Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life


A trip to Brum in July

It seems that this month I’m doing a bit of catching up with my blog and this is a write-up of a trip I made back a while back.

Rachel of Rach against the machine suggested a Brum meet-up for a bit of fabric shopping back in July. I thought this was an ideal opportunity to wander a little further than my local fabric shops and have the advantage of local knowledge to help me out!

I haven’t been to Birmingham for many years. All I can remember is the subterranean dungeon that is Birmingham New Street Station and a building site around the Bullring. I imagine I haven’t been there for about 15 years. I was pleasantly surprised when I emerged above Birmingham New Street. There is an atrium full of shops above the platforms and the streets around the Bullring have been transformed into a pleasant pedestrian area.

I met up with the other sewers and we spent a pleasant rime browsing the Rag Market. There are lots of fabric stalls. I was particularly taken with the stall selling trims. They were really unusual and looked like they might be intended for Indian clothing. I bought a metre of three different trims. I’m planning to use the two colourful trims for tunics and the lace will look good on the hem of a knit top, I reckon.


I picked up some fabric too. I bought 1.5 m of a sheer knit fabric, which is probably polyester or viscose, but at £1.50 I thought it was probably worth it. It has an interesting embroidered stripe and has sequins on it too. I’m planning to make this into some sort of loose cardigan. The second length of fabric (also 1.5 m) is 100% cotton and a bright corduroy print. It cost £7.50, which I thought was good value. The pattern is floral, but is quite abstract and looks to me like firework bursts. I can see another corduroy skirt for this fabric. I wear my grey corduroy skirt a lot, especially at work and it will be good to have another similar skirt.

Rag Market Fabric

Clearly I’m not a serious shopper, as I only came away with those two fabrics. I’m quite a slow stitcher, and I know it will take me a while to get round to using those fabrics, especially as I have quite a stash already at home. My fellow brum shoppers had huge bags full of fabric and trims by this point!

Rag Market

After exploring the market, we headed to Barry’s. I must admit, I found this store completely overwhelming. My usual experience of shopping in a fabric store is usually a bit more “Let’s find something that will do for….” and now I was confronted with too much choice! Perhaps I need more preparation before entering a store like this. I should have a specific sewing plan in mind, so that I can focus better….. Needless to say, I didn’t buy anything, but this shop definitely, deserves another trip.


Birmingham is quite a way from home, and I felt that I needed to make the most of my day trip and not just shop. I had been browsing “things to do” in Birmingham on the internet and thought that the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter looked interesting. I am fascinated with learning how things were made in the past and I think a knowledge of the traditional methods leads me to appreciate craftsmanship. The Museum of the Jewellery Quarter is built around a jewellery workshop that belonged to the Smith & Pepper jewellery manufacturing firm. The aging proprietors retired in 1981. They struggled to sell the business and when they ceased trading and locked the door, the workshop remained untouched, exactly as it was the day they left. The workshop wasn’t updated after the 1950s and it’s a perfect time capsule. The best thing about the museum is that you’re taken on a tour of the workshop by one of the very knowledgeable staff.

The tour started in the office on the top floor, where complete with old-fashioned typewriters and phones, orders were taken and the jewellery was packaged to be posted to the customers. Smith and Pepper, sold wholesale to businesses rather than directly to the public.

Museum of the Jewellery Quarter (Office)

Unbelievably, they just sent these small anonymous brown boxes via first-class post!

Museum of the Jewellery Quarter (Office)

In the workshop, the day started with the proprietor, Mr Tom Smith weighing the gold out for each of the jewellers. The gold had to be weighed out and weighed in at the end of the day. The jeweller was only permitted a certain percentage loss of gold, depending on the type of work being undertaken. Gold was swept up from the floor at the end of the day and even the sinks led into a reservoir so that any gold from the workshop could be recovered.


