Quilted bag for a workshop

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.

Piecing for a tuffet

I have covered a tuffet!  I went to a great class with Linda Chevin Hall at Bramble Patch and now have a beautiful footstool.

A friend of mine went a couple of months ago and said she had such a good time I was determined to go myself; she was quite right, it was a very enjoyable day.  We needed thirty strips of fabric and I wanted to use up some of my stash, not buy a new jelly roll or yet more fat quarters.  In the end I used mostly my material with just a couple of beautiful additions from the wonderful range at Bramble Patch to complete my colour palette.

Linda seemed to effortlessly have loads of time for each of the ten in the group and was especially helpful with colour sorting.  I based my scheme around the colour of a painted cupboard in the room it was destined for and my husband painted the wooden feet with some chalk paint fortunately left over.  I love it.

Embroidery and metal

A fascinating three days at Art Van Go with Alysn Midgelow Marsden. I had previously done a little experimenting with copper shim and mesh for my  C & G course, liked the effects but never taken the techniques through to a finished piece.

This was different! We spent the first day drawing from our source material seedpods, mine being an acanthus stem. I’ve loved their architectural quality in the garden but never closely examined the structure  before. I almost regretted my complex choice. Alysn guided us gently through several ways of approaching studying and recording our vegetation and by the end of the day I really did know my plant.

The second day saw us exploring ways of colouring (much use of gas flame), manipulating and stitching our metals.




I decided that the stainless steel cloth is my absolute favourite, both for the lovely, subtle hues that came with heat and for its tactile qualities.

The final day gave us the opportunity to select from and combine our drawings and techniques to begin a resolved piece. I came up with an idea and began stitching but I think I went into it too quickly. I take quite a time to move from source and drawings and maybe theme, to a design – even the beginnings of one – that can develop as I work on it. I frequently find that when I am going through this process in a group situation I end up with something that just doesn’t work for me. It happened here. I have abandoned that piece and begun to devote time to my usual, almost painfully slow, process and have, I think, found a starting point I like better. Time will tell!

Do you find developing designs in these situations easy? I don’t. I’m fine in workshops where I’m producing samples but resolved pieces – not so good.

But I did learn a great deal from Alysn (who is an excellent tutor) both about technique, and more significantly, about ways of working through the design process. I just prefer to do it at home.

You can see some of the wonderful work others produced on Alysn’s website here (none of mine though).

Wessex Stitchery and charcoal

Wessex stitch patternThis week’s Stitches with Stories workshop focused on another fascinating tale of a type of embroidery developed by a single person – Mrs M Foster of Bath. Not very much seems to be known about her but her wonderfully inventive use of simple stitch pattern has been of renewed interest this century, in no small part due to Gay Eaton’s book Wessex Stitchery.

Wessex stitch patternsThe liveliness of the original Wessex patterns is often due to her subtly, or not so subtly, changing colours as she worked. Today we have the luxury of variegated dyed threads which give us the same effect without the use of several needles and threads at once. Those at the workshop produced some striking patterns using these threads. Gay Eaton’s book has been out of print for some time  (second-hand copies are online) and there is a delightful exploration of Mrs Forster’s work in Gail Marsh’s Early 20th Century Embroidery Techniques.

In contrast to the delights of the delicacy and precision of counted patterns on linen I thoroughly enjoyed myself learning more about drawing with charcoal. A class with Bobby Britnell at Art Van Go saw me drawing large (A 2) and bold and messy! Bobby proved to be a wonderful teacher; challenging and supportive and Art Van Go’s studio was a pleasure to work in. An added bonus was the presence of some friends from my local Embroiderers’ branch – we had a great time together.

Embroidery Workshops

Motif in Parma embroidery

I have given two workshops in two weeks, both fun and very different.

Dragon worked in Parma embroideryThe first was with my Stitches with Stories group and we explored the origins of Parma embroidery then worked on a traditionally based small piece. Appropriately enough for the time of year it featured a heart-shaped foliate motif. In these sessions we also look at how the technique can be adapted to our own personal taste and style of work and already one member has embarked on a richly coloured version which looks wonderful.
On Saturday I led a workshop for the Brightlingsea branch of the Essex Handicrafts Association. A very different approach to embroidery which looked at creating pattern from simple stitches. The results can be used for many types of decorative work – mention was made of next year’s Christmas tree decorations and a set of napkins. I’ve used them for crazy patchwork in the past. I love the richness they give to the shapes.
I particularly enjoy this session as every person comes up with their own way of combining a framework stitch, such as Cretan, with two or more others. The resulting array of decorative lines is always intriguingly varied and this group didn’t disappoint. Jan even produced a fish from graduated up and down buttonhole!