Tuesday, May 19

Lotus Flower & Simply Shading Workshop

I finished this Lotus Flower today. It's part of my Simply Shading Workshop that starts in about a months time. Throughout the workshop there are 'needle workouts', short exercises that will help students 'see' how shading works. Most of these don't even involve using needle and thread! The Lotus Flower obviously does though and it's an exercise that comes up towards the end of the

You can still sign up until the end of this month, after that I'm going to send out the little kits that go with the workshop.  The kits include my new Bird & Flower iron-on pattern (yay!), needles, fabric and the handy floss organisers pictured in the first photo. This workshop is for the uninitiated, basic embroidery skills & motiviation will do. There will be no stitchy snooty-ness just pure shading fun!

Monday, May 11

A colourful Spiderweb

Last weekend I granted myself a few hours of sewing. A lot of my sewing stuff is still in boxes (because of the new bathroom, it's nearly finished!) but I had easy access to my scraps and some of my stash so I just started sewing a favourite scrappy block of mine: the Spiderweb!

At first I thought I'd do a white background on all the blocks, but I'm actually not a big fan of lots of white in a quilt. So I just made each block a different colour. Some backgrounds contrast strongly with the spiderwebs, others have less contrast. I like that mix. Ideally I would only use fabric from my stash for the backgrounds but I'm not sure if I have enough solids that are suitable to throw in the mix. I have some more charcoal coloured fabric but I'd really like to add more light grey too, to even out the crazy colour scheme and scrappy-ness (which sounds a lot like 'happiness'!) We'll see...

The blocks are four triangles sewn together and on the pointy ends you often really only need a small scrap. As a scrap-hoarder I was happy to find many, excellent tiny scraps for my pointy ends in my 2" or smaller bag! Save the scraps, peeps! Please look on my Spiderweb & String Quilt Board on Pinterest for more inspiration & tutorials.

The next few weeks are super busy. Besides preparing my Simply Shading Workshop (while my youngest has a school holiday) there will be new iron-on patterns in the shop soon. Three in total, including a new and improved Most Excellent Party Bear!

Friday, May 1

Fawn on a Skirt

It's was a big surprise when I received an e-mail from my Homespun editor to let me know my Fawn was chosen as cover photo for their May issue! Last year Homespun asked me to make a design that could be embroidered on clothing. In my own wardrobe you'll find lots of animal and flower prints on skirts and dresses so I combined the two in this Fawn & Flower design.

And no, it's not Bambi. In fact the text on the left says 'it's so sweet it would put Bambi to shame'. That wasn't my intention because Bambi has had such a difficult start in life already, but there you go... ;) I used a black skirt to embroider on because the dark background contrasts so well with the colours. The stitching is far more 'chunky' than my usual one-thread-only pieces but it works well for embroidering on garments I think. You'll find all the stitch and colour details in this month's issue. If you are not in Australia you can buy digital copies through Zinio and Newsstand. And there's lots of other good stuff in there too like an article about Guy Whitby, he makes pixelated images (digitally) using crochet granny squares.

Have a great weekend everyone! :)

Wednesday, April 29

Today's Embroidery on Video

light.mp4 from Nicole Vos van Avezathe on Vimeo.

I was trying to catch on video how the light bounces off the lighter tones in the stitching. So the shades seem to change when they are exposed to light and again when the embroidery is kept from the light. That didn't quite work as I planned and I probably held my phone wrong too (portrait vs landscape) but all in all it's nice to see those stitches up close. I think I will add this Crane pattern to my upcoming Simply Shading Workshop... :)

Friday, April 24

Interview with Retro Mama: a Scrap Happy Sewer

As you probably know by now, I love sewing with scraps. Even the ugliest of scraps can result in an interesting project. In her new book Scrap Happy Sewing Kim Kruzich turns small bits of fabric (just pretty ones!) into lovely items.

The projects are fresh and fun and when you read the book it's easy to imagine how your personal scrap stash can be turned into beautiful projects. I really want to make the scrappy Zig Zag Quilt. And if you are not a scrappy person: many of the projects won't even look very 'scrappy', if you simply use more coordinated fabrics. :)

The book is good for beginners, but the attractive projects will appeal to more experienced sewers too, as many of the patterns can be sewn up quite quickly. I interviewed Kim about her book and Scrappy Sewing.

What is your favourite project from the book and why?

Tough question! I would have to say it’s between the Simply Strippy Sewing Kit and the Pajama Bear Softies. The sewing kit is an easy project that gives you a lot of bang for your buck! Just a few thin strips of fabric look so striking when quilted and bound, and it is so much fun to be creative in decorating the inside pockets. But those bears are so silly and cute that I just love them to bits.

What favourite fabric scrap(s) did you use up until the last tiny bit? And do you even have any scraps left after writing this book?

