Thursday, 31 March 2016

Learning new embroidery stitches: tips and tutorials

At the start of the year I made a promise to myself to make more time for creativity. My aim was to create at least one sewing project a month and share them on my blog. I also launched the 'Crafting is my Therapy' blog linky so other crafters could share their work with me. This month I have been learning some new embroidery stitches.

For many years I have used Backstitch and Blanket Stitch. I feel very comfortable using these stitches and use them alot for sewing text onto fabric.

I wanted to try and push myself out of my embroidery comfort zone and learn a few more stitches. I admire pieces of work which combine multiple techniques and think it's good to expand your embroidery repertoire.

I started out by attempting the 'sheaf filling stitch'. I first found this stitch on Pinterest a few weeks ago and thought it looked really interesting. You can see my first attempts in turquoise thread in the top left of the hoop. I felt all fingers and thumbs and they didn't look like the images I've been studying online. I started to feel disheartened and frustrated.

Thing is, because I love my work to look neat, I've never taken the plunge to try new stitches.

But then if I carry on thinking like that, I'll never attempt anything new with my embroidery. It made me think of the 'strung out on perfectionism' part of one of my favourite Anne Lamott quotes. Being a perfectionist is something I'm often guilty of. I guess there's nothing wrong with wanting your work to look good, but you have to make mistakes sometimes too. Maybe they aren't even mistakes...maybe I invented a new stitch :)

So instead of giving up and falling back on my faithful Backstitch, I decided to carry on. I did another batch of 'sheaf filling stitch' in red thread. This time I felt more in control of the stitch.

I also attempted Split Stitch and Stem Stitch. I quite like Stem Stitch, but didn't feel in control of the direction I was going in and somehow went round in a curve. Need to keep working on that one.

Then I attempted chain stitch and oh my word I think I'm in love. I really clicked with this one and couldn't stop once I started. I could literally sew this stitch all day. It was so satisfying seeing the little chain form on my calico fabric.

I'm always fascinated by the back of embroidery. It often bears no relation to the stitches appearing on the front. Here's the back of my hoop...

In the end, I'm really pleased with my first attempt at trying some new stitches. I went from feeling downhearted to completely relaxed in the space of half an hour of sewing. It goes to show that it's good to persevere when learning something different. I'm already thinking about the next stitches I'd like to attempt.

To help you try out some new embroidery techniques, I've put together a list of places to find sewing tutorials below:

- Top of my list is Sublime Stitching. I love the enthusiastic tone of Jenny Hart's writing. It really spurs you on to try new stitches. Plus her tutorial for chain stitch is so simple, yet effective...

- Next up is &stitches. Sadly this blog has now closed down, but there's a wealth of tutorials to be found on here. Including the 'sheaf filling stitch' I mentioned above.

- Mollie Makes has a fab online library of embroidery stitches. Don't know your Stem Stitch from your French Knot? This is the site for you.

Mollie Makes library of embroidery stitches

- If you want to feast your eyes on literally hundreds of embroidery stitches, then take a look at the craft section of Easy Fresh Ideas. Just looking at the images on this blog post has already inspired me to try out Feather and Web stitch next...

- One great way to practise embroidery stitches is to create a sampler. My little hoop is an example of a fairly basic sampler. Some more intricate ideas can be found on Needle n' Thread. Plus there are some video tutorials on there too if you prefer to see a demostration rather than still photos.

If you'd like to see more of my sewing work and embroidery ideas, head over to my 'Sewing is my Therapy' Pinterest board

Follow Pouch : blogging + craft's board Sewing Is My Therapy on Pinterest.

Grab the Crafting is my Therapy badge:

Me You and Magoo

Monday, 21 March 2016

A year on the allotment: March 2016

March has been a busy time on the allotment. We've been visting the plot three or more times each week. There's loads to do, mainly digging and tidying up after the cold Winter months. Everyone is waiting for the soil to warm up before the planting gets into full swing.

little girl holds garlic cloves in her hands ready for planting

Despite the soil being cold and wet for most crops, we did manage to plant some garlic and onions. Magoo enjoyed breaking the bulbs up into individual cloves. Planting garlic and onions is the perfect gardening job for little fingers.

separated garlic cloves ready for planting on the allotment

a selection of onions waiting to be planted on the plot

Whilst we were busy planting the garlic and onions, Mr. M was cracking on with the digging. I'm glad he enjoys it so much because it's back breaking work, especially when the soil is so damp.

plating onions and garlic on the allotment

Once the planting was finished, we stopped for our all important picnic lunchbreak. Chunky sandwiches and tea from a flask taste so much better in the Spring sunshine.

