ve written that I haven’t taken any close up photos of the making up. I can’t at the moment as it’s been borrowed to put in a display of work by the Market Rasen group that I go to. If anyone wants to see close-ups let me know and I take some when I get it back in a few weeks time.



While I was patiently (!) waiting for my canvas work to be thoroughly dry, I decided to pick up another UFO.

My first quilt. This was started in 1999. Yes, you read it correctly, and I really did start it 15 years ago. I’ve done the main part of it (I’ll post that another day). I’d abandoned it when it needed a lot of careful hand-stitching to applique the letters and numbers on it. Something more exciting must have distracted me, I’ve no idea what.

But as with many of my returned to projects I’ve learnt new skills in the interim that will improve the finished result. At Embroiderer’s Guild early in the year we had a talk and demonstration by Jean Proud of her Baltimore quilts. She showed us how to make an invisible stitch to applique with, I’m still trying to perfect it, but it’s an improvement on my earlier appliqued letters.

Back to the quilt – it’s a memory quilt of a holiday in Tucson, Arizona at Easter in 1999 with a very dear American friend, each patterned fabric telling part of the story. The patterned quilt fabrics were all bought in America. All that remains to be done is to finish off appliqueing the “Easter 1999” across the bottom. The letters were already made, a hundred plus 1 inch squares of paper with a 1 1/2 inch squares of soft green (the colour of the saguaro cacti) tacked round each square of paper, then invisibly joined together as the letters for “Tucson” and “Easter 1999”.


The pile of letters ready to put across the bottom of the quilt.20140709-171729-62249711.jpg

The back of the letter “R”. This was the tricky one as I had to make two triangles to make it look like an “R”.20140709-171730-62250732.jpg

I recently bought a metre metal ruler and this proved invaluable when lining everything up, and centring it all. I used a water soluble pen to mark in my guide lines, working from my long age drawn out pattern.20140709-171730-62250193.jpg

Ready to start stitching. You can see a bit of the main part of the quilt, but I’ll show the rest when I’ve photographed it all.

At the top you can just see part of the already stitched Tucson.20140709-171730-62250442.jpg

Although my first quilt is not finished yet, I must have made about 20 others all of which were finished relatively quickly.

Once I’d sorted out the corners, the final border was plain sailing. It just took awhile, as the finished piece is 16 inches by 15 inches.20140626-161659-58619081.jpg

The finished border, ready to take off the frame.

20140626-161659-58619627.jpgThis shows the canvas piece laid on the cushion and the fabric for the edging and back. It only gives a vague impression as the extra canvas and denim are folded underneath. It’s now ready for the scary bit – blocking. Not something I’ve done before with such a big piece of canvas work, nor unaided. But too impatient to wait for help.

20140626-161700-58620173.jpgI’ve read how to do it in a couple of different books. Basically, it needs damping and stretching over an old sheet into a board with push pins or tacks, making sure it is straight and square, and leaving to dry thoroughly. One book recommends for at least a week. I’ve got mixed feelings about this. On one hand, it means I’ve got to be patient before I unpin it to see how it looks and to finish it off, on the other it means I can start (or continue) with another project without feeling I should finish this first.

20140626-161701-58621142.jpgThe blocking has to be done wrong side up, which means you can see the messy side, no knots (uncomfortable to lean or sit on), just woven through ends.


I’ve  just got to be patient.

For some reason when I posted this last week it didn’t appear! And only part of the draft was saved. Frustrating, but hey, so here I go again.

I’d nearly got to the end of this section when I realised it wasn’t going to meet up properly. It would have involved loads of unpicking, again. I decided to finish it off and see if it was obvious. I showed it to 3 observant folk and none of them could find it. Phew! I even have to look hard for it myself a few days on.

20140612-204639-74799672.jpg  The finished piece.

20140612-204639-74799891.jpgBut it wasn’t really as big as I wanted, and there is enough canvas to make it a bit larger. So I’m now putting on an extra border to make it bigger. I bought several feather filled cushions some years ago. One of which was ear-marked for an Indian cushion I received as a “thank you” for making a quilt for friends that was inspired by  several of these cushions. No idea what I was planning on doing with the others. But I want this cushion to be the same size.

This is it so far. I then had to take it to be photographed for “insight” open artist studios in North and North East Lincolnshire the last two weekends of September and first in October. More about this nearer the time. I was so close to finishing it but just ran out of time. Usually it’s not the whole piece that’s used for the brochure, so not really a problem. I just wanted to finish it off.

20140612-204640-74800089.jpgI’ve used the same pattern (just over more holes) as the outer border and the divisions of the sections.

IMG_1604The 2 small triangles and one large triangle give the impression of a heart, so it will have a border of hearts, once I get it back.


In between other projects I’ve stitched away at this canvas work cushion at the various groups I go to. It’s a slow process and I’ve been challenged to have it finished before the group on 13 June, we’ll see.

On Sunday morning I was feeling slightly head-achey and out of sorts, with not much energy. So I decided to have a slow start to the day and make the most of  a warm sunny morning, stitching outside under the wisteria  in the garden, before the wind and rain finishes it off for this year.

I dream of lying under it in the hammock with a good book, but rarely (once?) have I managed it, either time or weather has always been against me. It’s slightly passed it’s best but still smelt wonderful. Before we moved here (24 years ago) I had a similar dream of spinning under the apple tree, again it only happened the once, but I still remember it as being idillic.

There are goldfinch nesting up in one corner, almost totally hidden by the metal frame and the wisteria. I had a few really good glimpses of them. Also blackbirds coming and going with food for their babies.

