The Mr X Stitch Guide to Cross Stitch Jamie Chalmers

61xM-BY+uJL._AC_US218_Pub: Search Press Books

f you think you know what cross stitch is, look again! Jamie Chalmers, aka Mr X Stitch, shows you how to cross stitch using simple step-by-step instructions and also takes you to the frontiers of cross stitch design. The book is aimed at stitchers of all abilities, from absolute beginners looking to learn a new craft to embroiderers and cross stitchers who want to do something different in cross stitching. For many, cross stitch conjures up images of cute kittens and country cottages, but this book shows people that there’s a different side to cross stitching that it’s an art in its own right, and will encourage them to be a little braver with their art.

Jamie’s writing style is fun, entertaining and highly inspirational. The book aims to appeal to men as well as women, encouraging one and all to take up the ancient craft. It teaches the basics of cross stitching, including information on materials, tools, techniques and colour blending, but also puts Jamie’s own individual spin on it, with urban flavours and the introduction of different materials such as glow-in-the-dark threads and stitching on metal. As well as providing exciting designs to stitch, there is guidance on how to create cross stitch designs of your own, for example by using photographs and other images for reference.

Jamie also showcases the work of other contemporary cross stitchers who are pushing the boundaries of their craft, and introduces more than 20 stunning cutting-edge projects to make, showing that beauty, innovation and ‘craftivism’ are alive and kicking in this inspirational book.

Do Not for one minute be surprised that this is a Cross Stitch book by a man…

After all.  nearly all the best designers are men.

Jamie Chalmers Cross Stitch book is filled with good advice and techniques to get your creative juices flowing and with very descriptive words such as  ‘stitchgasm’ this book gives a contemporary look at a craft that has been loved for decades.

The first thing that grabbed me about Jamie’s work, was his craft box. He has a wicked collection of scissors of which I am rather quite envious.

Fabric, Threads and ‘Gizmos’ are covered and even before we take a look at the projects on offer, this book is a realm of information and stitching wisdom. If you think you have seen it all, then this fabulous book will a complete surprise. The section on colour is beautiful, and did you know about ‘Glow in the Dark’ thread???  Well !! I didn’t and I cannot wait to give it a go…… Perfect for children’s rooms don’t you think?

Jamie gives interviews with Cross Stitch ‘Outliers’,  They talk passionately about their craft and I was inspired by such creative people.

There is so much in this book, you get a lot for your money. I would soon run out space if I talked about it all.

One thing I must mention is the ‘Mona Lisa’ is stunning…and it’s not just aida that Jamie uses to stitch on.

This is an amazing book, and as an avid crafter and book collector is one I highly recommend. It really is a book with a difference…Oh and I really want one his badges. I love Mr X stitch.



Buy the book..




The Cornish Coast Murder John Bude

51QosPk0MzL._AC_US218_.jpgPub: The British Library Publishing Division

The Reverend Dodd, vicar of the quiet Cornish village of Boscawen, spends his evenings reading detective stories by the fireside – but heaven forbid that the shadow of any real crime should ever fall across his seaside parish. The vicar’s peace is shattered one stormy night when Julius Tregarthan, a secretive and ill-tempered magistrate, is found at his house in Boscawen with a bullet through his head.

The local police inspector is baffled by the complete absence of clues. Suspicion seems to fall on Tregarthan’s niece, Ruth – but surely that young woman lacks the motive to shoot her uncle dead in cold blood? Luckily for Inspector Bigswell, the Reverend Dodd is on hand, and ready to put his keen understanding of the criminal mind to the test.

This novel from the golden age of British crime fiction is set against the vividly described backdrop of a fishing village on Cornwall’s south coast.

This is the second British Crime Library book I have read and I really enjoy them..

I do plan to read them all.

When Ruth Tregarthan finds her Uncle shot in the head, it sets of a chain of suspicion, accusation and mystery.

The Reverend Dodd, local Vicar and Doctor Pendrill, meet every week for dinner and divide out their recent delivery of library books. Both are avid detective fans. so as Doctor Pendrill is called upon when Julius Tregarthen is found dead, the Vicar especially is ‘delighted’ about the chance to solve a real life puzzle.

