remembering my threads

Lilipopo thread folder fullI have a terrible habit of absolutely loving a particular colour, coming to the end of it and then completely forgetting what it was.  I probably should have been keeping a record of my colours before now but there we go!

So this week I gradually started wrapping some of my favourite colours around card and labeling them.  

Lilipopo thread folderThey are not in any particular order, although it might have been nicer to have them all graded.  But I have a card for each colour group (or I will have when they are finished)  and then I keep all the cards in a folder in my Midori notebook.

At first I just snipped a small piece and taping it down but you don't get such a clear idea of the colour so I started again and wrapped each colour around the card 5 times which is much better.

Lilipopo liberty fabrics

and it's not just thread colours that I forget!  Liberty have a habit of discontinuing their fabrics sometimes.  When this happens I have to go on a trawl around the internet to see if I can find another stockist who still has some left.  The only trouble is I can never remember the name of the fabric so I have to look through all the liberty fabrics (such a chore ;)) to find the one I want.  Not any more!  Now I am keeping swatches with names in my Midori.  Again I would recommend keeping quite large snips of the fabric as some of the prints can be very similar, especially if you are looking at photos online, so it's good to be able to see as much of the pattern as possible.

I'm actually enjoying wrapping the threads, it's quite meditative and allows me a little time to think about colour.

On another note I will have my princess pattern available on Friday 

  Lilipopo princess embroidery pattern I have loved working on this little princess, surrounding myself in pink for a while.  

The pattern also has a version with an embroidered dress and one to fit an oval hoop.  I will share more pictures on Friday

I would love to hear if you have methods for remembering your favourite threads and fabrics.

Have a lovely week



A simple stitch guide


Free stitch guide

I have created a simple stitch guide that will be sent out with all my patterns.  It contains the main stitches that I use in the patterns and drawn diagrams of the stitches.

I have added this stitch guide to all my patterns on Etsy but you can grab it for free here 

The guide is a basic stitch guide to the stitches I use most often in the patterns.  For some of the stitches (such as french knots!) it might still be useful to look at video tutorials on youtube and to use the guide as a reminder. 

I hope you find the stitch guide useful

lavender girl inspiration


Inbetween busyness with dull admin stuff and lots of supplies ordering for the Christmas season this is what I have been doing, having fun with lavender girls.

Dress collage

I love playing around with liberty tana lawn scraps.  I especially love  the turquoise Betsy at the moment.  The fabrics are (in a clockwise direction) grey Mitsi, yellow Kayoko, turquoise Betsy, red June's meadow.  All these are available from Alice Caroline on Etsy .

Head collage

The kits should be ready in a week or so


colour and threads


Today I have been deciding which colours to use for my new pattern and now I am writing this rather than getting on with the pattern tracing!  Choosing thread colours is probably my absolute favourite part of the whole design process.  In real life I am a wearer of neutrals, greys and blacks so I think lilipopo is where I can release my inner colourful self!

I tend to use either DMC or Anchor stranded cotton because they are usually readily available for most people.  And if you can only get one or the other (usually DMC is more available) there are conversion charts between the two, such as this one at Sew and So.

I do also love the sublime stitching colours but they are not as easy to get hold of so I don't tend to use them for my patterns, although I do use them for personal projects and commissioned work.

Anchor 19

I have my favourite basics, DMC black, DMC white and DMC ecru are always in my box.  Alongside those are DMC3799 a charcoal colour that is great for the girls faces and DMC451 a brown I sometimes use for faces or hair.  Then there is my all time favourite red - Anchor 19, I am always running out of it and nothing else ever seems quite the same.

I also have a tendency to buy the same colour over and over by accident, thinking I am buying a new colour.  I have four skeins of Anchor 168 sitting in my box!


Then there are the colours that I struggle with a little.  Purples!  These two are my favourite purples and really they are quite close to greys.  I don't use purple very much as I find it quite a difficult colour to work with.  Is it just me?  or do you have colours that you just never really pick up?

Blues greens

So back to choosing colours for my new pattern.  These soft blue green colours have been calling to me and there are some trees in the pattern that would suit.  


along with these lovely peachy soft colours.  I definitely have a hankering for quite soft colours at the moment which will probably mean that I work this pattern onto white fabric rather than my usual 'natural' essex linen as soft colours can disappear into the natural colour, especially when photographed.

Dala colours wmk

It's a wintry pattern that I hope will be a nice Christmas pattern.  I will have it ready for mid October so lots of time to stitch it before Christmas!  I think I might do a printed fabric panel for it too.

Do you enjoy the colour choosing process or do you prefer to have a list of colours so you can get down to the stitching?