The craftsmen’s benches were lit by natural light from above or they were positioned near the windows. Here the craftsmen of the workshop assembled the stamped parts, set stones, soldered and engraved. The jeweller’s workbench is cut out with a jeweller’s apron, made of leather. The apron sat in the jeweller’s lap and serves to collect fragments of gold and stops the craftsman being burnt if anything is dropped.  Work was carried out on the jeweller’s peg. This is the wooden piece that juts out the front of the bench. It is used to balance and stabilise whatever the jeweller was working on. Each bench was also equipped with gas taps. Our guide showed us how the jeweller could change the temperature of the flame and direct to to finely manipulate the jet.


One wall of the workshop has an array of steel dies. These were used to stamp out the gold or silver components for the jewellery. Our guide demonstrated how the presses (below) were used to stamp out shapes. These could be used as pendants. I’d never really thought much about jewellery manufacture before I went on this tour and I hadn’t expected to see that even mass-produced jewellery was made in such a manual way. Unbelievably, Smith and Pepper used to supply jewellery to High Street chains, such as H. Samuel.

Museum of the Jewellery Quarter (Workshop)

The jewellery was polished using these horrific looking machines. I like the “No Smoking” sign behind the machines; a small concession to health and safety, perhaps? Apparently, there was a lady who did gold-plating, in a small room to the left of these machines. This task didn’t take up all her time, so she also doubled as a tea lady. The gold-plating uses a cyanide compound. Would you like to be served tea from a room that has had gold cyanide slopped around in it?


I admit when I got home, I took out my magnifying glass to see if any of my jewellery was made by Smith and Pepper. Sadly, none of it is, although I have quite a few pieces made in Birmingham. This isn’t surprising, though, as Birmingham is still the biggest volume producer of gold jewellery in the country. Altogether, I would thoroughly recommend a visit to this museum. The tour is a very interesting insight into a by-gone era.

It was a very busy day for me, but enjoyable. Thanks to all the Brum sewers who showed me around the fabric haunts of Birmingham! See you again soon.

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Micro Macramé Beaded Jewelry – Book Review

Do you associate macrame with jute plant hangers and owl wall-hangings from the 70s? I certainly did and I have been on the look out for any books that could shed a different light on this craft. I’m a great library fan and I spotted Micro Macrame Beaded Jewelry in the library and thought I’d take it out and try some of the projects in it.

Now I know that I haven’t been charitable with my reviews of craft and sewing books on this blog before. I have seriously picked up some awful books, and sewing books in particular are prone to some fairly disastrous editing. However, finally I have found a book I can really rave about.

The book is divided into two sections. The first part of the book is a beginners’ guide with information on what materials to use and how to create the macrame knots. The next section is a series of beautifully photographed projects. They are all stunning. Each project has a photograph for each step.


I’ve now completed the Glass Bead Bracelet and I can confirm that the instructions are thorough and simple to follow. This book is addictive though and as soon as I finished the this project I was straight on to the next, I couldn’t wait. It isn’t often that I get grabbed quite like this by a crafting book. The projects progress in difficulty, but I just jumped in and tried a couple of the projects completely out of sequence. With the bracelet, I did have to refer back to another project for the first few steps, but even that was relatively easy to do.

Glass bead bracelet

Glass bead bracelet

There is a wide variety of projects in the book including ear-rings, key-fobs, bracelets, necklaces and watchstraps. One of my favourites is the tassel project. I know this sounds slightly weird, but do you have a desk or wardrobe key that is in danger of getting lost? What a great idea to make a tassel for it!


Or how about these stunning Christmas decorations?



The only problem I found with the book was sourcing the cords recommended by the author. As the review on Amazon states: “This book was originally published in the US, so the list of cords and threads will be familiar to US crafters but locating them in the UK is not easy”. I whole-heartedly agree. After visiting three different craft shops locally (and I consider the craft shops in my local area very well stocked), I couldn’t find any of the cords used in the book. Not only that, I only found stockists in the UK on Amazon for one of the cords, the author describes. I don’t usually like buying materials I’ve never purchased before over the internet as you have to rely on the seller’s description to make sure you are getting the right item. So it was inevitable that my first buy wasn’t quite right; I purchased C-Lon thread which isn’t the same as C-Lon cord! Apparently these are quite different in thickness. Also C-Lon can sometimes be called S-Lon, just to add to the confusion. Anyway, this cord here is what I used for the project.

