Posts Tagged ‘cross stitch’

I first had the idea for putting a pamphlet stitched booklet inside the cuff of a shirt or jacket about 6 years ago and although I’ve since seen images on the internet, I’m proud to say it was it was an idea I had all by myself!

Denim cuff books

It’s a great method for making notebooks to carry around in a bag or pocket as the button (or snap) on the cuff holds the pages closed and you have the length of the cuff to decorate.

Leaves book cover 1

So I was delighted to be asked to teach it as a workshop for Brigg Allsorts group last week.  Men’s shirts, my main source of cuffs, often are patterned in stripes or checks and the patterns are a great set of guidelines for keeping your stitches straight, so I chose a checked one and decided to have a go at some chicken scratch embroidery with cross stitch and rice stitch.


I also replaced the boring button with one covered in scarlet silk. It’s fascinating how adding even simple stitches can alter your perception of the background design so much.


One of the early projects on the seven week crazy patchwork course I’m running for North Lincolnshire Adult Education at Ashby Link was to piece three tiny scraps of fabric together with feather stitch and enhance them with stitches to make a crazy patchwork brooch. This is my example. Black and gold silk covered with lace on either side of a scrap of printed Japanese style cotton with a gold coloured metal motif stitched onto it.


Kantha stitch knocks back the brightness of the print in the middle. Whipped back stitch and threaded chain stitch to the left and bullion roses with stem stitch stems and nested lazy daisy leaves on the right.


I went for a very closely worked blanket stitch edging as the pieces of silk fabric were fraying very badly. It took a lot longer to finish, but I think the neat effect is worth it.


One thing about teaching these courses, I have to get things finished to keep up with the learners!


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A charity shop near the premises where my amateur theatre group meets has started leaving bits and pieces outside on the pavement at night for people to take. The other week when I arrived for a rehearsal (I’m currently directing Blackadder Goes Forth) I noticed an eclectic mix which included a child’s scooter and a fish tank! When I came out of rehearsal the scooter was gone, but it wasn’t until I was pulling out of my parking spot that I noticed something propped sadly up by the wall and half-hidden by the lonely fish tank. Something that was enough to make me brake and jump out of the car to rescue it.


As I only have one frame like this and there is a very old and very long term project hogging it, I was over the moon to acquire a new (to me) frame. It’s missing one of the bolts but that should be easy enough to replace. The cross stitch design on it, which looks to be almost finished, must have taken hours.


So sad that it ended up on the pavement, but the frame at least has gone to a good home. If anyone is interested in giving the cross stitch a good home then please drop me a message either in the comments or via email (scroll down to ‘Contact me at:’ on the right hand side of the blog) and I’ll happily post it out worldwide.

Like buses, these things never come along singly. I dropped off a bag of stuff at the charity shop yesterday and as I turned away from the counter, I spotted this sticking out of a miscellaneous box, priced up at £2.


To be fair, it was the partly worked canvas work design which attracted me first and reminded me that I quite fancy doing a bit of canvas work.


And what’s £2 these days? So now I have a frame I can actually use and a nice little piece of mounted up canvas work to have a play with.

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Saturday sort of got away from me. I knew I wasn’t going to make the morning session of our Embroiderers’ Guild meeting but I had high hopes of making the afternoon. That was a mistake. I finally walked through the door at about 3pm and by the time I’d caught my breath, looked round at all the various boards, tables and displays and sorted my travelling book there was only enough time for chatting (always good, though) and putting literally a handful of stitches in one of the activities that our new chair, Ruth, had organised for us.


Pauline had finished her bookmark and was happy to let me photograph it.



Another group was stitching heart shaped decorations. This one is Julie’s:


Debbie and Janet pulled together their matryoshka with the examples Ruth had already stitched for me to photograph.


There was also another flower shaped decoration or similar but I didn’t manage to find any worked examples of that. It looked like a nice selection of fun things to stitch and even though I only had an hour, it was lovely to relax with some straightforward stitching and good company.

