Boroinspired Christmas trees

I saw a lovely hand sewed Christmas decoration on Instagram and I fancied making something similar

I found some fat squares of tartan fabric and decided to use them with my collection of chambray/ blue cotton fabric

A friend gave me a selection of Christmas tree shapes – I drew around one on to the fabric with a biro – I tried using my blue washable fabric marker but, it didn’t show up enough. I used some of my mattress protective cover remnants and some wadding that I was given as padding. I used thin strips of a red based tartan to add contrast to the blue.

I cut the shapes out on double thickness fabric because when I did them individually I found it very difficult to cut them accurately enough. I pinned the fabric together before I cut out the trees.

I cut around the padding using one side of fabric and then pinned the three layers together

I stitched the fabric pieces to the wadding using running stitch in a rainbow thread- then went around the edges with a simple stitch that goes over the three pieces of fabric ( whip stitch?)

I stitched the tartan to the tree on both sides with running stitch

I am having great fun decorating the shapes with white crotchet thread – using my shashiko/ boroinspired stitching and buttons- I have added ribbon to one shape but decided to add the hanging loops after wards to the others.

A friend asked how big the trees were and if the could be worn as a broach. They are 2.5″ tall so a bit too big for me. I decided to have a go at making a smaller version. It was a bit fiddly I followed the above stages for making it – thumb added for scale

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Thimble research

I am amused at myself. This might be a very boring post – unless you are into a rant about thimbles …..

When I was making my Boro-inspired mini quilt and sewing very intensively recently – I hurt the skin on the ball of my thumb pulling the needle through the fabric. I wanted to find something to protect my skin so that I could continue quilting regularly. I thought a thimble might be just the thing.

For some reason I always thought that you wore a thimble on your thumb. Must be something to do with my dyslexic brain and the ‘th’.

I have struggled to find one big enough because I have large hands (I need to wear Men’s gloves …. ) partially because of the size of my thumb and partially because they are not designed to fit thumbs …. I have not been deterred. One of the annoying things when purchasing thimbles is that they come in sealed bubble packs so you are not able to try them first.

I have been on a thimble hunt online and in haberdashery departments in Edinburgh,London and Newcastle and Amsterdam

I have bought several adjustable ones that cut off my circulation – thimble review below

On my thumb is a Hemline thumb thimble which is very uncomfortable – I had to file the corners because they stuck in my skin – would not recommend

Index finger is a Clover adjustable ring thimble – it digs into my thumb- I think it’s supposed to be worn on my middle finger to push the needles through the fabric

Middle finger is a Prym soft comfort thimble – which is very comfy and soft but doesn’t fit my thumb – you can try these on – I thought I might use it to protect my index finger on my right hand ( I am a lefty) I keep taking it off absentmindedly when I am sewing – if I could find an xtra large I think it would do the trick

Ring finger – adjustable finger shield again by Hemline – it says its adjustable to fit any size ………. not my size

Little finger – traditional metal thimble – nope feels horrid

When we were in Amsterdam the other week I was reminded that the Dutch are tall larger than average- and that they may have larger hands and feet. My step Mum has size 10 feet and she could always find shoes off the shelf when she and my dad lived in the Netherlands. May be they would have larger thimbles?

I visited a quilt shop and had a quick lesson looking at how to do big embroidery using a traditional technique. I have not been doing it properly but when I explained to the shop owner what my problem was -she agreed a thimble would probably be the best option.

Correct position – ( showing the rocker technique ) https://www.threadsmagazine.com/2008/10/29/perfect-your-hand-quilting-stitch

Bird Blocks had a selection of brightly coloured semi hard plastic thimbles in a jar and metal ones to try on in a box – typically the largest sizes were sold out. I did however buy a pink one – that reminds me of Spangle sweets – it’s not very comfortable because the plastic doesn’t let my thumb breathe.

These are available in UK as a Hemline – ‘light weight soft pliable thimble’ it will need me to cut a hole in it some where – they come in packs of two in Scotland and in a bubble pack so no trying on again ……

There is definitely an ergonomic problem – thimbles are just not designed to go on a thumb. However they are not very comfy for my middle finger either….

I bought a leather thimble – which I think will need unpicking and restitching to give me a bit more room. I think I might use it for a bit and see if the leather gives.

Luckily the thimbles have been very reasonably priced so my research hasn’t cost toooo much. I have to say the most effective one so far has been a home made one that I constructed using a gin bottle lid and some plasters ……..

Boroinspired quilting

I have always wanted to have a go at making a quilt. I was given a small blue one when the children were small that I always loved.

I have never been able to imagine cutting out the fabric neatly with 90 degree corners and straight lines. Doing some research around my teabag quilts after some one said they looked a bit like sashiko- I discovered the fabulous world of Japanese stitching and boro inspired patching.

There are lots of sources on Pinterest and blogs about the history of /methods online

https://www.architecturaldigest.com/gallery/an-experts-favorite-japanese-textiles#9

Above is an early 19th Century bed cover.

