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Our upcoming show at Scunthorpe Little Theatre Club is an adaptation of Pinocchio in September and I said I would help with the costumes. My first task was to turn a floppy black felt hat which was styled like a classic musketeer’s hat into one for a carabinieri. The director provided me with a picture from the internet and I made a start.

First I had to unstitch all the ostrich feather plumes and steam the hat to get it back to a neutral shape. It had a nasty hole near the crown but I managed to mend that by needle-felting some black fleece into and around the hole. Then I could stitch both the back and the front of the brim to the crown and make start on the rosette.

The rosette on the front was created from lengths of red, white and blue grosgrain ribbon which I stitched onto individual card circles and then layered together.

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Yes, I know the colour of the inner ring is wrong – in my defence, it wasn’t a close up shot and it looked like blue to me! And having finished it before I realised my mistake, I was not taking something which is only a stage costume for a minor character to bits, so it will have to stay (and annoy me for not having checked my facts before I started…).

The flaming grenade in the middle is made from a picture of one of the cap badges which I stuck onto card and then added layers of gesso to give the impression of something more 3D before finishing it off with silver sharpie. Behind it I used an oddment of silver braid which was a brilliant last minute find at the point where I thought I was going to have to layer several other ribbons and braids together and use the silver sharpie again to get something similar.

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I was able to cut up and lash together two of the original ostrich feathers to make the plume, which is nowhere near as fluffy as the real thing, but again, will be close enough on stage.

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The director was delighted and the guy who will be playing the role was even more pleased that it was a good fit!

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Not sure I’m cut out for making stage costumes. I think I’m too much of a stickler for nailing the sort of detail that you just don’t see on stage. I’m pleased enough with it though, and very pleased that I managed to do it all from stuff I already had!

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The holiday journal is finished and just waiting for me to add some extra papers, pockets etc. to the inside.

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Doing blanket stitch so close together took longer than I bargained but I like the effect.

Then I moved onto another one of my samples for my upcoming Embroiderers’ Guild workshop later in the year. Grey on grey felt embroidered in pale blues.

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Fly stitched edge, straight stitches in a radiating pattern and french knots:

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Feather stitch edging with a chain stitch spiral:

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And I’ve turned what I think might have been a vintage money clip into an upcycled sea glass pendant. First of all I sawed off the long bit of the clip following the lines of the design at the bottom.

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Then I pierced and cut out the middle section with a very fine saw, again following the edges of the design, and leaving three tabs to attach the sea glass to.

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A lot of fiddly filing happened next, to really shape the central section and tidy up the tabs before I could set it with a lovely piece of deep turquoise sea glass.

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I love using the piercing saw and the fiddlier the design, the better. I really need to get back to making some more of my original jewellery…

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I love spiky allium heads. After having done some ‘long shots’ on a couple of the sections in my bluework bowl, I decided that I wanted the next section to be a closer view and I chose an allium head for that.

First, the main stem in herringbone stitch and the stems which carry the flower heads radiating from a central point.

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Then a solid couple of hours stitching through a committee meeting got the six petalled individual florets in lazy daisy stitch added.

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I used the same variegated silk to outline the stem in split stitch and then built up adjoining rows of split stitch to form the leaf.

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As all the other sections are in Victorian china style blue and white, I wanted to introduce other shades of blue, but I’m not entirely convinced now…

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Our Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild meeting for February was an all day Indian embroidery and fabrics talk and workshop led by Julie.

The Young Embroiderers started off at 9:30 with a kantha stitching around animal shapes project. My little one loves sea animals of any kind, so she chose to do a turtle. Liz, the leader of the group suggested a spiral pattern in the quarters of the shell which is looking very effective.

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Julie had borrowed one of the Guild folios as a base for the display and she and other members added to it with items of their own, making a very colourful and tempting taster for the talk and workshop to come!

Samples from the folio:

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And our own additions:

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So to begin the day, we had a talk given by Julie based on her visit to a recent exhibition at the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum in London giving a good overview of different types of fabrics, stitching and how the finished embroidery was used. I particularly liked the short videos that she had interspersed through the presentation which brought some of the elements to life.

After lunch we had the choice of two projects. Either a shisha mirror centred flower – these are Julie’s lovely sample pieces…

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…or something more like the Young Embroiderers were doing, an animal or similar surrounded by kantha stitching. I outlined my fish in chain stitch using a heavy variegated slate blue cotton thread.

