Wednesday 31 March 2021

Tiny stitches on threads of time.


Every experience is a stitch in the fabric

of your own character.

Gary Clausing.

HOW do you stop looking through and remembering where and when you purchased each piece of delicious fabric or quilt piece when you are simply just looking for one piece in particular? secrets please because I have no will power.  It takes me on a journey back in time and its hard to resist and can literally take hours. The wonderful muted colours of each piece that has been washed and washed over decades and the faded beauty is just so evocative to my minds eye.  I could, if I let myself, do this practically daily and do not get me started on my antique carved mother of pearl button collection!

Spring is firmly in the air and designs and ideas are racing around my head.  Then of course its what fabric pieces would work well ... then well I am undone!

What is really good right now is i can of course go to The Threads of Time Studio and put out

lots of bits for a project on the very large table and I can start stitching.  I can leave it there over night and continue the next day as there are no courses booked yet due to Covid.  I do not need to pack up every late afternoon and leave a needle with thread there waiting patiently until the next day.  On other days I love to curl in my chair inside and stitch but it is such a pleasure to be able to choose.  The other day I was out in the studio busy stitching and the postman came along.  He tapped on the window and said how happy I looked...  and I was.  I can loose myself in beautiful fabrics and threads, slow stitching is a wonderful therapy for me and my soul.  To watch something grow from an idea of a little sketch into something I love is such a wonderous thing to me.

My basket of hand stitching that sits by my chair is getting a little over full and I really must go through it, maybe over the weekend.  It is a mess actually and that is why I mislaid my beautiful Sanjou scissors for a while because there is no organisation to it.  I keep rummaging around for something and it gets more and more muddled.

Sometimes I am so immersed in my sewing I forget to eat and drink properly through the day, which is not good really but that is me in my vintage fabric world.

I seem to start to get hunger pains around slice of homemade cake time .... oops! So I have started putting a little reminder on my phone so I have a proper meal at lunchtime at least.

Like life, slow stitching is a process.  You can't get an "A" in slow stitching any more than you can get and "A" in life.  Just do your best and keep going.

Mark Lipinski.

Also I have been planning my tiny garden in a new journal I have started for plants I love.  Going through on the internet and looking at all times of wild flowers and what I call non formal ones

. Where they might do best, when they come into bloom and the Seasons.  This year is the gardens turn for a little make over.

I had an arch put over the gate and planted a climbing rose last year because I knew that is something I wanted the dear little cottage to have.  It has grown and should look a lot better this Summer.  Apart from a herb garden I planted well not much has been done.  So that is something I am enjoying doing at the moment as well.  When the light is fading or my eyes are tired from tiny stitches I sit and plan how my little cottage garden might look in a few years time.  Get the plants in and they will grow with care and watering.

The  garden must be prepared in the soul or else it will not flourish.

An English Proverb.

The photo of the foxglove is one I took from one of my vintage plant books, I adore foxgloves they are outstanding in their beauty and some how regal in a way.  They belong in the wild and in cottage gardens I do believe so I have been doing my homework on the different colours you can purchase.

I am also stitching a little something with foxgloves at the moment so it makes me even more determined to have some in the garden .. I do have some of the above colour but I would like to

add more with different colours such as cream and white and a light lavender, also I believe you can get a reddish colour too.  I have been looking at planting heights and also seasonal so I am hoping I can make it look pretty good all year round...

It is not a big garden by any shape or form but with some more borders dug and the miniature fruit trees planted out and the borders full of gorgeous wild flowers and some evergreens there will be not much room for too many weeds.

It is Easter this weekend coming so this will be the only blog this week.  A delicious four days lie ahead and I am hoping for some sunny and warm weather which would be fabulous.  I will be back here after Easter Monday and I hope you all have a lovely few days and the weather is good for you, wherever you are in the world.  

I am hoping to go to a garden centre or two to have a wander about.  Mask firmly on but I can take a look at things for the garden, maybe more ideas will jump out at me.   I would also like to fill my herb garden with lots of different things so watch this space.  Not only herbs but also dotted in amongst them so edible flowers for cooking and decoration of cakes etc.

Anyway that is it from me today and my ramblings on.  As always Happy Stitching! and Take Care.

