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Thursday, 29 March 2018

Lace for cheats…

I'm not one for anti-macassars, or lavender sachets, but do love a bit of lace. Or more specifically lace patterns and the shadows they cast. I like the mind-bending way it seems you have to think when making lace. You have to consider the holes, or what you're not stitching as much as the stitches themselves, which appeals to my love of negative space!

For ages, I've wanted to delve into the world of lace but have been put off by what is often done with it. I really didn't fancy spending hours/days/weeks… making a crude imitation of something that might look decent on a handkerchief, if done properly, but realistically would end up filed under 'poor first attempt' in my sample book. Besides, who wants to make something for someone to blow their nose on? I'm not ashamed to say, sometimes, I need more instant gratification than traditional lace making methods can provide. I'd also like to produce something a bit unexpected.

So I've been playing around with the idea of lace by combining it with other media such as, papier maché, clay and copper wire in an effort to produce something bolder and more three-dimentional than usually associated with lace. Pressing lace into clay might seem like cheating, as might using ready made paper lace doilies, but doing so gives me a head start. I can then add stitching to what I make, be it fagotting stitch to clay strips, rough needle lace to wire figures, or the holes burnt into a papier maché bowl with a soldering iron. That last one was particularly good fun, nothing beats a bit of controlled destruction!

Next up? Another attempt at a wire figure, this time with a more considered outfit.


Friday, 23 March 2018

Buttons and lace…

Has it really been two months since I last posted? I may not have posted but thread has been running through my fingers, whether it's because I'm hand quilting the blue and white quilt, or working on new things.

Simple but effective: a whole stitch ground.

I've been teaching myself bobbin lace. Perhaps if I get decent at it, I'll invest in some actual bobbins, but for now clothes pegs will do. Although I'd love to have the skill to create intricate flowers, etc, the lace I most like the look of is simple and geometric in design, which is a good thing as that's where you start!

The plan with the lace making is to combine it with a pojagi panel. I want to sandwich lace between layers of organza, so some pieces of the patchwork are less transparent than others. When the pojagi is complete*  the combination of plain and embellished patches should cast interesting shadows, as the window where it will hang catches beautifully the late afternoon light.

I would also like to add the odd bit of stitching, something akin to the image below, but at the moment it's a mess of snippets in my head that haven't yet come together as a proper design.

Like this, but simpler, and in a single colour.

I've also been making Dorset buttons again. I get a little obsessed with these, and once I start, don't usually stop until I've got a jam jar's worth. I don't do anything with them, just fill up jam jars. Making for making's sake: no deadlines, or purpose in mind, just the therapeutic joy of making!


* If the length of time the blue and white quilt is taking to sew is anything to go by, completion will probably be the next millenia!

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.