Of course, I’m sure that Macrame experts out there will tell me that it is possible to do Macrame with lots of different cord types, but when you’re a beginner you just want to start out with the recommended product and then move on from there. Perhaps it would have been useful to have a more extended section on cords in the book, not just looking at particular brands, but looking at the properties of different cords – stiffness, elasticity, lustre etc., in order to make choices based on whatever you find locally.

Being new to this craft, I also had some difficulties with choosing beads for the projects. I don’t necessarily need to find the exact same beads, but making sure that you use similar sizes probably helps. The author uses a mixture of bead sizes (11, 6 etc.) and diameters in mms to describe the beads she uses. Perhaps a chart of bead size and mm sizing in the book would have been useful, to help me pick similar size beads. In general, I have found bead sizing a real problem when I’m shopping. Shops often stock beads without any labelling information. Beware the lure of these pretty baubles when you enter a bead shop without a ruler or other such measuring tool! Beads will get purchased that aren’t any use for the project in hand!

The book does focus mostly on the use of half-hitch and flat knots, but I suppose you can progress to more complex knots from these. The bracelet I’ve made so far is beautiful and I’ve lined up the Dark Side of the Moon necklace and the Tassel project, of course. More than that, this book has really sparked my interest in this neglected craft!


World Book Day – Past and Present Costumes

Thursday was World Book Day and to celebrate I thought I’d share a photo of Master Steely’s costumes. World Book Day seems to be a big thing in schools, at least in the UK, and children are encouraged to dress up as their favourite book characters for the day.

It’s become a household tradition for us to create a costume and we always enjoye the cutting, sticking, sewing and painting that comes with each new costume. Master Steely has never been short of inspiration and we have, over the years, really stretched our skills to the max.

This year, Master Steely declared that he would like to be Skulduggery Pleasant, the skeleton detective, from Derek Landy’s fantasy book series. Skulduggery is a magical character, who solves crimes, wielding fire-balls and driving an old Bentley! Master Steely has been enjoying this series of books – they are fast-paced and full of action and magic. We all pitched in; Master Steely created the Skeleton mask, Mr Steely concentrated on the skeleton gloves and I helped out with the fireball and sourcing the hat, shirt and suit. It was very much a collaboration.

Skudugerry Pleasant

Below is Darth Vader, one of our previous costumes:

Darth Vader

Did you make a special costume for World Book Day? Or does the costume making get all a bit too much?


Window Wanderland

I am so lucky to live in a vibrant area. There are often community events going on and on Sunday night, wrapped up in our scarves, gloves and coats, Mr Steely, Master Steely and I set out on a neighbourhood walk. Our aim was to take in the delights of “Windows Wonderland”.


This is a neighbourhood event, which encourages people to decorate their window or windows. It was started by Lucy Reeves Khan in 2015. Here’s how she came up with the idea “I was stuck in the home for many years both as stay-at-home-mother (gorgeously frustrating) and because of chronic pain, (pretty grim). While doing short therapeutic evening walks around the block, in the dark as I didn’t want anyone to see how debilitated I was, I noticed that if the curtains were open I didn’t feel the pain so much. For years I assumed I was just a nosy parker, but I realised that the light and openness made me happier.”






One of my favourites – this is a all hand-coloured, not made of tissue paper and is a very realistic drawing of the cranes on Bristol docks.





There are some more photos of past Window Wanderlands in other neighbourhoods here and the facebook page.

I feel privileged living here with such creative people! It really brightened up an otherwise dull wintry evening. I’m hoping the event runs next year too. Master Steely looked pretty inspired, so perhaps we’ll be creating our own scene next year.