Stitching with the sun on my back outside in the area of the garden that is more or less sorted for the moment was a rare treat. I made some good progress and the end is in sight on the one panel. The other needs more and what I hope to be the last of the unpicking on this project!

I sometimes find stitching quite mediative, totally in the moment, and the  garden setting helped with this. But, it also can be time to reflect and plan new projects, and just sort out my head amongst the chaos, and hustle and bustle of day to day living.


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20140603-141159-51119402.jpg 20140603-141158-51118402.jpg


Woods near Berkswell, Warwickshire

I haven’t touched any sewing for what seems like weeks. By the time I’ve run out of daylight in the garden I’ve also run out of steam. I’ve taken loads of photos though; just to capture the moment, for later inspiration, and to look back at when I need a fix of green. I just love this time of year. The fresh green of the beech coming out just fills me with joy and energy somehow. I’ve walked loads too, several times with our son in woodland. He handed in his dissertation a couple of weeks ago (he’s studied forestry and woodland ecology) and it feels good to be able to walk and talk with him now he’s not totally preoccupied with that.

I’ve also had a few days out with friends. One to Quarry Bank at Styal, (National Trust), wonderful scented azaleas in the garden, too much to see in a day – anther visit sometime. A couple of embroidery exhibitions, loads of things I want to try. A great garden centre at Reighton (lots of plants to keep me busy, rained off today, hence time to write).

Loads of inspiration, just need to start some work.

Just a few photos for you to have a peep at my green obsession.


Eckington Woods, Derbyshire


Eckington Woods, Derbyshire


?, Quarry Bank, Styal


Underside of Gunnera, Quarry Bank, Styal

This is the stitch I’d started for the final strips a month ago. I was not really happy  with them, but wasn’t sure why, partly the colours, but mainly the stitch. I’d even sewn in all the loose ends, so I could assess it better. And finally, at the group this morning I realised what  the problem was – the main sections are diagonal stitches, the ziz-zag strips and the border are horizontal stitches and I was the adding vertical stitches. It was just too much. Also they didn’t cover the canvas well with the pinky yarn.



I then started on the other side with Creole stitch, this is worked on the diagonal. It was very small and the scale looked unbalanced (I forgot to photograph this stage before I took it out). I then did my own variation on this stitch, which I’m sure is not really mine, and has it’s own name, but I’ve not spotted it in a book – yet. I’d also done the Creole stitch going from right to left, and I wanted the stitching to go from left to right on this side to lead the eye in to the centre.


I started off with just two colours to make it a more restful area, but didn’t want it too stripy, so planned on doing two rows of one colour randomly. But the darker tone then became too dominant. (This sounds like Goldilocks and the 3 bears!!)


So more pulling out! And the introduction of a third colour, again randomly, not one, two, three repeatedly.


This is the opposite end, with a different random pattern of the three colours.



And is the stage it’s at now, it should be easy to pick up and work on again in front of the telly!



I’d got a couple of manky looking pomegranites, some dried up lemons, and a few shrivelled oranges in the bottom of the fruit bowl. I’d read that pomegranites can be used for dyeing, and on further research found that they don’t need a mordant. I boiled up all the fruit for an hour, strained it, split the fabric in half and micro-waved it for about 10 minutes, and left it to cool. I also reboiled the mush with more water for another hour, which gave me a much paler dye bath, and again micro-waved it for 10 minutes. Left them both for several hours before rinsing out the excess. I also did a load of cotton strips in the two baths mixed together as there still seemed a lot of colour left.


First dye bath and fabric on the left, second on the right.


Rinsing of second dye bath.


Second dye bath cooling


First dye bath cooling


Dry fabric and threads


Hubble, bubble, toil and trouble


Dried fabric


Damp fabric from first dye bath


Strained dye bath.


Soaking a mix of cotton, silk, muslin and some cotton thread.


Looks pretty revolting, but smelt wonderful.


The finished results are a pale, creamy yellow, the first bath slightly deeper. The silk has taken the colour better, a lovely warm gold tone. Not sure what I’m going to do with it yet, but a couple of ideas simmering.


I’ve finished the side panels of the cushion. They are deliberately not symmetrical, something that I have struggled with in canvas work in the past. I just want it to look balanced overall. The first photo shows a section round the edge that needs completing. Then it’s just the narrow strips on each side to do. And, the dreaded ends – always the last bit to drag my heels about!


Close-up of centre of one side panel.


Close-up of the centre of the other side panel.


The side panels completed.


I’ve found some brown denim type fabric in my stash, that will look good for the back and round the edges of the canvas work. It must be cut out soon while the dining table is still clear (needed for eating at on Easter Sunday, too many of us for the kitchen table). It is a superb space for cutting out on and working on big quilts, but I tend to fill it with many and varied smaller projects when we’re not feeding the masses.

I’ve finished the miniature embroidery, from Alison Larkin’s workshop at Scunthorpe Embroiderer’s Guild from a couple of weeks ago. I needed good light, my reading glasses and a magnifier to see what I was doing. I’ve seen a couple of the other’s finished work, we had all got favourite areas on our own work (mine was the bottom leaf) and bits we weren’t quite happy with (the centre flower). However, several of us found this small scale a challenge, split stitch with a single strand of floss is not the easiest thing to do. I have often admired miniature work in the past and thought I should have a go while my eyes were good enough to see small scale. Whether I will do more I’m not sure, it certainly needs lots of patience as well as good eyesight. I just need to make it up now.


Close up of miniature embroidery


Detail of miniature embroidery


Finished miniature embroidery.

We had a choice of three kits; burgundy / maroon (the bottom image is the truest colour), blue or green. It looks very different in other colour ways, have a peak at Alex’s  green version at‎