Back to my quilt. I was offered a bag of fabric scraps by a friend if mine. I decided to have a go at making a quilt using an old single duvet as a base.

As a child I remember saying when I grow up I am never going to darn socks – after watching my mother sew little hard circles of stitches into jumpers and socks. So I am amused that the technique mum taught me is now being used to top stitch a whole quilt!!!

My aversion to the effort required to cut neat shapes means that the design will be quite organic and the top stitching will hide a multitude of sins ….

I had a bright cotton skirt that was too busy. It would make a good choice to base all my other fabric colour choices on.

I started at the edges because I thought the hem of the skirt would add strength to the final piece.

I practiced boroinspired stitching on some of the pieces

Then started adding my friends fabric scraps. She has some experience with quilting so a lot of the pieces were cut into rectangles or squares ….

I wasn’t really sure about the yellow but it does lift the blue.

I have been a bit obsessive and made my hands and back ache. So I decided to stop pinning new fabric and sewing it onto the base and concentrate on a bit of top stitching.

Jon and I are enjoying this because me adding fabric pieces is very very messy 😂with needles pins, fabric and thread all over the kitchen.

This is as far as I have got with my design. I am thinking of just adding blue pieces to the middle bit in a nod to the Japanese

history. I am using second hand pieces of fabric or clothes in an attempt to be frugal.

Paper bag quilt

I wanted to do a quilt that represented where I am situated on holiday – rather than a teabag quilt. We bought some veg in a pretty bag with French words on.

I took the bag apart and cut out the decorated panel. I ironed some iron on facing on the back and used a paper towel for added strength.

I started embroidering my back stitch circles. I asked Dad if he had any old envelopes with postmarks or stamps on. He didn’t have any but he gave me a French stamp and an airmail sticker.

I decided to leave them just with running stitch around the edge

After yesterday’s cardabelle drawing I was delighted to find one on a bag Jon bought a croissant in from a bakers

I worked all over the bag in circles and straight lines – I thought I might add other pieces on top as I find them over the next week.

I like the back almost as much

‘Home sweet home’ teabag quilt

I have been enjoying hand sewing very much recently, so I decided to make another tea bag quilt. A few people have asked how I made my first one so I thought I would do a step by step. My friend Fran Halperin and I have been experimenting with joining techniques. Fran has been using her sewing machine.

On the left zigzag stitch, on the right she has straight line stitched along the edge of the teabag and then jumped over the gaps.

On the left I used blanket stitch on the right for my new quilt – I back stitched the tea bag onto material. NB try and use something with very little ‘give’ – I used an old linen nappy and it’s very difficult to sew neatly on top of.

I decided to make my ‘ Home sweet home’ quilt have a more quilt like feel- the last one was a bit abstract. I printed some tea bags blue/ purple and others pale blue/ white. With my doors and window hand carved stamps .

The tea bags were a bit higgledy piggildy on the linen so I decided to add some strips of kitchen towel ( dyed with tea during the drying of teabags process) with writing on between the rows and buttons at corners. This stitching held on the back piece which is a white tea towel

I am edging the quilt with a sheet of used colour run paper/ fabric that goes in the washing machine. It needed 3 rows of running stitch to keep it flat. I used white sewing cotton throughout. I think I will print over this again when it’s stitched all around

Nearly finished. It needs a few more buttons and I haven’t stitched the edging all the way round but you get the idea.

I wanted this quilt to be a bit more obvious that it was teabags. I haven’t used any glue on the joints so that it feels much more like fabric

I think I need to do a bigger one ……

Teabag quilt

I have been working on teabags for the past few months. I am getting very tired of the tea leaves and soggy bags hanging around my kitchen drying.

I have been making small quilts A4 and 9 teabag sized efforts as part of my #teaandhome project. This looks at what ‘home’ in Edinburgh means to me after living here for 5 years. Drinking redbush tea is a big part of that. Jon drinks builders tea. The juxtaposition of the circles and rectangles has been interesting to play with in terms of teabag strings , mini journals and now quilts.

I had been playing with my hand carved stamps and layering the teabags with mandalas, text, hand written and printed. I was thinking of sizes in-terms of mounting them. However it struck me at 4.30am the other day that they might make a nice larger piece.

So I laid them out on the table. This configuration was too long and thin.

This felt a bit abstract and the fill in bags looked a bit out of place. So I printed sections of mandalas on the blanker bags and then added circular bags to the design.

All the layering and sewing has made some of the joints a bit fragile so I am wondering how to proceed.

Idea one- is to quilt it with padding and a back.

Idea two – to use an iron Vilene (interfacing) on the back

It is for a seminar that Jon and I are presenting in September and it would be good if people can touch it – without making holes in it.

I am leaning towards the Vilene and maybe a trim around the edge

I will keep you posted

I seem to have forgotten to post pics of my hand carved rubber stamps – here is the set I used on the quilt