I’ve also been making some more ribbon roses to turn into pendants. This one has fly stitch leaves, stem stitch stems and lazy daisy sepals in variegated coton a broder with a woven spider’s web rose and french knot buds in pale blue silk ribbon.


And this one has fly stitch leaves, split stitch stems and lazy daisy sepals in variegated perle with a woven spider’s web rose and french knot buds in crimson silk ribbon.


A weekend of nice quick little projects.

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The theme for Liz’s Travelling Book was nature or architecture. Most of the previous entries were nature themed so I decided to choose architecture and I had just the piece to fit the theme – this exotic domed building in cross stitch:


There wasn’t much to say about the technique so I decided to go for a rich background, smothering the page with shocking pink and turquoise Stewart Gill Byzantium metallic paints and using embossing paste to create a frame.


On the facing page more shimmery paint, overprinting in gold, architectural details cut from magazines and the opening lines of Coleridge’s ‘Kubla Khan’.


Except that every time I read the first line my mind constantly wants to replace ‘decree’ with ‘erect’. I entirely blame my love for the ’80s band Frankie Goes To Hollywood and their song ‘Welcome to the Pleasuredome‘!!


Handwriting could be a lot neater but I think it’s got the Byzantine opulence I was looking for. Off to find more Frankie on YouTube and relive the discos of my youth…

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During Panto week (which seems a long time ago now even though I only finished washing costumes and putting them away yesterday!) I also made a start on a 17th birthday card for my middle one. She’s very much into all things alternative and I’d found a small, simple cross stitch pattern quite a while ago for a little skull. I decided to stitch a few and dress them up like Day of the Dead candy skulls.

Skull with spirals

Autumn skull

Spring skull

My first three, all stitched during panto week and on target for the birthday.

Three Day of the Dead skulls

And the last two, all ready to be decorated.

Cross stitch skulls

But then work and other things happened and with the best will in the world I could not manage to get round to the final finishing until this week.

Waves skull

Roses skull


Then the making up, surrounding each skull in a riot of hessian flowers with sparkly middles on a very dark green card background.

Day of the Dead birthday card 1


Day of the Dead birthday card 2



It was rather late, but she liked it.


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This really is going back some time, but when I found the pictures of this project, I remembered how proud I’d been of it and thought I’d share.

In the summer of 2009, our Embroiderers’ Guild Summer Challenge was to be given a piece of aida and a skein of blue stranded cotton and asked to stitch something on the theme ‘Blue Pot’. It was one of those rare times when inspiration strikes instantly.

Not only do I love beach-combing and street-combing, I’ve also, ever since I was a child, hoarded scraps of Victorian (and older) china which come up in the garden. I found three different blue and white china-type cross-stitch patterns in a big embroidery book and used masking tape to mark off a shard section to stitch. I added some recently acquired stranded silk Gloriana threads in shades of blue and white and stitched five pieces from the three patterns.

First, two pieces in a Victorian floral:

Victorian floral shard 1

Victorian floral shard 2

Then two in a Chinoiserie/Willow Pattern:

Chinoiserie shard 1

Chinoiserie shard 2

And lastly one from a blue and white tile pattern:

Blue and white tile shard 1

The pieces were laced over pelmet vilene to give them some body, and then I turned my attention to the background – the soil.

I coloured another square of aida in shades of brown (can’t remember what with – something highly unsuitable probably) and stitched the china fragments to it. Then I began to couch a variety of textured brown threads around the fragments, changing direction and thread frequently and also adding in patches of cross stitch in the couching thread.

Soil texture 1

Soil texture 2

The textured thread hid the edges of the fragments nicely and made them look as if they were bedded into the soil. It was one of those incredibly rare occasions when the whole project comes together exactly as your original inspiration.

Blue pot fragments

In September I handed it in and it was very different to anything else anybody had done. The other blocks, in beautifully embroidered forms of counted work, were earmarked for cushion panels. I’m not sure the committee initially knew quite what to do with it! But they kindly took it anyway.

