Book review = 4* for ‘365 days of stitches’ by Steph Arnold

For transparency: I was given a copy of this book on exchange for a review. The review, however, is 100% genuine with my own thoughts and feelings.

The review:

Textiles have historically acted as vehicles for recording lives through stitch. It seems that over recent years, there’s been an increase in people using stitch to create, more specifically, embroidered journals as a record of their lives. This is the first book that I’ve come across that is specifically aimed at supporting and inspiring people to keep an embroidered journal of their own.

365 Days of Stitches is written by Steph Arnold, owner and creator of Oh Sew Bootiful, and published by Search Press.

This book will absolutely guide you through the process of keeping your own embroidered journal!

The idea of starting a year-long project can be quite daunting so this book is really good as a resource book and an inspiration to get you started.

You can see from the contents page alone, just how much this book covers and yet it doesn’t feel overwhelming as it is so clearly presented in an easy-to-follow format.

The book starts by introducing Steph, the book’s author and Oh Sew Bootiful owner, as well as information about how to use the book (motifs, months starting) and some artist examples of stitched journals.

Chapter 1 covers core techniques and stitches.

I love how even the headings pages are so beautiful! There are photos of small stitched motifs as well as the heading and information about what the chapter covers.

In chapter 1, we learn about tools and materials, colours, how to use the templates to section your fabric into the 12 months of the year, how to use the motifs, and 15 core stitches that are referred back to throughout the book.

There are instructions and visual guides for how to embroider each of the 15 stitches as well as tips on starting and ending your thread.

Chapter 2 is the ‘Motif Directory’ which houses 1,000 motifs that you can use in your own embroidered journal.

These motifs are broken down into 12 subsections such as ‘nature’, ‘animals’, ‘home’, ‘celebrations’, and more.

Within each subsection, there are small motifs that you can either copy or use as inspiration to freehand your own versions. There is information underneath each motif that says recommended colours and recommended stitches (which are part of the 15 core stitches covered at the start of the book) but also that you can choose to use your own stitches/colours.

There is a colour chart down the left side of each page that says the recommended DMC threads for the suggested colours as well as a photo on the right showing the real life versions of each motif. I love the variety of motifs presented, how easy they are to find thanks to the really helpful headings, and the suggestions for recommended DMC threads. I would have liked more information about how to stitch such teeny tiny motifs. I’ve been an embroiderer for many, many years and I felt a bit daunted seeing how tiny the details are on some of the motifs especially if I were to freehand draw it (tracing is hard even with a lightbox once the fabric is in an embroidery hoop).

Following the motifs, there is also a double page spread with motifs for alphabets, numbers and diacritics.

What I also love about the book is the index!

Given that there are 1,000 motifs, this index is a game changer as it means you can easily look up the motif that you want to stitch rather than trying to guess which subheading it might come under. This makes it so much easier to use which means you have more stitching time!

Lastly, there is an envelope inside the book (on the back page) which includes different templates for creating the monthly sections on your embroidered journal. They are iron on templates so you can follow the instructions (at the start of the book) and just get stitching!

This is a really beautiful book which is jam-packed with ideas, motifs and creativity. It has beautiful photography throughout with a really clear and easy-to-follow format. I’d highly recommend it for anyone interested in embroidery, stitching, journalling, creativity or textiles!

Book review = 4* for ‘Debbie Shore’s Sewing Journal’

For transparency: I was given a copy of this book on exchange for a review. The review, however, is 100% genuine with my own thoughts and feelings.

The review:

Debbie Shore has written over 30 books (published by Search Press) so I was really excited to get my hands on a copy of Debbie’s latest publication: ‘Debbie Shore’s Sewing Journal‘.

Even the front cover is inspiring and I love all of the different sewing motifs that are scattered across it from thimbles to cotton reels and buttons to needles.

This is a journal aimed at anyone who stitches so that you can keep track of your sewing throughout the year from goals and intentions through to achievements and progressions.

The contents page is clearly laid out with each section having a heading, subheadings, and then a corresponding colour for each section so that you can find it quickly by flicking through.

I absolutely adore that, very early on in the journal, Debbie creates space for you to record the things that make you happy as well as space for you to stick photos or swatches in of these things.

