My embroidery and creative stitching experiences.

Sample Variations.

1.                                     5.                                           4.

IMG_1628 distant stitch 30015 distant stitch 30013

Continuing my experiments from chapter 7a, I developed two of my embroidery pieces further. (Or you could say 3)

I wanted to experiment with 1. and 5. which were already related to each other and 4. which I also found interesting.


I will start with 4. as I did less experimenting with these images and quite quickly decided not to take it further at this time.

4a                                        4b                                      4c


4a This sample did not really work well. The orange cotton top layer and the orange printed felt under this worked well together but the felt was quite difficult to well. Perhaps this material would have been better suited to a larger piece of work. The next layer was blue silk material which caught and tore when I cut the felt. I also feel the two blues close together did not work well. When I cut away the silk layer to reveal the bottom gold polyester which has a satin sheen to it, I found I did not like this at all. Not a good combination of materials but I knew this was a risk when I started it.

4b This example is almost a negative image of 4. I used the same colour for each layer but cut the shapes in the reverse order so that the top layer was the centre instead of the outer part of the design.

4c I more or less reversed the order of the materials with the exception of gold which was omitted from the line up. In 4 I used blue/orange/blue /gold. For 4c I used orange/blue/orange/blue. The blues and oranges were different hues. This looked bright and cheery with the centre popping out! The only thing I did not like much was the stitching I used around the centre. The combination of cross stitches and thick cotton thread obscured some of the material in the second bottom layer. The samples of material I used were a bit too small to complete this design well. If I was to repeat it I would use larger samples and different stitiches in the centre.

I experimented more with design 1 and 5.

1a                                           1b


1a evolved from work I read about in The art and craft of Appliqué by Juliet Bawden. Page 20 shows African work which was referred to as ‘self-applique’. Two layers of the same material are used and the thread colour creates the contrast. I really like the design I have here. It is effective in it’s simplicity. Like the sample in the book I used two lines of stitching to create borders around the inner and outer edges. Both areas were done with stranded cotton but of varying amounts of strands. The only little reservation I have about this design if it is based on the African version the material is a bit too thin to really show up the appliqué. I also think some light, carefully planned stitching on the base layer might have helped to show up the different layers.


At this angle the layers can be seen.

1b was great fun to do and inspired by my earlier idea of pasting ‘bits’ of paper shapes together. I had collected quite a stash of left-over shapes. (i).

i                                     ii                                                 iii

IMG_1599 IMG_1600 IMG_1602

I bonded scraps of the same colour family together (ii), and did some random machine stitching over areas which were overlapping (iii) then added a top layer of ‘fabric made with bits’, again of the same colour family. I used a contrasting cotton thread for the stitching. I  hand stitched around the design’s outer edge using 2 parallel rows of running stitch. This idea came from stitching in 1a. I then used a back stitch around the centre motif in a thicker thread. I liked the results from the materials and threads. It has interesting shapes and textures to it and the fact you can see through the top layer adds to the interest.

5a                                                                                       5b


The bounderies of whether 5a should really be 1c are a bit blurred. I have called it 5a because it has a border sewn around it as well as a material border which reflects the material borders in 5. If this was not present it would certainly be more akin to 1!

I used the colours in reverse in 5a but I also used a light yellow as the background and support for this sample as I did not want to make it too thick and I wanted the material with bits to show up well as yellow fabric. This sample really only has 2 layers as opposed to the three used in 5.

Pieces of the ‘made ‘ fabric were sewn together using contrasting coloured, machine zigzag stitches. The top layer was hand stitched using long cross stitches around the outer edge of the design and a double layer of close running stitches in the centre part in metallic threads. Again I liked this sample. The colours and materials work well together. I would add that the colours reproduced here are not really a good likeness to the actual piece. (Especially the purple).

5b. Again the colours were reversed and there are only two layers of material used. This sample was entirely sewn on a machine. First I used a small running stitch to outline the edges in a purple thread. After cutting out the shapes in the centre, I then went over this with yellow thread using a zigzag stitch. I continued using the yellow thread to outline the outside edge in a straight stitch. I went over different parts more than once to add some density to the stitches and create a contrast from one area to the next. I decided to leave the material around here intact instead of cutting away. I then added a border of stitches in zigzags.  The outer layer of yellow and purple material was then frayed on two sides.Both fabrics used in this sample had been printed on. I think using a plain fabric underneath would have been better.

The inmages bellow evolved from my adventures in developing 1 and 5 hence the labelling 1/5.

1/5 c                                       1/5 d


1/5 c reminds me of a pancake! I was looking at the other samples at different angles and decided to try cutting this one into a circle shape. I also wondered how well I could sew a circle. I placed the material in the hoop and tacked large stitches around the inside edge as my guide. I used 3 layers of similar colours and a contrasting thread throughout. It was all machine sewn which I was rather pleased with! I used two rows of stitches (ref. to self appliqué) and encouraged fraying to create depth and texture around the centre area. Because of the pancake look I think I would  have prefered a square format here.

1/5 d was created from the snippets from 1/5 c. (ref to 1b, 5c and ch. 3 ‘accidents and orphans”). I backed these with bondaweb then carefully placed the pieces, hoping to create a random, pleasing design. It looked too organised though so I just sprinkled them lightly onto the other layers of fabric and left them.  I ironed them down and machine stitched the design hoping I would catch most of the bits into the design. I then hand stitched some areas which were not well attached. After this I noticed the pieces had created nice negative areas so I cut a few of these away and cut away the outermost part of the organza layer too. Not a beautiful piece to finish with but interesting!

Chapter 7 has been great fun to do and I have learned so much about planning and designing my samples and translating the plans into fabric and stitch.  I am much more confident with appliqué too, which is just great considering I got off to a jittery start! The options I could have used here are just about endless but I am pleased with the choices I made and I am now ready to take these designs further in chapter 8.


Me sewing  a pancake!


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