Tag Archives: embroidery

Experimenting with leather and a new personal organiser

If you’ve happened across my shop or Facebook page recently you might have noticed a rather fabulous new piece of loveliness … my leather, embroidered personal organiser.  Look at it, isn’t it beautiful!

Filofax1 detail

My beautiful, gorgeous new personal organiser. Free machine embroidered with one of my little balloon girls in a blue leather dress.

I had bought some bargain scraps of leather from Abakhan Fabrics in Mostyn the last time I was up that way, and have been wanting to play around with them ever since.  I recently bought a few more pieces of leather from eBay and, with a fresh packet of leather sewing machine needles, on Tuesday I got freaky with the leather in my sewing room.

I made some little leather coin purses (more on them in a future blog), experimenting and playing with embroidering and appliquéing the leather, which is very tricky.  Unlike fabric, any holes you make in leather are absolutely permanent (there’s no unpicking and trying again with leather), and if you aren’t careful with your embroidering you end up perforating the leather so much that the picture, along with a chunk of leather, just falls off.

But I am beside myself with pleased with how it turned out.  Fully covered and lined with cream upholstery leather, free machine embroidered, it even has little leather pockets on the inside to hold your ticket stubs, shopping list, spare hair clips etc.

Filofax1 inside detail

Fully lined with leather inside, with a cute little embroidered pen poking above the back pocket.
I’ve found the ring binder mechanisms tricky to get hold of, my supplier used to sell them on ebay so it’s worth checking there every so often if you want to make one yourself.

This is the second personal organiser I have made, the first was a hand embroidered, denim one I made for my own use.  I designed it so I could punch and insert cheap 99p pocket diaries instead of having to buy expensive Filofax inserts.  Because I’m fashionably frugal like that.

My intention has been to blog a tutorial on making one of these, and it’s still high on my to-do list, so stick with me and I’ll try to put one in before too long.

The finished organiser

My first personal organiser which I made a year ago, and still the one I use and carry everywhere with me.




Lisa Porch workshop at The Model House, Llantrisant

I’ve just spent the day at Resist Gallery in Model House Craft Centre at a free machine embroidery workshop led by Lisa Porch and I have had a wonderful time.

By the end of her introduction I was almost beside myself with impatience to  get onto my sewing machine to start creating the wonderful samples that she had described.  She promised machine embroidery with the feed dogs both up and down, and that we would create lace by machine embroidering on netting and on dissolvable fabric.

My first piece from the day was made by building layers of different fabric and stitching them to each other with the simple straight and zigzag stitch on the sewing machine, with the feed dogs up and normal sewing foot in place.


The fabric pieces I chose were in shades of blue which, as I lay them against each other, wanted to be the sea, so I went with it.  It was extremely freeing to just stitch forward and back, forward and back with my foot firmly down on the pedal.  I experimented with changing the stitch width as I sewed, and felt like I could go on all afternoon.  The fabric was initially  light and fluid, but due to the dense stitching, pulled in on itself and warped and became a satisfying, robust, tactile canvas.

The cord which frames it in the photo above was made by twisting a length of fabric and zig-zagging over it. So quick and easy, beautiful and useful!

Lunch was very civilised.  We enjoyed a sunny picnic of sandwiches from the Butcher’s Arms on the green next to the castle.


A picnic lunch in the shade – it was far too hot today to venture into the open!


Lisa smiling obediently for the camera! You can just about make out in the back, one of the goats in the castle compound enjoying our scraps.

After lunch we played with free embroidery.  Using images of antique textiles as the initial inspiration, and layering fabric, vintage lace and other embellishments to create our canvas, we went wild with the feed dogs down and quilting feet (or embroidery hoops) on!


I had taken a suitcase of fabrics, trims and assorted bits that I had recently inherited from my Anti Elizabeth.  Some of the items in this suitcase are just fascinating, such as the ancient yellowing lace, fabrics intended for different projects and incomplete WIPs.

