hand embroidery

I think the question I am asked more often than any other is how I transfer my design from paper to fabric.  There are very many ways of doing this, and I talk about a few of the more usual ones in my little e-book “Simple Stitchery”  (available on the free patterns page of this site).  But often people are intrigued by what appear to be graphite pencil lines (but they’re not!) on my fabric …

I use a slightly risky method to transfer my pattern – I say risky as there is the potential for damaging both self and fabric in the process  – which is why I would never recommend anyone else to try it, or at least issue the warning “do so at your own risk!”  But it does give excellent results so if you are interested, then here’s how I do it …..

When I’m creating a design like my little Friendly Fox (he’ll be in the July issue of the Bustle & Sew Magazine) I first draw him out with pen and ink, making many revisions and using plenty of tracing paper before I’m completely happy with the result.  Then I scan the image and clean up any background smudges etc using Photoshop.  Although I draw with a fine black pen, I use the colour changer tool to make sure that any lines that have scanned as a dark grey are black as this technique only works with strong black lines.  Finally I reverse the image and print a mirror image onto ordinary paper using my laser printer.

Then it’s over to the heatpress.  I set the temperature at 195oC and the timer to around 70 secs.  The fabric goes in right side up and the paper on top, right side down.  Once the fabric has cooled, then I peel off the paper – which can then be used for tracing applique shapes onto my Bondaweb as it’s a reverse image.

I find this method is great for crisp detailed transfer of images onto light coloured fabric.  It is a permanent transfer, so you have to be sure to cover the lines with your stitching/applique.  Obviously it only works with cotton, linen or cotton/linen blend light coloured fabrics and there is always the danger of scorching your fabric.

I have done many test prints in the past, and it’s taken a lot of trial and error to arrive at the above settings, which is why I wouldn’t advise anyone to simply follow my method.  But if you do have the right equipment (I don’t know if it would work with a hot iron or not, I’ve never tried) and are willing to experiment, then you could find the results are well worthwhile.



Wish upon a star …. part two

by Helen on November 6, 2013

Once upon a time in a faraway land, there lived a little fox.  Now this little fox had one special dream that he held tight to his heart and did nothing about while he waited and waited and waited  for it to come true.  But one day he met a very wise old owl who told him that it’s no good just waiting and hoping for your dreams – you have to make them happen.  

So one starry, snowy night, the little fox chose a very bright and shiny star.  Then he sat for a long time on a nice fat comfy toadstool and gazed at this star very hard indeed while he wished for some help to make his dream come true …..

Wish upon a Star: Mr Fox

And the very next day he saw an advert for embroidery classes.  He instantly enrolled and carefully practised his stitches every day. Now his dream really has come true ….. 

Wish upon a star: Mr Fox

 He can embroider beautifully!  

A very silly story!!  But my fox is all finished and ready for the December Bustle & Sew Magazine.  And in the magazine, as well as the pattern for Mr Fox, I am including a link to a new video tutorial that will show readers how to stitch him – especially the shading of his fur.  The second picture of my fox is another lovely illustration from Flapdoodledesigns that’s destined to feature on the cover of a new collection of Bustle & Sew patterns – the Woodland Collection that’s coming very soon.  


New style cover for February

by Helen on January 25, 2013

Last time Rosie visited we spent a lot of time playing with Ben and Daisy, but also a whole afternoon redesigning the Bustle & Sew Magazine cover.  After two years we both felt it needed a new, livelier design and, because it’s an e-mag it’s important Rosie said, (and I am sure she’s right) that all  the patterns are on the cover, not just my particular favourite that month.  I’ve been working hard on this month’s issue all week, and am now pleased to unveil the February cover:

Bustle & Sew Magazine Cover

I do hope you like it.   Of course February 14th is Valentine’s Day and in honour of the old legend that the birds choose their mates on this day, the February issue has a bit of a bird theme – although three little mice have also crept into the pages ….

Mice are Nice

 … with lots of pictures of their fur and notes on stitching – I took lots of photos as I stitched.  I only use 3 colours in their coats, plus some cream for their tummies and two pinks for their ears and am particularly pleased with the bottom mouse – here’s the full design…

Mice are Nice

With two verses from Rose Fyleman’s lovely poem “I think mice are nice.”  The magazine, as always, will be published on the last Thursday of the month – which this month is the 31st – so not long to go – eeek!

 There’s also not long left to take advantage of my $1 trial offer if you were thinking of subscribing – just a final 48 hours as it will end on Sunday 27th.  So if you were thinking of trying the magazine, please don’t delay and miss out. 


Dark winter mornings

by Helen on January 17, 2013

I remember dark winter mornings when Rosie was at school and I was working full time.  Townie Husband would leave the house first, clattering down the steps, briefcase in hand, while I was busy packing sandwiches, locating homework and trying to apply mascara all at the same time!    Now times have changed and, while I still wake early from habit, during the winter I have the luxury of remaining in bed a little while longer while it’s still dark outside, and often do a little stitching whilst listening to the early morning radio.  (This doesn’t happen in the summer as Ben is always keen and eager to start his day with an early morning walk).

I’ve been working on a new hand embroidery project for this month’s magazine and, as it involves stitching fur, I’ve had my camera to hand so I can take photographs of the stitching to show the different steps involved.  In a silly mood this morning, I snapped the view from my pillow …

Mice are Nice wip

.. my countryside quilt is partly covered by granny’s eiderdown – it’s been very chilly here for the past few nights.  There’s my sewing tin, the one that used to belong to my mother’s mother, and my stitching – featuring some lines from Rose Fylman’s lovely poem “I think mice are nice!”  And here’s a close-up of the first completed mouse ….

Mice are Nice wip

I found a panel of vintage eiderdown fabric on eBay and am stitching onto that – much more interesting than plain white or cream for this design I think, as I have chosen a very limited colour palette for the actual embroidery.  Following advice from one of Helen Stevens’ books, I have added a thin line of back stitch in dark brown along the bottom of his tail which really does give it a nice 3D effect.  I need to add some shading below his body I think, but plan to do this at the end so I can work out how to place the lines taking the other mice into account.  

Finally – I just have to share this photo with you … it’s Daisy making her first expedition into our garden.  She looks so serious and determined, and is also growing very fast, having increased her bodyweight by a third from 12 to 18 lbs in just one week!!  But then she is eating as much as Ben …..

Daisy in the Garden