The stitching accessory I didn't know I needed!

My lovely mother was very good at craft, sewing all our clothes for many years, knitting our jumpers, and crocheting exquisite doileys. When she died, I received her craft gear and there were some lovely little treasures amongst it all, like the antique Alfred Shrimpton wooden crochet hook case, (which I will show you another time!)

Another little gem was this pearl handled sewing stilleto/awl.

It has sat in a pocket in my sewing compendium for many years and I may have used it once or twice for poking a hole in something, but it has languished, hidden away, out of sight and out of mind.

Recently I have done quite a bit of piecing and ... you know what it is like when you want to get that sewing machine needle in exactly the right place when you're stitching, so that the patchwork point doesn't get cut off, or doesn't have too generous a space above it. There is no way your finger can hold that point in place until the needle is right there. What could I use? I've used tweezers before but they don't work well ... and then I thought of it - that sweet little stilleto/awl! It is the absolutely perfect little tool for holding that fabric in place.

Then because it now sits in pride of place on my sewing cabinet, I began to find lots of other uses for it. That little awl will guide braid and trims and ric rac into position under the needle. It steers the appliques when machine blanket-stitching. It evens out gathers and ruffles and eases them beautifully under the needle. Hold it on the fabric at the end of a seam and it prevents the fabric from shifting. It is wonderful for moving layers to align raw edges or gripping straying fabric. It gives me an iron grip on nested seams so that they stay in place as I stitch. A quick push with my awl and that recalcitrant seam is made to turn the right way.

I've found it is ideal for pulling out the loop when you lift up the bobbin thread. It is great for lifting layers of fabric when I'm counting how many squares I have cut. It holds down turned edges when I'm pressing, so no more burnt fingers!  And it's even flat so it doesn't roll off the sewing table. How I wish it had come out of hiding many years ago!

A project that has come 'out of hiding' is my Enchanting Forest cushion. You can find it in the May edition of Homespun magazine.

Felt is a medium I love using and I had a lot of fun giving these toadstools texture and dimension with layers and stitches.

Palestrina Knot stitch is my new favourite stitch for felt work and I've used it a number of times in this design, particularly in the scallop edge. 

See the little bird above for another favourite - cast-on stitch.

I hope you have a great week of stitching - and if anyone gives you a stitching stiletto/awl, don't hide it away like I did!


Free Block of the Month Wall Quilt - Block 5

Block 5 in the free Block of the Month Wall Quilt
Hand-picked Wardrobe
is now available for you to stitch.

The classy little jacket is a reminder of our theme verse:
So, chosen by God for this new life of love,
dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you.
Colossians 3:13

I hope you enjoy stitching this block. You can find the pattern here in my Craftsy Store.

Last week I had a lovely email from June who belongs to the Kilham Quilters Group in the UK. The group recently held an exhibition to raise funds for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance and Yorkshire Cancer. June made my Garden Dreams perpetual Calendar in time for the Exhibition and you can see it in the centre of the photo below. The exhibition was a great success and I am so pleased to know so much was raised for these worthy charities.

The Calendar was one of my earliest designs and I still love everything about it, especially the box to keep all the pieces in!

 If you are interested in making it too, the pattern is available here in my store.

I've managed a little bit more applique work on my quilt - cherries this time:

... and started another couple of projects. That's four things going at once, which is about the right balance for me I've discovered. There's one with plenty of machine work, another ready for stitching at the drop of a hat, another that needs time to prepare appliques, and a commission with a deadline. I like to have things at different stages and then I can choose what to do according to how I feel, what time I have available, what interruptions I'm expecting, or even maybe what the weather is like! Then of course I'm already planning another design or three!

Happy stitching!