Woodland Alphabet Quilt wip

by Helen on March 5, 2014

Sometimes it feels so easy ….  I’m sure you know what I mean …. those rare occasions that you have an idea and translating it into fabric and thread just flows, everything happens right the first time.  It’s such a magic, wonderful feeling that for me at least, happens only rarely – usually I can be found muttering, unpicking, tweaking and re-stitching!  But there was no unpicking at all while I was stitching this project – my Woodland Alphabet Quilt …

It’s destined to be a gift for some friends who have been waiting for adoption for some time.  They’ve recently heard that they’ll be bringing home a little boy aged seven months in just a few weeks time.  I do hope they’ll like my gift…

It’s still very much a work in progress, but I finished piecing the top late this afternoon – just some borders around the edges and it’s onto the quilting.  I was inspired by the clean lines and appliqued text of the Baby Life Quilt design by V and Co that I found in the Moda Bakeshop

I love the uncluttered feel of this quilt and wanted to try to give my Woodland Alphabet Quilt the same feeling of simplicity and space – as well as including lots of  forest friends ….


I followed Vanessa Christenson’s tip of zig-zagging around my applique shapes with clear thread.  All my shapes were quite simple so there wasn’t too much huffing and puffing while pivoting around corners.  My favourite block is R for Rabbit (of course!) …. 

Though the hedgehog and mouse are cute too.  I’m considering whether to add a narrow patchwork border around all the squares before the final wider borders – if anybody has any thoughts or suggestions I’d love to hear them.  This project will be included in the April issue of the Bustle & Sew eMagazine and then I’ll be wrapping it up ready to send to my friends in time for their baby boy’s arrival.  



Bits and pieces … lots going on!

by Helen on March 3, 2014

Sometimes it’s hard to decide what I’d like to blog about – when life has picked up pace and so much has been crammed into a few short days – and now is one of those times.  Should I tell you about the tremendous thunderstorm we had here? The lights went out, the roof leaked and the flagstones were covered with enormous hailstones (which enchanted my furry friends when they went outside to investigate after the storm had passed)….

Or I could tell you about our wedding preparations .. Rosie and I spent a long time working on the invitations and maps on Saturday afternoon.  At last they’re finished to both our satisfactions and we’re eagerly anticipating their return from the printers very soon indeed ….

Then there’s my new Woodland Alphabet Quilt.  It’s destined to be a gift for friends who have just learned they’ll be bringing home a new baby boy very soon.  They’ve been waiting for adoption for quite some time and so I wanted to make a special present.  It’s still very much a work in progress, but here’s a quick snap of the first few blocks….

Not the best picture I’m afraid – I snapped it very quickly with my phone.  But I’ll take more photographs as I go along, and the finished project will be in the April issue of the Bustle & Sew Magazine.  Which sort of leads me onto my final piece of news … the March issue of the Bustle & Sew Magazine is now available in paperback form from Amazon …..

CLICK HERE to see it on Amazon.co.uk and

CLICK HERE for the magazine on Amazon.com


Wish upon a star … Mr Fox

by Helen on November 3, 2013

It’s always a relief when I’ve uploaded and successfully sent out each month’s magazine to my lovely subscribers.  I don’t altogether trust computers, and my internet connection, as I’m so far out in the countryside, is not the fastest, though it’s never let me down completely.  (yet!) Then, once the magazine’s safely dispatched,  I list the patterns I want to offer individually – that’s never all of them as I like to keep some just for magazine readers – so there’s lots to do.  

But once all the computer stuff is finished, I can look forward to all the excitement of starting a whole new group of designs for the following month’s issue.  This month I’m starting with one of my favourite techniques – some lovely hand embroidery – based on a line drawing by my friend Jacqui (Flapdoodledesigns).  Here I am, snuggled in my comfy chair,about to begin …

foxembroidery 002

It’s always such an exciting moment – though of course as I’m sure you know – a lot of work has to happen before you ever reach this point!  Cleaning and resizing the image, transferring it to fabric, selecting flosses and deciding in what order to work the design and what stitches to use – as well as hooping up, removing the Newfies from where I want to put my feet and making sure there’s a nice hot cup of tea to hand.  But at last I could begin – and over the last few days have made very good progress ….

