Made Up Initiative- completed!

I had so much fun making these items for the Made Up Initiative! I pledged to make two items back in August and here they are.


First up, the Torchon bookmark. I’d not made much Torchon lace for a while so this was a lovely project to do on holiday in the quiet time after the kids were asleep. I used ecru fils a dentelles thread and a dusky pink Cotton Perle 8 gimp thread which I think work beautifully together.


The only changes I made from the pattern were to swap the leaf plaits for spiders, and the edge fans to whole stitch with a twist before the edge. Like many Torchon bookmark patterns, this pattern lends itself so well to customisation- I’ll write about the different effects you could create, and the stitches I used in a separate post.


I mounted the bookmark onto hessian and some pink linen ribbon which give it some stability.


I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out and it was a good alternative from the Honiton fillings I’ve been wrestling with recently :-/


For the the sewing part of my pledge I made this Bronte top and I have to say it’s turned out to be one of my favourite things I’ve made.


It was refashioned from an old pair of my PJs and some leftover eyelet fabric and as I already had the pattern this was a completely free project- gotta love that!

The raw materials

The raw materials

I used the ribbon which was previously the waistband for the front bodice binding which I think adds a nice feature. The buttons are from Duttons in York.


When I cut the pattern out I kept the original leg hem for both the sleeve hems and back bodice hem which reduced the sewing time considerably and meant I could make it up in an evening. One of the original leg side seams also runs down the centre back:


It’s a lovely snug fit and so comfy- and I can legitimately now wear PJs to work, ha!

And the best news is that (as I write) the initiative has raised over £2500 for the National Literacy Trust. Well done, Karen for organising this and to everyone involved in making things. It’s been great seeing some of the amazing finished items over on Instagram.


Made Up Initiative- my pledge

If you’re a reader of sewing blogs you can’t fail to have noticed the launch of the Made Up initiative by Karen at DidYouMakeThat. This is a beautifully simple idea to raise funds for the National Literacy Trust by donating money and pledging to sew or make something by 10 September.

I was lucky enough to be read to every day as a child, and developed into an avid reader who took a book with me EVERYWHERE. I now love reading to my children every bedtime and both me and my husband volunteer in local schools listening to children read. My eldest is 6 and is just starting to immerse herself in the Roald Dahl books which is just a delight to see. So when this initiative came along there was no way I wasn’t going to get involved!

I’ve pledged to make two things, both with a literary theme. Firstly, I’ll make a lace bookmark, using Torchon lace.

P1120480I went through my pattern files to find a bookmark I’d not made before and unearthed a pattern sheet which looks like it might be from the 1970s or 1980s but unfortunately there aren’t any designer details and I can’t make out the signature at the bottom left, so I’m afraid I can’t attribute it. I’m making design B which contains roseground, whole stitch and twist fans, and I’m going to replace the leaf plaits with spiders.


For my sewing project I’m making a refashioned Bronte top (the pledges don’t have to have a literary connection BTW…. 🙂 I’ve had this idea buzzing round my head for a while now but this pledge has given me the impetus to just focus and do it. I had a short sleeved white Bronte cut out and ready to stitch, but the fabric was a little too see-through and as it was a remnant from another project I didn’t have enough left to double it up. At the same time I’d had an idea for using some old grey PJ bottoms and a remnant of eyelet to make an eyelet fronted top, inspired by garments such as these:

Left- top from Mint Velvet; Right- top from Boden

Left- top from Mint Velvet; Right- top from Boden

I was possibly going to make a Grainline Linden sweatshirt, but didn’t have enough fabric for that either. It was during a 4am baby feed that I realised I could kill two birds with one stone and combine the two. So I’ve cut the sleeves, binding and back bodice from the PJs and will use the white front bodice underneath the eyelet. Those nightfeeds are often great thinking times!!

The raw materials

The raw materials

I’ve got til 10th September to get these made and will post back when they’re done. If you’re taking part in the initiative, good luck and I can’t wait to see all the finished items at the end. If you’re not taking part, you can still donate at the Just Giving site here.

Making a tool roll


Today I’m sharing a project I’ve made to keep my various lacemaking tools together.

Photo 18

They were previously all being kept in this tin:


which I bought once in John Lewis. The tin was fine when I’m at home but a bit bulky when I’m out- I’ve been lucky enough to have some time making lace in the gorgeous Loft Space recently so needed something a bit more portable.

I’ve had this Cath Kidston book for some time now and was drawn to the jewellery roll project.



I had some fabric left from a top I’d made which I used with some white bias binding round the edge and for the ties. The only changes I made were to replace the ring holder with another small pocket.


The tools I need with me fit into the tool roll perfectly and I was pleased with how well the zip went in.


The instructions were really clear and I enjoyed making this project- it was quick and easy and was a bit of a change from lace and from the other sewing I’ve been doing recently.


