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Free Motion Embroidery Class

Having really loved the last class I attended at York School of Sewing where I learnt the basics of patchwork and quilting, I decided it would surely be a good idea to try out the Free Motion Embroidery day that was on offer last Friday.

Free motion embroidery is basically making pictures using your sewing machine, and you can create your own works of art. My Pinterest is filling up with ideas and inspiration for this craft.

All I can say about the day is I loved it!

Heather was a brilliant tutor and we all got to try out the techniques needed to get started. We tried out different methods, to see what suited us best and generally had a play around.



This is one of my practice pieces.


We were all to make a cushion using shapes cut from different coloured fabrics provided, from which we could make up our own flower shapes. We started by all stitching the same big flower using some lovely variegated embroidery thread and then built our own designs up from there.


Here are some works in progress!


I am thrilled to have learned how to do this and am already planning all the projects that I’m going to tackle. Ideas are flying around in my head like mad.I’ve already started sketching out some ideas but first of all I need to buy the correct foot for my sewing machine and gather all my fabrics together,  then there’ll be no stopping me!!

Here are the finished projects. Although we were all provided with the same resources, they are far from identical.

Don’t they all look so lovely?






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My First Yarndale

Yesterday was my first visit to Yarndale.

Even though it’s in Yorkshire I’d never actually been before! When you own a yarn shop it’s not easy to go to any events on Saturdays (unless you have a stand – which we never have) and Sundays at the end of September always seem to be really busy for our family. When you don’t have a yarn shop anymore such things get a bit easier to arrange.

I used the park and ride car park which was very easy. I could have got on one of the free shuttle buses but I needed to find a cash machine so walked the short distance from the car park into Skipton and had a wander through the town. While I was there I popped in to the appropriately named ‘Three Sheep Tearoom’ for a coffee and a very tasty sandwich.

Then it was another short stroll to the Auction Mart. There is a Yarn walk through the park, which you can follow but I missed it as started from the other side of town.



I knew I must be almost there though when I saw this sign and followed the last part of the route, decorated with lots of knitted and crocheted bunting, down to the entrance to Yarndale.


I’d heard about what a good show this was and I wasn’t disappointed. There was a really relaxed atmosphere. The place was very busy and packed with stalls but most of the pens were a decent size so you could get in where you wanted to. Most importantly for a yarn show, there was plenty of yarn available, to suit all tastes and purses.

At one point whilst wandering around these characters suddenly appeared.

I have no idea where they were headed!!!

There was musical entertainment and plenty of food available too.

I was on a self-imposed yarn buying ban but I did purchase some quirky greetings cards from Temporary Measure. I got some from them at Woolfest and some of them have been used, so took the opportunity to stock up.

My personal highlight was the stand belonging to Anne Brooke where I bought some more cards and a small stitched picture.

I am very interested in this kind of work at the moment and it was lovely to see all her pieces. She has her own fabric range as well.

I also rather liked this on the Embroiderers’ Guild stand.




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Loving Indigo

I have to say I had a great day out on Monday at Tricia Hutchinson’s Indigo workshop, a description of which you can read on her blog. The workshop was fantastic fun, the group of ladies were all really friendly, the setting was gorgeous and Tricia was extremely knowledgeable.

We’d had some information beforehand about how to prepare the fabrics if we wanted to do some of the traditional Shibori stitching techniques as these are a bit time consuming. We all brought along our own pieces of cloth to die and, after some explanation from Tricia were able to play about with folding the cloth, attaching pegs or wrapping with string or thread and tying in marbles, corks, screws, pebbles and anything else we could find!!!

Then it was time to be dipping the cloth into the big vat of indigo dye and leaving it draped along the fences of the farm we were at before dipping again if we wanted to make a darker colour.  All the time Tricia was on hand to help and advise.

I think the effects produced are fantastic.

I had pre-stitched this piece using a technique called ‘Mokume’ in Japanese, which is supposed to give a woodgrain effect. I didn’t undo the stitching until the following day when it had had chance to dry a little – forgot to take a ‘before’ photograph but you get the idea!


