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Thursday, 25 January 2018

Coming along…

There's still a long way to go with the hand quilting, but at last, I can see progress. It's definitely
coming along, and, is more than half done. This is just the incentive I need to push on and do more.

I'm not sure the abstract acorn motif is particularly evident, but that doesn't matter. I like the ripple effect caused by the hoops within hoops of stitches. I'm not so keen on how grubby the quilt has become, all the rolling up, spreading out, and general handling has made for one very dirty item. I'm too scared to wash it before I finally add the binding though in case the batting felts or shrinks. I'll just have to live with dirty hands and a mucky quilt for now…unless anyone can suggest ways of cleaning a quilt before it is finished that won't affect the batting?

A trick of the light:
the quilt isn't quite as dirty as the deep shadows suggest.


Friday, 19 January 2018


It's perhaps a little late to be flaunting a round-up of work I was commissioned to do for magazines last year, my justification is that two are for publication in Sewing World this January and February.

I never get over the thrill of seeing my sewing and words in print. As an old school graphic designer who trained by tracing off letter forms, having a go at using hot metal and typesetting at compositor's desks, playing with photogravure and litho printing techniques, and for whom a 'beard' was an in-the-know typographical term for a line descenders make, and not a reference to Shoreditch hipsters, nothing beats the smell and feel of actual paper and ink!


Friday, 12 January 2018

Christmas sewing…

A belated Happy New Year!

Christmas was the perfect time for sewing. No work, just afternoons spent on the sofa with one eye on the T.V, the other on the above sample.

The background is a piece of sacking, onto which I've added needle lace and needle weaving. If there is such a thing as a self-cannibalising piece of fabric, then this is it, as some of the stitching has been worked with threads that came loose from the cut edge. I think they add an interesting blind-embossed/relief effect to the sample, so I'll add a few more bits like this.

Distressed silk was added to the sacking,
needle lace appliqué on top of that.
I should have put more thought into the size of the finished sample before starting it though. It was my intention, that from now on, samples like these should all be roughly the same size, and quite small — no bigger than A5 — so I could eventually bind them up in a book. The book, I'll make myself, meaning the whole thing will count as a complete textile project.

But that's what happens when you watch T.V. while sewing, you don't think ahead, or consider the over all picture—just the one in front of you.


Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Just stitching…

Blue silk on organdie with orange running stitch
Finally, after what seems like months of procrastination, I've managed to get down to some stitching. I'm at that lovely stage where everything is just play, like doodling with needle and thread the way you might with pencil and paper. And what a perfect time of year to doodle with stitch, Christmas is just a few days away and it's cold outside, so what could be better than cosy afternoons spent sewing and eating the occasional mince pie?

Drawn and cut thread with needle lace picots
More drawn and cut thread
 I don't have anything too specific in mind, which is why I'm working in miniature, however everything I'm drawn to involves either needle lace and cut or drawn threads.

Needle lace and French knots on the left,
trapunto and needle lace on the right.
These little squares are the perfect quick stitch fix when the seemingly lack of progress in hand quilting my new quilt gets too much. I swear there's an elf who comes in each night and unpicks all my work when I'm asleep, because no matter how much I do, the amount still to do never seems to decrease! The inevitable lack of speed is the price you pay for being a hand stitcher rather than a machine stitcher, but I do sometimes feel like a bit of a Luddite* when I see the output of others.

Lots of drawn threads! The fabric is barely held together
with new stitches and needle lace.
Having said I don't have anything specific in mind, for a long time, I've wanted to make a pojagi panel for our porch. The porch gets beautiful light at sunset, so I think some pojagi would give a wonderful stain glass window effect at this time of day. Of course, I would like to make my pojagi seams by hand, but that might be a hand stitched project too many. Perhaps then, there could be a compromise, stitch the seams by machine, but incorporate something like the above samples into little pojagi pockets? I could keep the actual pojagi a single colour and introduce flashes of colour by way of tiny bits of embroidered patches?

What are your stitching plans this Christmas, whatever they are, I hope you have a lovely one!

Merry Christmas.

* albeit one without the need to smash up machinery

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Making under the radar…

Although I haven't posted much lately, there has been a lot of making going on around here. Much of it has been for magazines, so I can't put that up on the blog, but there has been some personal making too.

Whenever I'm in the midst of embroidery projects, which is what I've mainly been doing for the magazines, I like to counterbalance this with more robust, or monotonous makes that don't require too much thinking and fiddliness. Knitting socks, and hand quilting my blue and white quilt tick both boxes on that front. I'm losing count of the number of pairs of socks I've knitted recently. I have one pair currently on needles, three pairs ready to be worn or wrapped up as Christmas presents, and at least another two pairs that are being worn – there may be more. I'm in danger of turning into a sock factory.

When it comes to mindless sewing, nothing compares to the blue and white quilt, you can just about see it's reverse in the background, behind the socks. I absolutely love the slow rhythmic action of hand quilting but progress is slow, especially when stitches are small. I've spent many evenings sewing into the small hours yet barely a quarter of the quilt is quilted. Sometimes I wonder if the quilt isn't bewitched, and actually grows when I'm not working on it, or perhaps elves come in at night to unpick my stitches!

So this scarf was a gratifying make. It's made entirely from stash, tweed leftover from a quilt I made a couple of years ago, with a blue velvet backing salvaged from a ripped dress. It took all of four hours to make and much of that was pressing – result!

Tweed is one of my favourite fabrics (I much prefer woven to printed fabrics) but it can be itchy and is definitely costly so I saved these scraps until I knew what to do with them. A velvet backed scarf was just the thing.