Thoughts and Stitches

A fine site

Module 3 – Cord Making


The method I used was the drinking straw as well as hand feeding the materials. I used a varied of materials including plastic.

From Left to right: Turquoise felt and wool, embroidery thread (blue core and magenta top stitch), next a cord of blue cloth and magenta tape,  followed by cord of  plastic and tape,  then one of plain plastic, the next cord was wool and silk, then embroidery thread and the last blue cord is from sewing two strips of cloth.

The magenta cords  are 2 cords from Sari ribbon followed by hand dyed silk and embroidery thread and tape.


Cords 3

Figure 1



Magenta Twisted Cords were made from a variety of materials.

Cords 1

Figure 2


From left to right:

The first two on the left were made by using the bobbin in my sewing machine, I anchored the yarn in the bobbin and held this up vertically while running the machine. Third from left is a simple twist made from wool. Next to this the cord is made from hand dyed silk with knotted inserts. Next sari silk ribbon was twisted and then I used a flat ribbon in the last twisted cord.

Blue and combined colours: (I do apologize for the photography)

Cords 2

Figure 3

From Left to right:

Far left is twisted strips of hand dyed fabric, then a fancy ribbon, the turquoise blue is wool and then I used a fuzzy multi coloured wool. The last four cords are a combination of my two selected colours. The skinny cord is from embroidery thread, followed by yarn, the paler combination was made from cord while the hairy one is a fancy yarn twisted with a plain wool, the last one is the fuzzy and plain wool twisted together.All of these cords were then used in creating KNOTTED, PLAITED AND WRAPPED CORDS. Below is a selection a cards made for tassels.


Figure 4



Knotted Cord

Figure 5


Left to right:

Overhand knots using yarn rwisted cord., next half hitch knots close together and apart using machine cord. Cords were used in the next Pawnee Braid cord, then fuzzy wool twisted cord used for Continuous twist chain cord, the last wool twisted cord has a Pawnee Braid at the top and  alternate chaining at the bottom.

Turks Head:

Turks head

Figure 6


These knots were worked in commercial cord (blue and green), the first to the left is flat while the green and magenta (made cords) have been pulled up into a ball.



Figure 7


Description of Plaited Cords:

Left to right beads, plastic and emboidery thread cords, followed by yarn and wool cords of various thickness, the middle cord is two fabric cords with one thin embroidery thread, the next cord is yarn cords of the same weight, and the last cord is made from machined cords of similar weights.



Figure 8


In Figure 8 these three cords are fabric twisted cords wrapped irregularly with wool (first left); embroidery cord and the last is  a long fabric cord (doubled in photograph) wrapped with machine embroidery cord.

Wrapped 3

Figure 9


In Figure 9  these yarn twisted cords are wrapped in regular intervals with embroidery thread (first two on left) and yarn.

The last two cords (Figure 10 )are thick twisted cords wrapped in a criss-cross fashion with yarn cords.

Pw 1

Figure 10

I was truly amazed at the different effects of all these cords, I just wish I had more coloured plastic to make more of those.

Now off to tassels.





Module 3-Chapter 4- Decorate with Stitchery

Hand Stitchery

For this exercise I hand stitched on teal hand-dyed felt using blue and magenta wool thread and pale blue and teal embroidery thread (Figure 1)

Hand 1

Figure 1

My next piece  used a variety of variegated woolen and synthetic threads (Figure 2)

Hand 2

Figure 2

The next sample was worked on magenta linen with various blue embroidery threads (Figure 3)

Hand 3

Figure 3

The final hand stitched sample was worked on hand-dyed cotton using various magenta threads.

Hand 4

Figure 4



My next five samples were machined stitched on various materials.

Machine 1

Figure 5

This first sample (Figure 5) is worked on a heavy cotton weave suing different tones of blue and magenta thread. The next two samples (Figure 6 and 7) are worked on hand-dyed cotton. In Figure 5 I varied the type of thread in the bobbin and used dark blue thread to contrast to the heavier embroidery threads. For Figure 6 sample I varied the tension of the bobbin thread to achieve texture within the spirals.

Machine 2

Figure  6

Machine 3

Figure 7

The next sample (Figure 8) was worked on cotton and I varied the machine thread from blues to magenta and a variegated thread (yellow/orange/red).

Machine 4

Figure 8

The final sample was worked on hand-dyed silk using dark blue and magenta machine thread (Figure 9)


Figure 9

I enjoyed this chapter and working the different samples and must say that the hand stitching allowed me more freedom of design.

Module 3- Chapter 3 – Fabrics and Threads

What a great way to sort your fabrics and threads by putting together all the blues and magentas, and creating some more by Dip and Random Dyeing.

Commercial Fabrics – Blues


Figure 1

This collection is made up of different weights and weaves of cotton, and also patterned fabrics.

