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Posts Tagged ‘patchwork’

I was very excited to receive my half of the art swap last week and as well as these fabulous prints…

…Nick also sent me some tie-dyed fabric and tote bags that he experimented with during lockdown. I love the prints but the tie-dye blew me away! These tote bags are beautifully patterned and the dye distribution is so even.

The fabric turned out to be three big pieces which are just stunning. In fact, so stunning that I don’t think there is any way I can bring myself to cut into them! The first two are on muslin, which is quite sheer and difficult to photograph.

This one is on something firmer like cotton sheeting. The detail is incredible!

If you’re on Instagram, this talented gentleman is @nick_knox_777 and well worth following.

I’ve been playing with an idea sparked off by a partly finished Victorian patchwork quilt I saw in an exhibition about fifteen years ago. It was an English paper pieced quilt and the papers were still in place. Although the antique silks and velvets of the patchwork front were gorgeous, I was much more interested in trying to read the fragments of unwanted cards and letters which had been cut up to make the papers. Those hidden snippets were tantalising.

As usual, I’m working very small, so I decided to use one text for all my papers – Viola’s speech (“I left no ring with her: what means this lady?”) from Twelfth Night, which is about her hidden identity.

I also chose to keep the text in the right order, again because everything was so small and once the fabric was stitched round the papers, much more of the text, already fragmentary, would be lost.

I used some ordinary light weight cotton muslin for the fabric – after all, in this piece the fabric is very much secondary to the papers! Now it’s all stitched together the text is reduced to the odd word or partial word.

Perfectly hidden, unless you know what it’s supposed to be.

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This piece, which I gave you a preview of last week, came together from a whole host of ideas that had been swirling around.

Firstly, I’d been wanting to return to a bit of stumpwork for a while but the nature of the memory journals I’ve been working on means that they have to close, so anything bulky either has to go on the cover or the back page and even then it can’t be too three dimensional or the book just won’t sit right.

I was looking for the fabric for the dragonfly’s wings when I found some patchwork offcuts, including the autumnal coloured fragment I’ve used for the background in this piece. I’d seen some lovely Hallowe’en/autumnal themed crazy quilting some years ago on the internet and really fancied the idea of a stumpwork pumpkin.

Finally, when I opened a bag of broken vintage jewellery I’d recently bought on eBay and found an unused gold tone vintage pendant frame in it, everything just fell into place.

Initially the pumpkin wasn’t quite the right colour, but as it’s very small as usual (that’s a three inch hoop in the photo), I went with the right fabric – one that was fine enough to gather up. Then I added some stalks of wheat behind it in detached chain stitch and straight stitch.

I know that they’re a bit big in comparison with the pumpkin, but it’s artistic license!

Then I used my Inktense blocks to turn the pumpkin a vibrant orange.

Next the leaves and the trailing stems of the pumpkin. Initially I wanted to do some free-standing needle lace leaves but I couldn’t make a wire outline fine enough, so I had to fall back on some scraps of the hand painted fabric I used for the leaves in ‘It Rained’. As they are so tiny, I stabilised the fabric with textile medium so it didn’t fray but was still stitchable.

The stems are in split stitch, which is the only stitch I can get to make tight curls and twists at this scale. A few more stems and a second leaf completed the design.

I gathered it round an oval of buckram to give it body before I put it into the pendant frame and added a felt backing.

After the horrible weather last week it was wonderful to wake up to blue skies this morning and have autumn sunshine to photograph it in for my Etsy Shop.

It’s available here in my Etsy Shop with free UK postage and packing. A little bit of autumn!

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Another way of working round Embroiderers’ Block I suppose, is to do something that you fancy doing, so I’ve started a third design for the Kew Memory Journal, based on English Paper Pieced patchwork.

First of all I cut a rectangle of paper slightly smaller than the page of the book and divided it into a few smaller rectangles. One needed to be big enough to be the background for a vintage 1990 Kew Gardens stamp, and I fitted the rest around it.

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I usually cut the pieces out one by one so I don’t forget what order they go in and put them back into the design when they’re covered. Taking process photos also helps in case of disaster!

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Then the pieces need stitching together. I use ladder stitch because I like my stitching to be as invisible as possible.

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Once the pieces were all stitched together I gave them a quick iron to press the edges under so they would stay when I took the papers out, and then ladder stitched round the outside edge to attach it to a piece of pale green felt.

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This stabilises the edges, gives the whole thing a bit of body as I’ve used a variety of weights of fabric including some very fine silk and means I have a firmer background to attach it to the page.

I trimmed it next and carefully back stitched the stamp in place. The pink and blue tones in the stamp don’t quite work with the greens, but I had to remind myself that this is a memory journal and the Pagoda is part of it.

