Saturday 31 October 2009

Thrift Tips

Use the library instead of buying books

Have a shower instead of having a bath

Keep a thermos flask near the kettle

Exercise the old fashioned way

Make do and mend

Slow down while driving

Have a bath with a loved one

Hang dry laundry

Turn the thermostat down and put an extra layer on

Grow your own vegetables

I cut up old quilts in order to make a lot of my work. Most of them are in a really bad condition and aren't useable so I don't feel too guilty. I always save some sections in order to make  little cloth books. The theme of this one is Thrift Tips. We are apparently still deep in recession so you may want to take some of these on board.

Mona Lisa

I found this piece of Mona Lisa needlepoint at Tynemouth flea market. At the moment I think it looks pretty good  sitting under my embroidered jacket.

Wednesday 28 October 2009


On Saturday 28th November and Sunday 29th I will be opening my studio for the whole weekend ( I've been trying to make lots of things for under £30 and in the spirit of thread and thrift I've been using up scraps of fabric I've already got rather than buying more. Here are some things I've recently made. I have many more who are waiting to have their tummys stuffed and their eyes sewn on. 

Saturday 17 October 2009

Turkey Red

There is currently a very good quilt exhibition called 'Seeing Red; the influence of Turkey Red Dye on Quiltmaking' at the Quilt Museum , York until 23rd December. (
I made these pieces about a year ago for a Designed and Made Show called " Inspired Flaws" and they feature parts of a Turkey red strippy quilt which was well past its sell by date.
As the quilt had become more worn with use it had revealed hidden layers of fabrics which had been covered  and patched up. Every piece of fabric suggested the story of relationships as I found pieces of men’s shirting, of blankets, of indian printed dress fabrics. It was constructed in a  culture of “make do and mend” to which we will surely have to return in these straightened times. I  had to make a real connection to this textile piece in unpicking another woman’s stitches, darning and patching in order to  refashion the quilt into contemporary garment shapes in homage to the scraps  and dressmaking leftovers which were used to make the original quilt.

Friday 16 October 2009

Christmas Fairy

I have been making rag dolls this week using old bits and pieces. With a bit of holly and a makeshift star this one has become a Christmas Fairy and a model for the promotional postcard for the Hearth Christmas Open Studios event on November 28th and 29th ( She has a turkey red quilted skirt.

Sunday 11 October 2009

Make Do and Mend

Unravel threads from seams and hems to darn cloth materials

Do not wait for holes to develop

Repair where you can
Renovate where you can't

Mend all holes and tears before washing

Thin spots should be reinforced with darning

Rub gently if very dirty

Tuck in frayed edges and stitch new folds together

When patching use old material

Men used to wear detachable collars on their shirts to avoid having to wash the shirt so frequently. Now we are used to wearing something once and then being able to wash it in a washing machine and  dry it quickly in a tumble dryer.
I have been slowly embroidering thrift tips into men's collars. 50 - 60 years ago women were forced to darn and mend clothes and to wash them with care to keep them going longer. In those times clothing was scarce and rationed and you just had to make do.

Wednesday 7 October 2009

Junky Styling

Have a look at the Junky Styling web site ( The company sources good quality second hand clothing from charity shops and jumble sales and then transforms it by deconstruction and re-cutting to create timeless fashion.
There is a good catwalk video under the news section which will give you a feel for what they do. They have a shop in Brick Lane.

Sunday 4 October 2009


I bought this beautiful piece of old patchwork at the Manchester Vintage Textile Fair last weekend. It is made up of tiny black velvet triangles interspersed with coloured silks and prints. These are special days out for me and textile friend Jayne Emma Bone. We share a passion for "old rags" and lunch out. This time we had lunch at the Whitworth Art Gallery, easily found nearby with the help of the SatNav. The next big fair  is organised by the Textile Society and is on March 7th 2010 (

Sample book

I started making this sample book many years ago. I have cut up old bits of domestic hand embroidery and sewn them into a book. I find it a useful reference tool when I am stuck for a stitch. In some cases I have deliberately sewn the fragment in back to front as I find the random marks on the back just as interesting.

Friday 2 October 2009

Tea time embroidery

I have quite a collection of embroidered tray cloths, table cloths and napkins. They are all painstakingly embroidered by women from the past using traditional stitches such as lazy daisy, chain stitch, satin stitch, stem stitch and button hole stitch. I have gathered them together in colour stories and here is what I have done with what I call the Clarice Cliff palette. I have been doing the applique by hand in the sun room  surrounded by ripening squash from the allotment, the colours appropriately echo those of the stitch.