Saturday, 23 August 2014

Fabric Shopping... African Style

I'm currently visiting family in Lagos.  If I'm perfectly honest it's not a place I feel completely comfortable in, never having lived here and with visits lately happening only every few years.  I always seem to get the blues a little when I'm here - maybe it's not having any friends here (besides family), or the heat, or a side-effect of the anti-malarials, or all of the above.  So this week I was glad that I made it to the market to do some fabric shopping.  I mean, what could be better than shopping for fabric to chase the blues away?  Especially when it's bright and colourful.

Bright Ankara fabric on display
My first stop was Balogun Market on Lagos Island.  It's a huge market selling practically everything, with a good portion of it given over to fabric - a few stalls selling general fabric, with the majority selling Ankara (the brightly coloured, wax-resist printed cotton that is associated with Africa), brocade and lace.  I was interested in the Ankara.  It is usually sold in 6 yard bundles but occasionally you might find someone selling offcuts or willing to cut into a bundle for you.

Prices are usually in the range of about N250 ([Nigerian currency is the Naira] which is just under £1) a yard to N500, but you could pay more depending on where you shop, particularly if shopping outside of the market.  With prices like that it would be easy to lose your head, but I exercised a bit of restraint.  Having said that, now that I'm sitting here writing this I'm starting to wonder if I should have bought more!

...and more fabric!
My second stop was Oshodi market.  A smaller and less salubrious market perhaps, but still with bags of choice and much better prices.

My fabric haul
As you can see I've definitely got a preferred colour palette - turquoise (my new favourite colour), pinks, lilacs and the occasional green.  I tried very hard to go for some different hues, but I kept coming back to those colours.  At this point I've got 25 yards of fabric, all for the princely sum of about £25!  I've told myself that this is enough, as I don't actually have any projects in mind for all this fabric.  In fact it's been an age since I did any proper sewing, but it's all so delicious and takes up so little space!  I'm not sure I'll be able to resist buying more if the opportunity arises, but then who knows when I'll get another chance...  Right?

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Scrappy Gift Tag

Oh my goodness, was it really March when I last posted?  Time is really racing by!

I have been dabbling in card making, in fact I've started a new blog to keep track of my card making and papercrafting exploits.  One of the projects I completed recently was this simple, but pretty gift tag.  While sitting in the park, looking through the photos on my phone I thought how well the design would lend itself to being reproduced in fabric. 

It would be a great hand sewing project and the perfect way to use up fabric scraps. Strips of fabric stitched together and embellished with felt flowers or shapes, a few sequins, a bit of wadding to give it some body, and embroidered wording. What could be simpler? In fact, I don't know why I haven't tried it yet!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Work-In-Progress Wednesday

I've taken a real shine to stitching little embroidered hearts, and lately other shapes too. I'll show the ones I've completed another time, but here are my latest creations.

I've gone back to the beginning of the TAST list and started incorporating those stitches into the designs. I do like the red & white heart. I just need to trim off the excess and fix a felt backing to it. The butterfly feels like it's lacking some pizzazz, but I'm not quite sure what to add. I was hoping the metallic thread (which isn't showing up very well in the pictures) would lift it a bit. Maybe I should have used gold. Any suggestions?

Work-In-Progress Wednesday is a chance to show what you are currently working on, and hopefully encourage you to keep moving forwards with your unfinished projects. Join in with Sharon at Pin Tangle.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Heart to Heart

Back in October when I visited the Knitting & Stitching show I picked up some back issues of Stitch magazine. This issue jumped out at me because of all the colourful hearts on the cover, and on closer inspection there were several other lovely projects inside.

It's been a while since I did any creative activities. I just seem to be too tired to think in the evenings lately. But a couple of evenings ago I remembered this issue of Stitch and decided to have a go at making my own embroidered heart brooch.

It's probably a bit too busy, but I haven't decided yet. It's not a style that I've had much experience with, but I think I like it. I've got three more hearts prepped to go and I'm already thinking about different shapes. It'll be a great way to use up some of the multitude of fabric, ribbon and yarn scraps and buttons that I've accumulated.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Happy 2014!

