well, it’s done…

… the ‘when will this ever be finished’ wall hanging for City & Guilds Patchwork & Quilting is now finished!

This was my first experiment using felt as the batting so it became an integral part of the design. The assessment was to make a piece using appliqu̩ techniques. It has three layers Рpainted silk organza, handmade felt, and painted silk pongee. The shadow appliqu̩ shapes are hand dyed cotton and hand painted silk, and the machine and hand quilting are in cotton.

I cut back the top layer of some of the shadow appliqué and machine quilted areas after quilting them. I finished the edges with buttonhole stitch and then needlefelted them to break down the stitches into the felt. The support is a piece of driftwood I found on the beach, and the work is 53cm x 78cm (or 76cm x 78cm if you include the wood).

applique hanging

applique detail

applique detail

applique detail

applique detail

weekend ramblings

Warning – moan…. I’ve been feeling a little despondent because the project I’m working on is progressing (too) slowly – and wondering why I bit off so much more than I could chew – hunger? greed? inattention? And because I wasted time today unpicking a whole lot of machine stitching – laborious and eye-straining and nothing to show at the end. Except holes. (Although in another context I could really like the lines of tiny holes you would get if you stitched without any thread…)

And I said I wouldn’t show any more of this work in progress – but as I have nothing else to show for the past couple of weeks, I’m going to anyway! I’ve done the appliqué and machine quilting on the third section (of three) now, and I’m ready to start handstitching it. I’ll be doing some of that each day, but I should also give some thought (or action, even) to Christmas, I guess.


I haven’t had much time to read blogs this week and Bloglines says I have 932 unread posts so I feel a ‘Mark All Read’ moment coming on – but before I got so behind I did see this hand carved stamp tutorial of great beauty on Geninne’s Art Blog and wanted to share it.

more French knots and other dots

I hoped I would get a bit more done last week, art-wise, than I did, but there was more work (day job) than I expected (which is good, really) and so in the end I was squeezing the art in around it. I did the machine quilting on the second of three panels for the appliqué assessment in my quilting course, and started on the hand stitching. It’s crazy, really, to be doing large amounts of hand stitching on a project like this when time is short, but I am, because when I decided to do that, it turned from an assessment piece I ‘had to get done’ into something that I feel engaged with and might even want to look at again afterwards.

For OCA Textiles 1, I’m still working on the pointillist stitching exercises. I tried some different stitches…

pointillist stitching

… and then French knots at a different scale, though not (yet) with rope as envisioned by Jude in her comment! This was just tapestry wool on canvas.

pointillist stitching

I enjoyed this exercise, which was to blend pastel colours across a sample. Though I had to scrape the barrel a little to find any pastel colours at all in my thread collection – just a few silks left over from something I made for my niece when she was a baby (she’s practically a teenager now and I don’t seem to have bought any thread you could call pastel since then – a few knitting yarns, that’s all).

blending stitches

The next exercise is to interpret something from my sketchbooks, also in pastel shades, in a pointillist style. Well, a quick glance through them reveals that even when I paint something that looks pastel-ish, I make it stronger or brighter or even a different colour! So I think the next exercise is actually to sit down with my sketchbook and some paint that includes liberal amounts of white, and see how pale and interesting I can be…

painting crockery

catching up

Just a quick catch up, we have Nadeem visiting this weekend and it promises to be another sunny day, so we’ll probably go into the Lakes for a while. We are lucky enough to live a few miles from this beautiful area of the UK, though not sensible enough to regularly take time to enjoy it.

My last post ended with a bit of machine quilting sorrow, but happily when I started over the next day, things looked a lot better. This is a section of it, together with the lovely Stef Francis threads I’m using to stitch some areas of seeding.


Yesterday I went to Clapham, just over the border into Yorkshire, to visit Jenny Scotts Beckside Gallery, and discovered that it’s now owned by Sandra and called Beckside Yarns. Still the same wonderful range of knitting yarns and embroidery threads. I restrained myself from buying any of the gorgeous Noro yarn – no time to knit – but I did get a remnant of this richly coloured space-dyed wool, which will be great for felting, and a cotton/viscose/linen ‘Cotton Braid’ by Rowan that looks as if it will dye well.


The Artist's MuseYesterday’s mail was exciting too, as it brought The Artist’s Muse by Betsy Dillard Stroud from Amazon. I ordered this after seeing Susan D’s inspiring samples on her blog The Art of Textiles.

I don’t usually sign up for challenges, being overstretched already with the two courses, work work work, life, etc. Actually I’m not sure whether I really fit the life part in – it’s not as I imagine it, certainly. But anyway, I have joined the Draw Something Every Day challenge set by Juli at Orange Rug Yarn Musings – since I’m supposed to be drawing every day anyway as part of the OCA Textiles course. I’m sometimes a little dismayed by how much I seem to need external disciplines to keep me going – I really admire those who are very self-motivated, but I don’t know how to become more so, or if it’s a virtue (as it feels to me) or simply a character trait. Do you find that your motivation comes easily from within, or have you found ways to foster self-motivation if it doesn’t? I’d love to know how other people see this.

a good dyeing day today

Actually, yesterday and today, since dyeing isn’t a process to be hurried. It always amazes me how the alchemy takes place and this…

dyed fabric in tray

becomes this…

dyed fabric drying

and then this…

ironed dyed fabrics

and then – who knows? could be a skirt… or a quilt…

though today was not a good quilting day. Suffice to say there was much too much unpicking of stitches involved. And tearing of hair.

Why is it that on a practice piece everything flows along without mishap but when it really matters (that would be my City and Guilds assessment) the opposite is true? I’m not being perfectionist about this, but I really don’t think I can hand in something that looks as if a demented ant did the quilting. OK, deep breath, good night’s sleep, try again tomorrow…