John Bude’s debut novel is a gem of a read. It does kind of go all over the place during the revealing of the killer, but it is a crime novel with enormous strength. I won’t compare it with the great Agatha Christie as some have, as it does lack in certain areas, but with the Cornish setting and the plot of Lord of the Manor and the lower classes of the era, it is a rather delightful and gripping tale.

I am so glad The British Crime Library have decided to reprint such novels, most of the original copies are now extremely rare, and to be able to read such books is quite exciting. The two books I have read from this series have dated really well, I don’t get the impression I am reading an ‘ancient’ story.

This is a novel that will interest crime fiction fans and is such a cozy murder mystery that I am sure many will become a fan too.



My Book Shelves …..

I love when other bloggers show off their shelves with all the different books they have.

I rather think it shows some of our personality and I do think our choice of books tells what type of reader we are.

So… I though I would take some – rather bad -pictures of my shelves…


These are my newest collection. They are the British Library Crime Collection.

I read ‘Verdict of Twelve’ which was available on Netgalley and I was hooked. I think there are 49 books in this collection so I have just 10 more to get.



‘Game of Thrones’.. I love the TV series and have not got round to reading these yet.

Full of blood, sex and dragons.. pure fantasy and complete escapism



Victoria Hislop is one my favourite authors. Like her I adore Greece. I loved ‘The Island’ and I have visited Spinalonga where the book is set. I also own a letter she wrote to me when I fan mailed her many years ago.



The Mitford girls are the most fascinating ladies. Crazy, wild and interesting.

I started reading about them when author Lousie Trager mentioned that she to was reading a book about their lives. I googled them and I was hooked.

I love when others reading interests influence my own.



Susan Hill.. I first read a Susan Hill novel when ‘The Woman in Black came to the cinema.

Then my husband bought me a signed copy of Dolly, which I loved. I have since read many of her novels and although my collection is small she is always an author I recommend.



The great Agatha Christie is my absolute favourite favourite.  I watch the TV shows whenever they are on and I have collected  quite a few of these on audio CD also.

I love nosy Miss Marple and Poirot is a clever and wise detective. My favourite tale is ‘And There Were None’ I have 3 copies of this book as they have been printed with different titles due to Political Correctness, which is a shame.



Carol Drinkwater is another favourite of mine. Originally an actress, she bought an Olive farm in France. She built it up from scratch and it is now a thriving business for her and her husband.

I love reading about her struggles and her delights and on a sunny day you can get quite engrossed in these books. Well worth a read.



Ashamedly I have never read a classic.. however my friend bought me Jane Eyre for Christmas and I decided t collect a few that I might like.

I will get round to reading them..eventually..



I love France…..and French translated novels and ones set in France appeal to me very much.

I buy them whenever I see one and read and re-read till they are quite dog-eared.



My precious signed copies and one in which I have had blog quotes.

I know I don’t have to explain these are I guess we all hold them dear. I have two shelves dedicated to these beauties.

My particular favs are ones by Angela Marsons as she created a character in her novels based on me..Tracy Frost – Reporter.  I am honoured and will treasure these beautiful books forever.

IMG_20170808_134142 (1)


Favourite childrens books have always been a delight for me.

I used to own every Enid Blyton but when I got divorced I couldn’t take everything when I moved. This has always upset me but I have started to collect them again along with some other titles I enjoyed.



Last but definitely not least is Liz Fenwick..  I am from Devon and Liz’s books capture my beloved Cornwall beautifully.

I have spent much of my childhood exploring beaches and tiny villages in and around Cornwall and having lived the last 11 years in Durham my craving for a Cornish pasty is insatiable…One day I will return



Well…are there any surprises here for you..

Happy reading x



Make Softies: 11 Cuddly Toys to Sew

51pgYrDGXUL._AC_US218_Pub: C&T Publishing

If you want to sew up a quick gift, make a toy for a baby or toddler, or decorate your home with a little whimsy, look no further than this collection of 10 softies from popular designers Amy Adams, Kirstyn Cogan, Samantha Cotterill, Abby Glassenberg, Jill Hamor, Brenna Maloney, Sweetwater, Kasja Wikman, Annabel Wrigley, and Angela Yosten. Cute houses, cuddly creatures, friendly characters, and even a checkerboard are all achievable with three-dimensional sewing for beginners and experienced sewists. Plus, the projects in this value-packed book will use up your scraps, stash, and even your socks!

