Archive for the ‘Patchwork’ Category

It was our Embroiderers’ Guild Meeting the Saturday before last and between taking my little one for her tennis lesson and not checking the timings on the extremely clear and useful newsletter which our secretary always sends out just prior to the monthly meeting, I managed to roll up late as usual.

By the time I sidled in, everyone was engrossed in their English Paper Piecing project set up by our chair, Ruth, in the morning. As well as providing fabric and sheets of templates, Ruth had brought a fabulous display of books, works in progress and completed projects to inspire.





Debbie had been inspired by one of Ruth’s patchwork pouches and was well on with her own version in some glorious sunflower fabrics.


I had gone for some oddments of prints and hand dyes in coffee shades with some indigo dyed cotton for my fabrics.


Since I’ve been working with hexagons in Auntie Sheila’s patchwork project I decided to go for equilateral triangles for a bit of a challenge.


I really enjoyed getting quite a few pieced in various fabrics so I could play around with some arrangements and I even got some stitched together, but not entirely sure where I’m going to take this next, which is irritating as it was a really good workshop and I like the colour and shape combinations. I’m sure something will come to me when I’m thinking about something else!

In June the Embroiderers’ Guild are having a stand at the annual Lincolnshire Show and members from various branches in the area have been asked to make some little bits and pieces which could be sold to raise funds and at least cover the cost of the stand. I had seen some little pincushion brooches on Pinterest which were made from puffs of stuffed fabric on a flat metal brooch type background. It just so happened that I had some new flat brass discs among my jewellery making kit, so I used a scrap of silk, a length of vintage crochet thread, a gold bead and a small amount of stuffing and made a prototype.


There were ten of the stamped brass discs in the packet, so I decided to use all ten. Works in progress…


And a couple of the finished articles.



They are now all neatly packed up and ready for the Show. Apparently our branch alone has amassed nearly a hundred items to sell!

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My Auntie Sheila was a wonderful woman. She was warm, kind, always elegantly dressed and effortlessly glamorous, arty and creative and I thought she was amazing. The only openly artistic member of our very practical family, she made it OK for me to be creative. I just wish I had really got into my textile art before she died in 2005. I know she would have been fascinated and supportive.

When she died, my uncle gave me a big box full of her craft bits and pieces. Most of it was card making type stuff, but there was a very pretty traditional style quilted patchwork bag, full of pieced paper hexagons. Some cut out ready to stitch, some covered but on their own, quite a lot formed up into flower shapes and some into larger flowers.


Traditional hexagon patchwork has never really appealed, but Auntie Sheila had pieced these, so I put them in the back of the wardrobe as a possible project for the far distant future.

When I was packing for our holiday in the Lake District in May, I was looking for a fairly straightforward project to work on in the evenings alongside my (non-stitching) holiday diary and I don’t know what made me get it out, especially with so many other stitching projects littered around the house, but I did, and it was a winner. Since most of the hard work was done, it was quite soothing starting to put the larger flowers together and I worked on it again when we went away to the Scottish Borders in August.

I’ve nearly completed the middle section which is blues around a central cream and rust flower. It is a proper rust, not garish orange as the photo suggests.


For the next round I’m starting to sort through the pile of smaller hex flowers for ones in cream and rust and there are some florals in a similar colour which I think I’ll incorporate too. I want to use as many of Auntie Sheila’s blocks and fabrics as possible but I also want it to work pattern-wise, so compromises will need to be made. A long-term project, this one.

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I was delighted to be tagged to take part in this by the very creative, talented and witty Iz, from Threadnoodle and it was lovely to welcome people who had popped over from her blog. So this week is my turn to talk in a bit more depth about myself and my creative process.

I live in North Lincolnshire in the UK although I’m originally, like Dickens’ David Copperfield, from the little village of Blundeston, in Suffolk. Among other things, I’m a writer, a jeweller and textile artist. But not necessarily in that order.

1. What am I working on?

Erm… everything? I have a second book of short stories and a novel both on the go as well as an article which has been back-burnered for various reasons. There’s a box of partly completed rings,

silver acorn ring

pendants and other odds and ends which need finishing.

