mending moth holes with moths, a short tutorial


This was meant for a magazine last year but the mending theme for the issue changed and I was too busy to follow it up so I happily tucked it away to share here for another day. 

I often wear huge sweaters around the house with lots of layers underneath. My wintertime mantra is the same as my father's when I was young and complained about a cold house "Put on more clothes." This particular sweater was discarded by it's previous owner when his beer belly outgrew it so I snapped it up to layer with. Unfortunately the moths nibbled a big hole in the shoulder and some smaller ones in the front.

Hypoprepia Moth sample
Lisa took some amazing moth pictures a while back and I thought, I might not mind moth holes so much if they were made by those beauties. Then thought, why not cover up the holes with those beauties (I wouldn't choose the ugly little grey critters that really make the holes).

So I made some drawings of my favourites and pulled them into Illustrator, I was pleased with the way they turned out as line art. I then did some watercolour sketches of my moth selection and created a new pattern set of five moths. So I offer you up one moth patch, click here to download. If you'd like the whole page of five moth illustrations with my watercolour sketch as a guide they're available on my pattern page. Moth watercolour sml sample

On this sweater I've used two moth patches. The patch above (antheraea polyphemus) I made by embroidering on to felt and needle felting a body. The patch on the front (gnophaela vermiculata) is mostly needle felted with a little black stitched detailing.

This is how to make the patches

  1. First cut out the moth shape from paper.
  2. Then trace it onto a piece of felt or felted wool that is a similar colour to the moth body. I find a ball point (biro) pen the best tool for tracing onto felt. You will want to either cut off the pen mark or stitch over it to hide it.
  3. Next cut around the moth, not right on the line, leave space around it.
  4. Then fill in the moth with embroidery stitches and/or needle felting. I used both embroidery and needle felting for both of these patches.
  5. Referring to a picture of the moth, pick up the thread and start drawing with it. Just start stitching, if you haven't freehand stitched before you'll be surprised at how your hands can use the needle like a pencil. Moths are a particularly good subject to try this with because they are symetrical and therefore easier to position each element in.
  6. When you finish the details of your moth, cut it out, close to the edge but not right on it.
  7. Next prepare your hole for your patch. I mended the holes with a simple darning stitch using mending wool. If you've never mended a sweater before I just searched around for tutorials and found this one on Martha Stewart but any vintage family sewing book should show you. The mending step might seem silly since the hole will be covered up, but mending it first will help your sweater withstand future washes better.
  8. Using mending wool or a couple of strands of embroidery thread, cover your mended hole with the patch and hand stitch around it. Be careful of your tension while stitching. If you pull the thread too tight while stitching the sweater will pucker around the patch, too loose and the patch won't look tidy.
  9. Finally, add the antenae straight on to your sweater being sure to start your stitches under the top of the moth's head to hide the join, again, watch the tension in your stitching.

Mending tutorial

Hope you have a go. If you download the pattern let me know how you use it, or add an image to the Created with Nini Flickr Group. I'm no nature Illustrator so this art is not exactly accurate for the purists out there, the gnophaela vermiculata for example is much bluer than a real one, but my water colour dried darker than I thought it would and you know I love my blues :)

If you do regular mending and you're on Flickr, join Scrapiana's Big Mend Flickr group to share your mends. She also recently posted a moving piece about sandblasted jeans on her blog; read it, I gaurantee you will shop more carefully for jeans in the future, I know I will.

Happy Wednesday!


gifts & blessings

Birthday song
birthday song

Even at the ages of fourteen and 10 my kids still get excited about my birthday and I still don't mind being woken up at the crack of dawn. And I must say the breakfast fare just gets better and better. Coffee in a new cup from my boy with one of his just baked banana & chocolate muffins. And I had the pleasure of Gracie playing Happy Birthday while I blew out the candle.

Morning treat
new mug and Tristan's muffins

 There were more special gifts too, like this Shrinky Dink necklace G made me.

