Category Archives: Module 2

Module 2 – final sketchbook covers

I’ve finally finished the last two sketchbok covers for this module.   I’m not sure about the first one – the shapes are supposed to echo the shape of the pinecones -not sure they totally work.  The background cloth was solar printed using ferns as a resist.

For the second one, I painted a piece of pelmet vilene, glued on the serviette and a strip of coloured tissutex along the bottom,  then stitched.

Chapter 10 – 3D Manipulated Structure

This is my final piece for Module 2.  I went through a lot of ideas and did a lot of thinking and visualising as well as the jottings below.


Below are some of the experiments I did to try to see what might work and what wouldn’t.



The finished construction

frontal view

I used small zigzag stitches to attach each component to the rear rib of fabric.

view of the back



Additional experiments from chapters 8 and 9

These are another two photos of the folded paper shape in chapter 8.

I played around some more with paper shapes, using circles and triangles as well as rectangles.  The last image is a plaited rectangle.

Stitched pieces

1).  The next piece is another paper napkin sandwich.  I folded it in half in a slight curve and stitched close to the fold: then cut uneven strips and twisted the whole thing. Iin the first image the two ends meet.

2).  The following is an experiment with wetted and then stretched mulberry bark glued to khadi paper.  It was folded and stitched along the seam, cut and the strips rolled using the back of a pair of scissors.  The mulberry bark stiffened the paper quite considerably and added a nice texture to stitch on.

3).  Printed khadi paper cut into a bag shape, stitched and painted with acryllic wax.

4).  I’d been using some kitchen towel to mop up paints and liked the effects produced, so when dry I sandwiched calico between two layers and then pleated this both ways before stitching the corners together to form a rough bowl shape.  I left the edges rough as I liked the rustic appearance of the piece, but they could have been trimmed.

5).  As the previous piece was quite stiff,  I then used  thin layer of interfacing between two layers of paper napkin.  This made quite a flexible piece, maybe too much so as it was more difficult to manipulate into the shape I wanted. I cut some triangles out before stiching darts into the top to form the bowl shape.  On reflection, it would have been better not to have cut anything away, but just relied on the darts.

6).  The following is a circle of wire mesh lined with blue gauze, stitched with normal and cable stitched patterns.  Darts were then stitched all around the top edge to form the bowl shape.  I had heated the mesh to some degree but this isn’t really visible.  I cut strips into the gauze that protrudes above the edge of the mesh.


I use these two books to press leaves, flowers etc.  This is Merlin’s latest prefered sleeping place!



Chapter 9 Stitch and Manipulate

 Samples of manipulating stitching papers

I glued the ends of the strips in place in thesample above, while below I cut slits and slipped the ends in to them.

The sample below is stitched into 2 layers of paper which have been torn into strips.  The strips are glued in to place.

The paper for the sample below has been painted with acrylic wax both before and after stitching.  It didn’t quite do what I wanted so I stitched where I needed to hold the shape, leaving an opening on one side.

Stitching thinner papers

One layer of paper napkin, bondawebbed to calico in the middle with another layer of napkin on the back.

I loved stitching these, using free embroidery on both sides to enhance the patterns.  I like the way the stitching adds interest to each side.  I couldn’t bear to cut into them!  I did two samples.  The first two images are the two sides of one sample ,  the third and fourth images form the second sample.

Experiments with wire mesh

The above sample has been heated though perhaps this isn’t as evident as it could be.  I like the way the shapes twist around themselves.

The samples below are mesh snwiched between sheers.  There are also a few scraps of blue sheer beneath the green layer. I like the effect given where the sheer lifts away from the mesh.


Alysn Midgelow Marsden

Alysn uses wire mesh and cloth in a very versatile way – painting, burnishing, embossing, stitching, manipulating – and combing it with fabrics.  She also uses solubles on which to stitch in order to link pieces of metal.

I particularly like her series of panels ‘Line in the Land’.  These have a highly textured look to them.  There appear to be layers of metals and sheers,  often heavily burnished to give wonderful colours,  then sometimes printed with pattern and lettering.  Stitching is both by machine and by hand and there is a real 3-dimensional quality to the work.  Very inspirational.


And finally…. I had found a huge wasps’ nest in a hole in the bank of our track some weeks ago.  When I looked again recently, something had started pulling it to bits, so I rescued this piece.  It is the most extraordinary work of art – to think that the wasps shred bits of bark, masticate them until they can glue everything together in these wonderful swirling patterns.  I could just see some of the cylindrical sctions behind, where the eggs must have been in the nest.





Chapter 8 – Paper manipulation

Some images of curved, crinkled and folded shapes




Experiments in folding paper



Experiments in curling paper

I found it quite hard to get into these exercises, but I like the ‘egg’ shape and feel I could do more with this.  It was cut from a central circle drawn on a piece of A4 paper and the cuts spiraled roudn, hence the irregularities.

Finally some of the sketches I did whilst in France – the better ones, though I am not particularly satisfied with any of them, only with the fact that I did manage to do them at all!




Chapter 7 – Developing Stitched Textures

Couching yarns

Couching yarn, zigzag, foot on

I loved combing the colours for this piece and for the one with automatic patterns below.

a couple of experiments
in the style of Bridget Riley

I probably needed a larger piece of stitching and more curves to achieve a real optical illusion, so this sample is only partly successful.

couching yarns with automatic patterns

Bits and bobs

view of a flowerbed

I chose an image that was relatively simple in shape and colour and although the over-riding colour is green, there are lots of different textures and shapes.

stitched sample

I am quite pleased with the result, but it took forever to do as I had mainly quite thin pieces of yarn and it was difficult to keep them down on the backing layer of felt as I stitched them.  I just didn’t seem to have much in the way of thick yarns that might have made it easier.