And now back to the pattern tracing or maybe a little while in pinterest land first...




sulky solvi part two

Full wonky shed 32

The wonky shed is finished!  

And the sulky solvi rinsed out without leaking printer ink.  


I found using the hoop a little difficult with the sulky solvi as it kept peeling apart, I think I would tack it down if I used it again.

I also found the stitching a little hard going in places, working through 2 pieces of fabric essentially so it was a little stiffer.  The needle didn't really get too gummed up, I just wiped it occasionally.

I soaked the embroidery in luke warm water, it took a little longer than I expected for it to dissolve but it's the first time I've used a stabilizer that dissolves.  Little bits of gummy stuff floated to the top of the sink.  I soaked it three times in fresh water to make sure that there was none left in the embroidery.  It has all disappeared with no nasty ink bleeding.  I used an ink jet printer so I am not sure whether it would be the same for a laser printer.

On the whole I still prefer to use my old pen/light box tracing method because I found the stitching experience wasn't quite what I would like.  But if you hate tracing or have difficulty with tracing I think it's a very viable option.

I used sticky fabri solvy by sulky

and bought it from here

it cost £7.63 + £2.82 postage for 12 sheets


Here is part one of the sulky solvi journey 


sulky fabri solvy and wonky sheds

Cat stitching

Sulky Fabri Solvy -  it has been sitting on my shelf ever since one of the lovely instagram ladies recommended it to me.  This week I decided to spruce up my wonky shed design ready for printing onto fabric in September and this seemed the perfect opportunity to try the sulky.

Sticky fabri solvy

so it's basically a sticky backed stabilizer that you can put through the printer and then stick to your fabric.  You stitch over it and when you're done simply rinse it away so the pattern disappears and you are left with your beautiful stitching.  It is quite expensive, mine cost £9.91 for twelve sheets.

It went through the printer perfectly and the lines are nice and bold.  I was worried that it would be difficult to stick down smoothly but it wasn't the case it was easy to stick to the fabric


I stuck it to my usual Robert Kauffman Essex linen in ivory so there was no problem.  I do want to try it out on felt too though.

I pretty much always stitch using a hoop and was a bit nervous about how well it would sit in the hoop, whether it would come apart from the fabric or shift but it seems okay.  I haven't tightened the hoop as much as I usually would though.

In the hoop

I found that the stitching was a little harder (I really do mean 'a little').  I knew that the needle gets a little sticky and you need to wipe it, which had put me off, but it hasn't happened very much at all.  Back stitch was pretty straight forward.  I think stem stitch might actually be easier to do without the hoop but maybe that's always true!  I started filling the cushions under the cat but to be honest I think I would just stitch all the lines then remove the sulky and do any filling in afterwards.  This is just because the stitching is a little stiffer which makes the filling in a little tedious.

Sleeping cat

I have only done a little bit of my stitching so I will write a second post next week about how it rinses away and the end result.  At the moment it seems a great way to transfer a larger more complicated pattern for anyone who doesn't like transferring or has difficulty with the transfer process.  
So back to my wonky shed stitching

Here is part two of my sulky fabri solvy journey

transfer methods

Transfer collage

A few weeks ago I ordered a parcel from sublime stitching so that I could try out some other transfer methods.  The main reason I ordered from them was a new fine line iron on transfer pen.

I have a sulky iron on transfer pen which gives lines that I find too thick to use with my patterns, certainly they can't be covered by two strands of thread, so I was quite excited by the idea of a fine line pen.  I also ordered some of her tracing paper, which is a thick vellum, and some black and white carbon paper along with a stylus.

Transfer pen 1

So to begin with the iron on transfer pen.  The idea is that you trace the design onto the vellum paper (eliminating the need for a light box) and then place the vellum ink side down on top of your fabric and iron the design onto your fabric.  The vellum is  nice and thick but you can still see the design well.  The pen is smooth to work with, just like a drawing pen really.

Transfer pen 2

I was very conscious of being very careful with the initial tracing because the design is permanent once it is on your fabric so you need your original tracing to be perfect.  I used a design that was fairly similar whichever way around you use it, but if you have a design with writing on it you need to make sure that you are tracing a reversed image so that when you iron it on it will be the right way around


Transfer pen 4

this is the traced design, the lines are pretty fine (not quite as fine as the frixion pen).  I was lazy about the stripes on her sleeves and I don't want stripes on her boots. 

Transfer pen fabric

Ta Dah!  I used a hot iron and held it in place rather than moving it across the design so that nothing moved.  The boots are actually clearer than they look I didn't iron them properly but there was enough there for me to see for stitching.