With 11 cuddly and very cute toys to sew…

Make Softies is a collaboration of various designers that requires a knowledge of sewing and lots of time.

These adorable patterns are perfect for reducing your fabric stash, and if like me you have a bin full of scraps then this is the book for you.

Each project, from owls, to mushrooms and even a village are easily put together using the step by step instructions and pictures, you can even make a Alien with a ‘stray’ grey sock.

C & T Publishing have put this book together beautifully, and each project come with a small ‘history’ of the designer and from which book the pattern has come from. Honestly, you will never have to buy another soft toy again.

The Swedish Tomte Softie is adorable and one of my favourites.

There are some pattern templates at the back of the book, some of which you have to photocopy up to a % size, but each project is colorful and very well explained.

This is book that will be a welcome addition to any crafters bookshelf and I know my copy is going to be well used.


I am going to make ‘Ollie the Owl’……..

(he is shown on the front cover sat with the baby)


After preparing my pattern, which needs to enlarged by local library did this for me at just 15p per sheet. ( I only needed one copy).



There is a lot of preparation to this project. You need 236 pieces just for the feathers alone…see what I mean about reducing your stash?

So I sat down with an audio book and got cutting out.



After fusing the ‘eyes’ to Bondaweb, I zig zagged each eye to the body front, and did the same with the beak.. The best thing about doing it this way is that it safe for babies and young choking hazzards as there would be if you used buttons.

It is best if you position the eyes and beak before you iron them to the body, as you have to leave a 1/4 seam around the owl for sewing together. You don’t want the eyes to get caught in that seam in the final sew together.



The next step is to ‘grid mark’ the places where the feathers will sit.


I very faintly drew these lines on with a iron erasable pen.


Sew the feathers together, wrong sides together. leaving the tops open. You will need 118  feathers….Phew!!!!

I found it easier to ‘chain stitch’ so I didn’t have to keep stopping…


Turn each feather the right way round and press each one flat.


On the faint lines, lay each feather 1/4 inch away from each side. Each feather needs to have the raw edge on the line..then stitch..


Then fold them flat and top stitch along the edge..


Continue to do the same with each row.


When finished the back and the front should look like this… very cute.



Stitch around the feet and fill with toy stuffing..


Pin the feet to the front of owl body ..


Then pin owl front to owl back..taking care to keep all the feathers out of the way.


Stitch around the owl with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Every 1 1/2 inches I double stitched just to ensure that the seams will not pull apart.. you know how  children can be quite vigorous with their cuddlies..  leave a gap so you can fold right way in and stuff your owl.

Before you fold right way in.. check all seams have been stitched. the seam allowance is quite small and you can miss a bit with this project due to the extra thickness concerning the feathers.


One finished ‘Ollie the Owl’.. 🙂


You will not finish this project in a day.. I completed it over a weekend…

If you want to have your ‘Ollie’ a bit sooner I think he would look rather adorable using felt instead of preparing fabric feathers.

Happy Sewing


Want to win Ollie ??

Leave a comment and I will pick a winner.. The winner is … CleopatraLovesBooks  Congrats  x


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Layered Cloth.. The Art of Fabric Manipulation Ann Small

61slY-zON0L._AC_US218_Pub: Search Press Books

Ann Small’s imaginative use of cutting and manipulating techniques, and her layering and colouring tricks, makes this your ‘go-to’ guide for bringing form and texture to your fabric artwork. This book is a rich resource and reference for textile artists seeking new ideas and who want to experiment with reverse appliqué and related techniques such as layering, trapunto, stacks, puffs and fabric manipulation.


  • Packed with techniques suitable for quilting and other textile art
  • Three wearable step-by-step projects
  • Clear, close-up images make layering enjoyable and accessible



At first glance this seems like a difficult skill to master…

However,  the techniques are so beautiful and with step by step instruction the projects and the desired effects are easily achieved.