Thanks for reading!

Book review: Contemporary Lace for You by Jane Atkinson

I have to confess that I’ve only ever really concentrated on traditional lace and techniques, occasionally using coloured threads but never really deviating in my techniques and interpretations. However I have always been intrigued and interested in contemporary techniques so bought Jane Atkinson’s book Contemporary Lace for You to find out more.


Most of the other lace books I have are either instruction manuals or just photographs, but this book was pitched somewhere in between, concentrating in large part on the creative process and design elements.This was a pleasant surprise and I spent a few evenings just reading the book, rather than flicking through to a pattern or technique that I was interested in, which I would usually do when I get a new lace book.


There was plenty of interesting information about how we think and how we find deign inspiration and in that respect I think it would be an interesting read for anyone creative, lace-maker or not.


The colours and threads Jane uses are beautiful and the finished pieces inspiring. The location photographs by David Bird are stunning using the Dorset landscape to enhance the pieces.


Patterns aren’t included in the book but are available on Jane’s website at: which is well worth a visit even if you’re not after a pattern. However there is a whole chapter in the book on different grids and how to use them.


I’d love to try out some of these ideas and can see that I could easily combine working on my traditional lace with experimenting with new techniques on another pillow. Have you? Any tips for me?!?

New tutorial on joining lace

Tutorial title joining lace

When you get to the end of a piece of lace it’s often tempting to breathe a sigh of relief. But there is more work to come. The lace needs finishing through either joining it to itself (e.g. for an edging or garter), tying the ends off neatly (e.g. for a bookmark) or mounting it to a piece of fabric. So I’m putting together some instructions on how to do this. First up, it’s joining a piece of lace to itself using a crochet hook, so check out the tutorial here.

Basic patterns for beginners

I’ve recently been teaching someone to make lace and they were looking for a basic pattern to get going with. If like them you’ve just got started making lace (check out the two Getting Started tutorials here for some help and advice) here are a couple of patterns that I can recommend:

Fan pattern edging, p12, Pamela Nottingham- The Technique of Bobbin Lace

Fan and diamond sampler bookmark, p38, Pamela Nottingham- Bobbin Lace Making

Hearts edging, p40, Bridget M. Cook- The Torchon Lace Workbook (This book also has an excellent section of exercises to teach you new stitches)


I also tend to use sheet patterns that I’ve bought or been given over the years- like these motifs which let you try new stitches in a small project:                                                           P1080704

but as they aren’t published in a book I can’t share them here. However there are plenty of resources out there so have a look round.

Don’t try anything too complex for your first piece though- it’s easy to get dazzled by the pretty patterns out there but over-stretching yourself and getting stuck is a a big step along the road to an abandoned project.

If you’re making an edging, I’ll be posting a tutorial soon on how to join lace neatly. Good luck with your makes in the meantime.

News and updates

It’s been a bit quiet round here for a couple of months and in my lace-making as I am expecting my third (and final!) baby so life has been taking on a somewhat different focus. However I managed to get my creative mojo back recently and have been busy sewing and I have resumed lacemaking with working on my collar (blogged about here).

Collar 1

Collar 2

I’m not nearly as far on as I would like but now I’m in the 2nd trimester I’m just itching to get things DONE and get involved with EVERYTHING so I’m having to focus my efforts somewhat.

Collar 3

We’re also taking lots of family days out, as I’m sure many of you are, so whilst you’re out and about over the summer, here are a few lace-related events and collections which may be of interest. These are all in the UK but the Lace News network has information on worldwide events, workshops and lace days. The UK Lace Guild and Lace Society websites also list groups and activities so it is worth checking them regularly for updates. This is by no means an exhaustive list- if you know of any collections or exhibitions I’d love to hear about them.

Where to see some lace

Lace collections:


Allhallows Museum, Honiton-

V&A, London-

Cowper and Newton Museum, Olney, Bucks-

Athelstan Museum, Malmesbury, Wiltshire-

Worthing Museum, West Sussex-



The Lace Guild Museum, Stourbridge-

Nottingham Industrial Museum (Lace making machinery)-

Wardown Park Museum, Luton-



Gawthorpe Hall, Burnley-

Bowes Museum-

Whitworth Art Gallery- (Closed for Refurbishment until October 2014)


Exhibitions and Events:

Imagine- Lace at Waddesdon, Buckinghamshire-,-techniques-and-display-symposium

National Portrait Gallery- ‘The Lace Trail’ BP Travel Award 2013 winner Sophie Ploeg’s exhibition

Coming up…

Gateways- An exhibition by the 98 Lace Group- 6 September to 1 November 2014, Wisbech & Fenland Museum

Stables Gallery, Twickenham- Lacemakers exhibition