FREE workshop tomorrow at IKEA Gateshead

ZZZ pillow case

Fancy making a fab ZZZ applique pillowcase yourself? Then pop along to Ikea, Gateshead tomorrow between 11-5pm and I will be in the bedrooms department to show you how! And you don’t have to leave it there! To get a goodnight’s sleep, why not also make a pretty lavender bag as well! Sewing is not just good for the soul, it can also provide you with a restful night’s sleep!

Lavender bag 1  Lavender bag 2

All the equipment you will need, will be provided and as long as you can sew a ‘running’ stitch, you’ll be able to sew these lovely and relaxing creations! Hope to see you there!


Jingle Jangle Bracelets

Brown bangles Red bangles

Inspired by yesterdays creativity at the jewellery making workshop, I decided to make some bracelets ready for Open Studios at the Biscuit Factory in November. The bracelets are made from a mixture of recycled, broken jewellery and lovely new glass, handmade and wooden beads. I must admit, in the past I have made loads of these, as I just love the mixture of textures and colours, plus wearing four bracelets around each wrist looks great and makes a wonderful ‘Jingle Jangle!’

Jewellery making workshop using leather

Teddy keyring Gateshead women's group Leaf earring GW community group

This afternoon I ran a workshop for a fantastic women’s community group in Gateshead, who I’ve worked with in the past. The brief from the women was that they would like to learn to create leather jewellery and accessories inspired by jewellery artist Nora Fok whose work is currently displayed at the Shipley Art Gallery. Learning new skills, the women designed, cut out, threaded, beaded, glued and pliered their earrings, rings and key-rings together. As you can see from the photos, they have made some lovely new pieces in just one workshop.

Heart keyring GWCG  Green earring GWCG Star keyring GWCG

Butterfly keyring GWCG      Ring GWCG

Heart keyring 2 GWCG      Leaf keyring GWCG

Work In Progress: Embroidered Lovebirds

Lovebirds 1

Using my Aqua-Trickmaster water soluble pen, I drew out the design I’d decided upon, as I was getting a bit ‘twitchy’ and needed an immediate project to work on this weekend (not that I don’t have more important things that need doing.) The cotton fabric was then stretched on an embroidery hoop.

Lovebirds 2

I then ‘outlined’ the area I wished to fill in with the embroidery silks using a running stitch, then went back on myself, filling in the gaps. I find embroidery silk can be very expensive and recently the Works has started selling embroidery silks as well as other great priced craft equipment.

Lovebirds 3Using a ‘long-stitch’ or a rather scruffy ‘satin stitch’, I begun to fill in the areas of the bird, trying to make it appear quite feather like.

Lovebirds 4This is as far as I’ve got to tonight with my little ‘Lovebirds’, but I am looking forward to continuing with them this coming week. (Though I do have a workshop about hand sewing leather, small accessories inspired by nature, that needs planning for Wednesday! )Once the lovebirds have been finished, I hope to frame and have the picture available for the Ouseburn Open Studios in November.


Washington New Town’s 50th Anniversary Banner made by Class 5T, George Washington Primary School

Banner 50 a

Washington’s 50th Anniversary Banner

Photo (c) Ian McClelland

The pupils and I were first inspired by the documents and plans published when Washington was being planned in the 1960’s. Together, we looked at the master-plan, with its colourful use of zones, which becomes an abstract artwork in itself. We also used the extensive collection of books held at Washington Library, which illustrate what an iconic symbol of the optimism in New Town planning Washington was and is today. Collectively, the pupils and I decided to use the colourful illustration of the map to became the central point of our banner. Using the ideals of the original plan, the pupils choose to illustrate the key elements, such as schools, homes, shops and industry, that would bring the individual villages together to make Washington Town.

The pupils worked using a number of different textile techniques to create the banner including fabric painting, embroidery and appliqué. My role was to guide the pupils, help them develop their design, encourage them to try new skills and build their confidence in the arts. The finished banner is 2 x 1.5 metres.

This banner is made to celebrate Washington 50, in partnership with Sunderland Library Services and George Washington Primary School, funded by Area Community Funding.

I have been telling my family about what a great project we’ve been doing.”


