Bedazzled by beads

I have a growing collection of beads - all shapes and sizes - but I'm not into beading!  I really wouldn't have a clue about crimps and findings and grommets and jump rings. I buy other people's necklaces and bracelets and wear the lovely items my grandchildren make me, but I've never made one for myself - and really don't have any intention of learning how!

But I LIKE beads and I enjoy using them in my designs. They are great for the centre of flowers:

or for highlighting spider web roses:

Beads are perfect to portray the tips of the umbrella arms:

and as decorations on pretty parasols:

Beads are a great replacement for French Knots in all sorts of places such as on sweet butterflies:

They make lovely holly berries:

 and Christmas tree baubles:

and decorate Christmas bells:

and they look pretty in the centre of sequins:

Recently, I needed to purchase some more pretty beads as I didn't have anything suitable to make this bead dangle for my latest project:

After I had chosen what I needed, all the new packets of beads were thrown into my bead storage system - an ice cream container and a box and tin or two - a complete mess of packets, plastic, film containers and tablet bottles with beads flying everywhere!

I am a neat and tidy person - can't stand living in a mess - but I have been regularly hiding that mess of beads by shutting the lids and putting them out of sight.  With the new influx of beads, I decided it really was time I did something about it!  

... a search on the internet and some of my smaller beads are now looking fabulous in these little containers:  

What I like about them, is that each individual section has its own lid, unlike some of my containers where there is one lid for six sections with beads jumping around into places they're not meant to be and getting totally out of order!

Now I'm ready to tackle my large beads so I'm on the search for something similar with a much larger capacity.  If you have any ideas, let me know as I am open to recommendations.

Meanwhile I am completing a set of placemats with applique and stitching.  There's not a bead in sight on these - can't have a dinner plate rolling around on the top of beads!

Have a great stitching week.

Blanket-stitch Browsings

I commenced a delightful applique project this week.  As you know, I LOVE applique!  Because I am a realist and a perfectionist (!), I like my applique ... well, to look, REAL!  This means that generally needle-turn applique just doesn't work for all the small detail I want to portray and therefore most of my applique designs look best if they are done by using fusible webbing.

That all leads to the issue of how to finish off the edges of the applique.  When I first started out on my career as a designer, I blanket-stitched by hand around them:

When my 35 year old sewing machine wasn't quite up to it any more, I bought a lovely new one and guess what, it had blanket-stitching built in!  No more unpicked stitches that weren't evenly spaced or of the same length - the machine sails around sweetly on my appliques:

Sometimes, I experiment with different coloured threads. Instead of using matching white thread on the the saucer and the inside of the cup below, I used a contrasting pink so that the applique stood out from the pale blue and white check background:

The cream applique panels on this garden caddy stand out well already from the background, but I used a contrasting thread for the blanket-stitching here for a decorative effect:

However, what do you do if you have an applique that doesn't stand out from the background with a lot of contrast and you don't want a lot of little 'caterpillar' legs from blanket-stitching on your applique?  The method I developed is very simple but I think it works really well.  The applique is first blanket-stitched with matching thread, then I work a backstitch in contrasting colour around the edge of the blanket-stitch: 

That gives me the best of both worlds - the applique edge is secure, I don't have little burgundy legs hanging down from the edge, but there is plenty of contrast colour to make the applique stand out from the background. 

Some times, the applique may be too small or too detailed for blanket-stitching, so in those instances, I machine stitch a straight stitch around the edge: 

I have even started including applique in my silk ribbon embroidery designs!  (told you I was hooked!) As these are meant to be hand-embroidered projects, I can't use the machine to obtain perfectly even blanket-stitching. I can never reach perfection with my hand-done attempts on this stitch, so my alternative has been to use a totally different decorative stitch.  For my fan embroidery, I used a twisted chain stitch:

So there you have some of my journey with blanket-stitch and appliques.  I'd love to hear anything you have learned on your applique journey. 

Happy stitching!

Free BOM - Apples of Gold - Block 6

Block 6 in "Apples of Gold", the free Block of the Month quilt, is now available.

It's just a small block this month, but it's BIG on thought - all about being careful what we say!  I confess that I often have "foot in mouth" disease - rush in before I think - so this is a timely reminder!

Sweet little pumpkins with a lovely variegated thread:

The pattern can be downloaded here.
The patterns for all the blocks in this free quilt are available from my Free Pattern page.

Speaking of pumpkins, I have just picked this beauty today out of my vegetable garden:

The cold weather seems to have driven all the grasshoppers away which means we now may be able to pick the silver beet again. They almost decimated it last month.