Sarah X

Friday 26 March 2021

Feedsack fabric heaven.


Who ever said less is more never had a desert and she certainly never bought fabric !!

Gary Clausing

Vintage feed sack fabric is a particular weakness of mine, some are, in my opinion, a little to loud in colour for me but oh my most are glorious.  To be honest feedsacks were used for stitching well before the depression and for years after. It was ingenuity and very clever marketing.  To begin with it was farm and food products that were shipped in barrels that went

to sacks.  It was between 1840 and 1890 cotton sacks gradually replaced them as food containers. 

With the development of the industrial sewing machine which were capable of going through thick fabric they became very popular way of storing food grains and flour.

Clever marketing of food suppliers part came up with pretty patterned food sacks and so thrifty housewives began making things from them such as dresses and quilts.

They started to print on them, cut out doll patterns and then you could make a rag doll and dress her for your children.  Some very early examples still survive today in museums and private collections.

The rag doll darling cloth doll (1937 onwards) the sea Island sugar dolls ( mid 1930's) And the Southern Flour Mills dolls (1930's) which included the Sailor Boy too.  In addition some companies produced seasonal patterns which included Santa Stockings ....

Small bed quilts for dolls were also included it was a good method of using up small scraps, whilst

teaching girls how to quilt and was seen as an essential skill for many households and house/farm wives.

Pot holders, tablecloths and peg bags also featured and of course some absolutely fabulous large quilts were made and are very popular and coveted now (at least by me!) Some clever manufactures even printed designs on some for embroidery.

Indeed in their time Feed sacks are a perfect example of a utilitarian  product turned into something beautiful and useful. This reminds me of a William Morris quote -

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, 

or believe to be beautiful.

William Morris  1834 - 1896

So sorting through my collection of gorgeous fabrics I have been picking out my precious Feed Sack fabrics I have acquired over several years and I do not have very many and do wish to try and truffle some more.  I have an idea in my head to utilise some of my favourites.

Steadily here at Thimble I am finding time and inspiration to sort out my sewing things in a way that it is tidy and also beautiful to me.  Tying bundles of fabrics together with vintage ribbon and a label ... trying to put bigger pieces together with measurements on the label for ease.

A selection of patches of vintage seed sack quilt I bought are at the top of the page.  I also have somewhere!! a little bundle of feed sack fabric  - thus the hunt and tying together!!

Something else I am doing at the moment is making a little list of things I would like so that when the vintage fairs start I have an idea of what it is I would really like.  Trying to be organised not to just go wild in the isles .. who am I kidding its going to happen anyway but with list in hand I might have a little restraint ..

At least I am trying to attempt to be good!

And firmly on my list is some wonderful antique feed sack pieces to make something personally for myself.  I have decided it would be great.  The search continues for just the right pieces that will do the job or at least in my minds eye.  I have an idea of what I would like you see.  The truffling of finding just the right fabrics or buttons and threads is all part of my joy!

In other news my letter writing is going well and I am but 2 letters away from total catch up. I have been enjoying the process so much.  Choosing the paper and envelopes.  Choosing pretty stickers to make it all look pretty and using my hot wax gun with beautiful seals.  It has been a joy writing to friends and hopefully when they drop through their letter box it will make them

feel the day is starting well.

Later today I may go on a otter hunt and see if I can see the family that is living in this part of the River Stour, I have only seen one, which I have told you about but soon Mum and Dad will be having some more young and the yearlings they have with them now will go it alone I should suspect.  A photo of them would make my day.

I have tried to capture photos of the beautiful Kingfishers but I can not get close enough to them or even zoom in enough to do them justice at all.  I would need a proper almost professional camera for that.  To the naked eye they are very close but not when a camera goes on them, still I sit and watch them with their gorgeous coloured feathers and that is enough.

Well that is it for today I must stop rambling and get on with tying little gorgeous bundles of happiness together and get a little order into my life.  It will be a lot easier.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and as always HAPPY STITCHING and Stay Safe.

Sarah X

Tuesday 23 March 2021

Slow stitching with words ..

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches  in the soul - and sings the tunes without the words - and never stops at all.

Emily Dickinson. 

