Bird brooch tutorial.Part 2


Today’s tutorial is showing you the stitches you will need to complete the brooch as I’ve done mine.I am entirely self-taught so please note,these are my ways of doing the stitches,i’ve done pictures to go with my explanations but if you are in any doubt there are plenty of other sites online that may explain it in a better way for you. You will need 2 strands of your embroidery thread to get the same effect as mine,they separate off from the rest of the skein very easily,just make sure you don’t have too long a length or you’ll get in a ravel.NB if you are right handed your hand will be across your work so don’t panic if your hands aren’t in the same place as mine in the photo’s when you’re stitching,i used my (rather battered and not at all glamorous) left hand so you could see what was going on.IMG_0609.JPG1.Backstitch.This creates a continuous line of stitches with no spaces between,it’s good for outlining,writing and decoration : Thread your needle with 2 strands of thread and tie a knot in the end .Bring your needle up through the back of the fabric at the start of the line you want to stitch,my first stitch in the line above was the furthest to the right.Choose how long you want your stitches to be,i do use small stitches but do whatever looks right to you,take the needle down at the point you want your first stitch to end (see picture below) IMG_0563.JPGThen pull your thread all the way through so you have 1 completed stitch (in picture below) IMG_0564.JPGNext,bring your needle back up from the back of the fabric a stitch length away from where you ended your first stitch (see picture below)IMG_0565Pull the thread all the way through again and then insert the needle back down at the end of your first stitch,so you’re bringing the thread back to where you finished your previous stitch hence back stitch.(See the picture below if you’ve not got the foggiest what i’m on about,that’ll probably explain better 😀 ) IMG_0567.JPGCarry on repeating the steps and you’ve cracked back stitch 😀 IMG_0568IMG_0613.JPG2.Blanket stitch.Makes an attractive edging,good for stitching fabric together and applique.Blanket stitch looks tricky but really all you’re doing is creating loops with the thread : Thread your needle with two strands of embroidery thread and tie a knot as before,choose your starting point.Inset your needle through from the back of the fabric as far below the top of the fabric as you want your stitch length to be (I measured the length of my stitches on a few things and they are 4-6mm long but as I’ve said before my stitching is small so the size is entirely up to you) Pull your thread all the way through from the back and do a small stitch vertically like this IMG_0574.JPGI have read so many different directions learning this stitch and didn’t find any that managed the first stitch without it being wonky so this is the way I’ve worked out how to get it as tidy as possible.Bring your needle and thread up from the back and over the top of the fabric then insert the needle back down at the base of this little stitch.(see picture below ) IMG_0575.JPGThis forms a loop,you need to then put your needle through the loop and gently pull the thread through (see picture below) Always keep your excess thread to the left to prevent it knotting up.IMG_0576.JPGWhen it is pulled all the way through you should have this – IMG_0589.JPGNext,still keeping the excess thread over to the left,insert your needle through the front of the fabric a few millimetres away from your first stitch,make sure that where your needle enters is level with the bottom of your first stitch as I’ve shown in the picture above.This will form a loop as before,make sure your needle stays over the front of the loop of thread and pull your thread through it (see picture below).IMG_0590.JPGCarry on repeating this and after a few stitches,it will look like this –IMG_0580.JPGIf you are using blanket stitch to applique something to a backing fabric treat the edge of the applique as the ‘top’ of the fabric as with the darker grey felt below.IMG_06133.French knots.The last stitch you may find useful are French knots,don’t panic,it may take a bit of practice but once you’ve mastered it you’ll wonder why it ever stumped you. 😀 .The key to this stitch is taking it slowly and not using too long a piece of thread.(this causes knots that most definitely aren’t French!!).


IMG_0612.JPGYou’ll need both hands for this so you might find it easier to do it at a table rather than on your lap at first.Thread your needle with two strands of embroidery thread and knot as before,bring your needle up through the back of the fabric at the point you want your knot to be.Pull the thread all the way through and then with your hand that isn’t holding your needle,hold the loose thread a few centimetres above the surface of the fabric (see picture below) IMG_0582.JPGPut the needle behind the section of thread between the fabric and your fingers and wind the thread around your needle twice (see picture below) IMG_0583.JPGStill keeping the thread taut with your non-needle hand and the loops firmly around the needle,insert the tip of the needle back down into the fabric very close to where it first came out but NOT down the same hole or your knot will vanish.Keeping the thread held with your free hand but not too tightly ,as the needle goes through pull gently with your needle hand,make sure the loops leave the needle and stay on the surface of the fabric.(see pictures below)IMG_0585.JPGLet the thread feed through your fingers until it’s too short to hold then let go.This process must be done slowly and gently or you’ll get in a ravel.IMG_0586You SHOULD end up with a neat little knot but don’t worry if you don’t at first,this is notoriously difficult.It may take some practice but once you’ve got it,it’s such a useful stitch for texture and details like eyes.IMG_0588.JPGThere,that’s me done for this week 😀 Next week i’ll show you how to put everything together and make your brooch.As with the last stage,please don’t hesitate to ask if you’re  stuck either in the comments here or over on my Facebook page (link further down the page) Also as before,please could I ask you to click ‘Like’ either at the top of the post or below it so I can judge if it’s actually been useful.Thankyou for reading and happy stitching,Elaine