The piece of cloth I used for this was from a once white, square table cloth in quite a heavy-weight cotton, which I think was given to me by my mother-in-law (and possibly given to her by hers!). The last time I used it was on a stand I had at a wool show and it got a bit grubby and passed it’s best. I washed it, cut it into 4 and now it looks like this…


I’ve always been a bit of an up-cycler so am thrilled that my table cloth now has the potential to be something new and useful. Think I’ll play about with a bit of embroidery on these pieces first though!!

I also have a few pieces of calico which I dyed so plenty to keep me busy for several months to come. Happy Days 🙂

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Patchwork Play

One thing I’ve been dying to try for ages (since I was about 10 years old actually!!) is patchwork and quilting. When I saw that York School of Sewing were running a beginners class I couldn’t wait to sign up. A whole 2 days of sewing and learning new techniques. In this class you learn the basics of both patchwork and quilting and make your work into a lovely squishy cushion.

We were asked to provide our own fat quarters, and I had a piece of fabric which I’d bought 6 years ago with the intention of making a blind for my son for his bedroom. He was then and is now a very keen golfer and this fabric is bright green with black ‘golfing’ figures on it and I thought it would look great in his room. However, the blind never got made, and the son is grown up now! The plan is that he will be moving out of his current bedroom in 2017 (just as soon as we get our loft converted and a new bedroom for us!!) so he won’t be needing that blind after-all. I decided I would use the fabric to make a cushion for him to celebrate his move when it finally happens.

York School of Sewing has a fantastic range of fabrics to choose from so I was able to choose some co-ordinating fabrics suitable for a young mans bedroom. We started off by experimenting with combining our fabrics to decide what balance we liked best, and then got down to cutting out all the pieces we needed for our patchwork.

We were a small group of only 5 ladies so it was sociable enough but it also meant that lovely Nadine was able to give us all plenty of attention too.

Once we had cut out the front of the cushion we started stitching it all together. It was good to have Nadine to tell us what was the right technique and equipment (such as the proper foot on the sewing machine) to use, and I think that is why my patch-working turned out to be far more accurate than it would have been had I tried to learn at home by myself.

We were going to be using the quilt as you go technique to make the back, and the layout was slightly different to the front with lots of very small squares to cut out for the centre.

On day 2 we learnt the quilt as you go technique for the back of the cushion, and then we were shown how to put the wadding and backing together with the front panel. We practiced different quilting techniques, before finishing off the panel for the front of the cushion. Once again having expert advice and the correct equipment were invaluable.



I loved being able to try free-motion quilting and was extremely proud of myself  for putting my sons’ name on his cushion!!

I was very pleased too when I showed it to him and heard the words

“cool…thank you”

He certainly looks happy with it 🙂

Nadine said it would be ok if I shared some of her photos from the workshop to show the variety of designs produced.

Take a look at the website to see the range of classes on offer at York School of Sewing. They also have regular days when you can go along and buy from the vast range of fabrics and accessories available.

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My New Dress

In my last blog I showed you a dress I had recently made for myself as part of my quest to explore and learn more about textiles. This was a big achievement for me, not having done any dressmaking for many years and I had been a little worried that it wouldn’t turn out very well! It was also the end (or maybe the beginning of the end!) of a long journey for the piece of fabric that I used as it had certainly been around for quite a while waiting for something to happen to it. It had been with me for a good 13 years and, having moved house with us 10 years ago, spent quite some time languishing in our loft. Before I acquired it, it was in the possession of my lovely friend Becky, who passed it on to me because she was emigrating to Australia. Here are the 2 of us when she came to visit me in Tadcaster a few years ago…


She has kindly written a little description of how it came to be with her.

I believe it was given to my mum in the 1980’s by an Australian girl who was travelling & stayed with Mum. She had been to Saudi Arabia working as a nurse & had bought the material in a bizarre. She left it for Mum as a gift, she passed it on to me, I passed it to you & more than 25 yrs later it has been transformed into a summer dress. I guess it may have been used for some kind of sari in the Middle East.’



A couple of years ago I decided it was time to give it a new lease of life and I dug it out of my loft, made a trip to The Remnant House in Harrogate (where I used to spend many lunchtimes routing through the bargain bins in my former working life) to buy a pattern and some contrasting fabric, but then never got any further with it.


This poor little piece of fabric had waited around so long, and was special to me because of the link to my friend, so I wanted to make at least a half decent job of it! I took very few photos of the work as it progressed, mainly because I wasn’t sure I knew what I was doing!!