In full bright color, the grids are easy to understand and along with ‘cheats’, ideas and  even finishing and how to care for your art, this book is a creative ‘must have’.

Ann Small is clearly very artistic and what this book does is give you you very simple ideas that when put together creates something that is very pleasing to the eye and inventive.

I loved the originality of each piece, I especially liked the page on the ‘Kantha’ technique and the beautiful Kimono that is pictured is simply stunning. I think that even if a mistake was made, it really wouldn’t matter, such is the effect of this art.

Handbags, scarfs and flowers are included, and if you are a fabric lover like me it won’t be too long before you create your own beautiful design.

This book is stunning.


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Verdict of Twelve Raymond Postgate

51SuaFM+VKL._AC_US218_Pub: British Library Publishing

A woman is on trial for her life, accused of murder. The twelve members of the jury each carry their own secret burden of guilt and prejudice which could affect the outcome. In this extraordinary crime novel, we follow the trial through the eyes of the jurors as they hear the evidence and try to reach a unanimous verdict. Will they find the defendant guilty, or not guilty? And will the jurors’ decision be the correct one?

This has to be one of the most interesting books EVER…

Written in 1940, the story covers the life history of each jury member, the case and the accused and then the finale.

What is most interesting is the jury, they each have their own secrets, some of which are indeed criminal, and how their thoughts and lifestyles influence their opinion on Rosalie Van Beer, her actions, her beliefs and their eventual verdict.

Rosalie is not the most caring of women, in fact she is downright cruel to her small charge Philip. And is Philip just as bad ?????

Each small detail of this case is played out beautifully and leaving nothing out Postgate has written quite a brutal and shocking novel.

My favourite line has to be, ‘ In the end he decided to do what any normal man does in a crisis – ask a woman,’  this I found quite funny, especially as this book was written in a time when men ‘had the upper hand’ and women basically ‘did as they were told’, how perfectly ahead of his time Postgate seems to be.

I loved this book and it would be perfect for a book club read, just because of the difference of opinion and outlook this book would bring. It would certainly be a conversational piece and one I imagine hotly debated among a group.


I now want the others in the series.



Japanese Paper Embroidery Mari Kamio Minako Chiba

51g+ZBHkfZL._AC_US218_Pub: Search Press Books

Embroidery on paper is a traditional and well-loved craft, here artfully translated into beautiful and understated Japanese designs by a t s u m i, Minako Chiba and Mari Kamio. These three talented Japanese crafters have created a range of delightful paper projects that are modern, stylish and fun to make. Each project is accompanied by a full-size template and notes on how to embroider the design, and there are clear and detailed instructions on the materials and tools you require; the essential technique of embroidering on paper; and eleven basic embroidery stitches that can be used individually or in combination to create all of the exquisite designs in the book. Choose from a range of ideas that includes drawing, writing and more creative projects, including paper clocks, notebooks, envelopes, decorations, book marks and cards for all occasions. Suitable for those new to paper embroidery as well as more experienced crafters, this book will excite and inspire anyone with a love of Japanese style and clean, simple design.

This beautiful book is filled with 20 simple projects..

Each project can be adapted for Birthday, Christmas or any event that might inspire your creativity to embroider on paper.

This craft is an alternative to regular embroidery and could be a step to learn for a beginner or for children.

Each simple technique is completed with a just a few easy stitches but the overall effect can be quite amazing.

The wrapping paper idea is truly beautiful and one that I am going to use for any special gifts, and the stitch fronted notebooks would make perfect gifts. The 3 sections are very descriptive and filled with wonderful ideas, tips and interesting projects. There is also a template section which I am sure will motivate and influence more ideas than the ones suggested.

I love Japanese crafts, just by the simplicity of the art and design gives all the projects a rich and beautiful look.

This is a book that would be a great addition to any crafters bookshelf, and it’s a gorgeous looking book so it would make an ideal gift too.


You don’t need a lot of items for Paper Embroidery.

A sharp needle, some thread and some paper or thin card is perfect to start with..


I traced my template onto some tracing paper which then transferred the design onto my card.


After a short time I made a small ‘hello’ card and book cover …sew sweet.


happy sewing….


Buy the book..