Transfer pen 5

Next I did something daft... I was going to transfer another girl to show you the second print from the same transfer but I ironed the wrong side of the vellum, which stops it from working!  So I drew the little string of hearts above.  A is the first image, B the second and C the third.  At a push you could stitch the third.  Perhaps a gentler ironing the first time might mean the ink lasts longer.

Transfer pen 6

and finally two strands of thread covers the line nicely.

Overall I was pleased with the results of the fine liner pen.  You get a smooth and even line and it prints onto the fabric well.  With this method you don't need a light box and you can get two or more prints from one tracing.

The pen and tracing paper are only available in the USA at the moment as far as I know but please let me know if you find a UK stockist.  I got mine (along with the carbon paper and stylus) directly from Sublime Stitching and I think it took just over a week to arrive.

Carbon 1

The second method I tried was black carbon paper with a stylus.  The stylus is a rather nice wooden pen type thing with a metal point and ball at each end (see above) one end is smaller than the other.  I chose to use the smaller end to give a finer line.

With this method you place your fabric down first then the carbon paper on top with the ink face down and finally your design on the top of the pile.  Now just trace the pattern using the stylus and quite a lot of pressure.

Carbon 2

I really liked the end results of this method, the line is finer and a bit less marked than the transfer pen.  It is more like a pencil or biro mark.  But I found the carbon paper harder to use.

It requires concentration, especially with a complex pattern, so you can't be distracted by fire engines going past your work room window because when you look back it's harder to tell which lines you've traced.  I also found that if I lifted the carbon paper to check that it was tracing properly it was difficult not to move it slightly.  You do need to put quite a bit of pressure on it.

Carbon 3

But I loved the end result.  The lines are easy to cover and are clear.

I would be more inclined to use this method, despite it's difficulties than the transfer pen.

I did also try out the white carbon paper on grey fabric with less success

Carbon white

the lines really aren't clear enough.  I suspect they would be clearer on black fabric but unfortunately I don't have any at the moment so I will try the white again when I have some darker fabric.

Overall I was happy with both methods but I think I still prefer to use a light box and a non permanent marker.  But I would definitely recommend the above methods if you don't have a light box, especially the carbon paper.

The downside for some may be that you still have to carefully trace the design in the first place.  But there is a product (thank you stitch 'n' dye :)) that allows you to print the design straight onto the fabric - sulky's sticky fabri solvi

I haven't tried this yet but I'm quite excited by the idea so that will be my next test I think.

Anything that makes the transferring easier!

The carbon sheets are available in the UK here

I would love to know more about the methods you have most success with

Beginning stitching - Gather your materials

Gather 1

One of the reasons I love stitching is that it requires so little to begin.  At it's most basic you need fabric, a hoop to hold the fabric, thread and a needle.  But those few things can range from being very practical and simple to being very beautiful, embellished and still practical.  And of course there's the storage!

This post is all about what I use for stitching and transferring so it's very much about my own preferences.  It covers everything you would need to make up my patterns.

Gather 2 threads

I have to start with threads as they are my favourite thing.  I love the moment when I have a new project and I can stand in front of the thread stands in our local sewing shop and choose colours!  It's my happy time.

For my patterns I only use stranded cotton, either DMC or Anchor (or both).  If you can only get hold of one of these brands there is a converter here that gives similar colours in both DMC and Anchor.

I keep all my stranded cottons wrapped around card thread holders with the numbers written on them.  I even have them sorted into colours (what can I say?  I like to be organized!).  The threads are in (unattractive but practical) plastic thread storage boxes that I can stack away in a cupboard.  

There are lots of prettier methods of storage over on pinterest, but I find this works for me.

Gather 3 threads

And sometimes I've been lucky enough to have been gifted some luscious threads in beautiful boxes to add a little beauty.  

The bright box is full of perle cotton no.8.  This cotton is thicker and plied together rather than stranded (although you can untwist it and use separate threads)  I find this good for bold embroidery, like the stitching on the box.  I don't use it in my patterns because I like to use finer threads for all the detail.  But it is beautiful for writing.

The other box contains some lovely vintage (1960's) linen threads that my partner found in a shop in Falmouth.  I love linen thread because I love the matte effect, but it is not as smooth as cotton and therefore a little more difficult to work with.  DMC did do some beautiful linen threads but sadly they have discontinued them. 

Gather 4 threads

DMC do also do speciality threads, glitter threads and satin threads.  Both of these have their difficulties (to put it politely) and can make stitching a little bit sweary and less relaxing than usual.  But it is worth it for the effect (sometimes).  The satin thread is slippery whereas the glitter thread is not smooth and can catch as you're stitching.  The trick really is to cut the thread a lot shorter than usual and go slowly. 