What I really love about this is that life can so often be stressful and overwhelming with what can feel like multiple demands on our time and energy. By having these pages at the front of the journal, it really encourages us to be reflective whilst sewing. It also allows us to easily flick back to the start to remind ourselves as often as possible of the little things in life that can make us happy (whether buying a new fabric, a new thread, or family and friends).

This all comes under the first section which is titled ‘Starting Out’. This section covers setting intentions (goals) for the year, body measurements (this is obviously aimed at dressmakers, so if you are a patchworker then don’t feel you need to complete this section!), and then space for any further notes you’d like to include.

The second section is ‘Sewing Essentials’.

This section is all about the fabrics! Debbie talks about a whole range of different types of fabrics, interfacings, linings, and fabric care symbols. There is then space for you to think about, and record, the fabrics you have and what makes them special to you.

I love the recording element of this journal as it really brings in so much of the journalling and scrapbooking world with the sewing world.

There are then further pages to stick fabric swatches along with corresponding information such as name, brand, fabric type, amount owned, and where to purchase more (space for corresponding thread colour would definitely have been useful here).

Debbie then talks about threads, zips, needles, cutting tools, and sewing machines.

I know that I really don’t remember to clean my machine out as often as I should (oops!) so I love that this journal has space to record when I do it so that it can also act as a reminder for when to do it next.

This section then goes on to talk about different stitches on the sewing machine (with space to record your own stitch settings and preferences), thread tension and choosing colours (with space to record your favourite colours, colour combos, and space to reflect about colour and emotions for you such as colours that make you happy or calm).

The third section is project planning which has lots of space for you to record everything to do with your projects including a space for a list of ‘projects to finish’ and a list of ‘projects to make’. There are then pages dedicated to a more in-depth record of your projects. Each project can be spread across 2 X double page spreads with sections to record the project name, date started, date finished, who the project is for, any sketches/doodles, materials used, notions used, machine settings, needles, threads, overall costs, what you would change next time, and any further notes.

Given the focus on mindfulness and intentions, it would have been really lovely to see a section in there for ‘what I’m proud of’ as well as the already existing ‘what would I change’. I think it is so important to build in the positives too.

There is then a section on monthly planning so you can write down important dates or things to do on a month-to-month basis.

The penultimate section is called ‘Sewing Reference’.

This section covers sewing terms, techniques (such as how to stitch split seams), common fabric and quilt sizes, dressmaking tips (how to take measurements etc), and a glossary and abbreviations page.

Finally, the book ends with a section on ‘Final Thoughts’. This section is a space for you to record any notes to your future self, your accomplishments throughout the year (it can be so easy to overlook these and to forget them especially as the year goes on), and any further notes you’d like to add.

This is a really beautiful book and it bridges a gap between sewing and journalling so it is a very welcome addition!

Book review = 5* for ‘The Embroidery Stitch Companion’ by Coline Bavois

For transparency: I was given a copy of this book on exchange for a review. The review, however, is 100% genuine with my own thoughts and feelings.

The review:

The Embroidery Stitch Companion‘ is a new embroidery book written by Coline Bavois and published by SearchPress.

I’m going to be brutally honest in saying that I have read a lot of embroidery books and I am super hard to impress in this area because there are a lot on the market. This book, however, massively exceeded my expectations and I was utterly impressed from start to finish!

It is a smaller size book which makes it the perfect accompaniment to take with you whether that be on holiday, the work commute, the sofa, by the bed, or anywhere else you’d like to stitch! Whilst it is small in stature, it definitely is not lacking!

You can see from the (beautifully set out) contents page, just how much this book covers!

In part 1, the embroidery essentials are covered including fabrics (and how different fabrics will react to stitches differently), threads (stranded, tapestry, wool, metallic, silk), needles, scissors, embroidery hoops, marking tools, transfer papers and more. It has top tips, illustrations, written text, and easily accessible information.

Part 2 then guides you through basic techniques such as preparing the fabric, transferring your designs, securing your fabric in the hoop, best practice for using your thread, threading your needle, securing your thread (with different options including knots, waste knots, filling methods), and finishing off your embroidery. Each subsection is clearly presented with a heading, subheading, written text and images (where needed).

