freestyle machine embroidery

Remember the song from My Fair Lady?   “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain..”  Well I think that the rain in England falls mainly here in Devon – this week at least.  The garden is knee deep in mud, the skies are grey and Ben and Daisy are bored.  But poor old Ben is in the wars again – now he is limping heavily on his left front paw, so he is off once more to his least favourite place.  (sshhhh, whisper – the V-E-T)   I don’t think Daisy is to blame this time – when he was a youngster he broke a bone in that paw, so he’s had a weakness there ever since.

But today is after all the first day of spring, and there’s a definite spring-like feeling developing in the April issue of the Bustle & Sew Magazine.  Auriculas have long been a spring favourite, with their myriad of colours and variety of blooms – did you know there are more than 1,500 named varieties in the UK?  Many of their flowers are dusted with an icing-sugar like powder – which is very beautiful – but easily washed away by – guess what – RAIN!!  So over the centuries the idea of an Auricula theatre developed to display them at their very best – possibly the most famous being at Calke Abbey – a National Trust property in Derbyshire….. 


 And so I thought it would be fun to create a mini Auricula theatre to enjoy all year round – mine is a combination of freestyle machine embroidery and hand stitching, using a collection of felt and furnishing fabric scraps….

Auricula Theatre Applique

Mounted on an artist’s canvas block.  And being me – there had to be some animal life in there too!  Can you spot the two little ladybirds? Auricula Theatre Applique

 Here’s one of them (sorry it’s a bit blurry – it’s such a dark grey day for photography).  The Auricula Theatre pattern (together with a little more history about how these theatres came to be) will be in the April Issue of the Bustle & Sew Magazine – out next Thursday.  To learn more and subscribe, please click here to visit the magazine page on this website. 



March Magazine and the theft of a toy….

by Helen on February 24, 2013

Yes, back in the garden again!  This time to take photos of the last project for the March Bustle & Sew magazine – published this Thursday – so yes, I’m cutting it fine, but I was quite determined to include this design as it would make a lovely no-calorie gift for Mother’s Day (celebrated next month over here). 

Star Baker Applique

I’ve decided to take all my pattern photographs in the summer house now – I’m trying to achieve a consistent Bustle & Sew “look” and I think the white walls make a nice uncluttered background, working well with all sorts of designs.  They also act almost like a giant white box, bouncing light around inside giving a nice bright feel to my photos.   This design was a lot of fun – combining freestyle machine embroidery with accents of hand stitching to give it a little something special.    

When I’d finished photographing my Star Baker project I thought I’d take some photos of some of my spring blooms.  The hellebores are particularly nice this year, but it’s fair to say that they’d have been even nicer if they hadn’t been trampled on by two sets of large furry paws!   


Sadly I only took a couple of shots because as I was advancing towards a particularly nice clump of daffodils,  I heard a commotion coming from behind me.  I turned around, and what did I see?

Mum!  Ben took my toy (1)

 Mum!  MUM!!  Ben took my new toy.  Make him give it back!  MAKE HIM GIVE IT BACK!!   What?!  You say we have to sort it out ourselves?  Right!  I’ll show that black furry lump what a determined young newfie can do!

Mum! Ben took my toy! (2)

 Right Big Bro!!  I may be small, but you don’t mess with me!  I’m gonna roll you over and jump on you!!  

Mum! Ben took my toy! (3)

 Yabba dabba doooooooooo!!!

Sorry I chopped the top of Daisy’s head off – I was laughing so hard it was hard to aim the camera!  It’s a good thing Ben is so very sweet natured and easygoing as he is about five times her size and could easily win any argument if he chose.  

And finally – here’s the cover for the March issue, I’ve tried to make it look spring-like, rather like my poor trampled garden.  

Bustle & Sew Magazine March 2013

 Hope you like it!


A morning of mishaps – and a new pattern

by Helen on December 17, 2012

I had a wonderful birthday!  After leaving Ben at his favourite kennels, I hopped on the train to Bristol to spend the weekend being spoiled by all my family.  I was taken out for lunch (twice!), went shopping and saw the Hobbit – in a VIP seat with chocolate fudge icecream!  I really enjoyed the Hobbit, and was pleased we opted for the 3D version.  Rosie and I were a little concerned that some viewers had reported experiencing motion sickness, but luckily this didn’t happen to either of us.  


Then on Sunday came my official birthday lunch – here I am being serenaded by some very handsome and charming Italian waiters.  It was great fun!  

But today I have come down to earth with a (literal!) bump!  Having been away all weekend I thought I’d better catch up with emails, so whilst lying in bed lifted up my iPad to view my in-box – and promptly dropped it on my face!  Ouch, ouch and double ouch!  (I now have a nasty cut on my lip and a bruise on my cheek.)   Still in some discomfort, I felt sure that a lovely cup of coffee would help me feel better, but when I flipped the landing light switch, the bulb blew and fused all the lights.  Having restored power and switched the lights back on I simply cannot understand how, when filling the kettle, I managed to knock a china bowl off the drainer and onto the slate kitchen floor where of course it smashed into smithereens!  Clearly being a year older has affected my co-ordination – and not for the better!  So I am going to stay away from anything fragile for the rest of the day!  But as my teacups applique panel for next month’s magazine is not breakable, I felt confident that I would be able to photograph it without mishap – and here it is …..

Tea Cups Applique

A great project for using up scraps of fabric – and also for the less experienced in this technique as the stitching is all quite straightforward.  Hope you like it!  


Free Fox Cub Pattern for Newsletter Readers

by Helen on September 9, 2012

Just a very quick post as I’m very late with Ben’s walk today and he’s  becoming extremely impatient.  But Rosie and Dan came to stay for the weekend, and we had a lovely barbeque lunch, then chatted loads before they finally left to drive back to Bristol, so Ben has had to wait for his walk. 

Before we set off  though, I thought I’d post news of my latest free pattern inspired by a family of foxes I spotted in Chillington woods a few weeks ago.

Fox Cub Cushion Cover

Yes, a little fox cub cushion cover.  He’s a really easy machine applique design – great for using up scraps of fabric. I’m sending him out to all my free newsletter readers – if you don’t receive my free newsletter then it’s easy to join using the box in the right-hand sidebar.  It is (obviously!) free and is a great way to keep in touch with all my special offers as well as receiving new patterns and tutorials  straight to your in-box.  

If you don’t want to join the free newsletter, then he is available to purchase as well.  Hope you like him!  Sorry, but no time for more … must go before Ben bounces over the gate and sets off without me!