Words on paper or in my slow stitching are very important to me.  A word can evoke all sorts of emotions and for me, most of the time, finishes a piece of work I am stitching just like a antique mother of pearl button.

We can use words to uplift us and inspire us, of course words can hurt us too but for me in my work I love quotes or indeed one single word, on occasions just does the job.

If I add a word or words to a stitching project I write it on there in fine pencil and stitch over it, it works for me and a puttty rubber is essential in my kit.  It rubs out pencil without smudging and is perfect on delicate antique linens, which is generally the base of most of my work, but not all.

Some of my favourite work has parts of poems from Shelley and Byron on them because their writings and musings really touch my soul.  If a little humour is needed my go to is Oscar Wilde

who I would have loved to have met.  I have played the game before where each person has to do an imaginary dinner party and invite 8 guests living or dead and he is always but always on my list at the head of the table!

As you all know I like to write letters and there are a hand full of pen pals I have and enjoy writing to.  I have not met them all but it is a goal to do so.  There has been talk of a girl week here at Thimble and from America, Canada and Belgium they eventually will come when Covid allows it.  To sit with a drink in our hands and all laugh, catch up and generally chatter will fill these beautiful walls with the happiest of memories.

To write is human, to receive a letter divine!

The weather here is certainly warming up and Spring has sprung.  A great walk here is by the River Stour and to catch sight of the Kingfishers and if very lucky the Otter family who enjoy, it seems, to have the audience.

This year I have vowed to get out and take more photos.

All along the lanes are signs of flower life with snowdrops, daffodils and the like.  My favourites when they appear are the foxgloves and I have some in my garden as well.  I am working on a piece of stitchery with them as the star of the piece.

Keeping up with my journals has been better this year both personal and stitchery ones.

There is something cathartic about it for me, with little sketches in my stitchery journal along

with an odd piece of gorgeous vintage fabric that has been used, for once used you can not just replicate it.  On the odd occasions you can pick up a little snippet of the same, it does not happen frequently.

In addition I keep a favourite saying or quote journal too and that is my go to on here frequently.

A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous!

Ingrid Bergman.

One of todays little jobs ( who am I kidding! .. I mean joys) is to go through my antique carved mother of pearl buttons.  I have been collecting for some years now and have been lucky enough
to source, purchase and collect some real beauties.  I can not say for sure my favourites in truth.  However my half moons are up there at the top.  Delicate and beautiful and I have used one in one of my hare pictures.  The hare is staring into the sky and there it is a beautiful button moon.

Also in the photo is two of my antique carved mother of pearl star buttons, what not to like...

Do any of you have any unusual buttons that you love? I would love to hear about them and I am sure button lovers on here would like to do the same.

Anyway that is it for todays ramblings, I will be back here at the end of the week.  

As always ... Happy Stitching! and stay safe.

Sarah XX

Friday 19 March 2021

Thoughts of Summer, Sea and Stitching!


Because there's nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean

 refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it is sent away .....

Thoughts of the summer and the shoreline come to mind at the moment, the only thing I miss is having the sea on my doorstep for a wander along.  I have a beautiful river and gorgeous walks and in point of fact I am not that far from the sea.  Sandbanks is only 9 miles away and its a beautiful drive and right by where my Mum is living so it will be visit Mum and walk along the beach soon enough.

I would like to design a little sampler based around the quote at the top of this page and so I am going to take a walk down by the river with my design journal and jot some ideas.  Watching the beautiful king fishers dart around may not be seaside material but it clears your mind of everyday things and allows my creative side to be more prominent somehow.  

The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. 

The touch of the sea is sensuous,

 enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.

Kate Chopin.

I simply adore wandering a shoreline and finding sea glass and beautiful little shells and at Sandbanks
there is shell bay and this is where treasures that the sea has given up are to be found. My prize peace of rare sea glass is a heart shaped piece of red glass ... one day I will incorporate it into something I am sure of it.  For now it sits on my desk, when the sun dances onto it, well to me that it is magical.

I had a bit of a panic the other day as I could not find my beautiful embroidery scissors from Sanjou! hunting high and low and in little piles of fabric bits and baskets of embroidery and notions... I could not find them.  Then as if in a beacon of light I found the precious scissors in this little basket of goodies. My fault I should be more careful.  All is well that ends well as they say.