You can see, from this example, how each subsection is presented. I love how accessible it is and easy to follow. It makes the whole book so enjoyable and informative to use.

Once the embroidery essentials and basic techniques are covered, you are then at the stage of stitching! Within the stitch guide, Coline presents 18 embroidery stitches that are useful to know. Each stitch is presented with a heading, a diagram for how to stitch it along with written steps, information about how it can be used, and a sensational photograph showing a multitude of ways that that single stitch can be used.

You can see, in this laced running stitch example, just how inspiring the image is in showing how a single embroidery stitch can look so different depending on how you use it! It is truly wondrous reading through the book and seeing stitches that you think you know so well being used in such beautiful and creative ways.

The final section of the book is ‘further ideas’ which covers using appliqué, embroidering stretchy fabrics, embroidering with beads and sequins, as well as further points for creative inspiration.

At an RRP of £9.99, this book truly is sensational and packs a lot of information, creativity, inspiration and stitch knowledge in!

Book review = 5* for “Hand-Stitched Quilts” by Carolyn Forster

For transparency: I was given a copy of this book on exchange for a review. The review, however, is 100% genuine with my own thoughts and feelings.

The review:

Hand-Stitched Quilts” is the latest book publication by the ever-talented Carolyn Forster and it absolutely lives up to Carolyn’s fabulous reputation!

In this book, Carolyn expertly guides you through the process of hand-stitching a quilt from start to finish.

I especially loved the dedication at the start of the book. Carolyn takes a lot of inspiration from antique and historical quilts, and she is truly interested in, and fascinated by, all aspects of quilt-making both in knowledge and in practise. This dedication is so beautiful and really feels in keeping with all of Carolyn’s work.

The contents page is clearly laid out and accessible. I love how they have also used exquisite imagery so that it doesn’t feel text-heavy. The headings are clear along with the subheadings and information about what is within each section. This makes it much easier to navigate as the reader!

After the introduction, Carolyn talks through the different quilt and piecing materials that she uses. The information is broken down with subheadings so that you can focus in on the section that you need/want. Again, I love the use of imagery on the side of the text as it just unites it all and creates a really beautiful book that is informative and stunning in one.

With the same layout (of text, subheadings and images), Carolyn also goes through the materials for cutting and sewing fabric, template materials, using templates, seam allowances, grain lines, hand piecing materials, and top tips. Then comes the stitching! Whether you’re new to hand-piecing, dabbled in hand-piecing or are a experienced in hand-piecing – this section will still be useful!

Every step of hand-piecing is broken down with clear instructions, close up photos, written text and top tips. It makes it incredibly accessible, easy to follow and beautiful to read and follow.

Carolyn covers thread length, starting and finishing your stitches, number of stitches, threading a needle, pressing seams, as well as guidance (photos and instructional text) for piecing seams (single seams, seams with a junction, matching junctions, converging junctions, y-seams, round pieces and curved seams and more). As I type the different elements of piecing seams, I realise that could sound quite scary but it truly isn’t. Carolyn really does break each act down into smaller steps that are accessible and easy to understand due to her expert teaching, experience in writing, and beautifully close-up instructional photos.

Next up: the blocks! This book contains 27 different blocks so that you can put into use each of these hand-stitched skills!

Each block has a number, a bit of information about it (and variations where applicable), sizing information, what fabrics to use, which templates to use and the instructions for how to hand-stitch it.

I especially love that each block has a photo of the finished piece from the front as well as a photo of the back so that you know how to press it This is really, really useful for when it comes to joining your blocks.

After all 27 blocks, there is a section on adding sashing or post squares to your blocks as well as a section on making the quilt your own. I love that you can really adapt this book to make it work for you.

You don’t have to make the sampler quilt and I really like how Carolyn encourages the reader to adapt the book and the blocks accordingly so that it works for each individual reader.

If you do choose to make the sampler quilt, there are 2 sampler variations and they each have an image with a key so that you can see which blocks have been used, how they’ve been used and where they have been placed. Carolyn also talks through how to sew the quilt together in more detail on the following pages.

Next up, Carolyn talks about tacking/basting, tools, backing fabrics, wadding, quilting patterns, marking patterns, hand quilting, binding and labelling.