In May 2010, we held our Millennium +10 exhibition. I was wandering round when I found the display of our branch scrapbooks. And I did a classic double take.

Scrapbook cover 1

It was my piece! Expertly finished, but my piece, and I had no idea that was where it had gone!

Scrapbook cover 2

And inside:


So proud! :o)

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In the wonderful haul of craft stuff I got last autumn I picked up some rollers for pricking holes in paper for stitching patterns and with a page in my altered book talking about the “richly embroidered and jewelled copes of the cathedral clergy” I had the perfect place to experiment with them.

Richly embroidered page 1

There are three different rollers: one gives a grid pattern of holes which can be used for a variety of stitches, as well as the cross stitch I used here, one gives the looped pattern and the third, little scallops.

Richly embroidered page 2

I used a bronzy green chainette, various stranded threads in different shades of pink with glittery filaments and a variegated green-blue stranded silk for the Pekingese stitch across the middle.

Richly embroidered page 3

Then, after the stitching, I used Stewart Gill paints to further bling up the page!

Richly embroidered page 4

Lovely metallic Byzantium paints  to highlight the key words and glitter medium in pale gold and sky blue.

Richly embroidered page 5

The completed page:

Richly embroidered page 6

And the full spread.

Richly embroidered page 7

There’s something very satisfying about stitching through paper and it’s a great place to use the sort of gorgeous threads I’ve been hoarding but unable to use because they really don’t like being pulled through fabric.

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…is all I seem to have managed this half term.

I finally got round to giving the silk thread I had painted with silk paints a more thorough coat of yellow, going from this, with too many pale areas:

Silk thread dyeing 1

To this, dried, fixed and all neatly wound and ready for use:

Hand dyed yellow-green thread

I found a piece of tiny cross stitch knot garden work that I’d started at an Embroiderers’ Guild meeting ages ago and finished off the back stitch on that. I’m not sure what the count of the aida is, but each motif is about an inch square and is worked in a single strand of stranded silk.

Cross stitch knot garden

I also rediscovered a canvaswork brooch from a kit that I’d worked all apart from the edging last Easter. I didn’t like the sparkly black chainette the kit contained for the edging and so I substituted a thick soft silk in a very dark blue.

Canvas work brooch 1

I might well have rejected the chainette on the grounds that it would be difficult to sew with – the silk is a complete nightmare! You get one easy stitch (the first pass through the canvas) and then it snags, twists and knots on everything from the edges of the canvas to your fingers. No wonder I didn’t finish it at the time! But now I’m so close to a finish, I’m using very short lengths and using it as an exercise in patience and acceptance!

Canvas work brooch 2

I also found a strand of beachcombed rope from our last holiday which was too long to make it onto this: Beach debris 1

So I decided to let it star in its own piece of stitching, curled into a spiral and caged with feather stitch in sandy shades on a hand dyed piece of cotton in toning colours.

Reclaimed by the Sea 1

Beads and dangles are caught in the feather stitch like snagged debris.

Reclaimed by the Sea 2

The organic shape and natural colours of the feather stitch and the way it was partially hiding the rope strand, made me think of the way sea life grows on and around the waste we dump into it and led to the split stitch caption: reclaimed by the sea…..

Reclaimed by the Sea 3

Back to work tomorrow, but I’m hoping most of the children in my class will have completed the Artists’ Trading Card challenge I set them for half term homework.

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I wondered what would happen if I took this scrap of fabric (about one inch by two) that I couldn’t bear to throw away, applied it to another piece of fabric (in this case some vintage evenweave), started stitching on the fabric with matching thread and then continued onto the evenweave?

Extended pattern 1

This was an out and about fragment project, using threads I had with me, hence the variegation in the stitching.  

Having had enough of cross stitch, I wondered what would happen if I tried the same idea but used long and short stitch?

Extended pattern 2

The way the pattern distorts into something more abstract is certainly an interesting outcome. Two more pieces for the sketchbook.

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