Speedwell or Cat's Een Design Story
Part of the daily routine, that I try to stick to in order to improve my health, is a walk of however far I can manage to go. Most days I only make it a little ways and one place I visit often is the cemetery that is in view of the North Sea in Aberdeen. I wish I had the energy to make it down to the beach everyday, but I usually have to settle for only seeing the sea from a distance. I can make it to the beach, but the walk home is sometimes too much.
On one of my daily walks during April, it was extra sunny and very hot so I had to sit under a tree in the shade to cool off before making my way back home. I saw a little blue flower next to me. It was so delicate and pretty, that I took one home to identify. I should note I only picked the flower because it is in the part of the grass that is usually cut, and I wasn't sure when they were going to mow. I thought having one would make it easier to identify than just having a photo.
The flower is called a speedwell and is quite common in the British Isles. There are many varieties of speedwells, and I'm not completely sure which variety I encountered (my plant identification skills need some work), but I think it was a germander speedwell. . They are usually found in hedgerows, grassy lanes and along roadways in large clumps. In Scotland they are sometimes called cat's een (eye) because of the white middle. The flower is thought to be good luck for travellers and can 'speed you well' on your journey.
I thought it was an appropriate flower to make into a free pattern to offer on my website, as I begin my own journey of becoming a business owner. I also thought it could help to speed on other people's creative journey and enjoyment of cross stitch. So that is the little design story for this pattern, see below for how I turned my finished Speedwell stitch into a coin purse. This project is full of first for me so it was a struggle to begin with, but I quite like how it turned out and encourage you to try it it out too. I have yet to become friends with my sewing machine, she hates me for some reason, so I hand sewed the purse, but feel free to use a machine for the parts that I used strong thread for. I would still use hand stitching for the detailed stitches I did with the thread. Don't forget to tag me in your pictures of your finished project so I can see.
Check out these microscopic pictures of speedwells that I found while researching.
Speedwell or Cat's Een Coin Purse Assembly Instructions
Finished Speedwell stitch (I used 14 count Aida, finished size is 3.5” x 3.5”)
Pattern fabric for front (I used black to match my cross stitch fabric)
Fabric for back (I picked a nice blue moon pattern print)
Lining fabric (I used a scrap from a pillowcase)
Strong sewing thread
Matching floss for details
Button (snaps or Velcro would also work)
Tailor's chalk or washable pen
To start with download the pattern pieces (Part 1 & Part 2), print and cut them out. If you don't have a printer, draw a 4” x 4” square, a 4” x 6” rectangle, and a 10” x 4” rectangle and cut them out. If you want a curved flap like mine, line up the top of the two rectangles and fold in half lengthwise, then shape them together to keep them symmetrical. Keep in mind these measurements are based on 14ct Aida fabric. The pattern should also work for 28ct linen, but other fabrics will require you to increase or decrease the size to fit your finished stitching. This is the first sewing pattern I have drafted myself, so I hope you find it helpful.
Pin the paper pattern pieces to your chosen fabrics and cut out each piece, making sure to leave about 1/4” for the seam allowance. I outlined my pieces in wax pencil to make sewing easier before removing the paper pieces.
Next you will need to prepare your Speedwell stitch and mount it onto the front piece, the 4” x 6” rectangle.
I used this post from By Hand London to create mitred corners on my finished Speedwell piece, leaving two squares on each side of the stitching, meaning my finished piece was about 3 3/4” square. I had never done mitred corners before, and the first attempt ending in a box because I sewed the wrong angle somehow. I eventually got it right and ironed the piece nice and flat. It does mean I'm going to leave you on your own to figuring it out though, as I'm not really sure how I managed to get it in the end. I used tailors chalk and drew lines. I wish you all the best and will note, it is not required that the edges are mitred, I just thought it would lay flatter and look better for the purse which I think it does. So feel free to finish the square however you see fit.
Once the Speedwell square is finished use 3 strands of green thread and a stem stitch all along the edge to secure the stitching to the front piece. If you use tailors chalk or an erasable pen to mark out the pattern pieces onto the fabric you can more easily line up the pieces.
The next step is to attach the front and back pieces together at the bottom of the bag. To do this I found the centre of the square back piece, placed it in the centre of my stitching, right sides together, and pined them together. I then backstitched with strong thread along the bottom edge of the square, joining the two pieces together. Trim and iron the seam flat. You should now have two pieces of the same size, since the two pieces together are the same as the lining piece.
This next stage was the most nerve-wrecking. I have never created a usable item from a finished stitch that wasn't a kit that had instructions, and I was nervous about ruining my hard work. What I did to ensure I wouldn't accidentally stitch over the edge of my Speedwell stitch was to put the paper pattern piece for the lining over the stitching, before pining the lining piece in place face down over it. This left me with the joined front and back piece face up, the paper pattern and then the lining piece face down. The two pieces facing each other and the paper in the middle. This let me use the paper edge as a guide while I backstitched, with strong thread around, the outline. I left the straight edge open to allow turning. Make sure to trim the seam allowance before turning right side out and ironing flat.
Next use strong thread and backstitch the top of the back piece down. Make sure that your edges are even. I also used a little felling stitch to secure the flap inside, just so it wouldn't get in the way. With all the edges closed, fold the piece so the seam between the front and back piece is at the bottom, and iron it flat.
Using 3 strands of the darkest blue in the pattern, use a cord stitch up both sides. To do this, first line up one edge. Use a running stitch to secure the two pieces together, and then cord stitch up the side. This is the first time I used a cord stitch, and I made sure to practice a bit first, so I recommend the same for you if it is your first time using this stitch. Start at the bottom of the purse holding it vertically and working left to right. To start bring the thread up from the bottom left corner, secure the end of the thread between the pieces. Bring the needle over two stitches to the right and bring it down horizontally through the front and back pieces. The next stitch is the same, but started one stitch to the right of the first stitch (or one stitch to the left of your current position) . Repeat the two stitches until you reach the top of the purse. Remove your running stitches and do the same for the other side of the purse.
The final step is to make your closure. I chose to do a button and a button hole, but sew on snaps or velcro would also work. You could even do a button and ribbon if you didn't want to make a button hole. I used this video from Bernadette Banner to create mine.
And that's it, your Speedwell purse is ready to be used. I hope you were able to create your own purse, and found this tutorial helpful and inspiring. If you want a bigger project to do next, check out my Celtic Knotwork and Tartan Scissor Case and Keeper.
Until next time. Joyous stitching!