Experimenting with Stumpwork

I bit the bullet and entered the Hand & Lock embroidery contest, celebrating 250 years of stitching. I’m going to make a brooch or boutonniere inspired by an 18th century waistcoat – back when embroidery wasn’t reserved for ladies fashion.

After a bit of experimenting, I’ve gone with long and short stitch instead of satin, because satin buckles when you try to shape the wire. I’m using silk fabric as the backing and 1 strand of cotton thread. I think this project calls for silk floss and sequins. Stay tuned for more bling.

A Quilt for Quinn

My Nana is a wonderful quilter and I’ve always wanted to give quilting a go. This quilt was a leaving present for a colleague who’s moved to the bonny shores of Scotland. It was a pleasure to make and I’ll definitely try quilting again. A big thanks to folks from work for stitching lovely quotes onto the quilt, chipping in for the materials, and adding crochet sheep to the back.

I got the general design and colour scheme from the inimitable Namoo Quilts. Most of the fabrics are by Nani Iro or Kokka and I used Prinfab to print images onto fabric. It was only about £10 for a fat quarter of printed fabric and the images look crisp after one gentle wash.

Here are a few things I learned from my first quilting project:

  • Pins, pins, pins! Mine were blunt and useless. I’m still finding pins I threw across the room :/
  • Bigger is better. My backing was the same size as the front. Now I know to make one side larger so you don’t have to line them up perfectly.
  • Fusible interfacing is the way forward. I used Hobbs Heirloom Fusible Cotton Batting and will never look back.
  • You don’t need a special sewing foot or machine for quilting.
  • Bias tape makers are magic. Creating custom bias tape is really satisfying.
  • Ordering fabric online gives you more options but the colours won’t be quite right.

The main thing I learned is that blogs and youtube are fantastic resources but nothing beats the real thing. The quilt my Nana made for me when I went away to uni is a thing of beauty and showed me how things should look. I have a ways to go!


– Shannon Quigley

Mini quilted football

My friend makes the most delightfully detailed dolls. A little boy requested a Wayne Rooney doll and she asked me to make the football. Not just any football – but the Hi Vis football from the 2016 Premier League. I cut out 12 little pentagons and quilted them together. Then I embroidered the purple lines and nike logo. The ball bounces quite well and it’s now sewn to the doll with a bit of elastic so it will always come back. 🙂

– Shannon Quigley

How do you frame a transparent piece of embroidery?

I embroidered this little hand onto silk organza. I used a vintage palm reading chart for the pattern and got the idea of using lines to mimic finger prints from these cross contour drawings.

The stitching went smoothly – there are a few hoop marks, but overall the fabric held up nicely. Framing the finished piece was the real challenge! I used a shadow frame and drilled holes through the middle section, about an inch apart. Then I whipstitched the fabric onto the frame.

Overall I’m really happy with how it turned out! The tension of the fabric is great and the hand casts a shadow onto the wall. I put the glass at the back instead of the front so you can still see and feel the texture of the stitching. This piece will be auctioned off to raise funds for Space2Create, a wonderful mental health charity based in Kendal, UK.

– Shannon Quigley

Slowly but Surely

I started embroidering this ‘Dia de Los Muertos’ painting by Mab Graves last year. It’s a Christmas gift for a (very patient) friend who loves Mab’s work and the Blythe dolls her paintings are inspired by. Check out Mab’s Website / Etsy shop / Pinterest to see more of her delightful illustrations. I picked this piece because the stitching detail going across the girl’s face was just begging to be embroidered!

The hair is coming along nicely. I’m using chain stitch and seven shades of brown thread to create individual strands of hair. I outline each strand with black thread using stem stitch or straight stitch. The flowers in her hair are my next challenge. By the end of this project I should be able to shade and blend colours with thread like a pro! At this rate, I expect to be finished… just in time for next Christmas! 😉

A wallet fit for a queen (stitch)


This is my second entry for the &Stitches: Old Stitches, New Tricks competition. For this project I wanted to use an antiquated stitch with a contemporary pattern. I settled on queen stitch, which I’m using to create a wee wallet for my credit cards. I figure it’s the modern equivalent of an 18th-19th century pocket book. Check out these charming examples of queen stitch wallets and cases:

Queen stitch is very slow going. After 20+ hours of stitching I’m not even close to being done! The finished piece will be almost square with one side folded down to create a pocket (like this leather card holder). Stay tuned to see how it turns out!

I followed Joanna Cormier’s stitch diagram for queen stitch, which is essentially four vertical stitches anchored along the middle to create a diamond shape. Rococo stitch is a variation with six vertical stitches. I found that tugging on the thread while the needle was inserted helped with the tension. Tugging on the thread normally creates small gaps in between the stitches, especially if you use even weave linen like they did in the 18th century. The canvas I’m using is very rigid, so the holes in my pattern are more subtle. Here’s what I’ve done so far:

Bonus round

People used all sorts of stitches to decorate their pocket books (check out this fantastic list for more examples). Before deciding on queen stitch, I experimented with rice stitch. I found that rice stitch goes through thread like nothing else and covers ground quickly. It’s very similar to your basic cross stitch, but there are two layers of stitches. If you use a different colour for the second layer you end up with a grid pattern. Check it out!

***UPDATE: My Wonder Woman submission came in third place! Take a look through the other submissions here. I’m looking forward to the next &Stitches contest already! ***

– Shannon Quigley

Wonder Woman

Here’s my first entry for the &Stitches: Old Stitches, New Tricks competition – wish me luck! I had a lot of fun learning and improvising new stitches for this project! I wound yellow thread through black backstitching to mimic rope for the Lasso of Truth and combined straight stitch and fly stitch to create the small 5-pointed stars. The ‘W’ on the bodice was done in Hungarian braided chain stitch and plain braided chain stitch, outlined by couching one strand of black thread. I’d never tried any of those stitches before and I’m happy with the texture they add. The red bodice and yellow belt were filled in with chain stitch, which I also used for the hair and most of the outlines. I filled the shorts in with stem stitch – I’d never used it as a filler stitch before and the effect is really smooth! I definitely added a couple of stitches to my repertoire and I’m happy with the end result!

***UPDATE: I placed third! Click here to check out the other winning submissions. Thanks &Stitches for a fun contest! ***

– Shannon Quigley


Hmong hat, 1930-1970. Textile Museum of Canada, Toronto
. (top); Pattern charted by Shannon Quigley (bottom). 

Hmong embroideries and textiles are called pa ndau or ‘flower cloth’ because of the bright, contrasting colours. This hat is looking a bit faded – it must have been well loved! To see some more of these fabulous hats check out Hmong Arts, Books & Crafts – a store dedicated to preserving Hmong culture.

– Shannon Quigley