Sunday, 24 March 2013


1. Working with cold water dyes,  fabric and acrylic paints

Avoidance of inhalation of dust [dye powders] by working in a ventilated room and wearing a mask to prevent inhalation.

Prevention of staining by wearing rubber gloves to protect skin on hands.

Putting down plastic covering to protect work surface

Wear overall to protect clothing

Prevention of poisoning [i.e young children] by storage of powders and liquids in a safe place where vessels can be stored upright. Ensure that unwanted solutions are disposed of safely.

Acrylic paints are colourfast once dried so any surfaces need wiping before they dry.

When printing fabrics with any of the above all the same precautions would need to be taken.

2. Stitching by hand or machine.

Pins and needles - Avoid accidental ingestion of pins [ I’m guilty of holding pins just removed from fabric in my mouth!] it helps to keep pin tin or cushion in close proximity for convenience and safety. Also avoid injury by safe storage away from children. When using the sewing machine [especially with the embroidery hoop] keep fingers well clear of the needle to prevent a puncture wound!

The sewing machine should be used close to the powerpoint to prevent accidents caused by trailing leads. I keep my machine under my table when not in use to prevent falls.

3. Scissors for sewing need to be sharp and therefore need to be kept in a safe place to avoid injury to children and used with care to prevent lacerations to skin or clothing.

4. Use of the iron.

Prevention of fire and burns to the skin is a high priority. Risk of accidents can be reduced  by using the iron on a well maintained ironing board close to the source of electricity ensuring that any flexes are positioned away from passing adults or children to prevent falls, and by ensuring that the iron is turned off when finished with. The iron should be put away safely out of reach of children or animals and the ironing board stacked away securely so that it doesn’t topple or fall.

The iron itself when hot may damage delicate fabrics which may in turn damage create fumes. Attention to appropriate use and regular cleaning of the plate is required. a well ventilated room is essential if fumes are emitted.

5. I’ve noticed that I get neck and back ache if I sit for too long at the sewing table or computer so I try to ensure that my work surface is at the correct height and that I stretch my back regularly to prevent pain at the end of the day. I have some Pilates exercises which help after a stint of working.

6. Eye strain is also a risk factor, I have prescription spectacles for close work

7. Lastly I try and keep my work area tidy with materials and tools in close proximity to my project to avoid frustration and unnecessary stress. I’m  fortunate enough to have a work studio which means that I can leave work out [within reason] and I have a really good clear up between chapters / projects.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Timing and costing of design work and finished piece

Date when design work was started  30.11.12 Completed 16.12.2012
Date when embroidered item was started   11.12.2012  completed 28.02.2013
Add up all the whole hours you have recorded in your diary:
Total number of hours spent working on the design work  27.25 hours and embroidery hours 75.75 hours


Black drawing pen £2.20

Paper £1.50

Card 50p

Printing cartridge refill £10

Fabric paint x2 2.99

Black dye x2 £3.99

Salt x2 79p

Threads [machine thread £3.39], metallic embroidery thread £9.24

Stranded hand embroidery thread x4 @ £1.55 = £6.20

Machine sewing needles £2.57

White linen fabric estimated at £8.50 [given to me by my godmother

Black cotton fabric £4.99

Pelmet vilene 50p

Chiffon scarves and bag of black beads [black and white] 50p each from a boot fair

black and white netting £1.59

Total: £57.35

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Artist of my own choice

Whilst researching blackwork I came across the work of Sue Kirby in one of my Embroidery magazines [vol 53, Sept. 2002].

The article said that Sue worked as a solicitor in London and commuted to work every day [a 2 hour journey] and that as long as she had a seat she used the time to embroider. She worked an Elizabethan set of embroideries in blackwork including the one shown below.

This beautiful piece of work shows all the tonal qualities of blackwork  which we looked at earlier in this 2nd module.



Bridget Riley

Riley was born in 1931 and having worked figuratively initially started to produce her signature pop art works in 1960s. These consist of black and white geometric patterns with some tonal shades of grey and produce optical illusions and sensation of movement which play with the dynamism of sight and produce a disorientating effect on the eye.