Two essential items

I would say that I’m someone who doesn’t feel a great need for gadgets and I try, as a rule, to get by with the minimum. I take a lot of persuading to buy new gadgets. A couple of examples of my frugality spring to mind, I have an inherited sewing machine and somehow most of the accessories for it have been lost. I learnt to live with only one bobbin for years! Re-winding it each time I wanted to change the colour of my thread. I found some more bobbins in a second-hand shop and my Mum also found some hidden in a cupboard, so thankfully I haven’t got this problem anymore. Likewise, I’d been struggling with my old camera, that didn’t take very good pictures. I’d been blogging for over a year, trying to take photos outside when possible or “grabbing” moments of sunshine in the winter months, when I finally persuaded myself to get a new one.

I know that there are many sewing accessories and gadgets, and every beginner’s book trumpets the necessity of buying a huge amount of stuff. Mostly, I’m not persuaded to buy more gadgets, but perhaps I’m changing my ways because in the last year, as well as the camera, I have made two other purchases.

First of all, I bought this magnifying lamp. I live in quite a dark and ding Victorian house and to be honest, embroidery is completely out of question without any supplementary light.


The LED Light array is variable in intensity with a handy dimmer switch. The LEDs are actually very bright at their fullest extent. The lens is a decent size too – at 10 cm.

It can be mains or battery powered, which allows it to be used anywhere in the house without any fuss. The flexible arm can be positioned easily, however, the base is a little light and if you extend the flexible arm to full length, the lamp has a tendency to topple over.

All in all though, it has been a great buy and I just wouldn’t manage to do any embroidery work without it during the gloomy winter months.

The second item is my cutting mat. I bought this at Husqvarna Studio. I’ve just started getting into sewing with knit fabrics and this has been a vital for use with a rotary cutter.


I can’t get over how the cut lines just heal up. Sometimes I just keep on staring at the mat after I’ve made a cut, to try to see if it has left a mark! The mat also has handy grids on both sides and lines drawn at various angles. I find the 45 degree markings really handy for finding the true bias of a fabric.


Interestingly, both these items are getting a fair bit of use by Mr and Master Steely with their model-making. I really have to fight to get to use them these days!

Is there anything just simply can’t do without? Do you find your “sewing” equipment being spirited away mysteriously for other uses?


#1year1outfit – Threads

This month I’ve thinking about the thread we use when we sew, particularly how easy it would be to source thread locally made from natural fibres.

Normally I just go with the Guttermans thread in the fabric shops and haberdasheries, so generally this is either cotton or polyester thread. However, linen and silk thread were the most widely used threads by the pre-19th century seamstress until cotton thread became the sewing thread of choice later in the 19th century. Perhaps I could source some linen thread locally? If so, what would linen thread be like to sew with?

After a bit of searching on the internet, I noticed that linen thread is used frequently for bookbinding. leather work and jewellery. Apparently, linen is tough and copes well with years of wear. It is strong, and its strength even increases (10-15%) when wet. It has just the right amount of give when stitching – it neither too elastic or inelastic. It is  resistant to UV and heat. I imagine that these characteristics make it an ideal thread for working with fabrics that will have outdoor use, such as equestrian clothing and equipment. In fact, it doesn’t cut through leather when it is stitched.

Barbours Linen Thread

Something to consider though is the thread size, which I noted seems to be more complicated matter than I had first imagined. I am considering making a jacket from a medium-weight linen. Linen thread size is indicated by a numbering system. The first number is the size and the second is the ply. A high size number is a fine thread and a low size number is a heavy thread. A 100/3 size linen thread would be a fine thread used in stitching fine handkerchief-weight fabric. A large heavy size would be 12/3 used for sturdier applications. It seems that linen thread is easily available is the heavier weights for use in bookbinding (18/3 and 12/3 sizes are used by bookmakers) and leatherwork, but I have found it difficult to source finer thread for medium-weight fabrics.

The WM Booth website contains a wide range of threads. These include 16/2 which can be used for Dorset buttons, 32/2 and 50/3 for buttonholes, top-stitching and hand sewing medium to coarser linens and wools. More importantly, it also stocks 80/3 linen thread which is better for medium weight linen and fine wools. The problem is this website is American and although the linen thread is probably European in origin, it will have travelled all the way to America and back to reach my letterbox!