The memory it holds is of having lunch in a shady grove of trees near the Pagoda and then, as it was one of those two insanely hot days last July, we sat on a seat under the bottom tier and decided it was much too warm to go up all those steps!

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I like embroider on these types of patchwork pieces as I did with my 2012 Cornwall Holiday Journal (August 2012 in the ‘Recent Posts’ part of the sidebar if you’re interested) so I’m probably going to add a branch to the top right hand corner.

I’ve also made the middle of a flower on the buttonhole rings piece. The big ring is attached with french knots, the inner one with invisible stitches to pull it down inside and the centre is filled with a few french knots.

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Now I need to decide not only on the colour of the rings that will become the petals, but also whether to keep them as circles or stretch them into petal shapes.

 

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I seem to have had a spell where I keep finding the right pieces of jewellery to successfully upcycle and last week I managed a hat trick of embroidered pieces.

First of this batch to be upcycled was a vintage pendant mount I bought a while ago from the sales table at Guild and which has just turned up in the bottom of my sewing bag. I have a small bag of patchwork quilt trimmings which I bought a while ago from eBay and they are a great starting point for embroidered pendants like this one. I used the mount as a viewfinder to pick what I thought was the best area to embroider.

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And a few hours and a fair bit of unpicking later, I had an embroidered oval to go into the mount – with a thumb for scale!

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The kantha on the middle strip was an easy stitch, as was the lazy daisy floral section on the left, where I just followed the fabric pattern, but I had more of a problem with finding the right weight of both thread and stitch on the heavier fabric to the right. The Palestrina stitch in a teal perle was fine, but I tried various stitches in pink perle and pink stranded cotton which were just too heavy before I settled on more lazy daisy stitches in the same fine variegated silk as on the left. As the pendant had never been used it was easy to mount it into the frame using the folding metal tabs and very effective I think it looks too.

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Taking the embroidered section away from the rest of the patchwork enables you to really focus on the stitches and somehow the three completely different pieces of fabric become a harmonious whole. It’s currently available in my Etsy Shop here with free UK postage and packing.

Next to be upcycled was a lovely brass filigree brooch which seemed to be missing something in the middle. I had the very thing – a gold tone rope edged odd earring, also missing its middle. Despite probably a good forty plus year age gap, I think they go together perfectly.

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I embroidered some silk ribbon rosebuds onto a piece of silk carrier rod and gave them split stitch stems and lazy daisy leaves in fine silk thread…

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…before setting the tiny piece into the earring centre of the brooch.

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It was nice to do a variation on the blowsy ribbon roses I usually stitch and it’s now available here in the Upcycled Brooches section of my Etsy shop with free UK postage and packing.

The last of the week’s hat trick was an upcycled locket and this turned out so well I’m almost tempted to keep it. I’ve done a few lockets with rose bushes and trellises and I was keen to try some lavender. I chose a piece of my hand painted pelmet vilene which looked like a summer sky for a background…

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…and then chose some hand dyed stranded silk with a wonderful sheen for the flowers and a bluey green cotton thread which was a good match for the foliage. I’ve no idea where the green came from – I found literally one needle full in a tangle of oddments and was sweating the whole time I was stitching that I would have enough!

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The silver tone locket was a perfect setting.

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And it too, is available here in my Etsy shop with free UK postage and packing.

And a quick update – the Singer 28 is now with its new owner and she loves it. I think the lady from Number 12 would have been pleased…

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The record of my 2019 Mothers’ Day visit to the North Sea Observatory and walk along the coastal path to Anderby Creek was finally finished on a very different Mothers’ Day just a year later. After learning tonight that the UK has joined much of Europe in lockdown, I hope I’ll never take being able to walk freely when and where I want for granted again.

Anyway, to the stitching. The cover title is in split stitch (my favourite for lettering) on indigo dyed sheeting over a piece of lovely pebble fabric from the Knitting and Stitching Show last November. It has been stitched through the pelmet vilene of the accordion with the speckly (a variegated metallic thread) stitches along the lines between the pebbles – sort of invisibly!

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Our walk started at the North Sea Observatory, just north of Skegness. It’s an amazing and I think very beautiful building, angular and austere with wonderful views over the beach towards the sea. Perfect to be stripped right back to the simple shades and tones of black work.

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From the Observatory we started to walk along the beach. I used tiny scraps of fabric to represent dunes, sea and sky in a patchwork landscape that is only about three inches high. This was the last idea I had for the book and it’s my favourite.

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Of course, when on a beach, beachcombing is obligatory! One of the things that blew me away about this beach was the huge amount of shells. I’ve never seen a North Sea beach with so many different types. I chose this oyster shell  because it had holes in it already, making it perfect for attaching with stitch. In this case I used long buttonhole bars which I worked back into for the little cast on stitch curls.