Gather 5 threads

For the patterns you will only need DMC or Anchor stranded cotton

Gather 6 threads

This stranded cotton is six strands of thread that you can separate into single, two, three etc. to have control over the thickness of line that you stitch.  The patterns mostly use two strands of thread but there are places where I just use one for a finer line and these are noted in the patterns.

Gather 7 needles

Needles are simple for me, I use a no.7 crewel needle for all the patterns.  I love the ones with the gold eye (I don't know why!) but I have many more without a gold eye.  I do have a few 8s and 9s but I tend to favour the 7s.

Gather 8 needles

and then there are the places to put your needles... I have numerous needle cases because I like embroidering them but I could only find this one to photograph!  I also have endless pin cushions because I love using up scrap fabrics.   Pin cushions are also a good place to practice a bit of stitching, whether it's simple straight stitching or more complicated knots.  

I also have this lovely metal needle keeper that I pop in my sewing basket with spare needles in it.

Gather 9 pins

I use two types of pins.  The long (I think they are quilting pins) pearl headed ones for most fabrics and these fabulous merchant and mills fine pins (I think they are meant for butterflies!!) perfect for delicate fabrics like the liberty tana lawn that I use for the lavender girls' dresses.

Gather 10 tools

I use two small pairs of scissors, mainly because I found the silver ones too small to cut the dresses out for the applique.  So the little silver ones are thread snippers and I use the fiskars 5" scissors to cut out the fabrics for the embroidery.  

The pen I use for transferring the patterns is a pilot frixion.  I have written about it before over here along with other pens that I occasionally use.  The reasons that I like it are that it is heat removable (it irons away after stitching) and it has a fine line for the details.  I have noticed that sublime stitching has created a fine transfer pen but at the moment I can't get hold of it in England.  I'd love to hear from anyone who has used it though.

Gather 11 hoop and fabric

  Hoops and Fabric.  My preference is for a wooden hoop, I do have some plastic ones but if I leave the fabric hooped up overnight accidentally (!) they tend to leave a mark that is difficult to remove.  And I like the feel of wood a lot more.  I usually use between a 4" and a 6" hoop depending on the size of the embroidery.  I don't especially like using a bigger hoop, I would rather move a smaller one around the work.

The two fabrics I use are Robert Kaufmann essex linen in natural which I buy here and cotton calico which I buy here

They are both medium weight fabrics and are not specifically for embroidery.  The calico needs a couple of washes to soften a little but adds a lovely texture to the work.  I tend to favour the linen cotton mix partly because of the colour, it really makes the thread colours pop.  

You can use any medium weight fabric that is smooth to stitch on.  You just need to make sure your stitches don't pull on it. 

I also use liberty tana lawn prints and bonda web for applique.  I have a post here to help with appliqueing the dresses.

Next week I will be looking at transferring the pattern to the fabric.  Please feel free to share your own tools and materials in the comments I love finding out what other stitchers use!

If you are in the UK you can buy threads, hoops and needles from sew and so if you are not lucky enough to have an embroidery shop nearby.

I buy liberty scraps for applique from very berry fabrics on folksy and larger pieces of liberty from Alice Caroline on Etsy


fabric heaven (or liberty as it is sometimes known)

I can't believe the wonderful response I am getting for my giveaway and you're all so very very helpful.  All your answers have made it easy for me to make clear plans for patterns, kits and printed fabrics.  Thank you so much for all the lovely comments about my designs too :)  There's another week before the giveaway is over so still time to comment over here if you would like to enter.

As for me I have been keeping my head down working before I take a break to do child related stuff but I was tempted by this gorgeous folksy shop Very Berry fabrics


I ordered two mini scrap bags of liberty fabric, perfect for little girls' dresses, bunting, fairy dresses and who knows what else

Liberty 2

little mother's day surprises

Liberty 3

it was like receiving a surprise parcel of goodness!  I can't wait to start on some lovely things with all this choice of tiny scraps

Very Berry Fabrics does also stock fat eighths and mini singles of fabrics and you can create your own bundles too.

The reason I am so excited by this is that I love to use liberty fabrics but clearly they are quite expensive so I normally have to limit myself to two or three prints and hope I've chosen the right ones (not always the case!)  But this way I get to try out lots of different colours and prints.  Sometimes prints I thought I wouldn't like work beautifully and vice versa.

And now I am going to take my mini internet break and do a bit of home education/child care while hopefully having a bit of time for a little bit of sketching and stitching in the sunshine!