Anyway then the slow little stitches could begin in earnest because until they were found I could not seem to concentrate totally as my mind was in a place, every little place they could actually be nestled... just comfortably lying there surrounded by treasure of the stitching variety.

I have stitched a little patch to sew onto one of my white vintage linen summer dresses.  It is a simple design and will grace the dress perfectly, great to keep cool and not mass produced.

Today is all about stitching for future courses and I am having a huge amount of fun with it.

Gathering and hunting for just the right fabrics, linens and threads to complete something in a day. I am timing myself too just to make sure.  Everyone has different speeds of slow stitching and its not to be rushed at all.  Its meant to be soul stitching and enjoyed to the full.

Lunch is to be enjoyed and it feeds our brains and also a time to chat and have some laughter.

Basically this is my next month sorted of stitching to get some coursers ready for later in the year when we can gather as a little group, with like minded people and enjoy the social side of life again as well as company with our sewing.

Personally I am so looking forward to it and to be able to meet some of you in person, what a day the first one will be.

It will be a busy week ahead getting little packs and baskets ready for The Threads of Time Studio.  It will also give me an excuse to look through boxes and drawers to gather beautiful vintage fabrics and hand dyed threads together and to be honest I can not really say its work but more of a delightful pleasure for me.  I count my self incredibly lucky to be able to do this each day.

I am hoping for some sunny weather this weekend to be able to go for a lovely walk through the Dorset country side and to discover new places and things to marvel at.

Prehapes a little visit to a seaside to wander along the shore and blow some cobwebs away.

Well that is it for today we have caught up again.  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and that the blogs bring a little moment in time for vintage rambling during the week.

As always ... Happy Stitching! and keep safe.

The above photos show the offending Sanjou scissors! bottom right. Well they seemed happy enough nestled in paisley's but for me I needed to be able to see my precious embroidery scissors!

Tuesday 16 March 2021

Thread by thread, stitch by little stitch.

I find stitching by hand extremely rewarding.  The pleasure of making beautifully made pieces from gorgeous vintage fabrics and notions, truffled at fairs, far exceeds the time and effort required to complete them. 

One of the joys of creating and hand stitching something is, that no one else has the same thing, not the same wall hanging or picture or any other beautifully crafted thing you make.  The joys of slow stitching is taking pleasure and pride in the experience of making something with your own hands. 

Thread by thread, stitch by little stitch, something unique begins to form. Stitching is not always easy,  in fact sewing can be quite hard and frustrating when trying something new but the rewards, for me 

anyway, are great both mentally and visually.

The challenges are part of the reason it is so rewarding and to be able to say "I made that" is immense Stitching little pieces together gives me a peaceful heart and a happiness in my soul. There are no rules just personal creativity.

I am so looking forward to being able to attend some vintage fairs later in the year, to be able to look around, feel the fabrics and see them up close.  Catch up with my friends and have a coffee and catch up is so very exciting. The online fairs have been really good and kept us vintage lot sane, but it is so not the same for me at all. The buzz is missing and the atmosphere is zero.  To see all the stalls dressed beautifully makes hearts sing. Also the chatter going on and the laughter in the air along with the smell of coffee, ahhhh bliss.

As I am writing this there are all kinds of birds flying around and it seems they are gathering for their nests to rear their families.  I have been gathering little snippets of gorgeous vintage soft fabrics for them to weave into their nests.  Around here I am sure they have never gathered such materials and I am determined there will be some very outstanding nests in bushes and trees for their young to nestle into.

We have had a mixture of rain and sunshine here in Dorset and between showers I have managed to escape down by the river in my trusty red wellies for a wander. It has been wonderful to feel the air on my face and stretch my legs.

With that in mind I have baked another tea loaf and this time it is a cinnamon swirl tea bread with a icing and cinnamon drizzle.  Sorry Peggy Guin! another bake to test your taste buds with.  A slice of that with a warm drink has brightened my afternoons again, thus the walking. I can highly recommend this one...

Remember, no matter what life throws at us, 

we can always bake a cake!

