Monday, 28 May 2018


I've been back home for nearly a month now and I realised I hadn't posted my sketches from my trip to England at the end of April.
I started a new sketchbook and the first drawing was done while I was staying with Jo at Whitstable. The weather was perfect and we spent most of our time in the garden where we were able to admire their magnificent pear tree covered in white blossom.
I drew the tree first then started a stitch portrait of a sprig of the flowers, on some pretty sky printed fabric with a layer of organza under the image to make the whites stand out.  As it was intended as a thank you card for Jo I had to hunt for some card to mount it on while she was at work and wrap it in plain paper as it's just too big for an envelope.

On one of my days at Whitstable I had the time to sit by the beach and draw Jo and James's favourite pub, the Neptune, that stands almost on the water's edge and where many a Friday night is celebrated.

Jo's cat Mac is getting very old now and spends most of his time asleep but he knows when I need him to keep still to be drawn and immediately moves.  He lost his voice while I was there and it was very strange to see a normally very noisy cat opening his mouth but no sound coming out!

Jo has a willow tree as well and it was just coming into leaf and opening it's catkins and it also became my favourite place to sit in the shade and sew when I had the time.

After 6 days it was time to move on to Justine's and we met up at my mother-in-law's house to do 'the granny hostage exchange' as it's now called!
I spent 4 days with Justine and on one of them she had organised an outing with 2 other friends to a garden where we listened to a talk, had a delicious lunch and then a tour of the walled garden.
Later I sketched this view in Justine's garden of a pair of silver birches surrounded by colourful azaleas.
I decided to embroider it as a thank you card for her but didn't finish it till I was at Juliet's so I had to post it back to Justine before I left the country.

I spent a lovely 4 more days with Juliet and her family, feeling very cherished and relaxed.  I drew this on Sunday afternoon after church and lunch while the family all rested.

Juliet goes to a friend every Tuesday for painting instruction and this time I was able to go to and meet Nan, a 91 year old lady living in a beautiful 17th century cottage.  While they painted I drew the view through the window.
Well that's it so far as we're off on our travels in the camping car at the beginning of June to visit more of Brittany, keep your fingers crossed for some warm, dry weather otherwise we'll be coming back home too soon!

Saturday, 12 May 2018


So here she is, the last stitchpic of Sarah-Josephine, and the one that will feature in my centenary wall hanging for my mum. 

I stitched another one of Mum from one of my favourite photos taken the year before I was born.

Then I thought it was time to do myself! here is the basic picture before I embellished it.

The final piece is inspired by the May challenge on a Facebook group I belong to for postcard fabric art.  The prompt was the colour emerald and the artist Frida Kahlo.  Luckily I had a scrap of fabric from a parcel Justine gave me which I was able to use as a background and for the collages.

Sunday, 8 April 2018


Following on from my last blog about a fabulous new book called Stitch Draw by Rosie James I've been busy stitching some more family portraits. 
This is my grandson James posing on his granddad's motorbike made into a birthday card for his mummy Jo.  I had a lot of fun layering some coloured scraps under the white polyester before the machine embroidery and then mounting it on a woodland background that had started life as a sketchbook cover.  I finished it off with some fabric paint to deepen the colours.

Here is Kirsty again on her pole, mounted on some fabulous Liberty printed linen and then I overstitched some of the flowers to bring them forward.

Sarah-Josephine, my youngest granddaughter takes lots of selfies to post on Facebook and I capture them to use for drawings or embroideries. I print them off and trace a simple outline which I then enlarge to trace onto a translucent cotton organdie.
I stretch the organdie in my large embroidery hoop and set up my machine for free stitching with the feed dogs down and zero stitch length, install the darning foot and away I go!

  I love following my lines (mostly) and making the image in just the same way as when I'm drawing with a pen or coloured pencils.  Then I mount the image on a piece of batik patchwork fabric and stitch around the edges before cutting away the surplus and stitching over the patterns in a coordinating colour.

This third portrait is completely hand stitched as I wanted to be able to do some embroidery in the evenings while (half) watching the TV.  I have one more in the pipeline to start this week and I'm really pleased with how they are turning out, the only thing is what to do with them next, maybe another fabric book.

Sunday, 25 March 2018


I bought a very inspirational book last month and found a new way of making pictures from sketches.  It's called 'Stitch Draw' by Rosie James and concentrates on images of people in different situations.

Kirsty has been posting pictures of herself on Facebook and they really caught my imagination with her curtain of beautiful red hair. 

I printed off each picture, made a tracing and enlarged it to trace onto a piece of translucent polyester voile.  Then I put the fabric in large embroidery hoop.

I had a lot of fun free machine embroidering the images in black and red thread.
The only problem I had was keeping the pole straight as the fabric got distorted when it was stretched in the hoop.