I am a bit obsessed with Denyse Schmidt fabrics--there are several prints from her Hope Valley, Picnic, and Fairground lines that I have savored to the very last scrap. I also have a measuring tape print by American Jane that I manage to fit into almost every patchwork project that I make! I found a bunch of it on eBay years ago but I still treat it like a precious metal and try to make a little bit go a long way. There is a teal floral and cherries print from Lecien’s Old New line that I adore and wish I had bought a whole bolt, so I will be very careful about using what I have left!

I possibly should be a little embarrassed by how many scraps I still have after writing the book. I definitely dug into my scrap basket and used many of my oldest and most favorite fabrics, but I did get new prints specifically to use for the book, and so I have a bunch of new scraps as well!

How do you sort your scrap stash?

Until recently, I kept all my scraps stuffed in a giant pink tub under my cutting table! It was pretty overwhelming to attempt to find anything in there. But I have finally seen the light and I’m in the process of cutting leftover fabrics into strips that I store together by width in these great transparent boxes that I found. The strips are 1”, 1-1/2”, 2”, etc., so now whenever I want to do a scrappy project I can just pull out the right box and the fabrics are neatly stacked inside.

What are you working on right now?

I’m catching up on sewing projects for myself and friends and family, as well as sketching some new softies and dolls.

A big bag of scraps or a new bundle of fat quarters?

A new bundle of fat quarters! So many times I’ll see a fabric and think, “Ooh! That would make a perfect doll dress or bear pajamas,” so a fat quarter would ensure that I could make a doll or other toy out of it. I’ll take the bag of scraps, too, though, I am a firm believer that one can’t have too much fabric!


Thank you so much Kim for this fun interview! More peeks and projects from the book can be found on various blogs this month. You can follow Kim on her blog and find more patterns in her Etsy Store.

Scrap Happy Sewing is available now in book stores. And find a free sewing pattern for these lovely pleated pincushions on Stitch Craft Create!

Monday, April 20


Last Friday me and my friend Caroline went on a day trip to Amsterdam. It's a little under an hour by train from our hometown of Rotterdam. Our first stop was the Stedelijk Museum. At the moment they have a great Matisse exhibition on, called 'The Oasis of Matisse'.  In the afternoon we did a little shopping. We always visit the Kitsch Kitchen store  on the Rozengracht when we're in Amsterdam. They have lots of oilcloth and pretty, colourful homewares. Another favourite spot to shop is Exota/King Louie in the Hartenstraat, vintage and retro style clothing. I bought a Panda Bear dress in the sale :)

Birdblocks Quilt Shop, photo taken from their website as I forgot to take a photo...
We were on our way back to the train station, when we found a great little Quilt/Fabric store on the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 99 called Birdblocks. Quilt shops over here tend to be fairly traditional (think 'beige' and 'batik') and, quite honestly, a bit scary to visit. Birdblocks on the other hand is a shop where you feel welcome. It has a great selection of mostly modern fabric designs. I picked up a few fat quarters: a versatile lettering print, super cute Tula Pink Deer fabric and Heather Ross' Unicorn fabric in green from the reprint of the 'Far Far Away' line. I mostly buy my fabric online (not much lately though!) but it's so nice to be able to see the colours and prints in real life before you buy. Especially in such a friendly place. I'll definitely try and visit Birdblocks again, next time I'm in Amsterdam!

Saturday, April 18

Embroidery Books from the Past

I've added a few older, second hand embroidery books to my collection in the last couple of weeks. I bought some vintage craft magazines too, which I will share in a separate post.

The book on the bottom of the stack is Anchor's '100 Embroidery Stitches'. A small but really useful book with clear diagrams.

Anchor is the name under which Coats sold, and still sell, their embroidery and craft threads. Originally there were two separate companies (Coats and Clark), but later they merged into one company. A lot of Anchor Embroidery books (on various subjects such as canvaswork and Spanish Blackwork) were published over the years. The copy I bought is probably similar to other editions they brought out. You can regularly find them on Ebay for just a few quid.

The DMC books (or rather: booklets) are very different in content. The one with the red cover has a good number of cross stitch designs of animals mostly. When I purchased it online I had mistaken it for an older DMC booklet, with border motifs and such from around Europe. So when the booklet arrived I was surprised to come across patterns of geese, ducklings and forest animals.

The insect repeat patterns are quite groovy though and I like the slightly kitschy stag too.

The other DMC booklet has an interesting variety of evenweave border designs. Both booklets do not have much information about the stitches and colours. You'd have to work straight from the pattern and photographed examples and just guess which colours to use. Or just choose your own which I prefer in most cases anyway. :)

P.S. A few things that I haven't got round to: putting some of my embroideries on sale in the shop and preparing a second blog post about the X and Plus Quilt (including a small tutorial). At the moment all of my sewing stuff and embroideries are packed up due to the rebuilding of the bath room so bear with me for a little longer! The whole house is covered in dust (it's EVERYWHERE) so I'm kind of glad my sewing supplies are safely packed away!