eating an allotment picnic of doorstop sandwiches

After lunch Mr. M carried on with the digging, closely supervised by Magoo. Plus there was a robin keeping a close eye of proceedings. He darted down and ate one or two fat worms as they were dug up. It's so nice to see these beautiful native birds up close.

digging in march on the allotment

At this time of year the allotment gets regular deliveries of horse manure. Large mounds of the stuff appear from time to time and everyone is welcome to help themselves to it. We filled our wheelbarrow and started spreading the muck onto freshly dug soil. Magoo didn't need to be asked twice to get involved with the 'poo throwing' as she called it. We all agreed she is a pretty good dung flinger.

wheelbarrow full of horse manure waiting to be dug into the soil

spreading mnaure on the allotment

In other exciting news, we finally have a new shed. In my February post I explained how Storm Imogen turned our old allotment shed into firewood. Mr. M and my brother worked for over six hours last weekend putting it together. They are more fiddly to construct than you'd think. It's lovely to have a shed on the plot again and it looks great...we just need to paint it now.

brand new shed on our allotment plot

This week I'm linking up with these lovely blogs:

"How Does Your Garden Grow" over on the beautiful

"Point + Shoot" over on and

"Making Home" over on

"Whatever the Weather" over on and

"Share with Me" over on

"Blogger Club UK" over on and

"Country Kids" over on

Friday, 11 March 2016

Gardening in March: confessions of a seed hoarder

I love this time of year. The first hints of Spring are starting to appear. The sun feels warmer on your face, new shoots are appearing and I get a chance to rummage through seed packets.

colourful selection of flower and vegetable seeds

My trusty Mr Men tin sits on the shelf for most of the Winter. It's only in late February, early March that I dust it down and have a look at the masses of packets I've gathered over the years. There's all sorts in there, including sunflowers, cucumbers, salad crops and wildflower mixes to attract the bees. There's also lots of home-dried seeds from plants I like the look of when I'm out and about. I dry them in paper bags over the Winter. If I'm feeling particularly organised, I might even label the bags with what's inside.

using a mr men tin to store my seed packets

I 'borrowed' this tin from Magoo a while ago and she seems happy for me to use it for my seeds. I think it reflects my serious attitude towards gardening...or maybe that should be 'winging it' attitude towards gardening. I'm not Little Miss fact I'm almost definitely Little Miss Busy, which leads me to be Little Miss Scatterbrain most of the time.

planning the plants to grow in the garden this year

Anyway, I'm nothing if not ambitious when it comes to seed planting. The Spring always makes me want to grow tons of different things. In reality, come June or July, I'm usually growing my favourites. Things I know will survive on semi-neglect.

These include flowers such as:

- Nastursiums

- Calendula

- Petunias

- Cosmos

- Geraniums

On the allotment we usually stick to:

- Masses of potatoes

- Wig-wams covered in runner and french beans

- Beetroot

- Garlic

- Onions

- Parsnips

- Courgettes and squashes

- Strawberries

As per usual I've ordered loads of seed catalogues and this year I'd like to grow something new. Hence the carrot seeds. I'm hoping to grow them with Magoo in a pot at home. I've always been put off growing carrots because of the fly they attract. I hate using chemicals, so only like to grow things that are pretty pest free. Anyway, we're going to give the carrots a whirl and see what happens.

Magoo also wanted a homegrown pumpkin for Halloween. Last year we started growing them too late and had nothing to carve in Autumn. This year we'll try and be more organised. Famous last words...

We found a small local nursery that sells strips of vegetable seedlings last year. They worked really well on the allotment. I don't have a large greenhouse so I can't grow loads of things from seed. I'm happy to let someone else do the tricky germination bit and buy the seedlings to save on time and space on our crowded windowsills.

Wish us luck with the carrots...

seed tin with lid open showing selection of seed packets

I'm linking up with 'How Does Your Garden Grow' over on the beautiful

'The List' over on

'Making Home' over on

Friday, 4 March 2016

Crafting is my Therapy #2

a selection of crafts including crochet, applique, hama beads and scissors promoting the crafting is my therapy blog linky

Welcome to the second Crafting is my Therapy linky.

I hope you’ve had a wonderful month or making and creating.

This month I have been:

- Completing my vintage fabric rabbit applique hoop. I love sewing blanket stitch and include it wherever I can in my sewing projects

- Spending lots of time looking at various embroidery stitches and tutorials over on Pinterest. I want to aim to master a few more stitches this year. I particularly love this 'Sheaf Filling Stitch'. They look like lots of little bow ties.