In addition to all of the above I have been writing in my journals again, which has been cathartic and catching up on my letter writing too, you know who you are! It has also been good to re-connect and I do enjoy a hand written letter popping through my letter box and on to the mat.  I save them until later in the day when I have time to curl up and savour each word.

My first Covid jab has been done and the second one is scheduled for May, this will offer me protection for myself and family along with others I meet.  I will be able to go to Vintage Fairs and know I am as protected as possible and able to mingled with friends. I long to get on a plane again and go visit another country and friends.

Today I am going to be stitching quietly curled in a chair as I still feel a little flu like after jab, nothing

bad but given in to it to be honest, I just feel great that I have had my first jab under my belt.

So my stitching is laid out for me to start and it is also a bit dull and rainy today so its a nice cosy day with candles and a slice of cinnamon swirl this afternoon but still a productive day.

Well that is it for today and I will be back later in the week. so as always ....

Happy Stitching and do take care.

Sarah XX

Thursday 11 March 2021


Blossom by blossom the Spring begins.....

Here at Thimble Cottage life is peaceful and calm.  Shoots of bulbs are slowly awakening and popping their heads out to greet the sun.  Miniature Daffodils are blooming brightly and the promise of warmer weather is upon us.  I have planted eight large Alliums in front of the conservatory dinning room and I have chosen several varieties and light colours, white, lilac, light star like soft pink and a darker pink. My hope is they not only look stunning outside but because they are the large ones they grow tall so they will be seen inside as well, dancing in the breeze on a Summers day I hope they look beautiful.

The sewing room obstacle course 

should be an Olympic event!

I have been on the floor in my stitching room upstairs and playing with fabric colours, patterns and little bits to go with them.  Tiny wee mood boards across the carpet.  I leave them there and keep coming back and having another look, moving bits around and it got quiet hairy yesterday.  Jumping over stuff

and a really rather fun workout to be honest.

It is easier for me to look at things from above and decide what looks best in my humble opinion.  Then when I have decided they are bundled to together  (each little pile) and placed carefully in my stitching basket which resides in my lounge for me to stitch and create. Notions and buttons are placed in a glycerine bag and labelled so as not to misplace tiny mother of pearl buttons etc.

I have a huge clear lock and stack box and inside it there is an abundance of antique goodies such as delicate hankies, lace, old spools, little bits and bobs of gorgeous things to stitch on like monograms and French laundry tapes.  It is a bit of struggle to get it out of the corner where it resides here, however the effort is worth it and with my head inside truffling around for just the right thing for a project it is my joy! 

The slow rhythmic movement of slow stitching is a calmer to the soul and before you know it hours have past by, in a productive way. However it is very sedentary so I do take a break and go for a wander outside or along the river bank.  If it is blowing a hooley then its doing something in the cottage.

This week I have been sorting vintage ribbons and my needle jar, all things that had to be done and of course it is always a joy to me.  Its like ironing, I do not care to much for it unless its a stack of gorgeous vintage fabrics, then I could stand there for hours some how.

I have a antique unit in my sewing room with little draws top to bottom and I am today going to go through that just to re-cap and sort of stock take.  This all goes on in the morning and then after lunch I stitch right now.  It seems to work for me.

In addition there has been some baking going on here, I made a apricot and orange tea bread.  There are

walnuts inside it too.  There is a honey and marmalade drizzle over the top with grated orange zest to just to finish it off.  I found the recipe in Country Living magazine ( April addition)

Its good enough to eat on its own or you can butter your slice, totally delicious I can highly recommend it to all who love cake.  A friend of a lot of vintage friends who recently died used to say ' There is not much that cake can't fix' .. wise words from a beautiful lady, inside and out.

Anyway I took some photos for you to look at, warning it will make you dribble.....  while it was cooling I kept getting little orange smells in the air and it was not long before a slice had to be cut!  there it is snuggled amongst the dresser china !!

Believe me when I say that the last few days of having a slice of this in the afternoon with a warm drink and butter spread on the slice has been delightful, its habit forming and addictive
pastime, so much so that I have decided to make a different tea bread or cake every two weeks ... then go for an afternoon stroll to burn off.  I am looking on line for different ones to make.

