Craft : Ruth Singer – textile artist


Ruth Singer is another maker who started early, crafting things in her Dad’s shed. (There must be something about that experience…)

Ruth Singer wears many hats wonderfully. She is a maker of beautiful objects, a writer, an historian, runs workshops, and has worked at the Victoria & Albert Museum as an adult education officer (that is just my dream job and I’m a teeny bit jealous).


silk organza neckpiece


neckpiece in silk

As a child, she was always fascinated by historical costumes, and when she left school she embarked on studies to become a museum costume and textiles curator, and although there were not a lot of jobs available in this area, she says it has helped her in many ways to get to where she is now.

Amelia - brooch. recycled felt. 7cm dia x 8cm h

Ruth works in a studio packed with fabrics, haberdashery, teaching materials, books, and mannequins. And sewing machines – although as she works mostly by hand, her four (by my count) machines don’t get a lot of use. She has occasionally made bespoke dresses, based on historical designs, but at the moment her energies are focused on writing, teaching, and crafting decorative works for the home, and for the body.

polonaise, Reclaimed silk, hand stitched and stuffed with wool. Shades of grey to black. 46x52cm


Tiles; Silk. Stretched on a 2" deep canvas. 40x40 cm


Betty - Reclaimed silk. Framed in vintage gilt. 54x75 cm

Her crafted objects are typified by the use of repetitive elements, a preference for simple colour, and an emphasis on texture. Importantly, the fabrics she uses are upcycled, vintage, and/or organic.  And many of the techniques she employs are those she has learnt from her studies of historical garments and their construction – hand-stitched pleating, appliqué, folding, layering and structured stuffing.

Repetition of elements within a piece appeals partly for its meditative qualities as she is working on it, and also because “the things I find inspiring, like trees, roof tiles, lichen, flower-heads, are all repeating patterns where each element is almost but not quite the same.”

Eyes of Africa - Recycled wool felt and hand stitching.

She is a passionate advocate of greening people’s lives, starting with the textiles we use in our everyday lives. To this end she has written a book called Sew Eco, which includes information about using vintage and organic fabrics, and inspiration and instructions for making bags, scarfs, and brooches, amongst other things. She also has another book published, Sew It Up, which covers sewing basics, as well as more advanced decorative and construction techniques.

Upholstered stool

vintage stool, re-upholstered in suede and felt


Pebbles. Organic fabric with hand stitched recycled wool applique on vintage chair.

Ruth also works as a teacher, and if you happen to be in the Leicester (UK) area, you can join one of her workshops, and learn everything from basics to masterclasses on sewing and techniques, as well as textile history.

Ruth is currently exhibiting her work at two exhibitions – Ties That Bind at Unit Twelve, Staffordshire, and Open23 at New Walk Museum, Leicester.


Images courtesy of Ruth Singer, from and her blog

Textile Design : Susanne Karlsson

Susanne Karlsson has a degree in Information Technology and a Bachelor in Business Administration, teaching these at university and at college in Finland. She also works as a graphic designer and has been contributing images to a number of microstock sites since 2007. In her spare time she does oil painting (although she states she hasn’t had a lot of time to do that of late…)


susanne karlsson – red swirls


susanne karlsson – retro flowers


Susanne works in a variety of genres; however, she loves vintage flower patterns, and it is her designs inspired by this that appeal to me the most. These designs have simple yet delicate lines and a muted palette. Her lines are strong and gentle at the same time giving them excellent structure, and guiding and drawing my eyes around and through the pattern.


susanne karlsson – circle & flower


susanne karlsson – orange flowers


susanne karlsson – pink flowers


I think her designs would work equally well as wrapping paper or fabric prints, and indeed, I have spotted some being used on the packaging for a sudoku game.


susanne karlsson – red blue abstract


And I so love these last two, they remind me of linoleum floors, in the best possible way.


susanne karlsson – red green abstract


You can find more of Susanne’s work on Spoonflower at suziedesign, and on Shutterstock.

Food : How to make bread {it’s EASY}.

I was at the checkout of the supermarket the other day, when the lady behind commented on my 5kg bag of flour.

You mean you make your own BREAD?” was the half-horrified, half-awed whisper.

Bread has been a fundamental food for so many societies for so long. People from all walks of life, of all skill levels, have made this basic and beautiful food for millennia, so don’t be scared to try. Of course it’s easy. Really, it’s SO easy.


You need:
4 cups of baker’s flour
3 teaspoons dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
warm water – somewhere between 1 1/2 cups and 1 2/3 cups (depends a bit on the flour)



Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl with your hands, turn out onto a lightly floured bench and knead the dough for 10-15 minutes. Really push it around with the heels of your hands, until it is a very smooth and elastic ball. Leave it covered in a warm place until it is about doubled in size (you can either use baking paper, or a floured teatowel to cover – they won’t stick).



Turn out onto the floured bench again, knead it a second time, then shape it into a loaf and put it on its baking tray. You can be creative and shape it into rolls or a plait if you like. Leave it to rise again for another 1/2 hour or so before baking it in a moderate oven for around 40 minutes, until it is lightly browned and crusty.

Let it cool on a wire rack before trying to slice it.



I know there are much more specific instructions that I could have included. For the dedicated breadmaker there are a squillion variations and nuances to learn.

But really, you don’t need them.


Julie X