Bits and Bobs

I had a to-do list this weekend that felt a mile long. It really wasn’t, but it just FELT like it and it’s all because I left all my sewing commitments for October until the Very Last Second, which made it feel like work instead of fun to finish them up. And they should have been fun! Some of what I was working on I won’t be showing for a few more days, but here are some of the blocks I finished up:

Tall Shoo-fly Blocks

I sewed up four Tall Shoo Fly blocks for my Livejournal Birthday Blocks group. These blocks are quite small (6.5 x 9.5″) so even though we didn’t have to make more than one I’d always planned on doing three or four. I found these hard to photograph, largely because the wall and the background fabric were pretty much the exact same colour. I kept thinking shadows would be a good thing for once since it would help distinguish the blocks a bit. It all looks a bit dingy and underlit, though, doesn’t it? Oh well, I think the blocks came out well, and that’s all I could ask for.

I’m still behind one block for the month for the LJ exchange, but I will get that one done in the next couple days, I hope. But also, I have a quilt I want to get quilted! I’m torn! (Commitments to other people really should come first, though, shouldn’t they?)

Anyway, I also did up my Simply Solids Bee block for October:

Road to Fortune

This is a paper-pieced Road to Fortune block, made for Shena of Apple Pie Patchwork. I don’t know why, but I kind of spaced out the making of this one, doing a unit two days ago and two units yesterday and finally finishing them all up tonight. Somehow I got all discombobulated about where my colours were going to go and it all came out a bit clumped up instead of nicely spread around. Oh well, I think it came out okay and it should blend in with the rest of the blocks by the time it’s all done anyway.

I also finished up my needlebook for the Sweet & Simple Scrappy Swap on Flickr. I’ve shown a lot of pictures of this already, but here are my finally finished shots. And if any of you can find my opps! error, the first one to get it right in the comments will get sent a Fat Quarter in the colour of your choosing. (Things which don’t count: the shoddy stitching on the snap, the not quite round felt, the not quite centred felt, the not quite straightly stitched felt.)


I said before that this is a taco shaped needlebook, and here it is snapped shut and holding its taco shape all on its own. Yay! The pattern for the needlebook came from Suzuko Koseki’s Playful Patchwork book, but I wound up making it a bit larger than the pattern suggests. You’re supposed to shrink the daisy pattern down to 80%, but I wound up preferring it at full-size. It’s about 8-inches in diametre, I think, but the larger size made it easier to modify the interior a little bit.


In any case, the exterior is kind of paean to Japanese design because not only is a pattern by a Japanese designer, but the green fabric is a Japanese print, from a Yuwa Kei line, which might or might not be called Newsprint and Roses. The stitching was done with Sashiko thread that I had in with my embroidery supplies. It’s nice and thick so it leaves a lovely line around the petals. Of which, the yellow fabric is a Lakehouse print, from the Annie’s Seed Catalog line and the off-white is actually a Moda Grunge fabric, though I forget the colour name of it. It’s a kind of off-white or winter white with very pale strokes of green and red brushed through in the grunge pattern.


The interior has two leaves of wool for storing pins and needles. The green came from a local fabric shop, Traditional Pastimes, and the off-white wool was a gift to me from Jennifer Ofenstein, when she passed off a collection of mostly hand-dyed wool pieces.


I modified the interior a little by adding this zipper pocket on one side (and if I’d had a second matching zipper, I’d have probably added a pocket on the other side as well). It wasn’t a complicated change, but I do think it made the needle-case a little more useful since otherwise scissors or a skein of thread would just slide out and possibly get lost.

So that’s my needlebook that I sent away for the swap. I was pretty happy in the end with how everything came together, and I really hope my swap partner will like it as lot as well.

WIP Wednesday: Needlebooks and Quilt Blocks

Well, I don’t think my busy job of catching up on old Doctor Who episodes counts as a Work in Progress (and I have seen it all before, I’ve just been in the mood to watch the David Tennant years because *swoon*), so I guess I can talk a bit about the things I’ve been doing this week.

