Make No. 36: Redwork Feather Bookmarks


We’re attending a Christmas craft fair next month, and these little redwork feather bookmarks will be part of our entourage. I’ve been toying with the idea of small embroidery for a while, as we don’t want everything we display to be expensive. Who doesn’t love a stocking filler! It’s also nice to make small things sometimes. Cloaks take up a LOT of lounge floor, and you can never, ever find your scissors while you’re playing Dressmaking Twister.

I love feathers, and I’m loving the redwork and blackwork designs that I’ve seen. So inspiring…I love the idea of turning a doodle into machine embroidery, or screen prints.



I kinda like ’em! I might just have to make myself a purple one.


Make 35: Embroidered Tree Surcoat


Paul’s been on about a tree surcoat for his larp character forever. Well, maybe about a year. There was a long debate about fabric. Many sketches ensued. He spent hours and hours getting the design right, and to his credit it’s turned out nicely. I can’t bear a tree with droopy roots…




We had lots of fun and games getting the embroidery machine to play ball. We spent an entire evening tearing our hair out, wondering what was amiss. Turns out it was a dodgy spool of thread! Once that was sorted, it was onto the coat design. The basic coat shape came from a Simplicity pattern. I had made one mandarin collar before, but for a different sized coat, so it was literally back to the drawing board.



He wanted side flares to give more swoosh (I reckon he wants to smuggle things. I think smuggle might be my favourite word). Another learning curve for me. I think most of this year has been curved 🙂

 .                     surcoat-2


He’s happy. I’m happy. The embroidery machine is happy. Everyone’s happy! Happy Sunday!


Make No. 34: Watercolour Daisies at 100mph

Make 34 was exciting…people, we’re going to paint a watercolour scene. With no sketch. That’s right. You have an hour to:

Paint a sky. Dab out some clouds with an increasingly manky piece of kitchen roll. It’s art, dahling.

Apply masking fluid with a paintbrush, four seconds at a time before your brush becomes utterly unuseable. That joke you just made about rinsing your brush in your tea just cost you a brush, moron. Also, do not rinse your brush in your tea.

Apply masking fluid to the foreground with a credit card, preferably somebody else’s.

Recover consciousness. Masking fluid honks.

Paint a foreground. Rub a candle over the top of the foreground to resist the later wash. Do not worry about the fact that you have No Idea At All where the wax is on the paper.

Paint some trees. (Lollipop trees do not count, apparently.)

Add a mountain, even though you thought your tree line was finished, Because Your Teacher Told You To. I must have been looking too cheerful.

Rub off the masking fluid, trying hard not to think of sunburnt skin.

Paint the centres of the daisies. Do Not Paint Them All Stood Up Straight. Unless you want to paint a field of fried eggs.

And there you have it. (Someone’s having a campfire in the woods. I didn’t smudge it. Honest.)




You never see that on the Krypton factor, do you?







Make No. 33: Gelli Feather Print Card


Make No. 33 combines two of my favourite things: Gelli printing and feathers.




The feather was collected by a close friend, which made it extra special to work with. I adore blues and greens…peacocks and oceans, dragonflies and magpies, and there’s a magnificent unpredictability about Gelli printing, especially with organic materials. You never know exactly what you’re going to get, and even the not-so-good bits make stunning backgrounds. Not everyone likes that flavour of makery, of course; in last week’s art class I heard an outraged “I can’t bear watercolours, they just won’t do as they’re told!” I did actually laugh out loud. That’s what I like best about them…

The card was for my friend Splendid Emma. Happy birthday, lady 🙂

Make it a wonderful day.

Walk in peace.



Make No. 32 – Relief Texture Tiles

This one was a leap in the dark for me…texture paste? Never heard of it.

This term, art class is about the Victorians. Our brief was to make five botanical drawings from seed heads and to translate the shape of one of them into four different tiles, using different textures and relief. It was a surprisingly challenging project, and involved some painting of spaghetti and split peas but dammit – I did it. It highlighted my deep issues with Randomness (which is strange, considering what comes out of my mouth). It is not my favourite piece of work, but it taught me tonnes. And that, I am assured, was the point of the exercise.



Next week we’re starting with oil paints. I think I used them once, about 25 years ago. Good heavens above. Three, two, one, rags at the ready…

Make No. 31 – Syringe Driver Bags for Ipswich Hospital

Happy Sunday morning! How’s your weekend so far?