Wish Upon a Star .. Fox wip

These two pictures illustrate perfectly why you shouldn’t trust your computer I think!!  I promise that it’s the same piece of work but something very strange has happened to the colours – one was taken in artificial light – though I did have my daylight lamp on, and the second by daylight earlier on this morning while the sun was out.  The real colour of my background fabric is actually somewhere between the two – probably rather closer to the second photo.  I think that I need to add a little outline around the fox’s white tail tip as it’s getting a bit lost amongst the toadstool’s spots, but I’m pleased with the fur shading so far.  I haven’t quite decided what colours the stripes on his scarf will be yet – blue and green perhaps?  I also like that he feels quite festive – but is not full-on Christmas – so I’ll be able to display him through the festive season and beyond.  

As well as Mr Fox, Jacqui gave me a second line drawing – this time a little hedgehog also wishing on a star – here’s her watercolour version ….

Wish Upon a Star .. Hedgehog

Isn’t he adorable?  And she was quite happy for me to share her hedgehog drawing with you if you’d like to stitch your own hedgehog wishing on a star.  Just CLICK HERE to download the free transfer – there aren’t any stitching instructions included – just the transfer.

When Mr Fox is finished however, he’ll be in the December Bustle & Sew Magazine with full instructions and lots of photographs to help you stitch and shade his fur. I’ll be sure to post more pictures when he’s done! 


Nature all Around us

by Helen on November 14, 2012

Today is a glorious day – there’s real warmth in the sun and the sky is a wonderful shade of blue, with just a few white fluffy clouds dotted here and there – it’s hard to believe that we’re in mid-November and Christmas is just around the corner.  Ben is snoozing outside in the courtyard, and as soon as I’ve finished this post I’m off to take him for a walk through the woods behind our village.  It’s at this time of year that I become more aware of the animals around us – deer and fox tracks are visible in the mud (yes, the mud has returned!), and often I glimpse a flash of movement in the corner of one eye as a rabbit or pheasant makes good its escape into the undergrowth.  I was thrilled to see two large brown hares chasing across a field of stubble when I last dropped Ben at his favourite kennels a couple of weeks ago – I don’t see hares close up very often. 

Fantastic Fox Applique

One animal that is regarded with very mixed feelings in our village is the fox.  Clever, crafty – and the sworn enemy of chicken-keepers everywhere!  But undeniably a very handsome fellow who features in the first pattern for the December issue of my Bustle & Sew e-zine.  

Fantastic Fox Applique

I’ve tried to reflect his cunning and curious nature in my applique – I didn’t want him to be too cute – and I hope I’ve managed to achieve the right balance.  He’s appliqued in felt and wool on a wool-blend felt background and here I’ve chosen to make him into a cushion cover.   When we lived in Hampshire many years ago (when Rosie was a very little girl), a hedgehog used to visit our garden from time to time.  I don’t see many hedgehogs here, apart from my very own Hodge and Podge – and I don’t really know why that should be as we have so much other wildlife around us. 

Hodge and Podge

Anyway, thinking about Podge, I know that sometimes it can be time-consuming to collect all the ingredients to make a softie like Podge, so I’ve assembled two “Make your Own Podge” kits and listed them in my Etsy Shop.  The vintage linen pouches contain everything you (or a crafty friend) need to make your Podge – including the premium item of ……

Ben at Strete Gate

….  a smooth, round beach pebble carefully selected by my canine assistant for its shape, size and general overall appeal!  (well, it’s about time he did something useful.)  If you’d like a Podge kit, then you will find them in my Etsy shop – just the two at the moment sorry both sold , as I don’t know if I have any more suitable fabric for her prickles – if these two sell out, then I’ll have a rummage around my cupboard! 

Make your own Podge Kit


PS the pebble was washed before it was added to the kit!