Again, it seems that this whole challenge would have been much easily, and possibly not a challenge at all, had I tried it fifty years ago. There were quite a few linen thread mills in Northern Ireland, for example, the Barbour linen thread mill in Lisburn, Northern Ireland. However, this closed in 2006.


More searching on the internet followed and I finally found a UK website, House of Sculthorpe, who specialise in historical costume and haberdashery, but sad to say that the linen thread is European, rather than Irish. The Mulberry dyer has some weights of thread too. I think I’ll order some through this European website where there’s more choice and try this thread out.

Finally, this is a really interesting article on the history of sewing threads.


#1year1outfit – Natural Dyes Workshop

I signed up for the One Year One Outfit challenge at the start of the year, but so far I had just been doing my research. At the end of last month I attended a natural dyeing workshop run by Botanical Inks. They are based in South-West and they are running workshops both in Gloucestershire and Bristol at the moment. The workshop was attended by seven other people and I found myself the only sewing enthusiast in the group, which surprised me. There were quite a few students from the nearby UWE campus and also a couple of people whose crafting background was paper crafts and they wanted to be able to make fabric covers for their hand-crafted work-books. It was good to have such a mixture of experiences within the group.

I took along a couple of scraps from my stash. The remainder of some white cotton lawn and also some cotton jersey (which I think my other half had been using as motorcycle polishing rags). I also bought a metre of organic silk fabric at the workshop. This fabric is peace silk and is 100% organic. It is grown in Hertfordshire. I know that isn’t very local, by English standards. The town of Hertford is 137 miles away, but to the best of my knowledge this is the only place in the UK that grows its own silk. Before I attended this workshop I had really excluded silk from my list of fabric possibilities, but I’m glad I can include it again. It certainly opens up the door to more long-term possibilities. I like the idea of applying the local and ethical into my wardrobe on a more long-term basis and would like to use a diverse range of fabrics.

At the start of the workshop we dropped our textiles into a large bucket of water to pre-soak them and sat down for a cup of tea. Babs, our tutor had brought along some herbs from the garden and I drank a tea made from her deliciously fresh mint. While the fabric was soaking, Babs, talked, very knowledgeably to us about the shibori tie-dyeing process and the dyes we would be using. I selected to dye my silk with dock.


For those that are not familiar with this plant, it is very common in the UK and it is well-known plant even to children. Dock leaves are a traditional remedy for the sting of nettles. After landing in some stinging nettles, I remember as a child, being sent off to find some dock leaves to place on the nettle stings. Whether this actually works or not I have no idea, but it certainly takes your mind off the stinging, which is probably the only treatment anyone with nettle sting needs! For my cotton scraps I chose baths of rosemary and of avocado skins.

After our fabric had finished soaking, we set about doing our shibori. Shibori is a technique whereby fabric is bound, stitched, folded, twisted, or compressed to result in a dyeing pattern where the dye is excluded by the folds or twists from certain areas of the fabric. For the silk fabric I just folded the fabric in concertina-fashion and tied it in place with curtain rings and elastic bands. For the cotton lawn I just twisted the fabric over a wooden stick and secured with string. The cotton jersey was also folded in a concertina fashion and tied with elastic bands.

Shibori Dyeing

The fabric was then dropped into the cold dye baths. These were then placed on the stove to heat up and simmer for the remainder of the workshop.

While our fabric was dyeing, Babs continued with her discussion of dyeing techniques and introduced the concept of mordants. The dyes that we used in the workshop were all substantive dyes i.e. colour-fast and do not need mordanting. These plants often have high concentrations of tannin in them, or as in the case of dock, oxalic acid, which are naturally occurring mordants.


After about an hour in the simmering dye bath, we removed our textiles from the baths, unwrapped them and placed them in a bath containing soapy water to wash them. The soap was a pH-neutral soap, which is best to use when handling naturally dyed fabrics.

Finally, we all ironed and blow-dried our creations to try to get them as dry as possible before our trips home.

