Makeup bag for Christmas 

For our secret Santa at work I’ve been making a makeup bag as my gift. A couple of years ago I was given thus gorgeous curtain fabric sample by a friend,  who thought I might be able to do something with it.

Embroidered curtain fabric sample.

I’ve just made a simple flat zipped pouch. Here it is halfway through. 

Pouch in the making.

The bag has interfacing sewn to the outer fabric to give a bit of body. The blue zip picks up a colour in the butterfly wing and the lining is green. I covered the ends of the zip – that caused me some grief. If you make one of these bags be careful not to make the coverings too thick. When I’d finished I couldn’t push out the corners and ended up dismantling the whole thing so that I could cut out the excess. It was a combination of having 4 layers and using a heavyweight furnishing fabric. 

Never mind, it’s all a learning process. I’m very pleased with the result. 

Butterfly pouch

Back of butterfly pouch

Inside the pouch.

As a finishing touch I added a little butterfly bead to the zip.
Hopefully it will well received. 


Recycled denim rag quilt – finished

I posted about this quilt I was making a while ago and have been meaning to show the finished product. 

Stitching detail

The woolly back

The back is made up of a mixture of blankets and felted jumpers. I laid them out in a series of cross shapes,  which I quilted using a complementary colour of rayon thread. I haven’t snipped the seams like I’ve seen on the Internet, but I may change my mind. We don’t have a tumble dryer, so that bit’s not going to happen anyway.

It’s lovely and cosy and I’m pleased with the result. Now, what do I do with all the extra squares I’ve cut out? 

Church Flowers

I’m lucky enough to be on the flower arranging team for my church. It’s always a joy to be able to create a large arrangement using beautiful flowers and foliage. In church there is a need for something large and a bit dramatic, which would be overwhelming in most people’s homes. Every time I do the flowers I mean to share them, so here are a few of my arrangements,  starting with my most recent. 

Chrysanthemums, carnations and gerbera

Another angle


Peonies, alstromeria and gypsophila

Roses and alstromeria

Looking at these it looks like I love pink, but I think it’s just what was best at the time. There is usually a gap in between so I forget what I’ve done. I’ll be making a conscious effort to do something with autumnal colours next time.

Recycling and stash busting

I’ve been collecting worn out jeans for at least a couple of years and I’ve finally got enough to make a quilt. My plan is to sew 6 inch squares backed with felted jumpers and blanket. The great thing about this is I can quilt each square and then sew the whole top together. 

It turns out there was quite a lot of planning needed as I had to have a pattern. I’m not a random kind of person.

Layout for the denim side

I’ve ended up with 9 by 13 squares – a slightly odd amount. That’s 117 in total, so then I started cutting up wool.

Most of the squares

Wooly loveliness

Despite having loads of blankets and jumpers I still didn’t have all the colours I wanted so ended up dyeing a few extras.

Wool backing

This is the layout I finally picked after experimenting for ages and going back to my stash to get yet another colour several times.

I’ll post later when it’s done. 

Experiments in paper making

My sampling has led me to paper. I started by plying some paper yarn I made when I did City and Guild. It was too weak to knit or crochet, which is why I plyed it together. I tried to knit it,  but it still snapped, so I crocheted it very carefully.

Crocheted paper yarn


I think this is too stressful to do anything with, though it was fun. Previously, I made some cord from strips of plastic bags, which I knitted.

Knitted machine made plastic bag cord

I’m trying to create the feeling of bone, which is full of holes if you see it in close-up. In fact the structure is visible to the eye.

My next thought was to create a mesh, which I could dip into paper pulp. So out came the papermaking supplies. I soaked some old paper pulp in water and then dunked some chenille threads wrapped around a frame.

Results of chenille mesh

Going clockwise from the top left are the original mesh, the chenille dunked in paper pulp, the dried paper and a close-up. 

I wasn’t that keen on the chenille,  but it was to hand and I quite like the result. While the chenille dried I used some vanishing muslin to make a net with white thread and once it was dissolved I laid it out and using the turkey baster squirted pulp onto the threads 

Before and after


Look at those gorgeous textures. It’s on top of a piece of handmade paper. 

My next experiment was using wire. I wrapped a piece of wire I’d picked up in the street round my frame and dunked it in pulp.

Paper pulp on wire

I love this, the texture and the delicious rusty colour. There are definitely some possibilities here, but I need to find some wire that will rust. 

When all that was done I did some paper making with the rest of my pulp. I included some snowy glitter to look a bit like fish scales.

