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Category: Embroidery

The End of a TASTy Era

Embroidered sampler of a glass dome filled with flowers

Regular readers will know that in 2015, I joined in the “Take a Stitch Tuesday” challenge run by the lovely Sharon Boggon. 100+ stitches, and 2 years later, I had finished every stitch and then some. In 2018, I followed up by joining in the first “Beyond TAST”, and this sampler is the very last of that challenge.

In my last blog post about this sampler, I talked about the often wibbly wobbly way my design process can take. Well. it wibbled and wobbled a bit more after that!

The last challenge for Beyond TAST 2018, was to use three of the techniques we had investigated in a single project. I decided to use woven stitches, pattern darning and couched laidwork.

Firstly, my idea of “a” flower under a glass cloche morphed into a whole lot of flowers after I discovered Victorian shellwork floral arrangements

Then I drew a cloche pattern to trace around, drew it onto my fabric with a water erasable pen and immediately became stuck, which led to my learning some interesting ways to become unstuck when I can’t decide what to do next.

Sarah’s Guide to Unsticking Your Creative Brain (or my brain, anyway)

  • Put the thing away for a bit. Unless you have a deadline. In which case, don’t put it away, pin it up somewhere.
  • Have a good, long think about what your intentions for the piece are. For me, it was creating lots of little flowers that, with a bit of imagination, could conceivably have been made out of shells. Maybe.
  • Stitch a bit. It doesn’t matter if it sucks, you can rip it out.
  • What do you like/dislike about the bits you stitched? If you like them, leave them. If you hate them, don’t be afraid to rip them out and work it the way that you now know would look better.
  • Still stuck? (I was). Find a technique that fills in space quickly. Do that. I made flowers with buttons, some of which I removed later. 
  • At this point I became unstuck and decided to fill in the entire cloche with closely packed flowers.

Things I learnt working this piece (or already knew and employed)

  • Repeating things at least three times is a good way to achieve balance, if you want a balanced piece. You can see I only worked two large cream woven flowers, but I added a little star shaped button in the same colour to echo them as a tiny bud.
  • It’s fine to change your mind. I had intended to work the whole piece in very shell-like colours. I obviously didn’t 🙂
  • I’ll never be able to work couched laidwork perfectly, or even remotely, straight without ruling out every line. 
  • Couching thread over a mistake can save a lot of work, which is especially important when you’ve run out of the thread you used and really like the colours. 
  • I am capable of finishing a challenge that took over 4 years. Wow.

Now, I have a few more stitches I’d like to investigate while I sew them all into fabric books so stay tuned!




Sew and Embroider a Vintage Look Sewing Kit

I’m very excited about this week’s “And So To” bulletins. Regular readers will know I’ve gone on a bit of a pincushion bender lately, and to be honest, it’s set to continue for a while yet 😉

Because of this slight (haha) obsession, “And So To Embroider” leaflet 7b is making me very happy.

And So To Embroider bulletin 7b

“And So To Embroider” leaflet 7b contains the full patterns and instructions for a work bag with exterior pocket, pincushions, scissors holder, and needle book. I’ve also included modern video tutorials for sewing tailor’s buttonhole stitch, and sewing those really cool scalloped edges that you can see on the work bag pocket.

“And So To Sew” bulletin 7 introduces us to sewing with wool (one of my favourite fabrics), a pattern and instructions for a girl’s jerking/tabard, and all of the techniques used to sew a simple pinafore dress from a commercial pattern.

And So To Sew leaflet 7a

Again, I have included modern videos or photo tutorials for every technique so these leaflets will be of use to as many people as possible. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and raid the stash for some polka dot cotton…


Vintage Accessories and New Embroidery Stitches with the NDS!

This week’s embroidery and sewing instructions feature full patterns for plaid hats and accessories in “And So To Sew” bulletin 6a

Leaflet 6a includes patterns and instructions for sewing two bags, two hats, a scarf and cuffs for your gloves.

Tartan hats, bags, scarf and cuffs from And So To Sew leaflet 6a
Sew these vintage style accessories with instructions from the NDS
And Sew to Embroider leaflet 6b
Learn 8 new embroidery stitches and add learn to add motifs and borders

“And So To Embroider” bulletin 6b teaches you eight new embroidery stitches, with ideas for placing motifs and borders on waistcoats and boleros.

As always, I have included video or photo tutorials for every stitch and technique used, because I wanted to make the techniques and patterns in these leaflets accessible to as many people as possible!

I hope you’re enjoying the Needlework Development Scheme leaflets. If you’d like news of new downloads and patterns, including embroidery, sewing, knitting and crochet, please sign up for updates (in the left hand menu on desktop, or underneath this article on mobile and tablet).

I have a fascinating little knitting pattern coming up this week, so keep an eye out!


New Blouse, Purse and Bonnet Sewing Patterns

This week’s “And So To Sew” leaflet will teach you how to sew blouses, including a full pattern for a cute drawstring blouse for girls. And So To Embroider will teach you to sew and embroider a felt purse and bonnet.

As always, I have included a selection of modern video or photo tutorials for each of the techniques presented in the bulletins for those of us who learn better with visual instructions.

"And So To Sew" leaflet 5a

And So To Sew Bulletin 5a includes all the information you need to make a simple blouse from a commercial pattern, plus a full pattern for the girl’s drawstring blouse.

This pattern would be a great one if you like to upcycle, or for someone who is learning to sew.

And So To Embroider leaflet 5b

And So To Embroider Bulletin 5b includes the full pattern for a felt bonnet and purse, plus instructions for all of the embroidery stitches used.

This is another great pattern for upcyclers. I can imagine these purses made from felted jumpers (sweaters) or hand made felt. You could even adapt the pattern for regular fabric by adding a seam allowance and sewing a lining to the out fabric before making it up.

I hope you’re enjoying the “And So To Sew” and “And So To Embroider” bulletins from the 1950’s. You can find the whole collection so far in the Vintage Embroidery and Sewing Books section of, and I’ll be uploading a new one of each set every week until the collection is complete!

If you’d like to be notified whenever I post something new, subscribe (over on the left on desktop, or underneath this post if you’re on mobile), and you’ll receive an email to let you know.


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