Blackwork / Holbein Stitch

Holbein Stitch is made up of a row of even running stitch which is then followed by a second row back to fill in spaces. It is useful for filling or intricate geometric patterns [Sources: Mary Thomas’ Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches, 1989 and The Constance Howard Book of Stitches,2005

I studied blackwork for a previous course which never came to fruition so I thought I’d post them here.

blackwork 1

And my own attempts from previous study:

bw 2

bw 3

Hans Holbein the Younger



These photographs show a portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger of Jane Seymour, 1537 and close up of her cuff showing the beautiful blackwork embroidery popular in the reign of Henry v111. Holbein was the court portrait painter and Blackwork was often known as Holbein Stitch.

information from:  [www.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Pictures of finished collar with a favourite black dress showing various style options


Entire collar draped over shoulders right and reverse sides


Right side with upper collar turned back


……and closer view


…..and from the back


Right side with collar draped to a point


Reverse side with upper collar turned back


…….and closer


……and from the back


Peplum style


Photo of me working on collar for ID purposes

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Construction of 3D functional item in fabric

My plan was to make a reversible detached collar or neck piece.

This was made up of an upper and lower collar on both the right and reverse sides , the upper collar can be turned out when worn so that it is seen as a contrast to the lower collar on the other side.


Referring back to my printed fabrics I realised that I needed to make some more  to give the tonal qualities and patterns I needed. I love the paler patterns I achieved in ch 6 with the Dylon dye solution  and feel these would best suit the design for the lower collar on the  reverse side which will have a softer tonal effect with some darker monoprints  inbetween as described below; on the other hand the  feathered effect I wanted on the lower collar on the right side would be best served by the stronger monoprinted effect achieved with fabric paints. I prepared these as before in ch 6.and stitched into them using machine embroidery and had fun with my favourite metallic threads. Wonderful!

The photos show details of patterned and machine embroidered fabrics using zigzag and cable stitch [my absolute favourite for embellishment and drama] with metallic thread on the lower bobbin



 The reverse side of the  collar.

Upper collar - As per the paper design I started to construct the upper part of the reversecollar  by making up the chequerboard effect using the Seminole Piecing method.I calculated that I needed 18 squares for the entire collar [9 black and 9 white] and that these would be cut to 5.7 cms to give 4cms squares allowing for .5cm seam allowances. Each cut in half and black / white triangles rejoined to give a chequerboard effect. I made up 3 sections of 6 squares each with a strip of black fabric along the top and bottom of each plus an added white strip along the bottom.

Lower collar – Sian had suggested I check my tonal qualities. I’m happy with the simplicity of the black and white in contrast with the softer tones of the  lower collar but felt I might need to re-consider the tone of the upper collar on the other side. Holding that thought I continued with the lower collar on this reverse side.

I cut 3 strips of fabrics one each of black, lightly and medium toned and stitched these together longitudinally [incorporating an open seam] and then cut them into vertical strips  which are then flipped around alternately. These were then interlinked with elongated triangular shapes made from 2 rectangles [one black and the other patterned] which have been divided into triangular shapes and re-joined with plain and patterns alternated. These have been stitched together using a closed seam but adding a strip of chiffon within the seam.

I added a strip of white fabric  to one end and one strip of each black and white added to the other end with a strip of black netting inserted into open seams.

The upper and lower collars were then stitched together using a closed seam.

Three more panels were made and a vertical strip of medium toned and embroidered fabric inserted between each and the seams highlighted with a line of metallic cable stitch.

This  becomes the reverse side when the upper and lower collar pieces are joined but remember that the chequerboard strip will be turned over when worn and become a contrast to the lower collar on the right side [complicated!].


Photo showing open seams and inserted netting and chiffon:


In a previous posting I considered slits at the shoulder and centre back seams to help the collar lie and drape across the shoulders. The seams are therefore left open for the lower two thirds.  I have made a feature of these seams by adding a double layer of netting folded and inserted into an open seam in which I’ve laid the top seam to overlap the lower with netting applied to under edge and also on top  of the lower layer  so that it [the netting] is revealed when flap is open [see diagram and photo].


Right side

Upper collar

As per the paper designs in the previous chapter I went on to use the stitched sample 1 in ch 7.

I originally planned to use 24 triangular shapes using 2 patterned fabrics alternately but decided against this and go for larger shapes which I felt would provide a softer contrast.

I used 10 rectangular shapes measuring 9 x 5.5cms [x4 black, x2 grey/medium tone, x3 white, x1 black and white pattern. These were cut into triangular shapes and fabrics re-arranged. All triangles joined with open seams with top layer laid over the lower and chiffon / netting inserted. Top stitched. A strip of black fabric was added to the top and bottom of the upper collar.

Design of upper collar as recorded in my sketchbook:


Lower collar

My intention for this was to create a feathered effect using strongly patterned [monoprinted] and black fabrics. I wanted to incorporate the Fibonacci sequence and drew my design to give a 2-3-5-3-2 centre 2-3-5-3-2 arrangement.