The book finishes with all of the templates for the 27 blocks which are provided at 100% scale. There is also a website provided so that you can download the templates too.

I decided to have a go at hand-stitching one of the blocks in the book called ‘Album’. I love how you can frame a special print at the centre of the block.

It took me a couple of tries to get the sewing seams with matching junctions but I’m really pleased with how it turned out.

Having images showing how to press the block from the back really, really helped too.

I added some hand-quilting so that I can turn this block into a needlecase but I adore it and I’ll absolutely be making more!

I adored everything about this book and it is another stunning and inspirational book for stitchers!

The book is published by, and available to buy from, Search Press.

You can see more of Carolyn’s work through her website and her Instagram.

Book review = 5* for “big stitch quilting” by Carolyn Forster

For transparency: I was given a copy of this book on exchange for a review. The review, however, is 100% genuine with my own thoughts and feelings.

The review:

Big stitch quilting‘ is the 2021 book by the amazing Carolyn Forster. Carolyn is an internationally renowned writer, designer, maker and teacher with a multitude of publications – all of which are superb! This book is another incredible addition to the Carolyn bookshelf!

‘Big stitch quilting’ is absolutely packed with beautiful photography, detailed instructions, a multitude of inspiration and more alongside 20 projects for you to explore big stitch quilting with.

At the start of the book there is a contents page that clearly sets out the format for the book along with the page number.

This is perfectly bookended with a clear and accessible index at the back of the book so that you, as the reader, will be able to easily find the project and page that you’re searching for.

Carolyn starts the book by exploring big stitch quilting in historical makes as well as in different cultures. The level of details in the photos is astounding and I love learning the wider context of big stitch quilting and how it has been used.

Carolyn then moves on to talk about the tools and materials that she uses for big stitch quilting.

Again, I really liked the level of detail and how the tools and materials are broken down into subsections. This really helps the reader to make informed choices about materials, their uses, and considerations to take into account.

Each section has a clear heading so you know what it is about. In this section, Carolyn discusses the actual act of stitching the patchwork pieces and covers stitch length, pressing, chain piecing, and techniques.

Nothing is taken for granted and I really like that. Carolyn does not presuppose our knowledge as the reader and so all bases are covered with instructions that are all clear, understandable, easy to follow and have high-quality instructional images.

There are instructions and clear images for tacking, basting, quilt designs, quilting stitches, binding, and more.

Then come the projects and they are all amazing!! Sometimes, a book has a handful of projects that may inspire you. This book, however, is inspiring from start to finish. All 20 of the projects are amazing and ones that I absolutely want to try! There are 11 home items projects (bags, coasters, wrapping cloths etc) and 9 quilt projects.

Each project is titled and has clear information about the sort of project it is, the measurements, the requirements (fabric and notions), how to cut the fabric, and a digital image of the design as well as styled photography.

The photography truly is sublime! Following the above information, there is then a step-by-step for how to make the project with digital images to guide you alongside written guidance.

The book also contains the templates that are needed for the projects too so you can start stitching straight away!

I truly, truly love this book. It really is jam-packed with sumptuous images as well as clear and easy-to-follow instructions for a whole range of methods, stitches and quilting approaches as well as the 20 projects. It is absolutely a book that I’d highly, highly recommend!

You can see more of Carolyn’s work on her website and on her Instagram.

The book is published by, and available to buy from, Search Press.

Stitchtopia hand-stitching weekend

I’ve just got back from a hand-sewing weekend retreat (organised by Stitchtopia) with the incredible Carolyn Forster.
I haven’t been on a retreat before so I didn’t really know what to expect (cue the anxiety!) I have learnt so, so much though and I’m absolutely buzzing to keep stitching after such an inspirational weekend.
Please note: all of the photos are clearly labelled with the maker. Please don’t use these photos for anything other than your own use.
The clover items that I used were sent to me as a PR gift but my opinion of them is entirely my own.
All of the meals are included so that meant dinner, breakfast and lunch are all sorted from Friday evening through to Sunday midday! There is also plenty of tea and coffee etc for you to help yourself to throughout the day.
All of the stitchers met on Friday evening for food so we could get to know each other before we start our workshops on Saturday.
Now….the exciting part – the workshops!
On Saturday, Carolyn expertly taught us how to hand-stitch friendship garden quilt blocks (published as Scrappy Surprise in Issue 102 of Today’s Quilter).