Bird brooch tutorial.Part 1

Ok,this isn’t your usual sort of tutorial where all the templates are provided for you (sorry 🙂 ) I figured if I was going to do this,I’d rather try and teach a whole skill rather than a ‘put together by numbers’ so I’m here to encourage you to find your creativeness (yes,everyone has it even if it’s deeply buried) and teach you how to create this from scratch,design and all.Once you’ve mastered this,you can use the technique to do whatever you want,there’s no limit so please give it a go even if you’re not convinced of your creative skill,the first time I embroidered was 4 years ago and I never thought that I’d end up with a Facebook page that has 17,000+ likers.You never know until you try 😉 IMG_0591.JPGMATERIALS YOU WILL NEED –

  • Paper,pencil,ruler and scissors.
  • Toning felt in 4 shades – If you are UK based Billow is very good for felt.
  • Fine embroidery needle and a few pins.
  • Embroidery floss to go with your chosen colours and a light brown for beak and legs.
  • A small piece of very thick card / cardboard (approx 10cm x 10cm)
  • Double sided tape.
  • A small button.
  • A brooch pin or safety pin.IMG_0594.JPGI’m going to show you how to make your templates first,this is the way I do it,there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way though,if you’re struggling just find an image the right size and trace the outline but please have a crack at this first,you might enjoy it 😀 You need to work out how big you want your brooch first of all,mine is 5cm across and 4cm tall but I do like working with fiddly little things so if you want yours bigger,go ahead,just make a few of the boxes in different sizes as i’m going to show you below,cut them out and hold them up to your lapel,your brooch will end up just a bit larger than this box so you can judge by that if your brooch will be an ok size for you.This box is where you are going to draw your bird template,doing it within the box ensures you keep it the size you want.IMG_0551.JPGPlease excuse my Son’s Boba Fett ruler 😀 To do my bird to fit a 5cm x 4cm brooch I drew 2 marks 4cm apart,in the centre,i drew the little cross.Next,line your ruler up vertically with the cross and put marks  3cm apart as in the picture below.IMG_0552.JPGYou are then left with 4 marks around the edge and a cross,join the 4 marks to make a rectangle like this (I just sketched but you can use the ruler if you find that easier)IMG_0553.JPGRight,now you’re going to try out your drawing skills! Google ‘Garden birds’ and find a side-on image of a bird you like the shape of.Study it’s shape,the way the curve goes down at the back of his head and below his beak & the angle the tail emerges from the body.Have a little sketch,it usually takes me a few goes until I manage one i’m happy with.Remember,it doesn’t have to be detailed,just the outline of the bird shape.When you feel confident enough,sketch one in your box like this- here’s my bird and the photo I used.IMG_0554.JPG

fall-birdYou then need the wings,to do this i draw directly onto my bird template to ensure the right shape and size,then trace them from there.You need two,a larger one and a smaller one within that (see pictures below if that was as clear as mud 😉IMG_0555IMG_0556.JPGIMG_0557.JPGIMG_0558Cut out your bird and the wings & there you have your templates.Next you need your base shape,i usually draw mine freehand just around the bird but you can find a household object if you’d rather to draw round. IMG_0559.JPGIMG_0560.JPGCut out your base shape and TAADAAAAAAAAH,you’ve created your own templates 😀 IMG_0562.JPGI was going to include the stitches you will need to complete the project in this post but I think that’d be cramming too much down your throat all at once so i’ll include those in the next post.Hope that was ok to follow,i found it surprisingly hard to transfer what is in my head into sensible,clear stages.If you have any questions at all please ask either in the comments or over on my facebook page (there’s a link at the bottom of the page)If you’ve found this useful please click on the ‘like’ button (either at the top of the post or down at the bottom) just so I know if there is any point in doing more tutorials,thankyou,Elaine xx


Button love.