Necklace gift
by Gracie

Later, instead of the beach, we went to the Michaelmas fair at the village church and met up with friends. That would be the vicar there hiding inside the goose suit.

Michaelmas goose fair in the church

The fair gave us a rare chance to climb the bell tower, see the village from above, the Quantocks on one side over to Exmoor and the Blackdown Hills on the other. We were lucky with a super sunny day.

Bell tower
view from the bell tower

Tiny window
tiny window

Edit: oops meant to add this one. We loved this tiny window.

 From the tower

Up the tower
windy at the top

Lovely light
pretty light

Thank you for all those Facebook messages and surprise packages and warmth and good wishes.

Today it's Patty's birthday, love you sis. Then tomorrow it's Dad's, love you too dad.

Hope you have a great week ahead.


autumn bouquet and getting caught in the rain


I feel like the luckiest girl. My sweet friend brought me a huge bunch of the prettiest dahlias you've ever seen and, took me to the hair salon. Seems it was time for my grey to go. I was voted out by all who see me on a daily basis, and now that it's done (first time in many, many months) I must say they were right. This sweet friend has been one of many real rocks, and she always goes above and beyond. I'm lucky.
Yesterday I had one of those walks where it was so sunny when we left and the rain came out of nowhere. Pippi and I waited it out a while under a tree.
And today, I got to see another brand new baby alpaca, she was born this morning. I can't believe this petite mama gave birth to such a big girl. Petting a baby alpaca is like touching the clouds, soft and heavenly. Naomi was helping keep the baby warm and encouraging nursing and the mama just kept reaching everywhere to give her new babe kisses, like a human mum I thought.
Can you guess?
Here's a sneakiy peek at the wool related project I have coming up. Can you guess what it might be? I have a feeling one or two of you will.
Happy Friday to you!

books and wool and things

Downy feather
downy feather

A very strange event took place last night. We took a tour of the secondary school where Gracie will join her brother next year. As we wandered around I was picturing my baby rushing through the corridors on her way here and there; knowing this will be the last year of primary education in our family felt odd. But then when we toured the music room and Tristan was there playing for the visitors it felt right, especially when I saw Gracie whispering to her friends "that's my brother on guitar." It will be nice to have them together again in the same school.

Another feather

While I'm not sure I'm ready for my baby to move up it looks like all the mama birds have been nudging their babes out. There were loads of feathers from fledglings on my morning walk yesterday, they must be sensing frost will be here soon so it's time to get a move on.


We got to visit the gorgeous puppies up the road for the last time this afternoon, they're all off to their new homes. And speaking of gorgeous I'll be telling you more about the wool I've been lucky enough to work with from the friendly sheep and alpacas at the very same farm up the road. I can't seem to stop my needle from bird making, I keep producing feathered friends without really even thinking about it. I'm hoping to organise another giveaway soon, gifting some of this really special roving.

Little wren
tiny wren

On the bedside table at the moment – I just finished reading The Hundred-Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson, I can sum it up by saying it's good fun. Think along the lines of a geriatric Forest Gump. I needed something fun after the last book I read, Accordian Crimes by Annie Proulx of Shipping News fame. Not one I could recommend, although I don't mind gritty, I found I didn't care enough about the characters or the plot to like the book very much even though I kept with it. I'm like that with books, I always finish in the hope that at some point I'll discover it's redeeming value even it ends of being just one brilliant line on the very last page. Do you plod through even when you're not enjoying a book? Or do you pick up something new?

I will be drawing a winner tomorrow for the postcards and box of stamps, if you haven't entered, there's still time.

Here's one last gratuitous puppy picture, because I can't get enough of them.

Happy almost weekend. Jx

Bath time

doll making, sunlight and cute pups

8 Stitch bonnet copy
corn husk dolly making

Awhile back I collaborated with two young helpers on a corn husk dolly making session. The results of our making can be found in the latest edition of Action Pack. If you've never made corn husk dolls then check it out. My two young helpers loved the how speedy it is to put the dolls together.

Looking back over the issue I couldn't help thinking the style of these dolls would be fun for folksy Thanksgiving table decorations. This Tribal issue of Action Pack can be found here.

