Category Archives: Embroidery

2017 100 day project – completed!


I was determined to get to the end of my #100daysofslowstitches project, and here I am.  It wasn’t the project I thought it was going to be, and I was pleased I had made the definition of what I could do broad, so I could change it as I went along.

My two main projects were completing 25 blocks of The Splendid Sampler, for my niece – quilt top above.  And I kept up with the Ice Cream Soda blocks (see the end of this post).

I started with embroidery and English Paper Piecing, and as the days went on I included machine patchwork and applique.  My thinking was, it might be done by machine, but takes ages, so it still qualifies as slow stitching!

The 100 day project I completed a couple of years ago was #100daysofnewrecipies, and that one really affected me.  I saw a huge difference in my cooking ability and confidence by the end.

This time, I think I’ve learned what I do and don’t enjoy stitching.

I wanted to make a sampler of embroidery stitches, but hated counting threads to get straight and even rows of stitching.

I enjoyed making a Sashiko sampler, because the lines were printed on the fabric, and the embroidery transfer from the Aimee Ray book worked well too (see my previous post for more).  I’d like to use more transfer embroidery on garments, as I prefer to make something that can be used, rather than purely decorative.

The project encouraged me to persist with techniques I was finding difficult – like teeny, tiny patchwork pieces – gah!  And push myself to improve my quilting skills (points, people, points).

It might sound obvious, but making the time to do something towards a goal, however small, is a really good habit to get into.  I hope it’s something I will continue.

So, I’m glad I did it, I’m thrilled I completed 100 days – and I will probably join in again next year!



PS I loved this podcast from Elise on Starting The 100 Day Project


Sketchbook workshop with Cas Holmes


I’ve admired Cas Holmes’ beautiful work for ages, and I’ve often wondered if I could make something inspired by her techniques.  I didn’t know where to start – her books are lovely, but I needed some help.  Then I saw Cas was running a workshop at Thimblestitch in Honiton (about half an hour from me).  It was fully booked (curses), but I put my name on the waiting list anyway.  A few days before the date Zoe rang with news that she’d had a cancellation and I was in!

I absolutely loved it.  Cas is such a good teacher and guided us through a series of exercises – drawing outside, making rubbings, hammering flowers and looking at found objects in different ways.

Below is my first sketch of some grass, and rubbings of twisted wire and waste plastic.


I’d taken along some photographs of the river and fields where I walk Hetty.  This is the piece I worked on for most of the day –


And this one of a hare which I finished later –


I feel so much more comfortable with ‘playing’ in my sketchbook now.  Cas gave me some very good advice, which was to draw or do something in my sketchbook every day.  I’m going to start when I’ve finished my 100 day project, which ends on 12 July.  Nearly there!

If you’d like to keep up with my progress, I’m dottie_doodle on Instagram.




The 100 day project – halfway there!


So it’s day 51 of The 100 Day Project.  I’ve been through the “I love this and never want to stop” phase, the “why on earth did I sign up for this, I hate it” phase, and am currently in  “sometimes this is a pain but I am enjoying it”!

My project this year is #100daysofslowstitches.  I’ve learned from past years that it is best to go for something that doesn’t take too long and has a broad definition.  That way, I don’t get stressed or bored with the project.  Actually, I still did, but I would have given up if I’d chosen something more time intensive or restrictive.

I had pictured myself relaxing in the garden/armchair adding a few stitches to a sampler every day, and learning new stitches along the way.  I began a sampler with lines of different stitches, and I enjoyed the stitching but hated having to count threads and get the lines straight.  This is as far as I got before giving up –


I really enjoyed stitching this Sashiko sampler – the lines are printed on the fabric.


Mr D gave me Aimee Ray’s Doodle Stitching Transfer book for my birthday and I’ve almost completed this one


I’ve also included English Paper Piecing, with the Ice Cream Soda quilt blossoms


and some Liberty and chambray hexagons (possibly for a quilt border)


And because I like to have lots of different projects on the go (!), I’ve just started to make some of The Splendid Sampler blocks.