For this I needed to calculate measurement of my fabric pieces to allow for seam allowances. For 2cm and 3 cm pieces I needed x2 patterned and 2 black measuring 3.5 and 4.5 cms  consecutively. For the 5 cms pieces I needed x1 patterned and x1 black measuring 7cms. All were 17cms in length. I made 3 panels. Centre panel made first. Pieces cut accordingly with opposites cut in mirror fashion and arranged in order with black/patterned fabrics re-arranged for contrast. I started with two 2cm pieces either side of centre back and stitched using a closed seam and Seminole method; this was followed by two 3 cm pieces on either side of the previous pieces; then two 5cm pieces cut and re-joined as per diagram  followed by two more 3 cm pieces divided as below and finally two 2cm pieces at both ends.


I cut out fabric for 2 more panels, arranged and stitched as before.

I wanted to insert some feather shapes and tried some backed with chiffon for a soft effect to be inserted where upper and lower collar pieces are joined.

All 3 sections joined at shoulders leaving slits and matched with those of reverse side of collar. Upper and lower collar sections stitched together. I tried the collar on at this stage. I’m interested in how well the mirror reflects the balance in a design and felt that the expanses of white in the triangles of the upper collar design appeared disproportionate. I decided to apply black netting over these and stitch in place. Over this I laid a triangular piece of patterned fabric and appliqued in place and trimmed this to shape as the original triangle. I feel this gives a much better balance of tone overall.

Joining right and reverse side collar pieces

I lay these with right sides together and stitched along top and end edges, clipping seams and corners before turning the collar right side out.I pressed the collar and tried it on.

Photo showing the two collar sections joined along top edge and spread out:


And the wrong side!


I tried the collar on but didn’t feel happy with the lie of the collar over the shoulders as the slits seemed too crude.

I decided to make 3 pads to insert at the shoulders and centre back, I used a rectangle of both black and machine embroidered patterned fabric and  stitched them  with right sides together and then turned right side out. These were to be inserted at join of the upper and lower collars.

Photo showing pad inserted with patterned side seen on right side of collar:


Pad showing on reverse:


I needed to look again at the feather inserts on the front of the lower collar and decided I wanted something more defined with a neater finish in keeping with ‘look’ of the Seminole piecing.  I used 4 elongated patterned triangular shapes backed with plain black fabric which were joined by zigzag around the edges and finished with black satin stitch. I placed two at a slanting angle on both of the fronts of the collar and inserted them into the seam joining the upper and lower pieces.



I aligned both collars ensuring that all edges and corners turned out neatly and fully and to stabilise the lie I used stab stitch through the join of the upper and lower pieces from the outside [see diagram] at the same time ensuring that the inserted pads were securely placed.


I measured the length and aimed for a finished length of 21cms. I levelled off  the hem edge and stitched bias binding in place before adjusting the finished length and slip stitching in place.

Collar laid flat with length adjusted [both sides shown]:




I decided  to make buttons from strips of  fabric and thread. I took four 2cm circular pieces of pelmet Vilene  and wrapped them with strips of black and patterned fabrics and beading thread, tapestry wool and metallic thread. I attached these to top upper corners of both sides of collar



I wanted to add some more sparkle so have used  wrapped cords with beads to fasten the buttons.


I have several ideas on how the collar could be worn:

Right side of collar laid flat and draped around shoulders. I’m really pleased with the contrasting tones and patterns


Right side of collar with upper collar turned back to reveal contrasting pattern [below].

I’m pleased with the effect of the contrasting pattern revealed from the reverse side underneath on both of these . I also feel that the monoprinted fabrics give a great sense of movement which is enhanced by the  inserted feather shapes on the front giving a  real feathery feel! I don’t know if it matters but I realise that I’ve laid the inserted feathers wrongly and they’re not facing in the same direction – I don’t want to take it apart so should I just celebrate the difference!

I’m delighted with the decorative effect of the stitching and the way the cable stitch which has been used though out and seems to unite the different components of the garment


Reverse side as a drape:


……..and with upper collar turned back


I really love the contrast of the feathery pieces on the inside of this one – quite a strong effect against the softer tones of the outer collar.

I feel the feathers do capture the wings of the Pell’s fishing owl and that the chequerboard of the upper collar above captures the triangular shape of his face / beak!

ch 4 9 

owl 2

Another idea would be to wear the collar in a triangular shape


And in reverse…..


In order to fasten this I added a triangular button on the edge of the lower collar….


I could also have fun wearing this in a peplum style.

From the front…….


And from the back…..



I’m very proud of this piece of work and feel a great sense of achievement. It’s taken me a long time to make but I love it.

The proof  is in the wearing however!