GW 50 1 portrait  GW birds  GW map

I used the sewing that I learnt making the kite to make a small dress and skirt for my artist’s mannequin.” Rosie

Washington banner Nissan  Paint pots

The map made me feel like visiting some of the areas of Washington I haven’t visited before.” Gabrielle

Ravenswood Primary School Banners 2010-13

Over four years I worked with Ravenswood Primary School, creating a series of banners with the children of Year 1 and 5. The banners were funded by the schools active and very supportive PTA. The banners were made to reflect the heritage of the area the children lived in and to link it to their current topic. In many of the year groups almost 90 children worked on these banners creating the initial design idea, choosing the traditional textile techniques they felt would work well on the banners and of course, making the banner.

Over the six weeks, the children would learn how to use traditional techniques such as hooky and proggy matting, batik, embroidery, applique, fabric painting, weaving and knitting. These skills would then be used on their banner. It was great fun and the children were supported by their teachers, teaching assistants and parents.

IMG_6448                              photos downloaded 071110 328

Year 5 The Victorian Quayside 2010                            Year 1 Playing (levers and pullies) 2010

472                              Victorian seaside yr 1 2011

Year 5 Our Coastal Waters 2011                                     Year 1 The Victorian Seaside 2011

Shipbuilding banner                                        Mining banner 2013

Year 5 The Shipyards 2012                                               Year 5 Mining Banner 2013

How to: Simply applique and ‘bling-up’ a cushion!

You will need:

1 plain cushion or pillow

Assorted fabric

Needle, thread and pins

Scissors, ideally pinking shears

Buttons, beads, sequins (I found these in Poundland!)

Paper and pencil


Step 1:

Autumn cushion 1

Draw out on paper a simple bold design of your chosen idea. If you do not feel confident doing this, search Google Images for a desired image, which you can enlarge if needed on your computer. I have chosen to create an Autumn tree as we are now reaching the last days of Summer and Autumn is my favourite time of year.

Cut out the picture, pin it onto the fabric you wish to use and cut it out.


Step 2:

Autumn Cushion 2 

Once you have cut out all of your design from the fabric using pinking shears, pin it to the front of the cushion. This may sound stupid, but do remember to place your hand inside (try not to stab it with the pins) to ensure it doesn’t get pinned through to the back. if it is a large image, try and position it centrally but if it’s a smaller one, sometimes placing it in the corner or at an angle may look much better.


Step 3:

Autumn cushion 3

Use a simple running stitch to sew the fabric to the cushion. This technique of layering fabric is called applique. Once you have done this, you can have fun and further decorate your cushion using beads, sequins, buttons and ribbons. Again, when sewing the beads and sequins on, I have stuck to a simple running stitch, sewing the beads or sequins into place in the ‘up/right-side’ position of the cushion.


Other cushions I have made like this in the past include fun gingham and floral reindeer as well as other woodland creatures, many of these using IKEA fabrics. The beautiful Floral Fox below was made by a crafter who visited one of the workshops I ran at IKEA Gateshead last Christmas.

Gingham reindeer          Floral reindeer  Floral fox

How to: Customise your Doctor Martins

My lovely red patent leather Doctor Martins had finally begun to look a bit desperate, the patent was peeling away and no longer could nail varnish patch them up any longer. The actual boot itself was fine, just didn’t look too cool anymore. So rather than put them in the bin or turn them into a clock like a previous pair of mine have been, I decided to have a go at customising them.

My first attempt was with fabric paint, thinking this will cover the exposed suede and the leftover patent, but it wouldn’t stay put and would rub off easily.   So, I tried super gloss outdoor spray paint which has worked wonderfully!!

You will need:

1 pair of old Docs

Masking tape

Assorted super gloss outdoor spray paint


Stage 1:

Doc 1

Peel off any patent from your Docs that is flacking away (this is not a quick job!). Then cover any areas you do not wish to get the spray paint onto e.g. the rubber sole, fabric tops.

Stage 2:

Doc 2

You must spray your Docs outside, or in a very well ventilated area. Place your Docs onto some newspaper and start spraying, one colour at a time. Try not to add too much spray paint at each stage as the paint will get too runny and dry with drips (unsightly.) When spraying, dry and layer up your colours slowly. Leave to dry for at least four hours or whatever the spray paint recommends. Repeat this step a couple of times, until you are happy with your look.

Stage 3:

Doc 3

Once dry, take off masking tape, treat any areas where the paint has slipped through the masking tape – even a permanent marker pen might just do the job of touch-ups to the rubber sole. Lace back up and enjoy!