Free Christmas Reindeer Tote Bag Pattern

by Helen on December 4, 2012

Inspiration can come from all sorts of  places, from the obvious to the less so.  Below is my latest work in progress – a Little Red Riding Hood embroidery design for the January issue of the Bustle & Sew Magazine ….

Little Red Riding Hood

No prizes for guessing who was the model – and inspiration – for the “not-very-scary-woof ” sorry, WOLF!  But inspiration also can be found in all sorts of strange and much less obvious places….  Rosie sent me a picture of her Christmas manicure…..  


And I thought …. “I love the clean, simple shape of that reindeer head.”  Then I thought…… “he would look great as a machine embroidery/applique project!”

So now I am proud to present to you my next Bustle & Sew Christmas gift …… 

Christmas Reindeer Tote Bag

My Christmas Reindeer Tote Bag!  

A good-sized, sturdy tote that’s quick and simple to make – and perfect for carrying home all your Christmas Shopping!  If you’d like to make your own Christmas Reindeer Tote Bag then just CLICK HERE to download the free pattern.

Oh … and I nearly forgot to mention …. for this week only, I am offering a 25% discount on all orders that include a pattern from my Christmas Shop.  Just enter code XMAS25 at checkout to claim your discount!



What are these all kinds of ?

by Helen on November 20, 2012

Sideways ….. in-your-face ….. lashing against the windows….. drifting like mist …. stair-rods…. cats and dogs ….. hammering down ….. beating on the skylight ….. getting under your brolly…..  have you guessed yet?

Yes, it’s that frequent visitor to south Devon:


It is simply pouring down.  I’m so pleased that although it was overcast, it remained dry while Rosie was here and on Friday we took a picnic to the beach.  Rosie also took quite a few photos of the furry one (she is his biggest fan) and sent me this shot – spot the tennis ball he is clutching in his mouth!

I think it was supposed to be more of an action shot – we tried to encourage Ben to gallop across the sand, but he preferred more of a stately trot as you can see!  But we had great fun and luckily all the smelly seaweed had washed away again so there was no repeat of the rolling incident!  The upside to the dreadful weather we’re experiencing today though, is that I have been able to spend a guilt-free morning stitching – and with the next issue of the Bustle & Sew magazine out next week, I needed to spend some time finishing off this month’s projects. …

Christmas Dove Wreath

I think felt comes into its own at Christmas – such lovely cheerful colours and so easy to use – no fraying at the edges or worries about joining seams on the bias.  I have used just three colours of felt in my Christmas Dove wreath, plus some hand embroidery details… 

Christmas Dove Wreath

It’s really easy to make and as it’s all hand-stitching it’s a great project to snuggle down with in the evenings.  Sorry about the poor dreadful photo quality in this image – I had to put the light on in the summer house to get any sort of photo as it’s so dark and grey here – but it shows the general idea.  I’ll take some better pictures when the sun comes out again!  

PS – the sun has come out at the end of the day and this is a much nicer picture – I think!

Christmas Dove Wreath


Nostalgic Mix Fair and Christmas Geese Softies

by Helen on October 16, 2012

I had a wonderful time at the Nostalgic Mix Fair in Totnes on Saturday.  This is always a great day with a very friendly atmosphere, organised to perfection by Lesley of This n That  – thanks Lesley for such an enjoyable event!  I took lots and lots of samples – and very nearly sold out!  Here’s my stall at the beginning of the day:


You may recognise some of the patterns from the last few months’ issues of the Bustle & Sew ezine.  It’s a great opportunity to empty my cupboard – though I love some projects too much to part with them!  If you’d like to see more images of the fair and some of the other beautiful stalls piled high with goodies, then just pop over to my friend Sal’s blog – that’s Sal’s Snippets.   I’m afraid I wasn’t very well organised so didn’t manage to get around the hall with my camera – but Sal’s pictures are brilliant – and yes, I did sample some of the wonderful cakes on offer in the tea rooms!  

If you look closely at the photo above, you’ll see a little goose softie – in a woolly hat!  I have revised and added to my original Little Geese Softies pattern to include woolly hats and scarves.   The geese up at Coleridge Farm popped their heads over the wall to say “Hello” while Ben and I were out and about a couple of weeks ago ….

Autumn Walk (3)

 They were very interested in us, but not completely sure that we were harmless.  And I thought – wouldn’t they look great in hats and scarves!!  And then I thought …. 

Little Christmas Geese

 Christmas Geese!!

 If you’d like to make your own, you’ll find the pattern in my Christmas store.  Both the little softies above found new homes on Saturday.  And finally … having mentioned the large black furry one, and realising that I haven’t posted his photo for quite some time,  here is a totally unrelated picture of him out on our walk today.  It was very windy, hence the slicked back  fur-style!!



Christmas Designs – Fabric Deer Head

by Helen on October 11, 2012

Christmas is still some way off I know, but if you’re planning to sew decorations or gifts, then you do have to plan ahead a bit – at least that’s my excuse!  I love the festive season, especially as my birthday is just over a week before Christmas, so it has always been a special time of year for me.  

As well as adapting some of my existing patterns for Christmas (more on that in a future post), I have plenty of new designs for 2012.  In my October e-zine I included my Baby Owls Advent Calendar  as well as the  “I Saw Three Ships” Table Runner.  And now … I am (slightly) proud to present to you:

Fabric Deer Head

My fabric reindeer head mounted on (of course!) an embroidery hoop.  I say “slightly” proud as I had hoped that he would be a noble beast but, like all my softies, he has turned out to be cute and whimsical instead!  He is very cheerful-looking though and I feel sure that he will enhance my Christmas decorating scheme this year, maybe with some tinsel or tiny fairy lights wrapped around his antlers.

deer 005

When designing my reindeer I referred – as I always do – to this wonderful book by Rudi de Sarigny published by Mills & Boon in 1971.  My copy was a hand-me-down, but if you’re interested in softie-making and you find a copy then I recommend you snap it up instantly!  It has lots of excellent advice on pattern cutting and technique – and I was delighted to discover in the section on adapting patterns that there is a whole paragraph on changing a horse head into a stag head!  What could be more useful?!!  


I did indeed note the placing of the antlers, ears and eyes.  It’s obvious when you think about it, but when I was trying to visualise my reindeer I couldn’t remember whether it was antlers in front of ears (given that they both had to be inserted in the seam) or the other way around!  But thanks to Rudi I got it right!  

Fabric Deer Head

My reindeer is not at all hard to make if you’ve done any softie making before – his antlers are wired, but that’s all – some firm stuffing ensures that he sits firmly on his embroidery hoop base.   I did think I might try to make a video demonstration to go with the pattern – he is a bit fiddly in places and it’s often easier to show rather than to try and explain.  I need to make another one now to make sure all my pattern pieces really do fit together properly and this would be ideal for demonstrating too.  

Now all he needs is a name!!  I feel a competition for e-zine subscribers coming on ……..  Meanwhile his pattern (hopefully with video tutorial) will be in the November e-zine and available to purchase separately after then.