I wanted to demonstrate to a group the almost limitless possibilities of a simple embroidery stitch. A perfect excuse to indulge in one of my favourite activities – playing with colour thread and fabric. I used a piece of my snow-dyed fabric, working with that colour palette and chose fly stitch. It’s a basic, simple loop stitch and I think that often the simpler the stitch, the more you can do with it. Everything (except one back-stitched outline) in the as- yet unfinished sampler is a variation of fly stitch. Interestingly, the twisted version (on the left) looks just like twisted detached chain, and it is! Detached chain stitch and fly stitch are worked with exactly the same movements, the former has both ends of the “loop” into the same hole, the fly stitched doesn’t.
Progress is being made on a small quilt, too. I’ve had a charm pack lurking in a drawer for a couple of years now, I was determined to use. I found the traditional ‘Tumbler’ block and realised this shape would waste very little of each square. I used remnants from making a grand daughter’s dress to sash one side of each piece and loved the zigzag that appeared. Here are the completed rows waiting to be stitched together. Every charm square used and I really like it!
I went to an exhibition by RAWedge at Thaxted. An absolute delight. Not only were the six artists’ finished pieces a joy to look at but their sketchbooks were accessible. So fascinating to see that they had gone through the same processes (via workshops with Mentor Alex Waylett) and yet produced completely personal work.
A sense of achievement – two finished projects since the last post! It has been a busy, enjoyable couple of weeks. When I take on commitments, I think “Oh it’s only one day a month, I can easily fit that in”. Then I find that every now and then four of these once-a-month days happen in the same week
I took another Travelling Book to the Embroiderers’ Guild meeting, this one’s theme was ballet. It already had several exquisite embroidered ballerinas and a wonderful depiction of a male Swan, so I went for something different. The backcloth for the 1920s production of the Firebirds has for a long time being one of my favourite images. It was designed for the revival of the ballet in London in 1926 and designed by Natalia Goncharova. I printed a small part of it onto cotton lawn and added embroidery and gold paint. I’m not sure if the original had gold onion domes but I thought they deserved gilding.
The meeting was a show-and-tell roundtable. Members brought in work they were doing or had completed and told us all about it. So fascinating to see what others were up to and how very different they all were in design and technique. Embroidery really does have something for everyone..
On Saturday, I started, and finished, an apron. I have long wanted one that has the crossover straps at the back and wraps around. I used some beautiful Janet Clare fabric I’ve been saving for something special and I am thoroughly enjoying wearing it.
Another completed project – I may be slow but I get there in the end! Remember the interleave quilting? Way back in February I did a panel with my textile group. Three months later and it’s a bag. I used some more of the same fabrics and foundation pieced random length strips to create a back panel. Fortunately I had enough of the black to finish off the top edges, make a gusset and then bind the seams. I did these wrong sides together to give a neat black edge to the panels.
It ended up being a very large bag and was used on Saturday to carry all my sewing stuff to a great awayday.
Alex Waylett has an enviable studio near Colchester and offers a wide range of workshops. Eight of us, mostly from the Embroiderer’s Guild, convened at 10.00am to experience the delights of layering sheers and silk velvet, machining and embellishing, to produce a grid-based piece of work that we would take home to decorate further with beads, braids and burning. Alex led us gently and clearly through all the various stages and we were so enjoying ourselves that we didn’t leave till well gone four o’clock.
I include a detail of my piece but it is very much a work in progress, so watch this space. (It still has the Romeo soluble fabric shining brightly but that will be rinsed away.) Do look at Alex’s work on the web. There aren’t any photos on her website of this particular project but you will get an idea of the wonderful pieces she makes and what you might enjoy as a workshop.
Late again with my blog but a long, sunny bank holiday weekend spent with children and grandchildren is an excellent reason.
Long – time visitors to Threadlines will know I have been, very slowly, working on a bed quilt. I recently finished piecing and adding borders and was then faced with layering the backing, wadding and top and tacking them together. I have a lower back problem which I treat with the utmost respect; neither stretching across a large table, nor working on my knees on the floor would be sufficiently respectful, I felt. The solution? I took it to Bramble Patch on a visit to my daughter and she returned it to me last weekend, efficiently tacked by a long arm quilter. I’m thrilled. Now it feels like a quilt and looks like a quilt!
Next step is wrangling the thing through my standard Bernina to quilt it. Another learning event for me – any tips gratefully received.
Some progress on another project; nine log cabin blocks are now a pieced square that will (probably) form the front of a bag with the two orphaned squares functioning as pockets inside.
In my workshop this week I demonstrated use of Thermofax screens, particularly for layering and altering commercial fabrics. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed this process and feel the urge to have a day creating more fabrics. I also unearthed some pieces as examples and have an idea to develop some of them.
Flower Head – Narcissistic Butterfly
This year our local branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild is excited to be welcoming Michael Brennand-Wood as the speaker for our annual lecture. I have long been fascinated by his work; sometimes really liking it and others – not so much. It always makes me think though, which is a Good Thing!
Stars underfoot radiate
Brennand-Wood is, and has been for decades, an internationally acclaimed visual artist, working in the textile sphere but integrating other media. One of the aspects I most admire is his combination of solid historic research and technical skill with an adventurous conceptual approach. This may sound a bit dull but his work dances with colour and form and often seems purely joyful.
I know you – I wish you’d tell
I am very much looking forward to the lecture, which is on Saturday, 28 April at 11.00am in the Auditorium at Firstsite, Colchester. Tickets (£10.00) are available on the day or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Do come, if you live nearby, it’s a rare opportunity to listen to the artist talk about his work.
All pictures are from Michael’s website.