photo image: Carolyn’s friendship garden block

When these blocks are joined together, a super stunning secondary pattern comes through.

photo image: secondary pattern showing through on Carolyn’s friendship garden block

It means that the overall effect is absolutely breathtaking.

photo image: Carolyn’s friendship garden quilt as a whole

This design, by Carolyn, was specially chosen as it meant that we could be taught the fundamental elements of different sorts of hand piecing. The idea is that we can continue to apply these skills to other hand pieced designs.
We started off by learning how to make our own templates (whether from plastic, cereal packets or printed onto thicker card), as well as how to use the templates to mark our stitching lines onto the fabric, how to cut the shapes, and how to stitch them together.
What I loved was that we were also given a kit which had the fabrics, needles, Aurifil threads, templates, and more in! It makes such a refreshing change to attend a workshop which includes all of the materials so there is no panic buying of extra materials before you attend or additional high costs to cover materials.
We learnt about types of threads that work for hand-stitching (Aurifil 28wt), types of stitches, how to secure your stitches, tools that are helpful when hand-stitching (hello Clover appliqué pins – my new best friend!) and how to hand-stitch shapes with straight edges, shapes with sharp curves, and shapes with gentle curves.

photo image: laying out my fabric pieces for the friendship garden block before stitching

I really enjoyed the slow process of marking the fabrics, cutting them, hand-stitching them and then setting in the centre octagon. I hadn’t learnt ‘setting in’ before when hand-sewing but I really enjoyed doing it!

photo image: starting to stitch together my friendship garden block

I found the curves element harder but (yes, I know I sound like a fan-girl here!) Carolyn really is an incredible tutor. No question is deemed silly. She is so generous in her knowledge and really makes the process enjoyable, humourous, informative and inspirational. It truly is quite a skill to be able to encompass all of those positive things when teaching!!
I was utterly exhausted by the end of day 1. I didn’t realise how much I’d concentrate on trying to nail stitching curves! I also learnt that I would rely heavily on the small appliqué pins as their small size and sharpness were a huge help!

photo image: using lots of pins to stitch together the curves on the friendship garden block

Photo image: my finished friendship garden block

Carolyn was so right when she said we’d learn so many techniques and knowledges from this single block from the marking through to the pressing – it was a real eye opener and one that taught me a lot, inspired me and sparked creativity. I was already mentally running through my fabrics to think about how this design would look in Liberty, Tula Pink or Christmas fabrics…
On Sunday, we continued with hand-stitching but this time Carolyn showed us a whole range of ways we could use scraps, layers and running stitch to create pieces. We learnt about Sashiko, Boro, Kawandi, Kantha, Tile Quilts, hybrid approaches and more.
Carolyn had brought such an inspirational range of samples that we could handle, look at up close, and be inspired by so that we could create our own.

photo image: a stitched sample by Carolyn Forster)
photo image: a stitched sample by Carolyn Forster

I love the texture that running stitch gives these pieces and they’re so good for using up offcuts of fabrics! I also loved learning how running stitch is used in a wide variety of cultures. It is definitely a mindful stitch as you get lost in the rhythm and repetition.
I also learnt about Tile Quilts. I’ve never heard of these before but they are incredible! Carolyn taught us about how we could use this technique as a way to use up fabric offcuts by appliquéing the pieces onto a background fabric (either with needle turn appliqué or raw edge appliqué) before adding some additional shadow quilting in a variegated thread so echo the fabric outline.

photo image: a stitched sample of Tile Quilting with raw edges by Carolyn Forster

photo image: a stitched sample of Tile Quilting with needle turn appliqué by Carolyn Forster

They reminded me of mosaics and stained glass – a form of fabric tetris!
I decided to start with the running stitch sample with no raw edges. I am the sort of person who likes to plan. A lot. With lists and everything!
So, for me, this was a real learning curve as I couldn’t plan further ahead than the next round of stitching (the stitching is worked in the round from the outside, in).

photo image: the start of my own running stitch sample

I used Clover wonder clips to hold the outside edges into place before stitching as well as Clover appliqué pins.
I love adding the fabrics piece by piece when needed and getting completely absorbed in the process.

photo image: continuing to add fabrics and stitch to my running stitch sample

The clover appliqué pins, once again, were a game changer! I loved using a 12wt Aurifil thread for the running stitch as it is a heavier weight (so it is thicker) and it has a beautiful gentle variegation.

