Saturday, 9 March 2013


I've had a post about my textile adventures in draft for I don't know how long, but I seem to be too busy, or too tired to get it finished and posted! It's all about the bits of dyeing I've been doing, but I've done so much more since I drafted it that I can't face the updates!! However, in the realm of stitch I had another lovely workshop with the Embroiderer's Guild last weekend. This time with Wendy Dolan, who's work I really admire. It was a workshop in using architectural details as a source for stitching. We were instructed to bring some simple images to work from and a variety of toning fabrics and threads.

I took along a variety of photos, or rather prints of photos. Once we'd been shown some of Wendy's work and understood the way the embroidery was to be achieved, I selected this image - which I took back in the days of wet film photography - or at least, before I could afford digital. It is from a brief and much needed break in Oxford in the late winter of 2001.
The image is a window in Christ Church College, one of the many beautiful buildings that grace Oxford. I walked past it several times on my way to the Botanic Gardens, a glorious place for peaceful contemplation. I loved the way the stems and branches of the climbers seemed so intertwined with the building's character that they appeared to be somehow part of it, rather than an addition from Nature's bounty.

I had selected a variety of salvaged fabrics from one of my many rummages through remnant bins in various shops over the years. They were all soft furnishing fabrics, and I selected ones that seemed to chime with the idea of old buildings. A mixture of natural and synthetic fibers and various textures, as I recall they came from a lovely little shop called Fabric Design in Matlock Bath. I visit them each year as we break our journey to the Lakes, and always come away with a bag of remnant goodies!

The workshop was fascinating - it's always a pleasure to see an expert at work; makes one realise how much faffing about and stopping and starting is involved when you don't know what you are doing. The technique involved tracing off the main lines of the image; using the tracing to arrange small blocks of fabric roughly under the tracing paper and onto the foundation fabric, positioning the bits with regard to the image, but in a loose, abstract fashion. We then transfered the traced lines, in reverse onto some stitch and tear or heavyweight vilene, placed that on the back of the design (having stitched all the bits down first) and stitched the first draft, as it were, from the back. The the bobbin thread outlined the design. then we turned the fabric over and began to work  up the design from the front. All very scary to a beginner, but seeing Wendy's finished embroideries showed what can be achieved.
This is my resulting embroidery so far - all machine stitched and not yet finished to my satisfaction, but a brave effort! I'm conscious that it all looks a bit crooked, especially when I see it like this, rather than in the flesh, but it pleases me and I'm very aware that I am a very beginner when it comes to machine embroidery. I shall probably stitch more, but not too much more as I don't want to overwork it. I'll certainly try another one now I understand the way it is done.

In the meantime, I'm also making a sketch book cover using some of the fabrics from my Studio11 experiments. We have a sketchbook project for City and Guilds this summer so I bought a sketchbook specifically for this - it seems fitting for it to have a cover made from fabrics dyed and embroidered by me. I'm half way through, and will post the finished results, hopefully before Monday when I go for my next class.


  1. It's beautiful! Don't forget to take a photo of it and send it to them at Christchurch!

  2. What fun your class was and I really like the result; the doorway has a lovely old look about it and I like the crooked look, a great start to your machine embroidery.

  3. Thank you Ember and Anna - it really was tremendous fun and I am rather pleased with the result, even with it's crookedness. Hadn't though of sending an image to Christchurch though - that seems a bit "forward" for me!!! :-)


Thank you for your comments, it's always a pleasure to know people have found my little corner of the webiverse. Don't forget to "prove you're not a robot" so I can see your comment :-)