A very clever softie in a very silly post!

by Helen on April 9, 2014

This morning as I sat at my table sewing my new top, my eye was caught by a tiny movement in the corner of my workroom ….

Who could it be?  No, not the French hens .. nor the lovebirds …  But wait – I see –  what is my little fox in a frock doing?  Let’s look a little closer ….

She’s taught herself to embroider.  What a clever fox!  What beautiful neat work!

Especially as she only has felt paws!  Well done Miss Fox.  Her vintage bluebird pattern is from an old pattern sheet with half a dozen different bluebird designs and I’ll include it in the May magazine as well as the pattern for Miss Fox.  



Lots of hand stitching

by Helen on January 13, 2014

I am still taking it easy, though my knee feels so much better already.  Ben and Daisy are home now, and doing their best to persuade me to venture into the great outdoors.  We did manage a short walk together, just along the road  this morning, but friends are coming to give them “proper” walks for the rest of this week until I have my stitches out.  It’s so grey and muddy outside, it’s no hardship to cosy up on the sofa in my workroom and bask in the very pink glow of my new rug from IKEA (a treat to myself last time I visited Rosie in Bristol)…..

And enjoy some hand stitching – I have plenty of wedding projects to be getting on with!  I think I’ve made enough little mice now ….

(from my Pincushion Mouse pattern on the free patterns page) They are a very mischievous collection who are partying among the jars Rosie’s collected for her sweet table.  I’m also busy embroidering guest names for the place settings – to be matched with lovely pastel floral fabrics and mounted in small hoops …

Only 60 more to go!!  But luckily I have a new little friend to keep me company – look who’s perching on my sewing machine …

A little lovebird – I think he’s looking for his sweetheart – another handstitching project for me!  

The lovebird pattern will be in the February issue of the Bustle & Sew e-Magazine.  There’s beginning to be a bit of a romantic theme developing – but then it is Valentine’s Day next month. 


A hive of industry

by Helen on September 4, 2013

As summer slips slowly into autumn, life here at Coombe Leigh is becoming very busy indeed.  Regular activities, postponed for the summer, begin again and new ones commence.  I have a new assistant here at Bustle & Sew – my friend Lisa’s daughter Emily has asked me to teach her to stitch ……

Teaching Emily to stitch

 … a very serious undertaking indeed!  Or so you might think from how hard she is concentrating on her hoop and needle in this picture.  But actually we’re having a lot of fun – she’s so enthusiastic and full of giggles!  At seven she’s old enough to start with a “real” grown up needle and floss, and here she’s beginning to stitch her first design, having carefully drawn and then traced her own rabbit and flower drawing she’s outlining the rabbit with back stitch.  We then plan to add felt leaves and button flowers to the background to make a picture she can hang on her bedroom wall.  I’ll be sure to show you when it’s done.  

I’ve been busy with my Winter’s Comfort quilt too…. 

Winter's comfort wip

 As I’ve used an old well shrunken woollen blanket for the filling, I can be very flexible with the quilting – there’s no danger at all of the filling breaking up.  The snowflake panels are quite large at 12″ square, but they won’t be quilted at all, I’ve simply stitched in the ditch around them.  I’ve also stitched around the patchwork panels, but have decided to fill them with free motion quilting – choosing circles and a cream thread so they’ll remind me of frosty cobblestones on a winter’s morning.  Still can’t quite decide how to quilt – or indeed if to quilt the navy blue sashing – if anyone has any suggestions I’d love to hear them.

And as well as all the sewing going on, I’m busy in the kitchen too with chutneys and preserves ….

Busy in the Kitchen

My lovely next door neighbour Julie invited me to take plums from her tree, and I made some Spicy Plum Chutney that smells delicious – a recipe for the October magazine I think.  Daisy and I have been blackberrying, though we didn’t get very many – I think we are a bit early, perhaps we’ll go again in a week or so.  Meanwhile though, we have enough for a lovely blackberry and apple crumble. And finally – figs from the large and rather thuggish tree at the end of my garden.  I have discovered a recipe for Fig Chutney that will use quite a few – it incorporates balsamic vinegar and red onions so sounds rather nice.  I’ll let you know!


Winter’s Comfort Quilt – wip

by Helen on August 29, 2013

Phew … the September magazine is now all safely sent out – always an anxious time.  Although I’m still in the middle of listing the individual patterns and generally updating the website, I thought it would be nice to take time out to show you my new quilt project -still a wip – that will be included in the October issue (how can I possibly be thinking about October already?!)  I’ve called it “Winter’s Comfort” for two – well no – three reasons really I guess …

Winter's Comfort Quilt - wip

I’ve completely reworked seven vintage snowflake drawings, originally from Ruby McKim, a wonderful US quilter from the early 20th century.  I have changed the stitches, layout and suggested colours completely – she originally suggested a grid of 12 white snowflakes embroidered on light blue fabric – possibly gingham, I’m not quite sure – with white thread and completely different stitches.  I chose my favourite vintage linen, and dark blue floss, then added tiny mother of pearl buttons so the snowflakes would sparkle, just a little, as though they were frosty.

Winter's Comfort Quilt - wip

Hopefully this should be quite effective as I’m planning to use my quilt to snuggle under on the sofa – mostly by artificial light as the evenings draw in – the first reason for the name “Winter’s Comfort”.  The second reason is quite straight-forward – I had a single charm pack of Winter’s Lane fabric left from my patchwork door curtain and the colours worked perfectly with my snowflakes.  The sashing is actually an old cotton tablecloth I discovered in a local charity shop.

And the final reason for the name?  A quote from Edith Sitwell – an early 20th century poet – which I love …..

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”

But I can’t finish this post without showing you why I’m actually not very comfortable right now as I type!  This is because my two canine “helpers” are determined to be as close as possible to me …. 

My helpers!

Which means there is no room whatsoever for my feet and legs under the table, so I’m having to sit with them tucked beneath me as I type.  Not the best – and I’m getting pins and needles!  Still, I’m sure if I mention the word “T-E-A” then they’ll move pretty quickly!