Handmade paper


This paper was made with pulp I’d dried out from a previous paper making session, which is why it has a rather blobby appearance as the pulp only dissolved partially. I stuck the blender in later to make a smoother consistency. 

Blended paper

I also experimented with soluble paper and puff paint.

Puff paint and soluble paper

Clockwise from top left – paper drawn on with puff paint and free machine stitching, dissolved, heated to puff the paint and a close-up. I was a bit impatient and scorched the paper. It’s qite fun, but a bit fiddly and hard to control.

My next experiment will be with paper clay I think, but I’m beginning to think that sooner or later I need to make something. 

Hawaiian Flowers

We had a Hawaiian day at work and I used it as an excuse to make loads of paper flowers.


Red flower

Blue flower

More flowers

Lilac flower

Orange flower

Hot pink flower

Vertical flowers

I had two panels of vertical flowers and two horizontal ones.

Light blue flower

Close-up of centre

Dark blue flower

Another vertical panel

Pretty purple

Pink and orange

Purple centre

Pinterest was a great source of inspiration and they were a great success.

Rust dyeing

I haven’t been doing much lately as we had all our downstairs wooden floors replaced, which meant clearing out absolutely everything from those rooms, including all my craft stuff. It’s been worth it as they are beautiful and make everything much lighter. Here are a few before and after shots.

Sitting and Dining Room partially cleared

As you can see it was quite dark. That sitting room carpet sucked the light. The room is north facing anyway. It also used to show every dog hair! 

Our lovely new floor

Hall and looking through to the dining room

We had new skirting boards throughout, which is lovely as they were pretty chipped.

Balancing on joists 

So this is how it looked when work was underway. We couldn’t have done this when we still had our lovely dog.

We included insulation under the floor, so it should be toasty warm next winter. The flooring is engineered oak.

So what has this got to do with rust dyeing you ask. Well, while the floor was up I was collecting lots of nails.

Rusty treasure

Today I finally got down to a little rust dyeing. These are inspired by something I’m working on for our exhibition next year.

Rusty fish

I’ve been inspired by a story ‘The Bones of Djulung’  from the Lilac Fairy Book, which is edited by Andrew Lang. 

Illustration by H.J.Ford from the Bones of Djulung

In the story the bones of the fish grow up into a tree with an iron trunk, leaves of silk,  flowers of gold and fruit of diamonds. So, my thoughts turned naturally to my rusty nails.

Another rusty fish

This was another fish, where I tried to control the spread of rust by not soaking the fabric, but instead wetting the nails, washers and other rusty bits.

These were all just experiments to see how easy it was to create an image rather than just random patterns. I’m not sure what to do next,  so any suggestions will be gratefully received. Meanwhile, I’ve been pursuing other ideas, which I’ll save for another post. 


Title page

I have a new little sketchbook from that highly tempting shop Tiger, which I use for a bit of doodling of an evening when watching TV. I heard some research recently where they found people remember things better if they doodle, so now we can justify doodling in meetings, talking on the phone or in class.

I decided to keep mostly to black and white, concentrating on pattern.

Layers from the shredder

I’m forever blowing bubbles

Triangles everywhere


Crazy carpet

Pebbles on the beach

Lightning strike


Under the microscope

Patterns in the sand

Doodling within circles

This is the page I’m playing with at the moment. I’ve given the pages captions according to the end result, but each page simply evolved as I messed around, which is the joy of doodling.

Has anyone else discovered the fun of messing around like this?

Pictures for Ramster

Dog rose in silk on blanket with lace

These embroideries are all made using my natural dyed fabrics and threads, so it seemed appropriate to use images from the natural world. My inspiration comes from sketches I’ve done.

Traveller’s Joy


Cow Parsley

The background is silk chiffon and scrim embellished onto blanket. The grass is stitched with wools and silk then needle felted slightly. 

Cow parsley detail

For those of you who follow my blog  you may remember I was working on some pieces based on the seashore. I’ll hopefully come back to them along with other work. I’ve still got a whole bag full of dyed fabrics to use! 

New bag

New work bag

I’ve been planning a new bag for ages and finally got round to making it last week when trying to keep my mind off losing the darling dog. It’s made with some absolutely gorgeous Irish tweed bought a couple of years ago at the Knitting and Stitching Show,  which I’ve been saving. You know how it is with some fabrics you just keep it and take it out and admire it occasionally! 


Here is the inside showing the pockets, which are the right size for my phone and (sad to say ) my glasses. There is a zip pocket on the other side. The lining is an old Laura Ashley fabric I bought about 15 years ago for a quilt.
The handles and magnetic snap were recycled from an old bag.

Sunshine and crocuses 

And just to finish spring is almost here!