Keep an Eye on the Planet

Dress-making put aside now, I’m back to embroidery, this time working on my project for the Guldusi call for submissions. The brief asks that work has not been exhibited online, so I will only be showing some brief, work in progress, shots. I really want to produce a Bright and Beautiful, trademark piece. I have come to the conclusion that my personal style, as in the banner picture for my blog, is my favourite way of working and although time consuming, it is what my work is really about; bright colours, thick threads, cords, dense stitching – a piece I can be proud of.


The Bea Blouse

Having successfully completed my pinny I was straight on to the next thing. This time following a free pattern from Simply Sewing magazine, the Bea Blouse. After a post-Christmas fabric splurge, I was determined to use some of my fabric stash and the only piece large enough to fit the pattern was this rather ‘Pat Butcher’ fabric, not really me, but anyway! What a fantastic pattern, not only was it printed onto proper paper that you can use again, but the instructions came with pictures! Why on earth don’t other patterns do this? That terrible ‘right sides together’ moment photographed for you to see exactly where you should be stitching. I’m so proud of myself for following it to the letter. It is the first time I’ve tried a complicated (well, for me) neckline and sleeves. I handstitched the hems to give it that luxury finish.  Just have to wear it now! What would I do differently next time? Go for a lighter fabric, perhaps, so the tie will be more bow-like, but actually this fabric, a thicker, slightly stretchy cotton, was so stable to cut and work with that it was great for a first time project.


My brain seems a little slow at the moment, I’d like to think relaxed, but just in case it needs a little stimulation, I’ve decided that I will endeavour to learn some new skills and to conquer my fear of ‘right sides together’, i.e. construction techniques. So, I undertook this ‘easy make’ from Simply Sewing magazine. This pinny was made using just 2 fat quarters. It is perhaps more decorative than practical. I learnt some cutting out and construction techniques, including how to join lengths of fabric to make a longer piece for the tie belt. This is where you could have done with a bit of extra fabric to make a wider belt and to make it easier to turn the right way out once it had been sewn together.   Next time I will match my top stitch thread to the fabric and not try and go for opposites! Its not embroidery now! Teamed with some baking implements or a cookery book, this will make a nice present for someone.


Guldusi: Connecting Afghan culture with the World

I came across the organisation, Guldusi, in a recent edition of Embroidery. The project aims to help women in Afghanistan earn a living by selling their beautiful embroideries. The current projects encourage fibre artists in Europe to purchase an embroidery to incorporate into their own work. So, when my husband asked what I’d like for Christmas, I sent him to the website to choose a piece for me. He was a bit overwhelmed at the amount of choice but he selected well.  I don’t think a bad choice was possible. The work is exquisite and characteristic of the region with its Persian eyelets. I’m not quite sure what to do with it yet.  I don’t want anything I add to overwhelm the original design. Watch this space…

Guldusi animals

He also bought me a book of the latest exhibition, Gardens Around the WorldA fascinating look at how each piece of work evolved. It was started by a European embroidery, sent to a woman in Afghanistan who added to the work and then returned to the European woman, who started it, to finish the piece. You can see how some partnerships let the work evolve, whilst others took charge and reordered the final piece. I’m hoping to get working on something for the next project, Keep Your Eye on the Planet.  Perhaps you’d like to get involved too?


Cow Parsley Quilt

cow parsely wholeYou may remember that I attended a Textile Tales workshop earlier this year which rekindled my enthusiasm for printing. Well, I was tidying my pile and decided that I would work spontaneously and incorporate one of my experimental monoprints into a piece of work. I love the cow parsley print so it was a good starting point. The composition seemed to want to be machine stitched. The spontaneity, however, resulted in some mixed ideas for piecing it together. I started with curved lines to hold the fabrics in place, then decided it needed curls to bring it all together, but they seemed to be at odds with each other. I like the uneven bottom, but the uneven top was difficult to work with and I really must learn that there is a time and place for uneven edges and the top of a hanging isn’t one of them. The addition of the organza ‘shadow’ behind is okay, but again, spontaneity wasn’t my friend.  I think it should have been longer and gone around the pole. The cord (made with myCow parsley special cordwinder machine) is okay, but works its way in to squeeze the top of the fabric. I did like using some worn and favourite fabrics, even going back to my childhood and I enjoyed working onto wadding. I don’t often think to do this, but I like the added texture it gives.

Why I am sharing this with you? I need to say out loud that a basic plan goes along way towards achieving perfection! There, that’s my lesson of 2017 which I will pay attention to in 2018. Return to artist research, experimentation, samples, consideration of hanging mechanism! Back to the City & Guilds files for me!


Happy Advent!

I like to make my Christmas cards and I wanted to get ahead of the game this year and stitch something ready to transform into a card. Lacking inspiration, I went on to search Pinterest. Only when I let myself get side-tracked did I find something inspirational – the work of Jackie Cardy, a mix of quirky handmade felt, velvet and machine embroidery. Tree felt-velvetHer work looked so bright and tactile, so I thought I would experiment along similar lines. I already had some handmade felt and knew there was some velvet in the scrap box. This Christmas tree was the first experiment. It was such a pleasure to stitch – no need for a frame, you could just hold it and move it easily through the machine; some straight lines with the presser foot and then some free machine embroidery for the curls.  The following weekend I raided the scrap box again and made a winter house scene. I used wool fabric, for the background, furnishing velvet for the house – which I have to say was hard to get the stitches to show up on as it was so thick – handmade felt for the bushes and I decided to back it with a layer of woollen blanket to make a more sturdy decoration.  I remembered house felt-velvetfeeling inspired by an artist at the 2016 Knitting and Stitching Show who had made beautiful large flowing pieces stitched into blankets. Then, by coincidence, I noticed in Embroidery magazine this month a small piece of work by Michala Gyetvai – the same person, I think! I’m going to enjoy doing some artist research over Christmas, I feel even more experiments coming on for 2018.