We had an unexpectedly lovely day out yesterday…we had only planned to stay home and get some jobs done, but when we found out there was a huge book fair going on in a stunning church nearby we couldn’t resist.






I think a separate visit to hunt down green men and gargoyles with my camera is in order soon. It was only built a century ago so I might be out of luck…but in the meantime…tea and books. Lots and lots of books. Heaven. Paul bought two, I got sixteen. Greedy girl 🙂

Next we shopped for some bits and pieces for a Halloween party next week. It was a strangely liberating experience, buying stuff to trash (don’t worry, the costumes will be re-used, my eco conscience doesn’t stretch that far). Zombiedom awaits! Then off to a housewarming party, to meet some new people, hug some old friends and giggle at kids wearing pampas grass tails and setting fire to marshmallows. Fabulous.

Today will be our day of Doing Jobs and Making Stuff. So, on to Make 31, which is in response to this appeal from Making For Charity.

We’ve had a request from the staff at Ipswich Hospital, they are in need of some syringe driver bags. if there is anyone in the area that would like to help out the address to post them is

FAO Sister Jane Mooney,
The Stour Centre, Ipswich Hospital,
Heath Road, Ipswich,
Suffolk IP4 5LS

Here goes with the first set…




If you would like to learn more about the charity, or specifically syringe driver bags, you can read more at the links below.

Syringe driver bags are simple to make and it’s been touching to hear some of the happy responses from people who are going through a tough time. If you sew, or are thinking of taking up sewing, they are a wonderfully straightforward project. All straight lines, no zips or buttons. I’ve got more fabric lined up for future bags, which I will slot in between bigger makes.

Have a good Sunday!

Walk in peace.


Make No. 30: Medieval Mandarin Collar Coat


Make No. 30 is a test drive for a hand drafted coat pattern – a simple medieval coat with a Mandarin (standing) collar. I’ll be making about ten matching coats using this pattern over the next couple of months, in different sizes, some with split sides and some not. I’ve also got an order for a reversible surgeon’s apron with pockets to scratch my head over. I love this stuff, although I seem to be skirting around the edges of Actual Maths. Shudder. Surely not!




My first challenge was the creation of a Mandarin collar, at which point my many reference books bore glorious and impressive fruit. Aaah, books…the trim, on the other hand, will have to be made from bias binding as I’d like it to run around the neckline and ordinary fabric just doesn’t have the stretch. I’ve got a big roll ordered. A very big roll.

I also wanted to enclose as many raw edges as possible, and I’ve managed it. A little French seam here, a little bias binding there, and we’re good to go.

So there we have it – a new skill acquired in the collar drafting department of my Sewing Brain, and the green light for a shedload of larp coats in the next few weeks. Eek. Bring it on.


Make No. 29: Embroidered Velvet Horse Banner

Make No. 29 is a gift for my parents to give to some friends that they haven’t seen each other for 35 years. Cool huh? They’ve got a lot of catching up to do!


Getting five layers of squishy fabric was a bit of a mission, but it was nothing compared to my efforts to stop the banner flying off into the sunset. Highly amusing. This shot was taken as it took its maiden voyage across the garden. I’m going to be embroidering different coloured horses onto cream over the next few days. Should look AWESOME!

Make it a wonderful evening 🙂



Make No. 28: Collage Birthday Card

Emergency cards for boys! We all know about those…this one’s for my godfather. I don’t know how old he’ll be this year, which probably makes me an extremely bad goddaughter.


Still. Let’s hope he likes it, and doesn’t notice that I did the stitchery drunk and in the dark. Must have been quite wonky underlay. Reminds me of a house I once rented; my co-habitee sprinkled lettuce seeds on the carpet when we left, because the landlord refused to believe that the house was Actually Very Damp Indeed. But that, my friends, is another story…


Make No. 27: Larp Weapons Rack

Okay, so I finished this one in the summer…around the time of the tent organiser in fact. It just got whisked away to hold larp weapons and live among slugs and then it was muddy…and crumpled…and looking a bit sorry for itself, so I thought I’d give it a bath before it made its debut 🙂


It’s handy. Very very handy. No more ruined swords, hopefully…