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For various reasons, this is the first Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild meeting I’ve been to since June. Quite a number of our members are eager to get stuck into another round of Travelling Books so we had a lovely display of the initial pieces, ready for their next outing.

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We were joined by Hull Branch and the day was led by their own Alison Larkin. The last time we had a workshop with her was March 2014 when we stitched this miniature embroidery. She brought some of her exquisite miniatures along for us to marvel over. This one is about the size of a playing card.

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I tried to use the magnifier to give some idea of how minute these little stitched pictures are.

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I just love this Tudor/Jacobean style miniature bedspread. This is only about a third of it and the whole thing is no bigger than an A5 envelope.

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This time we had a talk in the morning about her big recent project, a recreation of a waistcoat stitched by Captain James Cook‘s wife Elizabeth. The original is stitched on tapa cloth, which is actually the inner bark of the paper mulberry tree, brought to Europe by Cook from one of his earlier voyages. Although the stitching has been completed, the waistcoat was never made up as Cook died in Hawaii in 1779.

Alison talked us through the whole process of researching the waistcoat, which was not only looking at the design of the original, which is held in a library in Sydney, but also working out the size, stitches used, methods of construction etc. before she could even start stitching. The finished item, much of which she stitched in period costume at the Captain Cook Memorial Museum in Whitby, is stunning.

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The tapa cloth has the look of a slubby silk dupion from a distance and it’s only when you get up close that you can see it’s actually a non woven fabric.

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In the afternoon Alison led a blackwork workshop, where we could try out various designs of hers on a variety of different fabrics. I opted for 18 count aida and a lovely acorn tile design.

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I love blackwork. The intricacies of the designs really appeal, so much so that I don’t even mind the counting involved and was happily engrossed for the rest of the afternoon in getting as far on with my design  as I could.

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This should be a nice quick finish and become a scissor keep for my big fabric scissors.

Last year at Embroiderers’ Guild we had an amazing full day workshop with Chris Gray which started off with printing from her mind-blowing collection of printing blocks. I only had a handful of bits of fabric and loved the printing so much that I ended up printing on everything I could find in my bags, including three silk carrier rods I’d ironed flat.

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I love silk carrier rods, but like so many things, they disappear into drawers and boxes knowing that the chance that I might find something to do with them is slim to none.

However… I’ve been upcycling jewellery again and after trialling a few ideas for how to enhance this rather naff goldtone geometric bib section,  I came across the printed carrier rods and that turquoise one was perfect.

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The nature of the carrier rod means that it doesn’t fray and I could simply stick it into the back of the triangle.

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Turquoise is a complete nightmare to match colourwise because of the proportions of green and blue, but the turquoise nugget beads were a perfect match and some gold tone chain finished it all off nicely. It is always such a pleasant surprise when things work out smoothly and I have listed it here.

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On a roll, I came across two odd earrings. This…

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…now equal this:

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I have been embroidering as well, but it’s unfortunately under wraps until December.

I’ve been restocking and updating my Etsy shop with that December thing coming up fast on the horizon and although a lot of my pieces have involved sea glass, sea washed china and found objects, I did get inspired by another vintage brooch without a central stone.

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So I gathered some supplies and started to stitch a ribbon rose on some scraps of hand dyed silk.

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With a woven rose in the middle, split stitch curling stems either side and some french knot buds, it stitched up quite quickly.

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Then I layered three pieces of pelmet vilene, each slightly smaller than the other to create a domed shape, gathered the silk around the dome and pulled it up tight. A piece of the rust coloured background silk covered the gathering at the back and then I set it in the brooch.

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You can find it here.

I also created this flotsam assemblage pendant

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…from a piece of wave worn aluminium…

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…which I beachcombed ages ago and just love; a piece of tactile driftwood and a long nugget of sea glass which sat in the groove of that grain perfectly.

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A treasured oval piece of multicoloured Seaham sea glass went into a vintage pendant.

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And rich green oval nugget of sea glass went into another vintage pendant.

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In fact I managed to find and nearly match so many lovely green pieces that I was able to add a pair of upcycled vintage clip on earrings

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..and a bracelet.