I’m so, so pleased with the finished piece and I can’t wait to make another!

Once home, I wanted to keep on stitching so I started a tile quilt sample.

Photo image: the start of my tile quilt sample

I started by laying out some of my fabric pieces to see how they looked next to one another before stitching. Once I was happy with the layout, I started to hand stitch them into place as needle turn appliqué pieces.

Photo image: starting to stitch my fabric tiles into place

Once all of the pieces were appliquéd on, I could then add some hand quilting with Aurifil 12wt thread around each shape to outline them.

Photo image: my finished tile quilt sample

I adore the finished look! I will definitely be making more of these as I enjoyed the slow process of hand stitching them so much!

Photo image: close up of my tile quilt sample
Photo image: close up of my tile quilt sample with the Aurifil thread
Photo image: close up of my tile quilt sample
Photo image: close up of my tile quilt sample with the tools and notions that helped me to stitch it

You can see more of Carolyn’s incredible work through her website and Instagram.

You can also learn more about hand-stitching in Carolyn’s new book ‘Hand Stitched Quilts‘.

Book review: “Goldwork” by Helen McCook for Search Press = 4*

To start off with transparency, I want to be clear that I was sent a free copy of this book for an honest review. The word honest is key here. Everything I write is always completely and utterly unfiltered and these are my own, honest views through and through.

Royal School of Needlework (RSN) Stitch Guides – you know you’ll see high quality work within and this book is no exception!

Goldwork” by Helen McCook (a Royal School of Needlework tutor) is a comprehensive book that seeks to share the history of the needlework technique, the tools required to try it, a breakdown of the associated techniques as well as images of inspirational projects.

The images are sublime and are a testament to the true beauty of this technique and the interwoven elements of colour, light and texture.

The contents page is clear and inspiring with such rich colours and textures. The introduction includes background information about the Royal School of Needlework as well as the technique of Goldwork itself before then providing a detailed exploration of fabric, threads, hoops and frames, tools and more.

It provides clear and easy to follow information about how to frame up or hoop up depending on your preference and project.

What I really like is that this book does not presume prior knowledge so it really does guide you through the whole process in a way that is useful for experienced stitchers and new stitchers alike.

Next, the book moves onto the methods involved in goldwork.

These methods include couching with different threads, finishing your stitching with different threads, how to handle angles when stitching, cutwork, basketweave and more.

I had a go at couching with rococo, before subsequently following the instructions for couching angles.

The book then moves onto the stitches that can be used as surface stitches in goldwork (chain stitch, feather stitch, trellis stitch). I can’t wait to try these out!

Lastly, the book presents a section on ‘Combining Techniques’. In this section, a range of photos are presented along with information about the materials and techniques used.

Personally, this section was less useful than the other sections. I absolutely adored seeing the photos of Helen’s work but I would have loved the last section to actually have projects so that I could use the techniques that had been taught earlier in the book.

All in all, this is a beautiful book so I would give it 4*.

Book review: “Quilt As You Go” by Carolyn Forster = 5*

To start off with transparency, I want to be clear that I was sent a free copy of this book for an honest review. The word honest is key here. Everything I write is always completely and utterly unfiltered and these are my own, honest views through and through.

Carolyn Forster is a sewing extraordinaire and someone whose work I have admired for many years. If you don’t already follow Carolyn on Instagram then I would really encourage you to do so as she posts such incredible and inspiring makes. Carolyn has published extensively and I was so excited to see Carolyn’s new book!

Quilt As You Go‘ is published by Search Press and it is a detailed, inspirational and comprehensive book that explores the quilt-as-you-go technique.

The book contains 14 individual projects for quilt-as-you-go techniques including hand-sewing, machine sewing, log cabins, stitch-and-flip methods, cathedral windows and so, much more.