This blog post was going to happen sooner or later so figured it may as well be now.I’m a geek,I freely admit to it,on 2 subjects and one of those subjects is buttons (the other is Star Wars).Old buttons,I love them and this little flower started it all off.IMG_0512.JPG

When I first started stitching I used modern buttons but then one day,mooching round a vintage sale I came across an old button tin and one rummage later I was hooked.I found the red flower and fully intended to use it in a picture but found I couldn’t bring myself to part with it.Don’t ask me why,other Buttoneers will know the feeling well though. (I can’t claim credit for coining the term Buttoneers,that was my lovely button selling friend Alexsis –Seeded)

Since then my hoard collection has expanded somewhat,I don’t think I realised how much until I took this picture 😀 Everything is sorted in a way that makes sense in my own head,believe it or not I do know pretty much what I have and where it is.IMG_0492.JPGThe obvious ones to show you would be the crowd pleasers,coloured glass (I’m particularly partial to the green ones) and mother of pearl (known among buttony people as mops)…IMG_0497.JPGOr some of my dog button collection…IMG_0499Yes of course they’re gorgeous but there are so many buttons that are unassuming at first glance yet if you look a little closer they’re beautiful,those are the ones I’d like to show you.The ones that,when you look past their flashier friends,are standing shyly in the corner waiting to be noticed .PhototasticCollage-2016-04-03-12-22-05These beauties are made from tagua nut ,known also as vegetable ivory,I love the different tones and shades of brown.Most are plain but some if you look very closely have the teeniest,most intricate detail pressed into the surface.PhototasticCollage-2016-04-03-12-32-27Tight and bubble topped celluloid buttons are always interesting.The back is usually metal and the front an early plastic called celluloid,the names indicate the method of manufacture- bubble tops are made from a sheet of celluloid laid over the back with a definite ”bubble” between the two,with a tight top the celluloid is laid flat against the metal back.I’ve taken a picture of the backs too in case you’d like to know how to recognize them.PhototasticCollage-2016-04-03-12-41-35I’m not keen on more ‘modern’ black glass buttons but I do love Victorian mourning buttons.The thought they were worn in memory of a lost loved one makes me feel they shouldn’t just be left in a box and forgotten.Some of the buttons are flat black with no shine,Victorian mourning went in two stages-full mourning where nothing worn could catch the light and shine,then half mourning which enables the designs to be a bit more elaborate and glossy.These are mine,you can usually tell the age from the metal shank on the back.IMG_0513.JPG

Lastly are these,casein buttons.They are made with a protein found in cow’s milk.The surface of the buttons were dyed and then the design cut away to reveal the white underneath.Most of these are Deco buttons,i love the designs.

I have two types of buttons that I’ve yet to find but would love to and those are these teeny calico chinas which are more common in America,they were produced in the 1800’s to complement the prints on calico fabric.(Image from Pinterest )23b5e07cde101babe9b9602c2cbf9d4band these,buffed celluloid,yummy 😀 (Image again via Pinterest)13d53095dac49f5a9efdd1961b98f643Ok,that’s me done for now,I hope I’ve not bored you to tears with this entirely self-indulgent post and who knows,maybe I’ve inspired a couple of new Buttoneers 😉

Fledgling attempts at dressmaking.

About a year ago I bought I bought 3 metres of fabric,matching thread and a pattern to make myself a dress.Now I’m well versed in making teeny bear and doll dresses and I’ve even made Miss L and B a couple but I’d never attempted one for myself until now.I got home,eagerly opened the pattern folder,read the instructions several times,folded the pattern back up deciding I wasn’t brave enough and put it all away in a drawer.   IMG_0469

A couple of weeks ago I felt like the time had come to tackle it so off I went.The pattern I used was the Sew Me Something Kate dress and any problems encountered are entirely down to my own ineptitude and not the pattern as the directions are crystal clear with plenty of diagrams and it’s really easy to follow. My first hiccup came when I measured myself,my chest measurement was a size up to my waist and hips.I decided to go with the bigger size to be safe (which I lived to regret as you’ll see).The fabric I used was only cheapie stuff  so I didn’t bother with a practice muslin & just cut the pattern straight out.U673113_kate_patternThings seemed to be going swimmingly,as I said the directions are great so ideal for a first time dressmaker like me and I’d soon sorted the neckline,bust darts and side seams.Excitedly I ran upstairs & popped it on…………Oh!.I’m only 5″2 and it really hadn’t occurred to me that fact had any relevance other than that it would probably need the hem raising by about 4 inches,unfortunately it does! The average British pattern apparently is drafted for heights 5″5 to 5″7 (I Googled it) so because my body is on the short side in proportion with the rest of me,the bust darts were positioned somewhere level with my navel.Also as I’d gone with the larger size due to the chest measurements it resembled a circus tent. bac9c5e09385ba14b2e98e4dfb9add3bOut came the seam ripper and it all came apart.There obviously were no directions telling me how to rectify this so my stitcher’s instincts came into action.I merrily hacked off a couple of inches either side and Googled (I’d be lost without it) how to draft bust darts.I found this tutorial which helped me loads.Back together it went and this time it fitted far better,it was still a bit roomy at the back but no longer something you could camp in   .Next,the sleeves.I’d chosen option 2 from the pattern,not too long and not too short.They went together easily and I fitted them in without a hitch.The problems only emerged again when I tried it on,it would seem I have narrow shoulders! The tops of the sleeves,which I’m sure would have looked great had they sat on the top of my shoulders,started 2 inches down my arm and I looked like a small girl in a hand-me-down party dress.caa659faa9c79a3d5eb14bbfcfdd7bc2