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When I saw a scrap bag at the Knitting and Stitching Show last year with this pebble fabric in it I knew it was perfect for the memory journal. The beach is more sandy than shingly, but it fits in with the story of our walk so well. I gave it a felt backing to give the pebbles a quilted look when I back stitched around them in my favourite variegated metallic Madeira thread. The idea was to look like the twinkles of light you get through pebbles when there is water underneath.

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Part two later in the week!

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The Anderby Creek accordion journal is really starting to come together. The Cloud Bar felt applique is finished and I then started a little piece of blackwork to create the North Sea Observatory. The photo I chose to work from showed the Observatory at an angle, so at this point it’s all a bit experimental!

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Filling in the areas with different patterns to represent different shades started to work better, especially at more of a distance.

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And the block work really pulled it all together.

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I also had a brainwave for the last piece – sand dunes in layered applique/patchwork with marram grass at the bottom. The way the ‘clouds’ echo in the ‘sea’ with the scraps of hand dyed fabric for the sea and sky is a very happy accident!

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All eight pieces completed (two are already in the book).

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Now the fun bit of attaching them to the pages.

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My memories of our Mothers’ Day expedition last year now safely gathered together.

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Our branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild is having an exhibition at the end of June and a week last Saturday was the deadline for handing in completed pieces of work from the last couple of years to the organisers. We had very helpfully been given a list of all the meetings and workshops to jog our memories so I went down the list, annotating each one as to whether I hadn’t been at the meeting, hadn’t finished it or if it was finished, where it was. There seemed to be two main outcomes – didn’t finish, or made into a card and sent to somebody! The only finished pieces I could lay my hands on for the last two years were my faux driftwood piece…

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…the Chris Gray amulet…

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…and the Brazilian embroidery rose I’d made up into a card but not sent because I couldn’t bear to part with it!

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So it ended up a busy week, so busy that I forgot to photograph both the nuno felting which I turned from this:

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…into a simple seascape and a piece of the paper stitching we did with Alice Fox recently which I mounted as a card.

The kantha fish…

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…was the first to be finished by stitching him onto a piece of indigo dyed fabric with rows of running stitch that merged into the kantha and then mounting over a 7 x 5 inch canvas.

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I also finished a selection of little stitched fragments for my Alice Fox book.

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But the really big finish was my English paper piecing. I get bored easily with the piecing process and when we did the workshop, I chose small equilateral triangles – probably not the best shape in the circumstances! At the end of the day I had a pile of triangles in shades of browns and indigo and absolutely no idea what to do with them.

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Seeing the workshop on the list I wondered if it was even possible to finish the project, but I had what promised to be a lengthy committee meeting that week and repeatedly stitching together triangles looked like the perfect way of passing the time. It was: by the end of the meeting I had all the finished triangles stitched together and an idea very firmly in my head.

Without using half triangles the shapes you can make with equilateral triangles are rather limited, so I created a diamond which I planned to stitch onto this gorgeous piece of hand dyed indigo with some quilt wadding in between and a plain piece of indigo dyed cotton for the backing.

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My trusty Frister and Rossmann coped easily with quilting through all the various layers along the lines of the triangles.

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Then I joined a number of strips of woodland themed fabric in three different brown colourways to get enough and had a go at a tutorial I found online (where else?!) for adding a binding with mitred corners as you go. It worked!!

 

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I tidied the ends up, wrote (no time to embroider) a label…

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…added a hanging sleeve and couched some glittery thread around the edge of the diamond to hide the line where I had machined it down. In hindsight and with more time I would have appliqued it invisibly to the top.

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From a handful of triangles…

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…to a mini quilt…

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…in about three days. I still can’t believe it!

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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And a couple of the finished articles.

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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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It was a pleasure to finish the little Bossa Nova Rose from our Embroiderers’ Guild Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery workshop last weekend. I didn’t follow the instructions when it came to the leaves, going for fly stitch over blanket stitch and not adding the fine pale green edging it suggested because I felt the sheen of the thread gave enough definition.

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And then quickly finished as a card.

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My first sea glass and pocket watch case pendant positively flew out of my Etsy shop and I’ve started another one to go with a harlequin case of a gold coloured collar and engine turned back. I’ve got some tiny pieces of very rare yellow sea glass and some ordinary brown to add to this.

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I also turned some off cuts of hand dyed fabric, the batik I’m using above and some cotton print in shades of brown into some strip patchwork which I used to cover a grotty looking cabochon pendant…

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…turning it into an upcycled patchwork pendant with added vintage lace and flower trim.

Lots going on!

 

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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.

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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.

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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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