I'm really looking forward to 2014.  I don't have any lofty ideals. Quite simply I hope to do better. Not that I did badly last year, it's just that I hope to learn and grow and develop from where I am now. From a crafty point of view that means that I hope to make time to practice my needlework, I hope to develop my skills and I hope to stretch and explore my creativity.

Wishing you a year full of learning, growth, development and fulfillment.


Thursday, 7 November 2013

Colour Inspiration - Pink and Aqua

I am loving everything aqua at the moment, from greens with the slightest hint of blue, to deep teal, to blues with the slightest hint of green. And when coupled with pink it's even better.

What's your latest colour crush?

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

TAST 67-68: Fancy Hem Stitch and Slipped Detached Chain Stitch

I've decided to make my own Christmas cards this year. I like the idea of embroidering some of them so this TAST offerings has a bit of a Christmassy theme.  I've made a little Christmas tree with the Fancy Hem Stitch and Slipped Detached Chain Stitch.  The sparkly thread is Anchor metallic. I found it a bit tricky to stitch with as it sort of unravelled when pulled through the material, but I found that if I let it unravel the final effect was still OK.

For more information about TAST pay a visit to Pin Tangle.

Friday, 18 October 2013

The Knitting and Stitching Show

Last week I was lucky enough to make it to The Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace.  It was my first time at the show and I was beyond excited at the prospect of an entire (child-free!) day to look at stitchy goodness.  It was a pretty dreary day, but that didn't dampen my mood one bit.

I had a vague shopping list in mind, which I'm glad I did because otherwise I think that the whole thing would have been overwhelming.  That, the fact that I forgot to take more cash with me and many of the card terminals weren't working because of a lousy signal, and the fact that I refused to pay almost £2 for the privilege of taking money out of the cash machines that were dotted around saved me from spending A LOT more money than I did.

There were so many amazing, beautiful and inspiring things on show, but of course I also forgot to charge my phone so only came away with a handful of photos!  Please forgive the quality of the photos - I took them all in a hurry so that my battery would last and some of them are a bit out of focus, but here are some of my favourites:

One of the first things I came across was a display of quilts. I'm not a quilter but some of the creations were amazing, like this elephant quilt (I didn't see a maker's name).  I just love the colours in this.

Also this mini quilt "The Rose of Versailles" bu Kumiko Frydl.  From a distance it looks like pink fabric...

...but get close up and you can see that it's all been stitched!

I love this embroidered clock that I saw at the Embroiderers' Guild stand.  My picture doesn't do it justice at all (not least because it isn't quite in focus!), but it really was breathtaking. I also saw some fabulous examples of floral stumpwork, but alas no pictures :-(

One of the stands that I couldn't buy from because of a lack of cash and no card facilities was Aarti J which was filled with some of the most gorgeous trims that I have ever seen.  (Probably a good thing that I couldn't spend there.)

It was a great day out, but by the end of the day even I was starting to lose the will to look at more fabric!  I came away with a pretty good stash - several fat quarters and half metres of fabric including a good selection of Christmas fabric, fabric wax crayons, dissolvable fabric, quite a few magazine back-issues including Stitch, some linen thread yarn, buttons and brooch backs:

Did any of you get to the show?  What goodies did you pick up?

Saturday, 21 September 2013

TAST 64-66: Top Knotted Buttonhole, Buttonhole Bar and Coral Stitch

I've seen so many examples of lovely embroidered paisley so I decided to have a go.

I did not like stitching the Top Knotted Buttonhole. At all! Because of the way the thread has to twist in order to make the knot I found it impossible to get into any sort of rhythm, which is a shame as it's an interesting-looking stitch.

Buttonhole Bar and Coral Stitch were much more enjoyable - lending themselves nicely to that all-important rhythm. Do you find that a nice rhythm when stitching makes the process much easier?

To see how to work these stitches (and a whole load more) take a look at Pin Tangle's TAST page. And also have a look at the comments for embroidery inspiration.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Crocheted Flower Bookmark

This post has been republished as the original mysteriously disappeared!