In the introduction of the book, Carolyn explores the history of ‘quilt-as-you-go’. I absolutely adore reading the history of techniques and I think this is such an important section to include as it shows that the book has been comprehensively researched. Again, the inclusion of this section as the start of a book is a true testament to Carolyn and her work ethic.

Carolyn then guides you through the tools and materials that you’ll need (threads, fabrics, needles, wadding etc) before then explaining quilting and binding techniques. The layout of the book is extremely accessible, intuitive and inspirational.

Then Carolyn moves onto the 14 techniques. I’m going to start off by saying how incredible they all are! Genuinely, each technique made me think “oh my gosh, this is amazing! I’ll start this straight away”…then I turned the page and fell in love with the following technique, and the following technique, and the following technique and so on! Be prepared to fall in love with them all!

Carolyn starts by presenting each technique with some information about the history of the technique, the measurements, the methods involved and inspiration for developing it further.

I really like that the requirements for each technique are clear, detailed and leave no unexpected surprises! I also really like that Carolyn encourages you to explore your own tastes and creativity when making.

The instructions for each of the 14 techniques comprise of clear textual, step-by-steps accompanied by labelled and coordinating photos. This combination is invaluable for supporting you as the maker. Carolyn then gives instructions, and inspiration, for joining your blocks together.

There are templates to accompany all of the projects that require them. They are printed at full size which is always helpful as it means you don’t have to do any increases.

The photography is utterly sublime. The level of sumptuous detail is breathtaking.

I can wholeheartedly say that this is the best patchwork book that I have read in a long, long time. It is my must-have book for 2021….and 2022 too! 5* (and I’d give it more if I could!)

Book review: “Transfer & Stitch” by Search Press

I was sent a free copy of the “Transfer & Stitch” book, published by Search Press, in exchange for an honest review.

‘Transfer & Stitch’, a new publication by Search Press, is an amalgamation of 140 embroidery designs from previously published, bestselling transfer designs. The difference this time, is that they’re all brought together into a single publication. The fabulous pro to this is that they are all encompassed within a beautiful, new folder edition!

When you open up this fabulous folder edition, there are 2 books inside. One book contains step-by-step photos of embroidery tutorials followed by images of the finished embroidery designs themselves and ideas for how to use those designs (tablecloths etc).

The imagery is absolutely exquisite and the stitch tutorials are very clear and accessible.

The 2nd book contains the reusable embroidery transfers themselves. I love that they’re multi-use so that you can use them again and again (and again and again!) You simply cut out the page of the transfer design that you’d like to embroider, place it face down onto your fabric, cover it with a tea-towel and iron!

When you remove the paper transfer, you have a folder ready to store it in thanks to this new book edition! You are then left with the stunning design on your fabric ready to start embroidering.

The book doesn’t give you a step-by-step tutorial for which stitches to use on the design. The idea is that the book acts as a source of inspiration and then you, as the stitcher, can use any stitch/thread/colour combination to make it your own. Personally, I think this can be both a pro and a con. If you’re new to embroidery or not very confident in designing embroidery, it could feel quite overwhelming to have to choose the stitches yourself. Conversely, it could act as a springboard for creativity so that you can make it to the style you’d prefer.

The designs themselves are absolutely fantastic. Such a huge variety of designs and motifs so there is sure to be multiple designs that catch your eye and heart!

This will make a breathtakingly beautiful and creative gift for yourself and for loved ones too with inspiration aplenty!

Fabric postcard tutorial

I wanted to share a photo tutorial for how I made my fabric postcard. I made this postcard as part of the ‘Dear Me’ postcard activity for the ‘Crafting During Coronavirus’ research project but I wanted the tutorial for the postcard to be available generally too as it is such a fun, creative project.

I’ve also made a YouTube tutorial for creating a stitched postcard which can be found here:

Materials for making a stitched postcard:

  • Fabric (this will be for the front of your postcard) measuring 5″ x 7″
  • Wadding measuring 6″ x 8″
  • Vlieseline bondaweb measuring 5″ x 7″
  • 160gsm card measuring 6″ x 4″
  • Baking parchment measuring 7″ x 18″ (it is really important to use baking parchment rather than greaseproof paper)
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Rotary cutter, mat, ruler, scissors, pen
  • Iron and ironing board

Instructions for making a textile postcard:

1. Choose the fabric you’d like to use as the front of your postcard and iron it so it lies as flat as possible.

2. Using a rotary cutter, ruler and cutting mat: trim your fabric so that it measures 5″ x 7″.

3. Cut a piece of wadding measuring 6″ x 8″ (having it larger than your fabric piece makes it easier to hold whilst quilting). Place your fabric on top of the wadding with the right/top side of the fabric facing you.