First up is a needlebook. It’s for the Simple & Sweet Scrappy Swap group on Flickr. It looks pretty well finished in these photos, and really it’s just like… 3% away from being finished:

Outside of the Needlebook

No photos of the inside, but it’s a taco-shaped needlebook from Suzuko Koseki’s Playful Patchwork book.

Taco-shaped Needlebook

This is how it’ll look if I ever get that last 3% done – it’s just a snap closure that I need to add, but I need to find some to buy! I’ll show off the inside, anyway, if I ever get this thing finished! (It’s due out by next week, so I had better get to it!) I keep posting pictures at the swap group in hopes that the recipient will show up and comment, but so far no dice!

Anyway, since I haven’t got any snaps and can’t finish things up just yet, instead I’m working on a different project. This will likely wind up a mini quilt, which I may hang on my wall:

Block in Progess

Well, it doesn’t look like much right now, but I’m really loving these Denyse Schmidt Florence prints and the blocks I’m using them in are coming together really well. I’ll be talking more about the pattern at a later date, but it’s been really good so far and I’m excited to see the finished mini-quilt. What I want is to do is four blocks and then I’ll get it all sewn up and quilted and everything else as quickly as possible. Right now, the block in the photo is actually finished and I’ve got another one just steps away from being completely. Hopefully I’ll manage to get two more done tomorrow, and then it’ll just be the finishing work left. I think it’s going to be pretty sharp looking in these limes and blues.

Modern Scrappy Bits Swap – Received!

I was really hoping to write this entry on Monday, but I borrowed the first season of Mad Men from the library and had just 7 days to finish the whole season, and I’d wasted the first 2 days because I picked it up while I was working nights and I never watch tv then. (Makes me tired when I should be awake or awake when I should be tired. Does me no good, anyway.) So I had to pack thirteen episodes into five days, whilst also working full-time and trying to feel less ill (I’ve got some sort of lung unpleasantness). So anyway… belated entry.

The Modern Scrappy Bits swap is a Flickr swap where we each were given a name and then would send a fat quarter’s worth of fabric, something small and handmade, a postcard, and some other small something to our recipient. The stuff I made and sent is off in the mail and will probably arrive next week, but the package coming to me arrived on September 7 from Cathy of Blueberry Patch!

Modern Scrappy Bits swap pkg received

When Cathy posted pictures of her swap package on Flickr and on her blog, I’d hoped to myself that I’d win it, because I really love the little needle-book she made! Like everyone, I really love the Mendocino fabric line, it’s just so pretty, who couldn’t love it? And then I really needed a needle-book and at that point, I didn’t have one. Well, now I have two!

Mendocino Needle--book

Cathy decorated some of the pages with pretty little Mendocino scraps (I never throw them out either, even when they’re small like this, or are just lopped off heads and that sort of thing) and some buttons. It’s so sweet, I just can’t even say! And it’s a great size. The one I made for myself is fairly big, but this one is small enough I can easily carry it around with a project if I’m taking needlework to work or during a long car trip.

I thought for sure I had a better picture of the fabric, but I guess I don’t! If it weren’t already filtered into my various groups of fabric scraps I’d take a new photo! In any case, Cathy sent me a very nice selection of greens and blues and pinks with green or pinks with oranges. I think I had some of only one or two of the fabrics she included, so they’re REALLY great additions to my scrap pile. They’ll definitely fill in some spaces. I’ve been playing around with the idea of doing a string quilt to bust through some of my scrap stash or maybe a Mod Mosaic, and every one of these scraps will find a use somewhere. You’ll have to scroll up to see it, but my favourite piece is the blue one (just beside the needle-book) with the white/green tree on it. I’ve never seen that fabric before and it’s so lovely!

