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Here we are at the end of week 3 COVID-19 quarantine and here’s a Stay Home project to share with you. Sometimes my Textile students can’t always see how to get to the next step of using fabrics they’ve made so I thought I’d do a little tutorial showing the stages of creating a fabric and thread picture for anyone who wants to have a go. You won’t find me making a video so it’s old-school text and photos!

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First find your inspiration – mine was my lovely Mothers Day gifts this year; a cute vintage Booths jug and some joyus tulips and I knew straight away that I wanted to make an applique and stitch picture of them as they had so many elements that lend themselves nicely to that way of working.

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1. First up was a good sort out and categorise of the pile of dyed and printed fabrics made during class. I sifted through and found these pieces of dipped-dyed nylon and wet printed screen-printing with talc relief – both the perfect colours and textures to represent the tulip petals.

2. Using a 24-hour-fade fabric marking pen, I sketched the tulip petals imagining the whole petal so that I could layer them over one another to build a Tulip flower later on.

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3. The nylon fabric needed stabiliser ironed onto the back to strengthen it enough to sew it using the sewing machine. The other fleece fabric didn’t need any extra weigh adding.

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4. You don’t have to have a sewing machine that can do free-motion machine embroidery, you could just use your forward and reverse functions to layer up lines of stitch to mimic the markings on a Tulip petal. I changed colours a couple of times too.

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5. Then I spent a few hours hand stitching large running stitches of colour to capture the hi-lights and contrast colours in the petals. I even added a little shiny luxe thread to catch the light and add visual interest.

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6. For the jug I ironed a lovely old piece of cotton onto some stabiliser and then sketched the outline of the image from the jug.

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7. Then using the free-motion machine embroidery function of my sewing machine I ‘drew’ over the sketch using indigo thread.

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8. I won’t lie – the 24hr pen did not fade overnight (never happened before) and so I had to gently wash it out.

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9. Next up was a root through my bag of fabric again – I found this piece of mono-printed screen-print which was perfect for the tulip leaves.

 To make getting the shape nice and easy, I cut one off the now-nearly-dead tulips.

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10. All they needed was a few free flowing lines to give the texture of Tulip leaves and I used a variegated green-yellow thread on the sewing machine.

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11. I played around laying out pieces of fabric that I loved or felt would add a nice contrast as the background until I found the perfect combo – the reverse of a piece of stencilled indigo fabric and a jaunty yellow piece of Shibori pattern.

12. After that it was a question of pinning it all into place and working out which pieces needed stitching onto the backing first and then working up a layer as I sewed. The leaves I did on the sewing machine and the Tulip petals I hand stitched on.

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I’m pretty happy with how this has turned out – it’s brightening up my studio and adding some colour to my Easter quarantine.

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I like the overall colour palette and think the yellow Shibori patterned fabric picks up the yellow of the Tulip petals nicely.

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If I’ve one gripe its that the jug is a bit large and contributes to making the whole piece tall and thin which might be a problem if you want to frame your work easily and cheaply. I’m using a magnetic poster holder to hang mine and it’s working well.

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I hope that’s given you some confidence to cut into your own stash of fabrics and have a go. Any questions – do email, I’d be happy to help if I can. Do let me know if you make something and I’d love to see what.

Our trip to Southern Asia earlier this year (here, here, here and here) was rich in visual and cultural inspiration.

I’ve honestly felt a little overwhelmed by how deep and far I could go into this vibrant feast of creative stimulus and output – whether to start with painting or stitch or print. And all the while I’m spinning the other plates of my self-employment as an artist: delivery/teaching and all the admin that it takes to run a small business. It can be distracting and actually difficult to get time to be creative some weeks.

So I just began. One day unceremoniously. Just where I was. No fanfare or special time set aside. I just started. I took off simply by doing a little each day – whatever I had time for.

As I teach screen-printing and mixed media textiles twice a week at MAC, I kicked off this intention by focusing my preparation for these classes on my Asia photos – and I have a lot to choose from as I took nearly 7000! inc duplicates for a better shot – you know? So to make that task less anxiety inducing, I split those into files: Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. I currently haven’t got to the end of the 2.243 photos taken in Malaysia!

So if I was demonstrating cutting a screen-print stencil I based it on a motif from of a beautiful textile in the National Textile Museum in Kuala Lumpur or if I was making an example of free-machine embroidery for my Mixed Media Textiles class I referenced a drawing I’d done from a beautiful silk kimono.

Sometimes that was a basic quick line drawing, other times I had paints out to use. On some evenings I have doodled in front of the TV on my ipad pro – not that I’m especially proficient but it’s a great way to easily draw and digitalise your handwork.

It’s true what they say about ‘a little and often’ –  gradually my pile of Asia work is coming to life.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been inspired to have a go at making a lampshade.

It’s based upon the woods that we live opposite from and can see from our front windows and it’s also where we walk the dog everyday, so of course she features too!

I began by measuring (and measuring again) and making a patchwork textile picture of the right proportions for the shade using colours to suggest the passing of the seasons and some of my favourite rare Liberty scraps.

Then I lino-printed the trees on (regretted using a dark purple but it was too late) and then the fun and time-consuming part was to embellish it with embroidery.

I tried to make the trees show the movement from Spring through to Summer and through to Winter as the shade curls around.

I used French Knots for blossom, diamond-shaped leaves and couching with the bobbin thread.

And of course a bit of free-motion machine embroidery with my new toy*

Still reflecting on what colour to keep the lamp base but I’m pleased to have tried this and it’ll be a whole lot easier now another time – watch this space!

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