As each picture was completed I started to think how to finish and mount them so I had a rummage in my fabric box till I came across a length of stiffened gauze in a lovely turquoise colour.

I cut out pieces a bit larger than A4 so that I could fold the edges over the polyester to make a frame and then stitched the edges down with a zigzag stitch.

I stitched a length of blue cotton knitting yarn down the left hand side making 5 evenly spaced loops along the way so that I could put them all together in a cover.  As I put the stack of pictures together I realised that I could see the next image through the top one which gives the book a lovely sense of movement as you turn the pages.

I found a lovely colour coordinated piece of batik in my stash and mounted it on a larger piece of gauze then stitched 5 buttonholes down the spine to pass the yarn loops through.

I joined all the loops together with some turquoise ribbon which was long enough to pass around the finished book and tie in a bow.
I'm really pleased with my first fabric book and I'm thinking it might be a good way to collect other embroidered pictures in the future.

Saturday, 24 February 2018


Stephanie, my granddaughter who loves rocks, is studying geology at Cardiff university so when she showed me some photos taken of microscopic sections of rock I was really inspired by the beautiful colours and designs. This is one of the textile art pieces I have created this week using various scraps from my stash like organza and velvet layered over a white linen base and stitched on the machine.
Here is my original sketch done in brush pen, black micron pen and watercolour pencils.  I had a lot of fun on dark winter evenings interpreting the photos I have stored on my Kindle tablet.

The back of the stitching on the white linen base looks like a lot of doodles!
Stephanie didn't tell me the names of the rocks but it doesn't matter too much as they are such lovely abstract patterns.

This piece was made by making some scrap lace using water-soluble stabiliser so that I could place those tiny bits of blue silk in spaces on the background which is made from a part of my grandmother's silk velvet shawl that must be at least 100 years old.

Here's my sketch, I think it looks a bit like a planet spinning in space!

The third photo looks like the world with the equator running across the middle.

The sketch is done in watercolour and I really like the way the colours mingled when I painted them which I tried to replicate in the machine stitched version.

The black patches are more scraps of grannie's velvet attached with zigzag among the pieces of organza and hand dyed cotton.
I haven't quite decided what to make with these now, maybe some birthday cards or pieced together as a cushion cover.....That means I'll need to do another one to make a square, oh well, back to the drawing board!

Sunday, 18 February 2018


We chose to stay at an adults only hotel this year and were delighted to find that there were lots of activities available to entertain us during the day as well as the evenings.
On Monday morning there was a silk painting class run by an English lady, Sue Brown, who lives on the island.  This is my first attempt at something I've often thought of trying.

The view from our balcony was very inspiring and as I had taken a selection of threads and fabrics I decided to make a stitch picture to record what I saw.

Another morning we had the opportunity to try decoupage and here is the first glass dish I made using cut up napkins and acrylic paint as well as the usual crackle treatment.

The second week I made another one and I think it turned out better as I chose the background colours more carefully.  I'm not sure if I'll be doing much more of this technique, I much prefer stitching and painting!

On the second Monday I had another try at the silk painting and enjoyed it so much I'm considering giving it a go at home.  I used pieces of rock salt carefully placed to make those lovely sparkle effects, something the teacher had not tried before as previously she just sprinkled it on at random.
I met some lovely ladies during these classes and we are keeping in touch on the Facebook page set up by Sue to highlight the work of the classes each week.

Saturday, 10 February 2018


Part 2 of my holiday story continues with a poolside drawing of the palms in the gardens at the hotel Barceló, Corralejo Bay on Fuerteventura.

Our evenings there were spent in the lounge bar listening to a variety of live bands. This is a Beatles tribute trio that came on as Status Quo in the second half without their wigs and completely different music.

The Abba band was very good at getting people up to dance, here are my favourites. The man is a handicapped German who danced alone every evening till someone went up to join him.  I took a few turns too after these two lovely ladies went home.

Here are the group who entertained us so well.

We made some friends who we sat with some evenings, here is Derek while he was playing dominoes with the others.

This group played and sang and the girl in the middle also played the violin, at the request of one guest she did some amazing Irish folk music.

Some afternoons we sat on the terrace by the lounge instead of the pool as it was a bit sunnier later in the day being a level higher.

This was an amazing combination of Irish and Spanish dancing and music.  The foot stamping is very similar and the accompaniment on the drum combined with the flautist excellent.

Hard to capture the movement but the main thing is to enjoy the moment and not worry about making mistakes.

On our last day the mist over Lanzarote cleared enough for me to draw it in detail in my coloured pencils on this gorgeous tinted Ingres paper.
Well, I hope you've enjoyed my little trip to Fuerteventura, we will definitely go back next year.