Posts Tagged ‘embroidery’

I learned a lot stitching the samples for the Stitch Play workshop and it wasn’t just adding new stitches to my repertoire.

I know that thread makes a significant difference to how the stitch looks and sits on the fabric, but I don’t often take the time to experiment. Usually, I start stitching, realise it isn’t right for the look I’m trying to achieve, and restitch it in the ‘right’ thread. The samples gave me the opportunity to really explore the different effects of different threads, especially the heavier threads which I tend to use less.

My first sample piece was based on the leaves and flowers pairs I stitched for Sandra and Val in the last round of Travelling Books. I liked the way the satin stitch worked up in the variegated thread and also the effect of the knotty Portuguese Stem Stitch.


After having worked some bigger shapes with multiple stitches used on each, I wanted to showcase smaller shapes with just a couple of stitches used but a different stitch to edge each one for my second sample piece.


I enjoyed using these wintry blues and am particularly pleased with the effect of the sheaf stitch around the edge of the central circle.

I thought it was also useful to label the samples with the name of the stitches used.


Two samples in, I started to look for shapes to include on the worksheet and found some lovely vase silhouettes.


Having worked on finding lots of different edging stitches for the spots piece, I went back to simple blanket and Berwick Stitches to hold the vase shapes down. Then I could go to town on linear stitches to create the bands across the vases. Chain Stitch is the only repeated stitch on this piece.


I really liked the effect of the four legged knot stitch (3rd row up from the bottom).


I looked at my three samples so far and sighed as I realised that once again, I’d stuck to my favourite green and blue palette and each one was stitched in shades of a single colour. I decided that for the last sample I was going to use rows of bright clashing colours. Yeah, right…


I simply couldn’t do it! But at least there are other colours than blue and green going on…

The Guilloche Stitch at the top is a composite stitch, with french knots, stem stitch top and bottom and a threaded thing going on down the middle. It’s a stitch I would never use normally, but it was perfect for the band going along the edge of the cup.


I love the feathered chain/chained feather stitch along the top of the mug and I also reused a few stitches from the vases sample. The raised chain band (5th row down) was worked in all six strands of a stranded cotton, as opposed to the perle on the first green vase (also 5th row down) and the effect is much richer and fuller.

I also found that using a heavier weight perle on the scroll stitch (2nd row down) than I did on the second green vase (also 2nd row down) helped it to sit better.


They were fun to stitch, but I was ready to return to something different by the time the workshop came round!

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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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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


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.


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


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.


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…


I do believe I’m over half way!

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Sorry I’ve been awol. Issues with work kicked off at the end of May and I’ve really been struggling to get my head round them. In fact, I’ve struggled to do anything much, including sew, but I do have a couple of bits to show.

Firstly, the bluework is coming on slowly. I wanted a section that looked like a fragment of blue and white china from another piece of pottery so I used an old embroidery transfer picture and copied the central part of that into the right hand section.


I’ve used split stitch to outline the flower shapes and am filling them with a sort of cross between satin stitch and long and short stitch.


My usual mixture of threads. Some silk, some cotton and some a complete mystery.


Heavier weight and lighter toned threads on the larger flower which I plan to finish off in white stranded silk.


I’ve also made another brooch from some of the wooden offcuts and rusted painting cloth I brought back from my Dad’s shed at Easter to go in my Etsy shop.

This one is made from a square of rusted muslin that he was using as a paint cloth. I ruched it onto a much smaller piece of hand dyed cotton with french knots in a rusty-coloured variegated thread which gives it a lovely fluid, tactile surface.


I’ve mounted it into a square of apple wood left over from one of his chopping board projects.


The wood is smoothed but not polished and I love that understated background against the contortions of the bunched up fabric.



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I’m still vaguely irritated about not being able to finish the french knot project so have been knitting socks instead and trying not to think about how fast I seem to be hurtling towards Christmas. Then I realised it was Guild this Saturday; time for the Travelling Books to set off on their third round and I still hadn’t done mine. I’m going to use some of the printing I did at Chris Gray’s workshop in the summer and it’s got this far:


Not a single stitch in it. Oops. Guess what I need to do when I finish writing this…

But first I thought I’d share some of the pages that other people have stitched for me on the theme of The Sea.