Pretty Threads and Pretty Fabric

Cathy included these pretty threads, which might get broken in to stitch up Cate Anevski’s Little Lemon Slice stitch. Although the pinkish-red makes me want to turn her into a watermelon slice, so I’ll have to think about it a bit. I think the white one is perle cotton, but I’m not totally sure (the print is in German, I think, on the paper, but I’ve been told that baumwolle is cotton).

Haida artwork postcard

And last but not least is this is the postcard from the package – it’s Haida artwork of hummingbirds and so so lovely.

I really enjoyed opening the package, which had everything wrapped in red tissue paper tied up with string and it was just fantastic. Thanks so much Cathy!


In which I show a lot of stuff I got in the mail, including my swap package for my Scrappy Bits swap on Flickr, the package I sent away for that swap, some fabric and art from Cori Dantini, and some fabric postcards I made several years ago.

For more about Cori Dantini: (Beautiful) Art for Sale, Prints for Sale, Blog.

Cathy who sent me the swap stuff: Blueberry Patch. (I will write an actual post with actual pictures, hopefully tomorrow. I’m trying to watch all of Mad Men Season 1 in four days, though, and that’s a lot of tv. I’m not getting much else done.)

Okay, when I filmed the video, I hadn’t actually looked at the photos of the postcards I was talking about (the ones I made, not the ones I sent to Aalia) and I was describing them based on several year old memories. This is what they actually look like. Also, there are 5. Who knew.

Sorry for the poor quality photos – if I could go back in time and fix them…

I made it sound in the video as if it had real buttons on it. It didn’t. This was kind of appallingly made, if I were to remake it…. well, no point in thinking about that this many years later. Maybe I should remake it someday though. Hm…

Potions bottles. I didn’t have a lot of fabric back when I made these, so I’m kind of impressed these are kind of potiony looking in any way. I sort of like that green print.

This is how you make a profile without having to figure out a mouth or eyes or ears or anything at all complicated: cover it all with hair.

So blurry! This was my attempt at a cartoony Snape sneer. I wanted something with fairly straight lines because it was easier to cut out and fuse 😀

I guess I’d forgotten there were 5 cards. A not terribly great dark mark.

I don’t remember getting 4 cards in the mail, but maybe I did. I cut out of my video a rather long explanation of the 3rd card I’d gotten, which was a naughty striptease Snape. (His robes opened to flash his boxers, which pivoted away to flash his dangly bits.) It was made of construction paper and tore, so it was thrown away ages ago.

Finish: Needle-book with Crewel Embroidery Rainbow Mum

A couple of weeks ago I posted an in-progress shot of a bit of crewel embroidery I was working on. Here’s a wee photo to remember it by:

Crewel Embroidery flower

Well, I’ve finished it. And in a fit of creative energy, I didn’t just finish it: I turned it into something usable.

Needle-book with Crewel Embroidery Flower

I had started this with the intention of possibly giving it away in an exchange I’m participating in on Flickr (I was waiting for some zippers to come in the mail before making the thing my partner actually requested), in which case it was going to be a needle-book. Well, the zippers arrived and I didn’t mangle them whilst installing them into some pouches (I’d never used zippers before, and they were less horrible to work with than I’d imagined, except for that first bit of sewing up near the zipper pull, where even my zipper foot doesn’t get in very close to the zip), so I had this spare bit of embroidery and I had to decide if I was just going to hoop it and hang it or to go on with the needle-book idea. Obviously I went with the needle-book, largely because I can use one. I have random needles all over the place. There’s one (with a very long filament thread in it) tucked into a book on my bookshelf. There was one stabbed into the mattress near the foot of my bed (which I can’t find now! and it was an enormous needle!). There were three in the edge of my ironing board. And, well, I needed a single place to put all those loose needles that came from I don’t know where and always seem to end up in strange, strange places. A needle-book made sense.

