Pretty Stitching

My Story

My love of embroidery and textile art began when I retired from a full time career in health services management. First I bought a top of the range computerised sewing machine and began exploring the possibilities of commercialised machine embroidery designs. This led me and my newly retired husband to start attending craft fairs where I sold embroidered dressing gowns, childrens clothes and play blankets. After several years we moved house and I started up a craft group in a village near Tewkesbury. At this point I enrolled in a distance learning course with the School of Stitched Textiles (SST), doing City & Guilds stage 3 patchwork and quilting. I made many friends and the craft group blossomed into two groups with one of them specifically designated to patchwork and quilting. Sadly my husband had developed Parkinson’s and associated problems. When he died my younger daughter encouraged me to move nearer to her, so I came to Herefordshire and bought a new house with smaller garden giving me time to enjoy and develop my stitching. I joined the newly formed branch of the embroiderers’ guild at Ross-on-Wye and became the Chair of a small committee. We began to prepare a program and met for a few months until the virus curtailed our early ambitions. Our planned workshops are on hold until we can meet again, but mine are prepared and will be ready when needed. I will be offering block printing enhanced with embroidery, cloth book making and crazy quilting. Currently I’m in the process of finishing the City & Guilds stage 3 hand embroidery course with SST and some of my assessment pieces are shown below. To find out more about me please click here: About .

My Work

The clue is in the name: ‘Stitch Pretty’. I’m attracted to pretty designs and lots of colour. Here is an embroidery I made after a visit to the beautiful confetti fields in Worcestershire.

Confetti Fields at Pershore hand embroidered on painted cotton

And here is a machine embroidered and quilted wall hanging of 3D silk flowers in late summer colours created block by block and joined together. It matches the colours of a crazy quilted runner in my sitting room.

Machine embroidered wall hanging in late summer colours with dupion silk 3D flowers

These days I like to use painted or block printed fabrics which can then be embellished with hand or machine embroidery. Because each project is individual and the need for colour and shape arises from the specific design, I find using paints and soluble crayons and pencils exciting and more relevant to the things I do. This small wall hanging is an assessment piece for my hand embroidery course.

A dyed background and flowers and then the centres coloured with soluble crayons/pencils. Hand embroidered leaves and centres.

So after lots of different experiments I decided that I needed a theme for my work and this has evolved into linen bags. Always wanting to challenge myself with new techniques and skills, but on a surface that was both appealing and attractive, I settled for this idea. Linen is a beautiful base for embellishment and bags are a clever means of display since they can be practical or just decorative and an ideal gift for someone special.

Hand-made linen bag with hand appliqued flowers and bonded machined-on leaves
Hand embroidery on prints
A patchwork design but print blocked
Tiny Suffolk Puffs with beads – on a tote

My lovely textile art books inspire me endlessly and contain delicious projects and skills. To avoid a mish-mash of different products, or more wall hangings than I have walls, bags have become my canvas. I can use a linen bag as the background for all kinds of decorative features.

Now totes are one thing for quick and easy presents, or to furnish a craft stall, but lovingly made handbags are the right surface for special techniques. Bags based on a patchwork design, each piece block- printed with flowers using fabric paint then hand embroidered and each patch different, are robust and individual.

Secret Garden blocks

Pretty scraps of precious fabrics used to make yo-yos on a bag

Quilting techniques can be time consuming but I find that putting them as a decoration on a bag can be more satisfying than labouring over a bed-sized quilt. The lavender coloured linen bag has Secret Garden quilt blocks to enhance it, a form of Cathedral Window quilting. The bag with the Suffolk Puffs decoration is enhanced with precious buttons kept for ages for just the right project – and here it is!

This wall hanging is representative of The Forest of Dean and Wye Valley and is another assessment piece for my course. As sometimes happens I can see things I would do differently in a second attempt and with alternative designs waiting in my sketchbook I look forward to trying again. But usefully it includes a variety of techniques including a painted background with organza across the hills and sky to give an impression of distance; the river is painted silk, and bonded dyed fabric provides a foundation for hand embroidered flowers and bushes.

A large wall hanging symbolising Forest of Dean and the River Wye

Fabric choices are key to what I do. Cotton for quilting, linen for bags, silk and organza for creating surface texture and beautiful silk dupion for colour and shine. A feature of the Fabric Art Journals I make is colour and some of it comes from using this lovely fabric. Here are images of the front and back of the third assessment piece for my hand embroidery course which was made to enclose many of the samples produced on the course and to keep them together in a tidy format. The two covers have silk and organza to give a mysterious texture based on a photograph that I took of toadstools in the Forest of Dean.

Front cover with rolled silk beads
Back cover
Inside another cloth book with photos and beads

This is a great way to keep precious samples and little embroideries, perhaps with memorable images printed onto fabric. Teaching others how to create these cloth books has been a pleasure for me and perhaps will be once again when Covid19 has been controlled.

Another of my favourite skills is crazy patchwork, a popular way of combining lots of materials, threads, lace, buttons and beads. Workshops are popular for this technique and can be spread across two or three sessions with decoration and embellishment being carried on in-between.

Many stitches to practice and enjoy
Several blocks joined for a runner

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