Hello everyone - blog stop tourists, current readers and new visitors too! Thank you for stopping  by.  I love a bit of needlework - mainly sewing, embroidery and crochet, though lately crochet has been dominating my craft time.  So today I'm sharing a crochet tutorial for pretty flower bookmarks.  But don't rush off if you don't crochet,scroll down for a really simple, but pretty envelope packaging idea, and I've got a few things to give away too!

E-readers are great, but for me nothing compares with holding a real live book in my hands.  I came across some crocheted flower bookmarks on Pinterest and thought it was such a lovely way to mark a page.  So then of course I had to come up with my own version.  I made a few as end of year gifts for my son's teachers so hopefully there are no mistakes in the pattern! It's quick to make up and a great way to use up yarn scraps. So anyway, here's how to make one of your own:


Note - I'm using UK crochet terms, but here is a quick UK-US translation:
UK                                     US
Slip Stich (sl st)                   Slip Stitch (sl st)
Double Crochet (dc)             Single Crochet (sc)
Treble Crochet (tr)               Double Crochet (dc)


  • DK Yarn in two colours. I used James C Brett Cotton On shades C05 (pink) and C012 (green).
  • A 4mm hook
  • A button, about 15mm
  • Tapestry needle


  1. With the first colour chain (ch) 42 (image 1). Slip stitch (sl st) into 3rd chain from hook to make a small ring (image 2). Fasten off, leaving a long tail.
  2. Cut 3 10cm lengths of yarn.
  3. Fold them in half and pull the loop about half way through the back loop of first ch of the ch42 (images 3 and 4).
  4. Take the ends and pass those through the loop, then pull to form a tassel (image 5). 
  5. Trim the ends to the same length.

With the second colour:

  1. Sl st into the ring you made in step 1 of the stem. *Dc into ring, ch4* five times. Sl st into first dc (image 1).
  2. *6tr into ch4 space. Sl st into next dc. Rep from * 4 times (image 2).
  3. Turn the flower over. Ch 2. 
  4. *Dc over the post separating the two petals (image 3). Ch 6* five times (image 4).
  5. Sl st into first dc. Turn.
  6. *10tr into ch6 space. Sl st into next dc. Rep from * 4 times (image 5).
  7. Fasten off.
Using the tail from the stem, sew a button to the centre of the flower.  Weave in all remaining ends (image 6).


If you make one of these bookmarks as a gift, or if you are looking for a nice way to package a small (flattish) gift, then these easy envelopes are ideal.  Use plain or patterned paper.  You can get some free printable papers from here.  This really is so easy it hardly deserves a write-up, but the result does look nice.

  • A sheet of paper. (I've used A4)
  • Sticky tape / Washi tape / Fabric tape

  1. If using an A4 sheet, fold it in half lining up the long edges.
  2. Cut along the fold to give you two strips (image 1).
  3. Take one strip and fold it from the bottom so that there is 1-inch/2.5cm left at the top (image 2).
  4. Cut a piece of tape the same length as one of the open folded sides, not including the 1-inch/2.5cm at the top. 
  5. Position the tape so that half of it is on the paper and half of it is overhanging (image 3).
  6. Fold the tape over to the other side of the envelope to seal the opening (image 4).
  7. Repeat on the other side.
  8. Use a small piece of tape to seal the envelope shut.
(Apologies if some of the photos are a little unclear. The Washi tape I ordered did not arrive in time for this post :( and all I had was clear sticky tape!)

    OK, and now to the giveaways! I have:

    • three crocheted flower bookmarks, 
    • one kit to make your own bookmarks (containing a 4mm crochet hook, enough yarn to make 3 bookmarks, buttons, a tapestry needle and printed instructions) and 
    • a roll of Washi tape  (pictured below) 
      (image: PrettyTape)
    up for grabs.  To enter just leave a comment saying which giveaway you want to enter (it's OK to enter all 3). For an extra chance to win, like the Berry Bakewell Facebook Page then come back here and leave a comment telling me you've done that.  The giveaway is open to everyone, worldwide and will close at midnight (UK time) 22nd August.

    I hope you've enjoyed your visit, and hope to see you again :-)