Silk dyed

Silk dyed with Dock leaves

Cotton Lawn dyed with Avocado Skins

Cotton Lawn dyed with Avocado Skins

Cotton Lawn dyed with Avocado Skins

Cotton jersey dyed with Rosemary

Cotton jersey dyed with Rosemary

I was very pleased with my silk fabric dyed with dock. For my scraps I think that the dyeing was quick subtle. Obviously in a dyeing workshop there are time limits and I think, particular the rosemary dyed cotton jersey would have benefitted from longer in the dye bath. Babs recommended that after an hour-long simmer in the dye bath to leave the fabric overnight in the dye. She also mentioned that additional dips in the dye bath might be required to get more vibrant shades.

I’ve finally got off the ground with my One Year One Outfit project. I  have fabric for my first garment and the know-how to do some future natural dyeing. To tie in with the Indie Sewing Pattern month at The Monthly Stitch, I’m planning to make the silk into a Myla tunic from Sew Liberated, so watch this space!

As for my cotton scraps, I think I may well use them again and re-dye them. I was hoping they would be a more vibrant colour. They are only scraps but I think I could make some sleeves or shoulder panels or some part of a garment from them, so they may crop up again in the future.


February Quick Make – Digital Camera Bag

I was at Westonbirt Arboretum last year, taking photos of the winter lights and I managed to drop my camera bag. It’s one of those annoying things that happens sometimes and now I don’t want to put my camera straight in my bag in case it gets scratched. So, I knew I needed to make a replacement bag. Even better, I thought it would make an easy embroidery project too.


You will need:

  • A 18 x 15 cm rectangle of fabric for the camera bag (or just over twice the size of your camera)
  • Embroidery floss in these colours:
  • Grey, red, two shades of blue, yellow
  • Thread to sew the bag
  • Cord for the drawstring
  • A bead to secure the drawstring
  • Needle for embroidery (I needed a leather needle as my fabric was  thick faux suede)
  • Tracing paper
  • Embroidery hoop (optional, I didn’t use one as the faux suede is reasonably rigid)

Adding the embroidery design to the fabric

1. Print out the embroidery pattern (click here)

2. Trace the pattern onto tracing paper.

3. Put the fabric in an embroidery hoop (optional).  I didn’t do this step as my faux suede is quite a heavy fabric. Pin the tracing paper to the fabric.

Traced design

4. Transfer the design to the fabric. There are various methods to do this, but as my fabric is quite dark I decided to sew my design roughly onto the fabric.

Traced design

5. Thread a needle with two strands of the grey embroidery thread. Secure the thread on the reverse by “darning-in”. Use stem-stitch for the outline of the camera and flash. Once the thread is finished again secure the end by darning in.

6. Use single stitches in blue for the reflections on the lens. For the lines of shadow on the camera use grey embroidery thread. Single stitches are also used for the light from the flash in yellow. Add the little red light on the front of the camera in red satin stitches.

Embroidery for camera bag

Making the embroidery design into a bag

1. Fold the fabric to the wrong side to create a seam of 1.5 cm. Tack in place and then machine stitch x mm from the folded edge. This will create the casing for the cord.

2. Next fold the bag in two lengthways with the right sides together. Next stitch along the top edge and the right-hand edge as shown in the photo below. Take care to leave a gap on the left-hand side so that a cord can be threaded through the casing. Trim the seams, particularly at the corner.

Camera Bag

3. Thread a cord through the casing. Generally I attach a small safety pin to the end of the cord to help me pull it through the casing.

4. Thread the cord through a bead and then add a knot on each end of the thread so that the bead won’t come off.

Finished Camera Bag

5. Turn the camera bag the right way out and it’s ready to use!

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November Quick Make – Pot holders

I still had a little of the fabric left over from the apron I made back in September, and looking around the kitchen I realised that I didn’t have any pot holders, just a pair of oven gloves. What better way to use up the last of my apple-themed fabric!