I’m pleased with the result. It’s not perfect but it’s definitely wearable and I’ve successfully done elements I’d never tried before such as binding the armholes and inserting darts. As I am supposed to be learning, developing and acquiring new skills, I also now know  that I really need some lessons in fitting zips!!

Next I’m going to be talking about my first experience of patchwork & quilting  – something I’ve never done before and have really wanted to try since I was about 10 years old!! Also look out soon for some of this which I’m going to try next week and am very excited about….

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A Clutch of Completed Creations

I’ve had a little flurry of finished projects over the last couple of weeks.

First, and most importantly, I completed my latest design. The yarn I’ve used is the most gorgeous yarn, Sublime Alpaca DK. I loved working with this gorgeously soft yarn and the colour choices were influenced by my inspiration, but it also comes in a wider range of delicious colours.
It still needs to be assessed by my City and Guilds tutor before I can publish the pattern.

The design was inspired by the little shell which I found on a walk form Warkworth towards Amble in Northumberland earlier this year, it is shown here with some of the yarn!

Now I was on a bit of a roll I dug out a vest/tank top which I had knitted but not sewn up and spent an evening sewing seams and stitching in all the ends, then it need a jolly good steam and, voila…another project sewn up!! (literally…sorry)

The yarn I used was Debbie Bliss Rialto 4ply and I knitted if from a magazine we had hanging around in the shop. I really like playing with this yarn which has very nice stitch definition and is 100% merino so feels really special.

I think it was the last couple of days that the shop was open and I’d got to the point where there wasn’t really anything much to do…no shelves to fill, no cleaning to do, no newsletters to write, no orders to send. Surrounded by unsold wool I picked up this unsold magazine from spring/summer 2012. Flicking through it I spotted a pattern I liked and looked at the Rialto 4ply on the shelves behind me, then I played a game of stacking up the different coloured balls of wool to see which colour combination I liked the best! This is a game I can play all day long and not make a final decision but I forced myself to choose a colour scheme, found the right sized needles and spent the rest of the day knitting!!!

At the moment I am on a mission to learn and explore the world of textiles, and my latest challenge to myself has been to sew a dress, which I finished off at the weekend. I want to write more about this project later but, as my first dress making project in over 20 years I have mildly impressed myself!!!

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British Wool Show 2016

This afternoon I thought I would just share my favourite things from the British Wool Show 2016 which took place on Friday and Saturday. Over recent years Needlecase has had a stand at the show so it was a different experience to be there as a visitor this year!! Although the show is aimed at raising the profile of British wool and wool products, and these were definitely on show, there were other interesting items there, which didn’t quite fit into this description. I had 3 clear highlights of my visit to this show.

I really liked the Turnacre stand which as well as hand spun yarn from their own flock, had yarn produced from fleece from other small British breeders and/or keepers of Ryelands and Coloured Ryelands. Julie was actually spinning yarn on the stand, and this embroidery (which she told me had won 2nd prize in an Embroiderers’ Guild competition), really spoke to me.


Another highlight was seeing the Stamford Bridge Tapestry being stitched  and the work produced so far on display. This project is described as the ‘missing link’ in the story of 1066 and is intended to fill the gap of the existing Bayeux and Fulford tapestries. I love to see needlework being used as artwork and this project really caught my interest. The ladies who were doing the work were great to chat to and I was able to have a really good nosey around at what they had done, how they had done it, and what they were going to do.

And the third highlight was the stand being run by the Knitting and Crochet Guild. They had a copy of the book Stitches in Time by Sue Bradley, which features knitwear designs that draw on different historical periods for their inspiration, including Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece and Rome, Byzantium, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the 18th century, the Victorian era and the 1920s, 30s and 40s. The book had a lot of information about the history of fashion with loads of illustrations but the best bit was that the author has donated all her samples produced whilst coming up with the knitwear designs to the guild and they had them all in a big bag!! I had a brilliant time rummaging through all these samples, admiring, examining, working out what type of yarn had been used, it was a real pleasure and I made a bit of a mess of their display table (don’t think they minded too much)

Because I’d been to Woolfest not long ago and we are still sorting out stock from the shop, I was on a limited budget for buying more yarn but I did manage to make a few small purchases.

I also took a few more photos of interesting things!!