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Then for the background I chose some variegated stranded cotton in pale blue, pink and yellow to tone in with the background fabric.

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It was good (but surprisingly difficult!) to deliberately work larger running stitches. When I usually do kantha style work my stitches tend to be tiny –  these are about 2mm long.

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And it takes ages! But the above piece is only about and inch by an inch and a half so I deliberately stitched larger on this one to match the size of the design and it was good to get some quicker results!

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It was interesting to notice how calm and quiet the atmosphere in the room was as we all sat stitching our pieces. There is something very mindful about running stitch…

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My Auntie Sheila was a wonderful woman. She was warm, kind, always elegantly dressed and effortlessly glamorous, arty and creative and I thought she was amazing. The only openly artistic member of our very practical family, she made it OK for me to be creative. I just wish I had really got into my textile art before she died in 2005. I know she would have been fascinated and supportive.

When she died, my uncle gave me a big box full of her craft bits and pieces. Most of it was card making type stuff, but there was a very pretty traditional style quilted patchwork bag, full of pieced paper hexagons. Some cut out ready to stitch, some covered but on their own, quite a lot formed up into flower shapes and some into larger flowers.

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Traditional hexagon patchwork has never really appealed, but Auntie Sheila had pieced these, so I put them in the back of the wardrobe as a possible project for the far distant future.

When I was packing for our holiday in the Lake District in May, I was looking for a fairly straightforward project to work on in the evenings alongside my (non-stitching) holiday diary and I don’t know what made me get it out, especially with so many other stitching projects littered around the house, but I did, and it was a winner. Since most of the hard work was done, it was quite soothing starting to put the larger flowers together and I worked on it again when we went away to the Scottish Borders in August.

I’ve nearly completed the middle section which is blues around a central cream and rust flower. It is a proper rust, not garish orange as the photo suggests.

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For the next round I’m starting to sort through the pile of smaller hex flowers for ones in cream and rust and there are some florals in a similar colour which I think I’ll incorporate too. I want to use as many of Auntie Sheila’s blocks and fabrics as possible but I also want it to work pattern-wise, so compromises will need to be made. A long-term project, this one.

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My little one has just started secondary school and has gone from packed lunches to school dinners. This has suddenly given me 10-15 minutes extra in the mornings and so I’ve started doing a little stitching before I head off to work.

The huge french knot piece is heading for the last leg. Last time I shared it, I’d got this far:

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But a summer’s worth of stitching at boot sales, meetings and these new morning stitching sessions has got me to this point:

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The bottom edge is now complete, the second corner defined and all I have left to do is the final edge. That said, there is probably hours of work still before I can put in the final stitch!

The other thing I’ve worked on is my amulet, although I’m thinking it’s more likely going to be a book cover. At the end of the workshop in July I’d feather stitched and beaded the printed fabric to the background felt and used beaded blanket stitch to attach a rusty washer to the centre.

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Since then I’ve used my favourite metallic Madeira thread to back stitch all round the printed design. Just enough metal wrapping around the core thread to give a subtle sparkle. It’s twinkly rather than blingy!

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To fit in with the found washer in the middle, I’ve added some large textured gold tone loops from a short section of chain. Each one is couched down and then french knots added at the ends of the couching stitches.

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I’m amazed at how much I’m getting done in these little sessions, although it is extremely tempting to just do a few minutes more – and then end up late for work!

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Back in May we had a goldwork initial workshop with Brenda Scarman and I started to work a letter ‘O’ for a birthday card for my mother. As it was her birthday a couple of weeks ago I can finally reveal something I’ve finished!

At the end of the workshop I had got this far:

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I simplified the scrolls in the middle due to the thickness of the double couching thread and added more chips of silver purl, silver seed beads, turquoise bugle beads and french knots to the border.

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Not happy with the squashed spiral on the lower left, so I restitched that.

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Carried on beading and french knotting…

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…until it was finally finished.

And then I decided I preferred it up the other way!

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Simply framed with grey card to become a special birthday card. And a finish!!

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I’ve also upcycled an odd clip on earring front to make a beaded brooch

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…and turned some of my huge collection of sea glass and china into rings.

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Loads more projects still to get stuck into though!

 

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