You will need:

18 cm x 18 cm piece of cotton fabric. Canvas would work well as it is thick. I used by apple fabric.
About 80 cm of bias binding. I used ready-made, left over from my apron project, but you could made your own too. There is a good tutorial from Colette Patterns on how to made your own.
18 cm x 18 cm wadding
18 cm x 18 cm towelling fabric or an old towel


1. Cut out your pieces of cotton fabric, towelling and wadding.

Pot holder 1

2. Mark the quilting lines on the cotton fabric with a fabric pen, pencil or tailor’s chalk. The apple print has a definite up and down to the print so I placed my lines diagonally across my fabric. I placed the lines the width of my ruler apart just to make things easy.

Pot holder 2

3. Next, pin the three layers together with the cotton fabric on top, followed by the wadding and then the towelling.

4. Stitch the three layers together using the diagonal lines you marked earlier as your guide.

Pot holder 3

5. Next, attach the bias binding. Open out the bias binding and attach it to the wrong (towelling) side of your pot holder. Stitch in place. I found that it was possible to make neat corners by just curving them.

Pot holder 4

6. Leave an overhang of about 6 centimetres on the fourth side of the pot holder to create a loop for the pot holder.

7. Trim the edges of the pot holder. This will make it easier to fold over the bias binding to the right side (cotton fabric). I trimmed away at the towelling, wadding and cotton fabric, but left the bias binding intact. Trim the corners well too.

7. Fold over the bias binding and pin in place. Stitch the bias binding in place from the right side.

8. For the loop, sew the two sides of the bias binding together and then loop it to the wrong side of the pot holder. Hand stitch the loop in place.

Pot holder 6

And there we have it, a pot holder for the kitchen! I think I might manage to squeeze another two from my apple fabric.

Pot holder - finished

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June Quick Make – Needle felt heart fridge magnet

I paid another visit to Paper Village to a needle-felting workshop a week or so ago. It was held on a Friday luncthtime. It was such a pleasant way to spend lunch. I’m so lucky that it is so nearby.

I made the felt heart in the workshop and decided to decorate it and turn it into a fridge magnet. Thought I’d share what I did.

You will need:

Merino felting wool
Cookie-cutter in a heart shape (or whatever shape you prefer)
Felting needle (Felting Needles are straight needles with barbs cut along the shaft)
Block of upholstery foam
Seed beads
Small magnet

Making the needle-felt heart

1. Take your cookie cutter and place it on the upholstery foam.

Cookie Cutter Felting

2. Place a small amount of wool in the inside the cookie cutter and start to make your felt, by jabbing the wool in a straight up and down motion. This is where using a cookie-cutter is handy as you can be quite vigorous without accidentally stabbing your fingers!

3. Turn the felt over occasionally to make sure that the felt doesn’t get attached to the foam.

4. Add extra wool every now and then and continue felting until the shape holds together and becomes firm.

5. Once you are happy with your felt shape, take it out of the cookie-cutter and decorate it. I used sequins and beads to decorate my heart.

Felt Heart

Decorating the heart with Sequins and Beads

1. Thread your needle and knot the thread at the end.

2. Bring your needle up through the felt shape and through the centre of one sequin.

3. Thread a bead onto your needle.

4. Bring your needle back into the hole on the front of the sequin

5. Knot the thread on the back of the felt. At this point either cut the thread and sew the next sequin on with new thread. This is the most secure way of doing things. Alternatively, just knot and continue with the next sequin. But make sure that you do knot, otherwise, if the thread gets pulled and breaks you’ll lose all your sequins and not just one!

6. It is also possible to attach a sequin without a seed bead. I’ve attached my sequins with and without beads, so that you can see both methods. Bring your needle up through the fabric and the centre of one sequin. Bring the needle through the felt at the edge of the sequin and bring the thread through to the back of the felt.

Sequins - one pass

7. Bring the needle back through the centre of the bead again and this time bring the thread 1/3 of the way around the circle, creating a V shape. For extra security you could do three passes, so your sequin is held on in three places. Knot at the back of the felt.

Sequin - three passes

8. Continue adding sequins and beads till you have the felt heart covered.

Sequined heart

Adding the magnet

1. Cut a piece of fabric or felt and glue it on the back to hide all the messy stitches and knots on the back of the felt shape.

Back of heart

2. Glue a small magnet to the back.

Heart with magnet

3. Put on your fridge