I used some of Anti Elizabeth’s lace and trims in this exercise, and a chunk of a beautiful old tea tray mat provided by Lisa, which I was reluctant to be the first to cut, so let somebody else have first dibs on!

As it came together I felt this was a very homely, cosy piece of stitching that I wanted to keep for inspiration in my workroom.  I suspect that having some of my aunt’s old scraps in it has made it feel more special to me, so I was moved to incorporate a little secret message under the fringe:  ”Melys”, meaning ‘sweet’,  from “Cartref Melys Cartref” (Home sweet home).

20130713_192119Our final example of the day was to create lace on a piece of doubled-up netting using free machine embroidery.  This was great fun, very quick and very satisfying.  I had to leave mine unfinished as the day had come to an end, but I suspect I might pop it back under the sewing machine for a self indulgent half an hour or so the next time I’m in my workroom.


We didn’t have time to look at making lace using dissolvable fabric, much to our disappointment, but we have been promised of another session devoted to free machine embroidery on dissolvable fabric, including its 3D applications.  Sometime from September, it was suggested … I can’t wait!

Completed embroideries

I finally managed to finish a mountain of works in progress – eight 3D embroidery/shibori pieces and a family trees!  Some of the shibori pieces will be going to local galleries, I’ll keep the remainder to sell myself, either through this website (news of a shiny new online shop will be coming in the near future), my facebook page or at shows and fairs.  Please see below for a little taste of the completed works.

Detail of a Family Tree commission


Embroidered girl in a blue dress with a light brown ponytail blowing bubbles

Detail – embroidered girl in a green dress with a dark brown ponytail blowing bubbles

Open Exhibition openings at Rhondda Heritage Park and Victoria Fearn Gallery

What an exciting weekend!  The last blog entry was all a-fizz with excitement about being selected for inclusion in two open exhibitions – and this weekend both exhibitions opened!  (Apologies for my poor blogging, will try harder).

The first was the Summer Exhibition at Victoria Fearn Gallery in Rhiwbina, Cardiff.  The opening was on Friday (5th July) and was the first such event I’ve attended.  I was very excited to be informed on my arrival that one of my pieces had already sold, and moments later I had the lovely and slightly surreal experience on eavesdropping on a couple who were admiring my work.  It seemed impolite and a bit naughty to carry on listening in so I introduced myself.   We couldn’t stay for long as we had both of the children with us, who are both far too young to be expected to behave for long in such a fragile environment.  But here is a picture of me stood proudly (and a little awkwardly and embarrassed) in front of my exhibited work.

Textiles art with embroidery, shibori, applique at Open Exhibition

Yes – this is what I look like. Pay attention, you won’t see many photos like this if I can avoid it!

The second opening was the following afternoon in Rhondda Heritage Park.  I have three pieces here, each of which are photographed below – there are no pictures of me at this one I’m afraid, I’d come straight from a school fete and was in no state to be photographed!  I was impressed by how many excellent pieces were displayed there, my favourite (the one with the batman costume’d child) was there – but to my shame I still haven’t details of the artist, I promise to rectify this as soon as I get an opportunity to go back for another look.  The highlight for me was being informed by the organiser / curator that she had had enquiries about my work, how much is cost and how to fill in the form to vote for it in the ‘Public’s Choice’ award.  Yay!


Large embroidered applique piece with 3D shibori balloons, bottom centre.


Princess and the Pea – applique and embroidery

Blue Eyes – micro cross stitch

I got in to Rhondda Heritage Park!

Whoop!  Just a quickie to share my news with you – I had an email yesterday from Rhondda Heritage Park, letting me know that all my submissions to the summer Open Exhibtion have been accepted! Woo!

Hurray for me!

I have to skedaddle now, I’m afraid – I have lots of terribly uninteresting thing (like inventories and accounts, bleurgh) to get on with.  I’ll be back soon with something pretty to show you, I promise. xx