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It’s lovely to be able to reuse some of these gorgeous pieces and bring broken jewellery back to life again.

Now I have another section of the bluework piece which is more of a turquoise blue, I’m a bit happier: it’s looking more balanced.

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The lavender now has three layers: a foreground of bullion knot lavender heads, a mid-ground of simple straight stitch lavender heads in a heavy weight perle thread, and a background layer of distant heads in a thin single strand silk.

DSCN6375.JPGNote to self. Stitch the background first – it makes slotting stems in behind the foreground elements ever so much easier…

 

This is a project I started with a group of girls whom I call ‘Tall Poppies’. Bright, articulate children who often experience negativity from their peers due to their abilities. Coming out of the classroom to do some sewing gave them chance to chat in a safe place where no one was going to belittle them for being amazing.

I’d seen some lovely little felt pouch necklaces on Pinterest with hidden positive messages and decided that this would be a great project to work on.

I made various templates and they used pinking shears to cut them out of felt. Then I showed them how to stitch on a snap, keeping it as neat as possible on the other side before they created their own designs, largely based on lazy daisy flowers, thinking about the three sections of the pouch and what would be visible when it was stitched up. I always sew alongside them and this is my pouch.

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After scattering simple lazy daisies across the lower front, I decided to create a more complex design on the back, nesting lazy daisies inside each other to make bigger petals and adding chain stitch tendrils.

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I neatened up the stitches attaching the snap with rings of buttonhole stitch (on the flap)…

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…and chain stitch on the underside.

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The lining is a scrap of gorgeous hand dyed silk dupion which has been caught down with the blanket stitch along the sides, tiny running stitches along the front edge which you can just see in the photo above, and blanket stitch under the flap.

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I’m not sure now about using blanket stitch to sew up the sides and am probably going to take it out and use a neat double running stitch instead.  On the front it looks nice, but I don’t like the effect on the back.

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Seeing something through a photo is so good for showing up the issues you don’t seem able to spot with the naked eye.

The bluework is coming along slowly. I’ve added a centre to the lighter coloured flower on the right hand side.

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However, that part of the design has lapsed as I need to redraw the rest of it and I never seem to have my fabric marker handy when I’m working on it, so I went for another section altogether. My first attempt at this type of bullion knot roses with my favourite fly stitch leaves and stem stitch stem.

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That was a relatively quick stitch, so I thought I’d stay with bullions and create some lavender.

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It looked a bit sparse, so I used a variegated perle thread in a similar colour to create some more heads in the background with nested lazy daisy stitch leaves and split stitch stems on the lavender in the foreground.

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I might use some fine silk to put the suggestion of another row in even further away when I’ve finished the perle.

And the bluework so far…

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I do believe I’m over half way!

Upcycling again. First of all, bringing vintage and modern ribbons and laces, old plastic bracelets and broken brooches together to create my version of a bracelet I saw in a shop window some years ago.

This is Blue Skies. I wrapped the bracelet in some fantastic shibori dyed ribbon for a start. Then I gathered up a length of vintage lace and vintage satin ribbon which I layered to make a rosette. Lastly I finished it off with a centrepiece of a broken vintage brooch.

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This one: Edelweiss, is made the same way but in a burgundy and cream colourway to match the vintage carved bone edelweiss brooch in the centre.

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Lastly, Green Gingham.  Another niggling idea out of my system!

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I rescued this lovely wooden veneered modern card index from being chucked out about 10 years ago and ever since then have been trying to think of something useful I could do with it. The arrival of another box of impossible to resist jewellery from eBay finally made my mind up and its fate as yet another jewellery box was confirmed. I took out the odd cards, metal pin and wooden dividers to get to this:

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Then I cut some very thick card to make a solid base for each drawer.

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And used the lovely heavy weight dark blue velvet on the left of the picture to cover the card bases. I’m afraid I didn’t lace it, I glued it. (Hangs head in shame.)

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But my measuring was spot on – they fitted with the perfect amount of snuggness.

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And are already a bit fuller than I hoped.

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My name is Alex and I have a serious jewellery habit!