Action Pack

There is loads of good stuff in this issue, but I'm quite sure I've said that about every other issue too. It really is a top magazine and definitely our digital favourite for kids.

We really love the look of these water colour feathers too, these are going on the "to make" list.


Speaking of water colours, there was more belated card making today. Are you sensing a theme here? Belated is tending to go in front of most things I make these days.

Lettering fun 3
lettering fun

And the gorgeous light this time of year has been restorative, even though my early mornings are now beginning with total darkness. 

Amazing light
early afternoon light

I know, another light on tomatoes picture.

Scrummy puppy
scrummy puppy!

And I'll bid you a happy weekend with this cute pup, because who doesn't like a cute pup?! We stopped on our way home from school to visit friends and cuddle their three little pups. A perfect end to the first week of school I think, that and chocolate too.


cards from junk and things

Cards from junk
bits & pieces card

Are you like me? Do you have a really hard time sending shop bought cards? I've got nothing against shop bought cards, many are gorgeous and the truly funny ones I love. But then I wouldn't have just the right place to put the heart leaf Gracie brought me home last week, or a use for the mail order catalogue that I was about to chuck in the recycling. And I might have not found just the right place to use that tiny Liberty scrap and end of the lace piece too. The tiny button with the chipped edge was also begging to be put to use.

So there you have it, a quick card as a "thank-you" to some special friends who recently hosted us and our pup in their lovely home, photos from that visit are lurking on my phone somewhere. It's a little belated, but no less heartfelt just the same.

eeking out the last of summer

Though our little garden is showing the faded signs of summer slipping away, there are still plenty of bees enjoying it. Of course the spiders are out in their early autumn force and enjoying the garden too, especially trapping all the bees!

School haircut
back to school cut

And apparently the girl who cut my boy's hair has something against curls, perhaps they're not cool enough. Whatever the case, I looked away just long enough to miss the fact that "just a trim" means something altogether different to her than to me. While waiting I was taking a moment to return a few emails, when I looked up it was too late, she'd chopped away. Sorry T, next time I'll pay more attention and even though your mother thinks you look gorgeous you're right, she didn't listen!!! 

I reminded Tristan of what an old friend used to say, "You know what the difference is between a good haircut and a bad haircut? Two weeks."

Gracie's return to school has been smoothish, tomorrow Tris goes back too – then it's back to a new routine and working on that old 'P' word again, productivity,

Hope your week is going smoothly too.


changing up, and displaying finds

Giant hog weed
giant hog weed

I've been meaning to change things around here for a long, long time now. I've had various new images in the works for over a year; I finally just went with a completely new one inspired my friends, the House Martins under the eaves. More changes to come.

Nature finds
displaying finds

My last article for the Green Parent was super fun to make, it was about displaying nature finds. Pick up the next issue to see how we made customized shelving.

Come on then

These are a few Instagrams from the week in walks. This foot bridge is at the end of one of our long walks and Pippi of course always wants to keep on going.

Loan oak
loan oak

This field has just been harvested, I loved the light on it that day. Those few bare branches at the top are favourite rest stops for local kestrels.

Hope you have a great weekend ahead with lots of lovely plans and good food and drink too.


a ring

Last night I did something new and completely self-indulgent and it was good. I took my first jewellery making class, the real kind, with a blow torch and everything. When the day came around I had a dozen reasons why I shouldn’t go but instead I plucked up the courage to take myself away and try something new with people I'd never met. I don't know why it took courage, but it did. 

If the term quirky could apply to an experience, then that would be the term I'd use for this class. We sat around the kitchen table in an ancient manor house just down the road. An Aga kept us warm while the rain bucketed down, dogs were running around under our feet and children wandered in and out in wellies and pyjamas.