You can follow my progress on Instagram at dottie_doodle.  Hope to see you over there!



The 100 Day Project

Sashiko sampler available from Sew Hot

Doodle Stitching Transfer Book

Ice Cream Soda quilt

The Splendid Sampler


Smocking on polka dots – tutorial

It took me a while to work out how to smock on to polka dot fabric.  Here’s what I learned – mainly by making a complete hash of it!


Before you begin, mark the start point of each line of smocking with a removable pencil.  Ignore the line of dots which would be in the centre of each square if the dots were joined into a grid.  You’ll see in the following pictures that it would otherwise be difficult to find the right starting point when the fabric is gathered by the smocking.

My dots are 1cm apart.


Bring your needle up on the left edge of the first dot.  Take a small stitch from right to left on the second dot.


Then take a small stitch from right to left on the first dot, coming out through/close to your starting point.


Pull tight.  Admire the little triangle fold.


Insert the needle back down through/close to the right hand hole on your stitch, and bring up through the next dot (which will be the third one across).  Repeat.

smocking_polka_dot_tutorial_dottie_doodle-005So that’s all there is to it.  As a beginner, I found you get the best results by being as neat and precise as you can, and by taking your time.  I had to completely redo my first couple of attempts!

Tiny smocked dress – Purl Soho


Ahh, little girls’ summer dresses. I’m planning a few different styles for tiny niece this year.

This one is the Purl Bee Smocked Dress & Shirt  pattern which I received for free when I signed up for their newsletter.

I think I did some smocking at school, and it was fun to try it again.  I say fun – I decided to use polka dots rather than the gingham they recommend, and it took a few tries to get it right.


It’s a lovely pattern.  The smocking produces beautiful pleats at the neckline and a gently gathered full skirt.  The binding finishes the arm edge and extends to form straps.

The only thing I will change next time is the width of the binding.  I found 1 5/8″ rather narrow and fiddly, and the inside isn’t as neat as I would like.  I think making the binding a little wider would make the dress much faster to sew.


On Monday, I’ll show you how I did the smocking on polka dots.  It’s very easy but might save you some time if you’d like to try it!

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Make + Review – Stitch at Home by Mandy Shaw

This is the second in my Make + Review series.

Stitch at Home by Mandy Shaw has such a pretty collection of designs, and a wide range of projects – a garden kneeler, dog bed, Christmas decorations, even a teepee for the garden.

There are masses of applique designs in the book and you could make them as they are, or use the ideas for other projects. The patchwork quilt has twelve applique picture blocks which could all be used individually on smaller items or cards.

I used part of Mandy’s sewing machine cover design to make a birthday card for Sue, my favourite fabric buying enabler.


The little scissor charm is from Etsy here.

Next, a bandanna for Hetty.  A very simple pattern, but so nicely designed.  It’s double sided, and slides onto her collar – which I much prefer to tying something round her neck.

Dottie Doodle Hetty

I made this version larger than the pattern size as her Christmas bandanna got a little lost in all that fur.  She doesn’t seem to notice it at all.


And this is my first entry in the Crazy Dog Lady Sewing challenge  #crazydogladysewing.

The next project on my list to try (when I have time!)  is this sampler.  I love embroidery samplers, and this design is so pretty.


So, it’s a great book!  Masses of ideas to try, and so it’s one to turn to again and again.

Daisy Chain for summer

Finished! My Daisy Chain sampler from Alicia Paulson. My first time stitching embroidery since I was at school.  I took Alicia’s advice to take it slowly, and practice unfamiliar stitches on a spare piece of fabric, and it went along pretty well.  Her instructions are very clear and the design is lovely.  Lots of different stitches to keep it interesting.

I haven’t embroidered with crewel wool before, and love the effect. And particularly like the noise the wool makes as it is pulled through the hooped fabric.  Very soothing.

Sadly the Couture Dress course has not gone so well, as the Broadband we have here in the countryside is not up to the job.   So frustrating, as I managed to watch the introduction and it looked great.  Ah well, Gertie’s book is out soon – maybe I’ll try to work my way though that.  The patterns look gorgeous.