Pam’s beach huts on a pieced patchwork background:


Lorna’s paper string technique:



Eilleen’s ‘Water Babies’ inspired underwater scene:



Helen’s Rod Stewart ‘Sailing’ ships against a textured painted fabric background.


Pauline’s impression of the Barrier Reef from a recent visit. The background is transfer printed using wrapping paper ironed onto calico!


Mary gave me this delicious looking 3D crab.



And finally Debbie interpreted one of her lovely photos taken at Flamborough Head in East Yorkshire in layers of fabric and stitch.



They are all delightful – thanks everyone!

It seems that you can’t get away from Black Friday even in this country, so if you can’t beat them, join them. I’m offering a 25% discount on orders over £5 in my Etsy shop until the 5th of December. The code to enter at the checkout is: IFYOUCANTBEATTHEM


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The Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild AGM at the end of September was a real feast of embroidery. As well as some of the results from our workshop with Chris Gray in July from straightforward amulets…


…to composite arrangements…


…there were other lovely items stitched by members over the summer:


We also enjoyed an exhibition of the work of one of our founder members, Margaret Riding, who brought in a huge range of her embroidery for us to admire.


It’s become a tradition now for us to have some sort of collaborative consequences type activity at the AGM to be stitched for later in the year. In 2014 it was Consequences, last year (which I missed) were our acclaimed maps and this year Helen came up trumps yet again with Christmas Consequences. This time, instead of different people adding to the list of requirements, we each wrote our own wish list of things we would like to have on a Christmas gift to be stitched by another club member. The papers were folded and put into a bag and then we all pulled one out. Helen’s last stipulation was that the item needed to have a 3D element. This could be anything, from 3D embroidery on a card to the item itself – a decoration, bag, box etc.

This was the wish list I drew:


After several rather grandiose plans I decided to go for something a bit closer to my usual practice and I have an idea that I’m really pleased with. Under wraps until the December meeting though!

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We had the OFSTED call this week. That acronym might not mean much to anyone who hasn’t been involved in the British education system but OFSTED carry out school inspections. And anyone who has been involved with them will know that they pretty much sow terror, despair and misery in their wake.

I head up our Nurture/Learning Support team and am also the behaviour specialist so it was decided by senior management that the few hard core behaviour problem children we have in school would be taken out of their various classes and corralled in the Nurture Room where instead of lessons they would do something interesting, arty and creative for the duration of the inspection (a day and a half) under my tender care. What I think about this is pretty much unprintable, but as these six boys are often violent and abusive, no one wanted to risk the outcome of the inspection on one of them kicking off.

So I decided that we would felt. First  I showed them some pieces of handmade felt and demonstrated how to pull tufts of fleece and lay them out in layers to form a big piece of flat felt (about 70cm by 70cm) for the base of the design. They used blue and white fleece to create a stream running diagonally from one corner to the other and I showed them how to ‘paint’ with tiny wisps of different coloured fleece to make pebbles in the stream.



Then they added different greens all around the stream for grass and bushes and started to create the felt. While they took turns in pairs to roll the huge sausage of felt, bubble wrap, net curtain and fleece, I started the rest off rolling fleece around small balls to make flowers. Once the fleece had felted tightly around the balls I cut slits into the top to make petal shapes and they carried on rolling, watching the slits become holes and the felt gradually shrink further and further down the balls until they became little tight cup shapes.


The next day they made a piece of green felt about 40cm by 30cm and designed some leaf templates. I cut leaves out of the felt while they added stitches and beads to make the centres of the flowers.



Most of them had never embroidered before so we had to give quite a lot of initial support, but several of the boys really took to it and once all the flowers were done they began to add central veins to the leaves with whipped and threaded running stitch.


Once each element was finished they told me where they wanted them putting and I needlefelted the flowers and leaves in place, which worked brilliantly and was much quicker than stitching!

The finished piece:


They are extremely proud of it and I’m just pleased we managed to keep a powder keg dry for the best part of two days.

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