Norwich stitch pendant

Journals, books and altered books,

York Minster altered book

kits, summer holiday diary fragments,

holiday diary fragment

the crazy patchwork cushion for my son,

James' cushion strip 1

felted and goldwork brooches,

Goldwork brooch


my hearts commission,

hearts commission

my rusted fragments art quilt…

rusted fragments art quilt

…you get the picture. I long to have a go at everything and greedily want 36 hours in each day to try, test and explore my latest passion to its full extent.

My latest obsession is upcycled jewellery, whether replacing broken/damaged elements with beads like this vintage necklace…


broken vintage wire necklace








upcycled m.o.p and haematite necklace









or adding textile elements – felting and beading…


Felted beads









Uncycled felted bead necklace









… embroidery or patchwork.

Bullion rose upcycled pendant








upcycled patchwork earrings









I love being able to make something from bits that someone else has discarded as worthless. Little things fascinate me too, and each of the projects is so small that I can be almost finished before I start to get bored. I really admire people with the stickability to work on large ongoing projects, but that’s not me. Whatever I do tends to be small, detailed, and precise, whether it’s stitched into fabric, wrought from metal, words on a page or even part of a show in theatre. For me, the devil (and the interest) is in the detail.

2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?

That’s a difficult one. As regards my jewellery, with its mix of metalworking and fine embroidery, I’ve certainly never seen anything quite like it. There are other artists who create  jewellery with textile components, but it seems to fall into two categories – fairly traditional jewellery shapes such as earring drops, pendant and rings set with pieces of textile work, or textile work with metal findings to make it into earrings, pendants, brooches etc. I do both…

Turquoise spiral brooch








Bullion rose upcycled pendant

…but prefer to do neither

Moss mixed media pendant













Indigo book charm














I suppose that everything we do is unique, but at the same time, everything we create is the result of our experiences. I’ve often thought that if we could break down the DNA of a piece, trace its bloodline of influences and inspirations, it would be fascinating to see precisely how it was born from the tiny fragments we draw from so many things we’ve seen, done and experienced.

3. Why do I create what I do?

Every project gives me pleasure to work and it also gives me pleasure to see how it is received by other people but essentially I create because I need to. Like so many creative people, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t create, from wobbly junk models and roughly stitched dolls’ clothes to furnishings for my doll’s house and stories set in imagined worlds.

It’s my way of responding to something of the beauty in the world I see around me, my way of revelling in the power of fashioning something that is mine alone. I bend the media to my will and I say how it turns out – mostly!

4. How does my creative process work?

The first thing to fire it off is usually a single item but it can be anything: a bead, a thread, some fabric, a fragment of something, an image or artefact. The alliums piece below was the response to the challenge, ‘A flower beginning with ‘A’ for an Embroiderer’s Guild competition.

Alliums sketchbook page












Alliums hanging










An idea from a curtain I saw on a course

kantha patches














and an image from a dream…

Dream kantha














It can be a very dangerous process to sort through my stuff – I get sidetracked onto new projects very easily!

In terms of how things then evolve, I let my creative subconscious do a lot of the work. Usually I have clear idea of the starting point and an image of roughly what the end point will look like (I write like this too). Then it’s a case of starting and seeing how and where things go. If I get stuck I just walk away for a while and its unusual for that break not to have straightened things out in my head.  If I’m lucky, things work out as well, or sometimes even better than I’d hoped. If not, then it’s good to learn from your mistakes and chances are, I can always turn it into something else one day…

Phew! I think that’s the wordiest post I’ve ever put up! If you’re still with me, then please go and visit my two nominated bloggers.

Firstly, Debbie at Debbidipity. I met Debbie at our Embroiderers’ Guild when I joined several years ago and we’ve been good friends ever since. In the last 5 years, as a mature student, she’s done ‘A’ levels in Art and Photography and then followed them up with a Fine Art degree at Hull. She likes to experiment with all sorts of media and her inspirations are rooted strongly in the natural world that she loves.

From the local to the other side of the pond and Penny at Art Journey. Penny creates wonderful textile artwork in areas that I don’t tend to dabble in but love to look at – punch-needle, doll-making and beading are some of her latest delights, and I consider myself very lucky to have Valentine, one of her wonderful unique dolls sitting on my shelf watching me as I type.

Penny's Valentine

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the next stage of the bloghop!

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As a contrast to the rusted fabric and to fit in with the turquoise theme I stitched into a small offcut of patchwork to add to the set of blocks I’ve already finished.