I met new friends, learned a bit of chemistry (a very little bit, so little I’ve now already forgotten it), got to fire up and use a blow torch and shaped and soldered my very first ring. It’s copper because that’s what learners practice with but by some miracle the random piece of metal the instructor gave me to practice with turned into a ring that actually fit me. I know it’s not aesthetically beautiful (though not too bad against my favourite turquoise) but it's special to me. It’s a successful first attempt at a new skill and a reminder that two hours to myself a week is a very good thing.

It even fits
The after effects of those two hours lasted all through today as well. I had an extra hop in my step during my extremely wet walk with an extremely wet dog and my spirits soared, lifting me from the low place I've been dwelling of late. Next week we learn metal cutting – more fun tools to try out.

On the subject of blow torches, my friend Tracy recently finished off her series of 'Already Read' newspaper art pieces using a blow torch and they're amazing. I think you'll recognize the faces, even if you don't live in the UK; how on earth did she manage the detail?! Scroll down her gallery and look at her incredible work, who'd have thought newspaper could become so beautiful.

Photo fix

And call me stupid (go ahead, I won't hear you anyway) but I only just figured out how to control the high contrast on my iPhone images. Just tap the screen where I want to focus and it adjusts the images colour and exposure, not just the sharpness. The top image was my "aha!" moment. Wow, that was easy. I hope to go back to real cameras soon, but mostly my phone is the choice for ease of use these days, and right now easy is good. 

Happy Summer Solstice and remember, it's Peace Day today.





I'm in that mode again. Whittling down all the crap that's accumulated around us over the past two and a half years and getting ready to shove it all in to boxes to move. Some things take me extra time though, like my vintage linens and textiles. Even though it's Sunday I was up at the crack of dawn to sort through some of these in peace, and as usual I'm deciding not to part with most of it. I am parting with some of my more modern fabrics though and as I have no time for selling them I'll divide them up between some of my more keen young students to start their own fabric stashes; Gracie already has a stash of her own started.

On another note, Tristan has posted a tutorial for his indoor shuffleboard type game. It's very detailed, including a fabulous video he put together with his mother as amateur camera woman. Check it out and let him know how you like it if you get a chance.

Hope you're having a restful Sunday. 


Expect the unexpected

Sparrowhawk, image by Hiyashi Haka via Flickr

This morning I saw a sparrowhawk carrying off a young bird in it's talons. That bird was probably hopping along minding it's own business, pecking the frozen ground in search of loose seeds and grubs when suddenly two giant feet appeared out of nowhere and whisked her away.

It's easy to feel like a small, defenceless bird when things happen unexpectedly. Lately I've been involved in lots of quick action to take control and minimize nasty surprises. It's been busy and a little scary but mostly empowering. I've got an even busier time ahead with lots of personal changes over the next few months but I'm sure the outcome will be good.

Pippi's patches
Though I haven't been around here on the blog there's been a lot of fun stuff happening behind the scenes. We fashioned a Pippi Longstocking hairstyle for Gracie for a book character day at school, it involved aluminium wire bending and wrapping and plaiting and pinning and it worked! She created her own outfit to match the hairstyle.

Gracie has also decided dipping lollipops in chocolate is culinary genius and so do her school friends who nearly knocked her over to buy them. The children are being encouraged at school to create a business to fund a charity; selling out her lollies two days in a row in a matter of minutes means she's off to a bloomin good start.

Shuffle Board - All 3
And on one of our recent subzero days Tristan invented an indoor shuffleboard game with one of my empty ribbon spools, he'll link to his own tutorial soon but it's super fun to play – it's been our post-dinner entertainment this week.

Patchwork mending
I've been hand stitching some patchwork strips to repair my ageing linen duvet cover. I'll probably need to bring in the machine though to speed up the process because the tear is becoming too big too fast. 

Blue tit feast
The birds in the garden (especially the blue tits) have been acting as if it's spring, nasty shock they had with the big freeze this week. We added an extra fatball feeder before the serious cold set in to help out.

And we've finally had enough snow for snowman building this week but a little more tobogganing action before the winter ends would be nice. Our snowman likes cuddles, see? He's asking you for one now (careful though he gets all melty).

 Happy Wednesday, hope to see you soon,