tea cosy

A birthday trip to a far away beach ….

by Helen on December 20, 2013

Before my birthday I went on a very exciting trip to visit my friend Carolyn and her family. In particular I was delighted to meet her new baby daughter, Lottie, who is just six weeks old, and absolutely adorable!  I took with me the quilt that I had made … 


 The “Baby Life” Quilt from a pattern by Vanessa on the Moda Bake Shop.  Carolyn loved it, and it will be great as a play mat for Lottie too as she grows … it’s very hot where they live and ther cool marble floor tiles will be hard on little hands and knees.  It was very strange to leave this behind ….

puppies… and find myself on the beach  …. 

dubaipics 046Rather like going from winter coffee in front of the log burner (pattern for Toadstools & Seedheads cosy in the January 2014 magazine).  

Toadstools & Seedheads CosyBack to teatime in my summer house (pattern in the August 2013 magazine)

English Cottage Tea Cosy

And that’s because Carolyn, Mike, Ky and Lottie live in Dubai – 3,500 miles from Devon, and a very long way south! Last week in fact I was dipping my toes in the Arabian Gulf and admiring all the wonders to be found in Dubai – a completely amazing place …  

Burj al Arab, DubaiHere’s the Burj al Arab, just off Jumeirah Beach where Rosie and I paddled, and enjoyed a special birthday brunch ….

Birthday CakeWith chocolate cake too – what could be nicer?  I’ve never ever eaten a birthday meal outside, or felt the sand between my toes on a birthday outing before – but then I guess as a December baby that’s hardly surprising!  And there was lots of sand – wait till  I tell you about our trip into the desert …..



A nice hot cup of tea

by Helen on July 5, 2013

I do enjoy a nice cup of tea.  This is one indulgence that is guilt-free (being English I am obliged to drink lots of tea), very nearly calorie-free and can be enjoyed either alone or, nicest of all, in the company of friends.  I have a perfectly sized teapot for just two cups, and on these lovely sunny afternoons can often be discovered working in the summer house with my trusty teapot close to hand.  But until recently there was a problem ….

Naked Teapot!

I am sure you can see instantly what the problem was – that my second cup of tea was never as hot as the first because – my teapot was naked! But not any longer as now my English Cottage tea cosy is finished ….

English Cottage Tea Cosy

Much better!  This cosy was inspired by those lovely vintage tea cosy cottages.  I’ve always liked them and haven’t seen any more modern versions – until now.  My 21st century version combines machine applique with some touches of hand embroidery – the flowers are all French knots with satin stitch leaves, and I chose icecream coloured fabric from Susie Watson for a very summery feel.  And then there’s the back …..

English Cottage Tea Cosy

 and the interior (I think I may have got a bit carried away – but I do love my teapot, and my sewing machine too)

English Cottage Tea Cosy

The pattern for my English Cottage tea cosy will be in the August issue of the Bustle & Sew Magazine.  If you’re not a subscriber and would like to learn more about the magazine – and claim your 50% subscriber’s discount on all purchase from my website, then please just CLICK HERE to find out more. 


Country Village Tea Cosy

I have butterflies in my insides … I was feeling very brave when I uploaded this, but now I’m not quite so certain.  But anyway (deep breath) here goes …..

 I want to introduce to you  my first-ever video tutorial.  It’s an explanation of the way I go about freestyle machine embroidery – and uses the tea cosy above as the learning project.  Before I recorded it I had no idea my voice sounded like that and  I’m not at all sure that I like it.  Ben makes a much better video subject than me, but sadly he is unable to (a) sew and (b) talk.  So there was really no alternative.  It’s in two parts ….

Tutorial Part One

Tutorial Part Two

Please let me know if you like it – it’s quite long (hence the two parts) as I wanted to include everything I could think of so that it would be useful to someone who’d never tried this before, as well as those who just want to pick up some handy hints.  Fingers crossed!!


You might have noticed that I’ve been extremely quiet this week (most unlike me!).  You may think it’s because I’ve been spending all day on the beach, splashing around in the surf with my faithful canine companion.  Well .. it’s true … there has been some splashing – it’s been very warm here for the last few days and Ben has been enjoying lovely cooling swims in the early mornings.  His coat is very thick and he doesn’t enjoy the heat, so when we get home from the beach I wash the salt water from his fur and leave him to drip dry in the cool slate courtyard at the back of the house.  He really seems to appreciate this, and hardly moves at all until it’s time for his tea!

Group Photo

But there has also been a great deal of work going on here at Coombe Leigh.  With the magazine deadline looming I’ve been busy putting the finishing touches to my projects for the June issue (out next Thursday).   That’s them above, photographed in the gazebo… with a definite country garden theme… 

Two Lovely Tea Cosies

There are twin cosies  to keep your teapot snug in case of cool breezes.   One features a 1930′s inspired posy of garden flowers with hand embroidery and applique, whilst the other is a very patriotic scrappy Union Jack version.  Then there’s the teapot cushion…

Teapot Cushion

Here in good old Blighty we appreciate the restorative qualities of a really nice cuppa – so I’m spreading the word with this machine applique cushion.  Then there’s my favourite … the little bunny pyjama case …

Bunny Pyjama Case (2)

 Isn’t he cute nibbling on his lettuce leaf?  He’s fairly large – he closes along his base with a 12″ zip, but you could always downsize him to make the most endearing pencil case.   Also in this month’s magazine as well as articles and vintage patterns, you’ll discover more free motion quilting from Leah Day and an interview with Emily Taylor, designer of the Verona fabric collection for Riley Blake.  I used her fabric in my final project for this month’s magazine, my Summer Roses table runner …..

Summer Roses Table Runner

 Seen here on the table in my gazebo after I’d finished my photoshoot.  And of course if you subscribe before the June issue is published you’ll receive not only all these patterns, but the full May Issue too and your free gift, a copy of my e-book “The Stitcher’s Companion.”  All for your first subscription payment of just $5.50 – a real bargain – but only for the next 5 days!  Just click here to learn more and subscribe.  And I’ll leave you with another photo of my bunny …

Bunny Pyjama Case(1)

 Hope you like him!!