It gives you a little break away from slow little stitches because sticky fingers and gorgeous linens and paisleys do not go together!

In addition to all of the above I have been designing my courses and the application forms for it.  With food being served and snacks, I do need dietary requirements and food allergy information so that has been fun!...

As you can see it has been a busy few days here at Thimble and so it continues in a happy but busy week.

Well that is it for today and I will check back in next week.  Keep looking on here for twice weekly blogs.

Happy Stitching and keep safe....

Sarah XX

Monday 8 March 2021


Buttons are the fossils of the sartorial

world, enduring long past the garments they

were designed  to hold together.


  Hello lovely readers! well it has been a while since I have been on here and it is all about to change for you all.  I will be keeping up with you on here.  Covid has not helped and of course Thimble cottage has been going through some changes.  I have had a conservatory dinning room added here to accommodate the not to distant future. 

With the vaccinations speeding ahead well the Threads of Time Studio will be opening its doors for slow stitch courses.  There will be a meet and greet drink and biscuits in the said dinning room.  Then into the studio for a day of fun and laughter with like minded people.  You will have everything to hand to complete a project and a bottle of water.

A lovely lunch will be served and then back to the studio.  The will be a little afternoon break for a drink

and some homemade cake.  I will be advertising courses and dates in about 4/5 weeks time.  If you are interested you can email me and I can send details for you to look at including a booking form along with any allergies etc for food.

I have been designing and started stitching for the courses and each course can have up to 6 people around the large table in the studio.

The garden will be being sorted now that Spring has started and the beautiful climbing rose I planted over the archway last year is growing beautifully.  I choose a iceberg one with a gorgeous scent and as the name may suggest it is white.

Fun and games sorting out the Studio and what to put where has taken place and everyday I wander in there and imagine the chatter and laughter of each and every course.  There will be a little gift at the end of each course day for you to take home along with, what I hope, will be wonderful memories of a day of stitching with me.

I must tell you all that on one of my walks recently I spotted a male otter who actually was playing in the River Stour near me, I was so pleased and watched him play in the bubbles he was creating.

The cottage is all but done with just a few adjustments inside and a bit of painting on the outside of the dinning room when the weather warms up a little.

All this in hand now gives me time to spend talking to you on here and of course to stitch, how I have missed it.  Personally there have been some wonderful changes but thats for later in the year to tell you about.  Update on Mum, she is doing well but of course Alzheimer's is a horrid illness so you loose a little of her each day.  She did not like facetime at all so when we could go back to see her, all be it in a pod with perspex .. it was better for her.  She does tap it though.    

unfortunately we lost our wonderful Godmother who was Mums best friend and that was very sad
indeed.  Although sometimes points behind my sister and I and says ' Patty' .. which makes us tingle slightly, we can not see her but my Mum sees her for sure.  Until she died Mum has never spoken her name.  Goose bump time !!!!

Today I was sorting through my Antique linens cupboard and of course my paisley stash .. its all too exciting.

I am gathering beautiful materials and hand dyed threads along with vintage ribbons and more for the courses and it is a pleasure.  

Sometimes I sit by the river and take my design journal with me to listen to the birds singing and remember Miss Muddy Beak, who I miss so so much.  I have a friendly black bird and he is getting more used to me, these things take time.  Not decided on a name for him yet but it will come.

The choice to move here was the best one, I love it here and it is firmly my home.  The pace of life is slower and everyone is so friendly.  We had snow in February about 3/4 inches and I got up early and pulled on my bright red wellies and had a long walk in the crunchy virgin snow.  The street lamps glowed a warm orange and the world was silent.  Then in the middle of Marks and Spencers car park I flung myself down and proceeded to do a snow angel.... Yes I did dear readers and no one was about.

Its been a year now since I picked up the keys to Thimble Cottage and its been busy, wonderful and happy.

So from now on in I will be on here far more regularly and update you all on the tales of thimble!

Sewing projects, courses and my general vintage ramblings, I have missed you all so much because I love reading your messages and feedback. Vintage fairs are starting up again this year and I already have a first date to share with you soon.

So until the  next time ( end of week more that likely) I wish you all ...

HAPPY STITCHING and of course, stay safe.

Sarah XX