Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Late late late!!

Hello all, if anyone is still paying me the compliment of keeping an eye on this neglected blog! Thank you those of you who've commented over the past couple of months - I'd not been here at all, then came today and found four comments that encouraged me back to the study chair to say "hi - I am still here - honest!"

The getting lots done in September got waylaid by the demands of work - my normal 27 hour weeks have ballooned to full time and more, in fact a couple even reached the exhausting heights (depths?) of 43 hours. We're installing anew library management system ....... then there's the Saturday classes, textile and embroidery, and the homework for the Saturday classes. All in all I'm rather exhausted. But still having fun.

My City and Guilds has got very behind as I've been struggling to keep up with both stitch and design. The most recent smocking was tremendous fun, and prompted me to get books out from work on old time smocking, two published in the sixties and one in the early eighties - you can imagine the startling designs that accompanied chapters called "the modern approach" and "modern adaptation of stitch and design", all written by a woman with the wonderful name of "Oenone Cave". A quick search of Google images brings up the most amazing selection of smocking in a whole variety of techniques. These range from  traditional farmer's smocks and some great vintage patterns to the most amazing dresses. I particularly liked this lovely Arts and Crafts dress on the V&A website and some fascinating Pinterest content.

My two small efforts have given me much pleasure to do, though I have to say the tiny little movements in and out, in and out, when doing the gathers in preparation for the pretty bits gave me some trouble and some sharp pains in the hands and arms. Unlike general running stitch which has a flow about it, and which I used for Uffington, the gathering stitch for smocking has to be done with the utmost regularity, yet is irregular in character. You mark the fabric with a grid of regular dots, then take the tiniest stitch on each dot at the back to draw the fabric into pleats. These are then stitched across on the front. Here's how they turned out - both on upcycled fabric from charity shop finds.

The piece worked on some checked shirting fabric was easiest as the regular pattern was a great help in placing the stitching. The other, on a bit of linen tray cloth was harder as while one stitches, the close gathers have a tendency to wriggle about in a most unruly fashion. I was pleased with the one row of soft green stitching, made by using both yellow and blue in the needle, but a LOT of unpicking was done!!

Still, a lot of fun was had as well .....

Oh, and I will scan in and post the pages from my summer insect project. I'm now trying to catch up with producing three designs for a "something", bag, box, scarf, based on the design work done during the summer - for which read scrabbled together at the last moment a month late to be presented to my tutor the weekend before last!!



  1. I really like the effect of smocking. Nice work. My mother hand smocked the bodice of a dress she made for my for my youngest sister who was perhaps three or four at the time. The dress was yellow, and I remember how much I liked the smocking on it.

    "Smocking" when I keep typing it, saying it in my mind, it starts seeming like a nonsensical word :)

    I enjoy the selection of craft books at our main library, many are from the sixties and seventies and a number of the projects are quite something, the word garish comes to mind when looking at some of the pictures!


  2. Always a pleasure to hear from you! Looks as if you've lots to keep you busy - keep the pictures coming. :)


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