Before I show the rest of the needle-book, though, I want to talk a little about the embroidery. The embroidery on the front is done using Appleton Crewel wool, but unlike typical crewelwork, has obviously not been worked on linen or cotton/linen twill. I used quilting cotton, which I stabilized with a layer of fairly heavy interfacing. (I don’t know what it was – just something I had laying around for no apparent reason, but which I probably bought for something I never quite got around to and then just forgot about.) I haven’t done a lot of crewel embroidery, but everything I’ve done prior to this was done on linen and my cotton/interfacing solution seemed to work out pretty similarly. It felt the same stitching and the wool thinned down at approximately the same speed it seems to when I work with linen. (One of the annoying things about crewel embroidery is how thin the yarn gets from pulling it through a heavy material like linen. Annoying because I always want to cut my yarn lengths longer but can’t because it’s just a waste of wool once it thins down too much to continue using.) I liked being able to use a more colourful and interesting background than typical linen (which, yes, comes in many colours, but is not the same), so it was a good experiment.

The pattern itself comes from Katherine Shaughnessy of Wool and Hoop fame. As far as I’m aware, this pattern isn’t in either of her books (I have The New Crewel: Exquisite Designs in Contemporary Embroidery, but not New Crewel: The Motif Collection), but it is available for free at Makezine. If you open the PDF (linked at the bottom of the article) you’ll see I used the second version, but adapted it just a little for my own purposes.

Crewel Embroidery Mum

Obviously I changed the colour to rainbowify it, though I could only figure out a way to squeeze in six colours. I probably could have done seven, if I’d changed that central spider web a little, but it worked out all right because I didn’t have two worthwhile purples to use anyway (nothing in the zone of an indigo at all). And I changed that central spider-web anyway: I’d tried doing it with just a French knot in the centre, as in the original pattern, but it didn’t have enough impact, so I did several rounds in purple before starting in on the blue. The green and yellow got two rows of stitches (worked in my favourite, the split stitch) in a lot of places so that it would have more impact, and I added the second row of orange petals to fill it all in just a little. I didn’t draw them on, just winged it as I stitched, and they are… varying in quality as far as their roundness goes, but I like what they added to that circle of the rainbow.

For the needle-book itself, I didn’t follow a pattern. I looked at several on-line and thought about what I’d like in one, and figured out my own method. I don’t have a photograph, but it buttons closed on the back (with a red button that matches the one on the interior) since I didn’t want the clasp to interfere with the pattern on the front.

Needle-book Interior - Left side

The left-hand side has two pockets. The smaller red pocket was built specifically to hold a little packet of Needle ID cards from Access Commodities. The larger pocket has no specific intended use, but since I put in a button/loop to keep things in place, I think it’ll be a great place to keep small scissors, since they’ll be less likely to fall out and get lost.

The felt is actually bamboo felt, which I buy from TaDaa Studio Felt. I find it softer than regular felt, although I don’t know how it stands up in quality. It looks as good as typical wool felt, but I do have a square of really amazing Scottish wool felt that’s about twice as thick as the felt you normally find and is unbelievably lovely. (That’s intended for another needle-book project of mine, which you can see a little of here, but I’m stuck on that project – I keep having to pick out the second bird and I’m scared of ruining the linen if I mess it up again. I’m taking a break.)

Needle-book Interior - right Side

The right-hand side has just the one large pocket, which is where I plan to store booklets of needles. The pocket was constructed of some fabric scraps and an embroidered patch I’d bought from someone I used to know on-line. Jenny Henkelman used to have a shop on Etsy, once upon a time, where she sold necklaces made of buttons and some really cute patches she’d embroidered. It’s been years since she closed the shop and I never did find out if she’s selling elsewhere. Anyway: the robot is her work. I had recently found this patch (and a second one of a kid in a snowsuit) in a box that I’d packed up ages ago, and this seemed like an appropriate place to put it to use.

So that’s my needle-book. It’s probably a bit larger than standard, about 5.5-inches square, and was completed on 29 August 2012.

Now to collect all my spare needles and get them in there.