My designs continue to appear in our lovely Australian magazines. When I showed you the front cover of the latest Stunning Country Craft magazine recently, I didn't point out that my French Grey cushion was just above my photo:

It's part of a set actually, which includes a single bed Runner:

It would make a sweet set for a daughter or niece and the pattern is easily adaptable for use with a different colour palette. You can find it in Volume 24 No 2:

I was very happy to have completed another project this week.  It is very classical and beautiful in lavender, lemon and gold and lots more roses.  Can't stop making roses at the moment!  I've also drawn up another couple of designs and started working on a gift.  A lot accomplished always puts a smile on my face!

Happy stitching to you too!

You're Welcome!

Are you one of those people who, when thanked for doing a good deed for someone, respond with: 
"You're Welcome"? 

 I have always been interested in the development of language and I have found it fascinating to watch various sayings gain in popularity.  In the circles in which I have moved in the last 20 years or so, "You're Welcome" has become a standard response to a "Thank You".

Well, enough of etymology and linguistics!  I showed you a sneak peak of my project a couple of weeks ago, but now I can reveal 
"You're Welcome" Wall-hanging.

 I love this little cottage with its hollyhocks at the front door:

You can find the pattern in the current Australian Country Threads magazine Vol 14 No 2:

I'm happy to say I had a productive week at last!  I finished a couple of projects and posted them off to Magazine editors. 

A stitchery project is now completed and I just have to write up the pattern; I answered some profile questions for another magazine, then I started and finished an embroidery project and later spent an afternoon cutting out another design. That's more like how my week should be!!!

I enjoyed playing with silk fabric - two shades of Silk Dupion in this design with some gorgeous gold beaded braid for embellishment:

and was in my element playing with silk ribbon and making roses:

My silk ribbon stash is nearly depleted now and there are no stockists anywhere close, so shopping in my sewing room was the only option.  Who could resist colours like Grapefruit, Velvet and Grape Mist?  I spent up big and am now eagerly awaiting my order. Meanwhile, I have become so addicted that I have already started yet another project using beautiful silk ribbons!

Have a great week with lots of stitching!

Sorting out the needles

Once upon a time ... I used to grab whatever needle was sticking out of my pincushion when I wanted to do some stitching. Sometimes it might be too thick or too thin and I would search for another more suitable one, but generally whatever was on hand would do the job.

Eventually it dawned on me that needles are really tools and just as tools are designed for a specific purpose, so needles come in different shapes which makes them suitable for a particular type of stitching. So I bought packets of the various types of needles, used them for the purpose for which they were designed and put the needles in whatever pretty little needlecase was on hand.  Eventually I had a needlecase full of different types of needles, all used for their specific purpose.  Only problem was, next time I needed a needle, I didn't have a clue which one was which!

The solution was to design a needlecase that wasn't for needles as such, but for packets of needles.

I've probably had enough experience now working with all the different types of needles that I could work out fairly quickly their sizes and shapes, but it's much easier to keep them in their separate packets, so that is what I do.  The design has six pockets and I find that number is sufficient for my choice of needles.  I tend to use four different types - Crewel/Embroidery, Betweens/Quilting, Milliner/Straw, and Chenille which leaves a couple of spare pockets for the extra crewel sizes I use. 

My "Butterfly and Roses" needlecase is a different version of the needle packet design, this one with silk ribbon embroidery and plenty of my favourite grub roses:

Butterflies on the pockets:

There are three different types of needles used here: Milliner/Straw for the grub roses, Chenille for the silk ribbon and two sizes of crewel needles for the embroidery.

The pattern is now available for purchase here or if you prefer instant download, you can go to my Craftsy store here.

I have also now put last year's Block of the Month Quilt into one pattern. "Thoughts in Thread" can be found on my wall-quilt page or over at the Craftsy store.

Apart from preparing the patterns for sale, procrastination seems to be the name of the game that I've been playing lately. The thought of getting a rotary cutter and cutting board out of the cupboard hasn't excited me at all!  I've had a table runner hanging in my sewing room waiting to be quilted and another project that only needs two lines of quilting and they have both been sitting there waiting for more than a week!  Well, I ALWAYS put off quilting things by machine, so that's nothing new!  I have just felt like curling up in my recliner and doing hand-embroidery.  At least I have completed an embroidered cushion cover top. I'll blame the cooler weather for the negative effects it has on my life!  This week the machine will need to get into action to meet the deadlines, so I will have to break my "Go Slow" strike!

One thing that did excite me this week was to receive my copy of Australian Craft & Decorating magazine, Vol 24 No 2. I was quite delighted with how they put the profile article together:

It really was a good week - we caught up with two of our daughters-in-law and two grandsons and had a meal together.  Mind you, I should not have indulged in the chocolate mud cake! I'll blame the need for comfort food on the cool weather too!

Happy stitching!