Turquoise patchwork block

Each piece has been embroidered with running or seeding stitch to fit with the pattern on the fabric and the larger flowers on the left have some textured washers added over the middle of the flowers. I particularly like the way the running stitch waves in variegated turquoise thread have turned out.

I’ve started on the next block which is the darning needle fans that I rusted just before Christmas.

Darning needle fans 1

The holes that the needles left in the fabric were too good to ignore so I used my favourite variegated metallic Madeira thread to stitch a zigzag between them.

Darning needle fans 2

A few more stitches to complete the zigzags and then I’m going to put it aside and see what more, if anything, I want to do to it.

I’ve already seen, thanks to the camera’s objective eye, a mistake that I need to undo and restitch, and the stitches are very long and not very stable in the biggest fan, so I think I need to find a decorative way of making sure they are more securely set in place. I’m thinking seed beads at the moment…

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It’s Boxing Day and I’m enjoying the feeling of relief that comes from having got through Christmas and managing to get everything to come together in the right places at the right time!

To be fair, it’s been one of the nicest Christmasses I can remember, but has still had the same amount of preparation as any other. Now it’s just a pleasure to sit back and know I don’t have to worry about buying, wrapping, delivering and (most importantly) not forgetting gifts or cards. The food side is all sorted, now the big meal has been cooked and I feel somehow free, like I’ve been serving a long stretch and am now paroled.

I’m more than ready to turn my back on 2012 and look forward to what I want to do, right across the board for 2013.

It’s a lovely day here and I’ve actually be able to photograph some of the things I’ve been working on in snatched moments. First up, the patchwork journal is finished.

Patchwork journal 1

After leafing through Ailsa Goolden’s marvellous ‘Making Handmade Books’ I settled on  French Link Stitch for the binding.

I chose variegated sashiko thread for the stitching as the colours complemented the covers so well and also because it was smooth enough to stitch easily, yet heavy enough to be right for the demands of the job.

It was my first try at this sort of binding and Ailsa’s superb diagrams and description made it a breeze. Not perfect of course, and it could possibly have been a bit tighter, but I’m very pleased with the look of the exposed stitching.

Patchwork journal 2

I toyed with the idea of heavy handmade paper pages versus fabric but decided that fabric was more in keeping with the stitched spine and anyway, hopefully fabric wouldn’t rip as paper might; always a consideration for the first try at something new.

So I hunted out a load of indigo dyed oddments and experiments that I got as a job lot on ebay. I really am a sucker for the bits and pieces that are surplus to other people’s projects! Some of the patterns, ripped into the right size for signatures, were perfect to showcase as the inner pages of the journal.

Patchwork journal 3

Patchwork journal 4

Patchwork journal 5

Patchwork journal 6

Patchwork journal 7

Patchwork journal 8


Patchwork journal 9

Patchwork journal 10

Patchwork journal 11


Patchwork journal 12

I’m very pleased with the whole project, the way it came together and the look of the final finished journal. This is definitely something I’d like to do again and a journal cover would be great place to display some of my fragmentary pieces.

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These are finished now and ready for me to decide what sort of book I want to turn them into.

This is the inside of one cover – a scrap of wonderfully textured fabric which I folded over at the edges and ladder stitched into place.

And this is the patterned fabric I chose for the other.

And together…

I’ve been looking at options for the binding. I originally thought about a coptic binding but I don’t really want to put holes in the fabric covered boards, so I had a good look through some of my bookbinding books and am wondering about something more like a french link stitch where I could stitch through the fabric on the covers instead.

Something to mull over and experiment with.

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Julie asked how I was going to cover the boards with the stitching, so I thought I’d post the next part of the process.

I found some 2mm thick board while I was looking for some paper. I’ve no idea where it’s come from, and I’m sure it’s not archival or anything, but it produced two boards of the right size – 8cm by 9cm.

Next I used sewing cotton to tightly lace the stitching over the boards. I always start in the middle and work outwards as this minimises distortion of the embroidery.

If I had had a bit more fabric to play with I would have mitred the corners, but this was about all I could manage and it does look better from the front.

I wanted to lose as little of the stitched pattern as possible.

And there will be backing fabric stitched over the lacing on each one to hide the messy bit.

Just working out which way round I want them.

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