Apart it came AGAIN and by this time I was ready to tear my hair out! I decided actually it looked quite alright sleeveless (ie I had no clue how to remedy the sleeve issue) so just used bias binding on the arm hole AND I made my own which I’m particularly proud of. ( see how here  ).I still wasn’t entirely happy with the fit around the back though so I enlisted the help of my mum,mum’s always know what to do don’t they? One look at it and she knew straight away what it needed- back darts (also called contour darts or double point darts).I’d never heard of them so it was back to faithful Google again and I duly stitched the required darts (see how here) .Hey Presto,it fit beautifully.IMG_0481You don’t get a picture of me modelling it as I have an aversion to cameras but here it is 🙂 I wore it for the first time this week which is always the real test isn’t it? Does it ride up or pull in inconvenient places? But no,it fits well and was really comfortable so was worth the hours spent cursing and muttering to myself.It can’t have traumatised me too much anyway,I’ve already bought the fabric to make my next project,wish me luck! xIMG_0468

Vintage musings

One of the most interesting things about collecting vintage and antique treasures is imagining who has owned them and how they got to be where they are now.I especially like items from the 1930’s,40’s and 50’s so some of the objects I find are over 80 years old! How on earth does something as delicate as this survive in one piece?.IMG_0395

To me it doesn’t matter that it’s parted from it’s tea set-mates,it’s a thing of beauty all on it’s own.I wonder how much scandalous gossip it witnessed at afternoon tea?

Buttons prompt all sorts of daydreams,what wonderful dresses did these adorn and where were they worn? Did they decorate a socialite’s favourite frock?IMG_0397.JPG

These buttons were carefully snipped from the garments and kept safely in a button box of treasure waiting for someone to re-discover and find new purpose for them.

I have a special fondness for vintage dolls,Mr L and B is thoroughly creeped out by them though so I try to limit my acquisitions. 🙂 One of the reasons I feel compelled to give them a home is because once they were loved dearly and played with but now are discarded and forgotten.These are mine,I have been meaning to make polymer clay arms to replace the missing limbs but haven’t got around to it yet so most of the small ones are a bit wonky but I still love them.The largest one is called Peter (He wears a pair of navy blue rompers usually so looks more masculine) I’m not one for traditional names so the name is very unlike me but it’s seemed to me from the start that was his name,strange eh?.IMG_0393

Vintage haberdashery supplies are real bounty,embroidery transfers,thread and needles are regularly hunted for on eBay.The transfers I use as background in my work,I have a huge box full and love that they give you a clear view of the fashions of the time.I prefer to use old thread and needles if I can,despite what you’d think both are stronger than their modern counterparts and Sylko threads have the most fabulous names guaranteed to make you smile.Whenever I use them I wonder what they were used to stitch and who sat working with them? IMG_0399Collecting old objects gives you a little peek into the past and I so wish that they could talk,what tales they’d have to tell I’m sure.


Well here it is,after weeks of planning and scribbling on odd scraps of paper as ideas popped into my head,my first blog post.I’m both excited (I can think of so much to say) and terrified (what if no-one wants to listen?).     I thought i’d tell you how I got to the point of writing this,i’ve always been creative and enjoyed fiddling with things and in 2012 I decided that while we were on holiday I’d teach myself to embroider (when else do you get a week or two to do as you please?) I found I loved it and after 6 months & plenty of encouragement from family and friends I had a stall at a local craft fair. Thankfully things went well and with my proceeds I bought an old,clunky computer with which I set up my Facebook page Love and Buttons.     The name L and B is simple,everything I stitch is made with love & care and everything has at least one button on it.  I love my page but for a while now have felt the need to waffle on a bit more so here I am!  If you decide to pop by again,here are some likely subjects that’ll pop up. My work- embroidery,mohair bears,dogs and the odd doll.New Image                                Buttons,i love buttons .11 Anything vintage or antique.I’m a bit of a hoarder,you never know when things will come in handy do you? 04The work of other artists,here are some pieces by a few of my favourites (left to right back row) Louise Rawlings art , Hens teeth art ,  Justine Hadfield glass , Sweet Poppy cat (left to right front )  Pauline Montgomery ceramics  ,Joanne Cooke sculpture and Jose Heroys .43Oh and this lot might pop up occasionally,my tribe xx00Thankyou for reading and I hope you pop by again x