- After chatting on Facebook with other crafters, I may be taking part in a collaborative sewing project. It’s a bit like a embroidery ‘round robin’. Each person completes a section of the sewing project and then posts it onto the next participant. It should be fun…watch this space

My favourite links from last month’s Crafting Is My Therapy were:

Little Socks and a Bear named Bob from Amy Loves to Sew

One Skein Cowl – a free pattern From The Messy Brunette

Chevron Crochet Blanket Pattern from Hello Midlife Crisis

Some other crafty corners of the internet you may like to check out:

My Make Do And Mend Life is written by Jen Gale. She is an enthusiastic advocate for reusing and mending things we already have, rather than buying new. She hosts Make Do and Mend hour on Twitter every Thursday 8-9pm GMT. This is a place for people show the projects they have been working on. Many of them involve sewing and mending. It’s a great way to pick up tips and share ideas with a thrifty community.

– In a similar vein is The Big Mend. The brainchild of Scrapiana, The Big Mend aims “to get the nation mending, darning and patching again”. I think the project is fantastic and encourages people to get in touch with making things by hand again.

– To raise awareness of Alzheimer's Awareness Month the Alzheimer Society are organising a ‘Knit Bombing’ event. They are asking people to knit, crochet or sew a Forget-Me-Not flower. There are many events taking place across the country, take a look at their website to find out more…

Have you created anything crafty this month? If you sew, knit, crochet, paint, work with ceramics…please join in and share your work.

The focus of this linky is crafting for pleasure, basically taking some ‘me-time’ to unwind in our busy lives. It doesn’t have to be a finished project, I love seeing work in progress or planning posts too.

Grab the Crafting is my Therapy badge:

Me You and Magoo
I co-host Crafting is my Therapy with Jennifer Jain. She writes the popular craft blog Jennifers Little World

The “Crafting is my Therapy” linky will open on the first Friday of each month and stay open for the whole month – giving you plenty of time to get involved.

– You can link up with maximum of three posts per month, old or new.

– Grab the linky badge or link back to our blogs on your post.

– Please share the love and comment on other people’s posts.

– If you could share your post and the linky (using the hashtag #craftingismytherapy) on any social media channels that would be great. This will help us to grow the community. We will retweet all your posts via Twitter if you mention us (@pouchvintage/@JenniferJain )

– And finally, if you would like to follow me on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook, you’re more than welcome! Jennifer Jain’s links are here too: Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

My latest craft project: vintage fabric applique rabbit hoop

At the start of the year I decided to try and make more time for creativity. I wrote a post about the therapeutic effect of being creative. Sewing makes me relaxed and happy, so I resolved to do more of it this year. Alongside this, I've launched a new blog linky called "Crafting is my Therapy", it acts as a place for people to share their crafty skills. With Spring on the horizon and Easter only a few weeks away, this months project is bunny-themed.

my latest craft project is a cute vintage fabric applique rabbit hoop, using tiny blanket stitches

close up detail of my latest crafting project, a vintage fabric applique bunny hoop using small blanket stitches

Over the past couple of weeks I have sewn a colourful applique rabbit using vintage fabric and calico. I love blanket stitch and try and incorporate it into my sewing projects wherever possible. This version uses a floral fabric in shades of turquoise and cobalt blue. A few months ago I created a similar applique hoop using orange and chocolate brown vintage fabric.

Over the years I have amassed a wide selection of vintage fabrics so there is scope for me to make more variations. I find this particular manmade fabric features colours that really pop and they rarely fade.

close up detail of embroidery stitches on my vintage fabric applique rabbit hoop art

I love the finished effect, but they aren't the easiest things to sew. It's quite hard work getting the needle through calico and the thick vintage fabric. The smaller blanket stitch around the ears was particularly fiddly. Having said that, I do still enjoy making them.

example of tiny blanket stitches used to applique a vintage fabric bunny onto calico fabric

vintage fabric applique Easter bunny embroidery hoop using small blanket stitches and backstitch

Looking forward to next month's project I'm particularly keen to practise some new embroidery stitches. The latest Crafting is my Therapy linky goes live this Friday on the 4th March...the focus of the linky is crafting for pleasure, basically taking some ‘me-time’ to unwind in our busy lives.

It doesn’t have to be a finished project, I love seeing work in progress photos or tutorial posts too. I hope any crafty bloggers reading this will come and join in with Crafting is my Therapy #2

Me You and Magoo

if you'd like to sew more of my sewing projects, I have a "Sewing is my Therapy" board over on Pinterest:

Follow Pouch : blogging + craft's board Sewing Is My Therapy on Pinterest.

This week I'm linking up with:

The 'Making Home' link up over on

Blogger Club UK over on and


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