Design source to inspire texture

I love this image of the lotus flower seed head and I felt it had lots of texture to get to grips with.  I spent a long time thinking about how I could stitch this – even after I had drawn it and planned the design, there didn’t seem to be an obvious solution.

photograph of sample

The phot shows the texture better than the scanned sample from my sketchbook.

I was pleased with the result and feel it is a good interpretation of the image.  The procrastination paid off!


Chapter Six – Texture

Texture images




Bridget Riley and stitching texture


Mark making

Mark making into stitch

I’m struggling with the cocoon of vine leaves – this reminds me more of Amnesty’s candle surrounded by barbed wire!  So not very successful.

I really enjoyed doing these little pieces.  The cactus is the least successful, but this is partly because it is a bit of an odd shape.


Below is the first stitched sample, with the raised areas stitched on to the base fabric by hand.  Some of them are quite bumpy where I have manipulated them, but this doesn’t show too well in the scanned image.  I found this piece quite difficult and time consuming as I wanted to do each bit seperately to see how it looked stitched on.  It is all cable stitch with free embroidery, except for the final zigzag stitching done with mercerised cotton from the front with a 100 topstitch needle.

The second sample below is done using kunin felt, with the unstitched areas melted away with the heat gun to show the base layer stitching.  I simplified the stitching by doing it lengthways.  I’m not so keen on the base colours, but I had run out of everything else!  The sense of texture is not so pronounced on this piece, but it was a lot quicker to do!

photo of the first stitched sample

I think this shows the texture a little better than the scanned image.

Chapter 5 – a tassel

I found a beautiful pine cone whilst in France in June.  It must have been lying there for some time as most of the scales had fallen off leaving just a few at the base and exposing the empty husks swirling around the cone.

I needed to use a fairly open pattern otherwise the stitching would just look a mess.  I used different patterns for the top and the skirt, ones I felt had the same sort of swirly feel to them.  I stitched over the top pieces at a slight diagonal to echo the way the scales are attached to the cone.

the finished tassel

I folded the sari strips in half lengthways to give a width in better keeping with the size of the top, and it also made stitching easier.  I knotted the ends to echo the knobbly ends of the pine cone scales.

This was my first attempt at making a 3D object. I feel it is a reasonable interpretation of the original cone.  Maybe the top should have been a little longer to reflect the original shape,  but as I have changed the relationship between the top and the skirt anyway I think it looks OK as  tassel.

Chapter 4 Cable stitch

Cable stitch with the presser foot on.  Straight stitch, zigzag and automatic patterns.

Cable stitch with free embroidery.  I love the effect you can get by layering different threads  as in the top piece where I added some metallic thread.

I know I haven’t done a lot of samples, but I just wanted to get on and use this.

In the top piece I used variegated threads with a metallic and orange thread round the shapes.  The brown stitching in the stalks is a wool thread and maybe a little too dark.  In the second piece I placed the design too high up on the fabric so didn’t have a lot of space to extend the stitching.  I used a variety of different weight threads.  In both cases the image was drawn onto the back.

Two samples using the stitches from chapters 3 and 4

I think the motif has works quite well, but the background needed more contrast colourwise in order to emphasise the shapes.  I also had difficulty using a slightly thicker thread for the vermicelli stitching round the outside and ended up using 2 machine threads in the needle – light green and off white to get the colour I wanted.  I should have stitched from the back.

Transfer dyed print ready for stitching.

For some reason I had real difficulty with this final piece.  I had the idea of echoing the shapes of the pears and leaves as though in a tree behind, but then thought I was complicating things and went for the simple option of just using the different stitches.  I started with some vermicelli in a green/turquoise thread, but this didn’t show up well so I followed up with a brighter blue thread.   I wanted a fairly muted effect, but am not 100% happy with it.

I thought I would post a few photos of the garden which takes me away from stitching so much!

Chapter 3 – stitches

I’ve decided to take the advice of a friend and make covers for my sketchbooks.  So here are the first two:

Strips of sari silk stitched with automatic patterns on to transfer painted pelmet vilene.  Lettering done with zigzag and the poppy seedheads filled with granite stitch.

Hand dyed cotton sheeting with a piece of transfer dyed pelmet vilene on the left, using ferns as a resist and free stitching to emphasise the shapes.  Block print below lettering.

Stitching Samples

Samples of vermicelli, using both straight stitch and zigzag of different widths, granite stitch, feather stitch and whip stitch on callico, stitched in a frame.

This is on a velvet finish furnishing fabric.

Moss stitch done in a frame, on sheeting with the invisible thread removed after using stick- on interfacing on the back.

This is some polyester satin I had experimented on with transfer dyes and resist leaves, then stitched with a mix of vermicelli, granite and whip stitch, following the shapes and colours.

Hand-dyed cotton sheeting backed with pelmet vilene.

I drew a simplified version of this lovage image.  The flower heads are stitched using granite stitch and the rest is done in whip stitch.   I wanted to leave the cloth visible because I like the way the texture of the dying gives the impression of other plants in the background, but am not sure the stitching is totally successful.  Maybe more vertical stitching would have been better?

I’ve been experimenting with solar printing.

Here I used dried cow parsley for the original print (stitched round in blue).  I think the print needs more definition so I will have to experiment further.  I then added more dried cow parsley under tissuetex which had been previously dyed – actually underneath fabric I was painting to catch the residue.  I finished with whip stitching and a bit of irridescent turquoise oil stick to bring out some texture. 

This is the basic print using ferns and crystls of salt, yet to be stitched.  I love the process of solar printing,  you never quite know what it will produce so there is an air of mystery to it which you can add to by adding further layers.