4. Quilt your fabric/wadding. I tend not to baste the 2 layers as they aren’t that big but if you’d rather baste then you absolutely can. Using a walking foot can help if you’re machine quilting but you can hand quilt if you’d rather.

Don’t worry about securing your threads at the start/finish of your quilting as you’re going to trim it all down.

5. Once you’ve finished quilting, lay your quilted piece on top of your cutting mat.

6. Trim your quilted piece so that is measures 6″ x 4″.

7. Get your piece of bondaweb (measuring 5″ x 7″) and your baking parchment (measuring 7″ x 18″). Bondaweb is a double sided fusible adhesive. One side has a paper covering on it (protecting the adhesive on that side) and it will feel smooth. The other side will have a rougher feel to it and that is an adhesive side. Take the time to feel the 2 sides so that you know what the adhesive feels like.

8. Place your quilted fabric on top of your baking parchment so that the back of your quilted fabric is facing you.

9. Place your bondaweb on top of your quilted fabric. You want to make sure the rough side of the bondaweb is touching the back of your quilted piece. The smooth side of the bondaweb should be facing up towards you.

10. Fold your baking parchment over so that it creates a sandwich and covers your quilted fabric & bondaweb.

11. Using a hot iron (no steam), press these layers together. I tend to press it for approx. 5-7 seconds. Make sure each area of the postcard/bondaweb sandwich is pressed. Leave to cool (don’t take it out of the baking parchment yet).

12. Take your 160gsm card measuring 6″ x 4″. I’ve found this card weight works best as it is strong enough to withstand the pen/writing but not so thick that you can’t see through it. It is personal preference though so you can find/use what works best for you.

13. Write your postcard message. My writing reflects what I wanted to say as part of the ‘Crafting During Coronavirus’ research project. I’ve chosen not to leave a space for a postal address as I always think it is more protective/private to put the stitched postcard into an envelope if you’re going to send it.

Leave a thin border (0.5″ max) around the edges of your postcard so that no writing is obscured when you add the zig-zag stitch to bind the edges.

14. Now the ironed piece has cooled – remove it from the backing parchment and gently peel off the smooth paper backing of the bondaweb. If it isn’t peeling away easily and/or if the web hasn’t adhered to your quilted piece then put it back in the backing parchment and repress. Leave it to cool and then try to peel the smooth paper backing off again.

15. Place your card with the writing face down onto the baking parchment.

16. Place your quilted piece on top of the card so that the back of your quilted piece is face-to-face with the back of your card.

17. Fold the baking parchment over so that it creates a sandwich.

18. Press in exactly the same way we did in step 11. Leave to cool.

19. Trim it down so that all of the edges are the same size and nothing is overhanging.

20. Still using the walking foot (to help with the even feed of all the layers), you’re going to create 2 rounds of a tight zig-zag stitch all the way around your postcard. I used a stitch width of 3.4 (although if I remake it I would probably go to 3.6) and a stitch length of 0.6. Test the stitch on an offcut of fabric first to check it is the right length/width for your postcard.

Start with the needle on the right hand side of the zig-zag (so that it is off the card/fabric). The needle should be butted up right against the outer edge of the postcard.

21. Continue to work your way around the postcard. The needle will go side-to-side from the outside (butting up against the outside edge) to the inside (going through all the layers of fabric/wadding/bondaweb/card). This creates a binding stitch that secures the edges and binds them together. Sew this tight zig-zag stitch all the way around all 4 edges of your postcard and then keep stitching so that you sew all 4 edges for a second time.

22. Once you’re back to where you started, having sewn twice around all 4 edges with a tight zig-zag stitch, secure your thread by reverse stitching 0.5″ and sewing forwards again by 0.5″.

23. Trim any loose threads.

Your stitched fabric postcard is now complete!