Tuesday 27 April 2010


Look what I went to see yesterday....

I met up with my good friend Jude at the V & A to see the long awaited quilt exhibition... and what a treat! I'm never quite sure how I feel about quilts. My first instinct is to say I'm not that keen... but actually I am. I then might say that they are okay when they are used and I just don't like them on walls but some contemporary quilts that I like very much are meant to be on walls. So I've now come to the conclusion that I do in fact like quilts... very much... but just not all of them!

However, this wonderful exhibition with over seventy items on display was amazing. The first item is this stunning 18th century bedhanging, exquisitly hand stitched in a clamshell design.

Can you even begin to imagine the hours it took!

There were so many different examples... beautiful whole cloth quilts, some pieced from silks and brocades, one from tiny woollen hexagons stitched by a serviceman in India in the late 19th century, others made from paper, some fine examples of contemporary quilts too... I liked those by Grayson Perry and Michele Walker, Pauline Burbridge and Jo Budd. Far too many to list them all. The last exhibit, like the first, was another four poster bed with embroidered and appliqued bed linen by Tracey Emin. I know she's not everyone's cup of tea but I like the rawness and honesty of her work and I thought this was a fitting end to the exhibition. I'm so glad I'm going back again in a couple of weeks.

Of course we had to pass through the shop and Jude came up with an idea for our annual challenge (I'm sure this gets earlier every year). We both bought a fat quarter of the same fabric and we have to use it for each other's Christmas pressie... no doubt I'll be doing this in early December. I only hope I remember where I put the fabric in the mean time!

Jude thought this might be us with our quilts... which one was you again Jude????

After a tea break we also popped in to see Grace Kelly: Style Icon which features 50 items from the wardrobe of Grace Kelly. I thought this was disappointing. The outfits seemed dull and drab which seemed strange at first because in the photographs and film clips of Grace wearing the outfits she looked stunning. We concluded that in fact it was Grace Kelly that was stunning and it probably didn't matter what she wore. The outfits on their own just didn't seem that special.

Our day finished as always with supper at Joe Allens... pretty much a perfect day!

Sunday 25 April 2010

Little Books

I had a lovely day yesterday at Art and Stitch, teaching a small group of ladies how to make little books... which involved lots of free machining and making cords as well as some simple book construction.

This was one of the samples I made before the class.

And this was the one I made during the class to demonstrate the technique... which proved just a little bit ambitious!

But I got there in the end.

As ever, the variety of interpretations and designs was a delight and these are what the class produced.

I'm back at Art and Stitch in October teaching more free machine embroidery techniques... I would love to see you there!

Friday 23 April 2010


Results from the last module arrived today and I got a better mark than I expected (because I know I could have done better, taken more risks, pushed myself further etc etc.) But I'm still pleased and so I've put a bottle of fizz in to chill for this evening... a chance to relax and enjoy the sunshine.

Because in a weeks time the next module starts... "Issues of 20th & 21st Century Art". Lots of heavy reading and an essay to keep me busy until the end of July so there will be no degree stitching to share with you for a while.

Although I'm sure I'll have plenty of other projects to share. Wishing you all a relaxed sunny weekend.

Wednesday 21 April 2010

Tuesday 20 April 2010


Thank you kind friends for all your support and encouragement once again, the result of which was I took my finished T shirt to moderation day on Saturday. I didn't wear it (even with pegs attached) as we have to set out our stuff at 9 am and then go off and leave it all day with the moderators so they wouldn't have seen it if I'd worn it. We won't know results for a few days yet but the course director kept my display boards with the drawings and samples as she wants to use them for displays... a good sign I hope?

This meant we had a whole day to while away in Colchester. A few of us signed up for a talk by the costume curator of the Colchester and Ipswich museums' costume collection. Thinking it was going to be a lecture, imagine our delight to find we would be getting up close and handling some amazing pieces from the collection. There were exquisite plain sewing samples like this.

Lots of samplers like this Berlin woolwork spot sampler...

and this 17th century spot sampler with metal thread embroidery.

A shot silk taffeta jabot dating back to 1860 with beautiful covered buttons.

A fabulous over the top Victorian tea cosy in silk patchwork. I don't think I'm going to start making tea cosoies like this one!

This tiny little purse was covered in minute little beads, so small you could barely see them.

There were several Bulgarian samples with beautiful pulled fabric work.

A beautiful Liberty smocked child's dress.

And this man's suit waistcoat, again with the most amazing embroidered buttons.

These are just a few of the treasures we got to handle, all of which helped the day pass quickly. We also got to sit in the sunshine, drink lots of tea, eat cake and natter so not a bad moderation day all in all!

Tuesday 13 April 2010

Just When I thought I'd Finished

All my technical notes are filed, all my research is collated, my journal is written up, my sketchbook is finished and having finally got all five of my designs drawn up and presented on boards with my samples I thought I was finished and ready for degree moderation day on Saturday. But no... I couldn't leave it alone.

It is not a requirement that any of the designs are made up into actual garments, but I kept wondering what if...

And this is the result...

It has been no mean feat stitching cotton jersey without an overlocker and I wasn't sure it would ever get finished.
In true window dressing fashion I've got the back held together with a peg as it is too big for me, so I'll probably never wear it but I'm pleased I've made it as it is one thing to have a design on paper but quite another to actually see it made up. I think it would work in the hands of a more experienced dressmaker (who measures rather than guesses sizes) with an overlocker!

I'm pleased with the detail though...

especially the buttons

and the cuffs.

The question now is... was this a purely an academic exercise to satisfy my own curiosity or am I brave enough to take it along to moderation day? I'll probably change my mind ten times between now and Saturday!

Saturday 10 April 2010

I Just Popped By...

to say that the Ladies of Romford were lovely! And not even one of them fell asleep during my talk. Of course so many of them are fellow bloggers that it is no surprise that they are lovely... Chrissythreads, 77belle, I am inspired and Dianehobbit were all there this afternoon to cheer me on (well not literally... but you know what I mean.) And when I got home there was a parcel waiting for me...

With my new very pretty Cath Kidson plimsolls.

And as if that wasn't enough, a brand new teapot, because the spout broke on my old one.

We're about to have take away pizza, I might even stretch to a glass of wine and then tomorrow I plan to spend working in the garden. Not a bad weekend all in all! Hope yours is good too.