Dyed Fabrics


Figure 2

Figure 2 – a mixture of dyed silks and wool, Figure 3 is also of silks.


Figure 3


Figure 4


Figure 5

The fabrics in Figure 4 and 5 are Random Dyed cottons.

Blue Threads – Figure 6 is a collection of commercial and dyed threads.


Figure 6

Magenta Fabric and Threads


Figure 7 – Commercial and Dyed


Figure  7a – Random Dyed Fabric


Figure 8 – Random dyed Cotton and Silk


Figure 9 – Dyed Cotton

Magenta thread

Figure 10 – Commercial and hand dyed thread

Batch of fabric using blue and magenta.


Figure 11 – Silk – random dyed


Figure 12 – Cotton Random Dyed

Page 1

Figure 13 Silk (strips 2 and 3) and Cotton Random Dyed


Figure 13a – two coloured random dyed cotton

The next fabrics are dip dyed in two colours


Figure 14 Magenta dyed fabric dipped in blue dye


Figure 15 Cotton dipped dyed in blue and magenta


Figure 16 Cotton dipped dyed

Mono-print Fabrics


Figure 17 Magenta mono-print on blue


Figure 18 Mono-printing using brush on blue using magenta and blue acrylic


Figure 19 Dark blue random dyed fabric mono-printed using brush


Figure 20 Random dyed magenta fabric mono-printed in blue


Figure 21 Magenta Shibori dyed fabric Mono-printed in blue

Commercial magenta

Figure 22 – Commercial fabric brushed with blue acrylic

More threads

Figure 23 – More discovered threads



Figure 24 Assorted beads with painted wooden beads

A wonderful way of getting acquainted with fabrics and threads etc.

Cheers until next chapter

Module 3 – Chapter 2b – Designs Using Monoprinting Method

I love monoprinting you never know exactly what is going to happen. I used some coloured papers that I had made in preparation for Module 3. Tools used were cotton buds and different sizes of plastering (grouting) tools. The first series of designs were done using one colour different tint.

IMG_20150616_0001     IMG_20150616_0002     IMG_20150616_0003     IMG_20150616_0005

Figure 1 Blue on Blue


Figure 2 Magenta on Magenta

IMG_20150616_0009     IMG_20150616_0010   IMG_20150616_0013     IMG_20150616_0014

Figure 3 Blue and Magenta


For these examples I used Photoshop Elements 12. Brushes were by Hawkmont’s Bamboo set, filters used were found under “Distort”


Figure 4 Bamboo Brush at different angles

Bamboo twirl

Figure 5 is Figure 4 twirled

Bamboo 2

Figure 6 different sizes of Figure 5 and then spherized

Brush 2

Figure 7 Brush in a geometric spiral

Brush 2 liquidify

Figure 7 Geometric spiral in figure 7 liquefied

In the next series I used a basic shape from the Symbols set, coloured one red made it smaller and superimposed on the black.

Coloured shape

Figure 8 black and red circle

Coloured shape 2

          Coloured shape 3

Figure 9 the black and red circle were distorted using polar coordinates


Figure 10. Red/orange/blue brush doodles twirled

Wire Distort 2     Wire Distort

Figure 11 Photograph of a garden ornament with central wire spiral that has been distorted using spiral filter (top) and polar coordinates underneath.

Module 3- Chapter 2 Design Work

Sprial “Warm-up” Exercises.

Colour – I chose to use blue and magenta.

Papers – I sponge painted and inked tissue and cartridge paper and also painted some cartridge in solid colour.



Figure 1 Tissue paper sponged with paint and ink


Figure 2 Cartridge paper painted/inked on both sides, side one to the left and reverse side to the right.

Simple Two Dimensional Shapes


Figure 3 Coloured tissue around wire on plain painted paper.

The inspiration was the cultural design on the Grange Stone, the architectural building and passionfruit spirals


   Spiral-Architecture - solar   Passionfruit spiral

Images of double sided spirals:


Figure 4 cartridge paper painted on both sides.

The rows on the right are what I call my “primitive” spirals, while on the left are my “formal” spirals.


Figure 5 Commercial coloured paper twisted and also hole punched


Figure 6 Commercial coloured paper twisted (I did not have good hand control)

Sorry about the out of focus.

Sprials using coloured paper based on resource images:


Figure 7 Shell shape spiral with wire twisted circle embellishments.


Figure 8 Simple spiral with punched holes


Figure 9 Simple spiral design made with folded paper


Figure 9  Four “fan” folds


Figure 10. Folded paper using the architectural design under  Figure 3

Three – D spirals from corrugated cardboard.


Figure 11 From left, a magic wand, top reddish brown corrugated cardboard design from pine cone. Simple two coloured spiral and spiral based on a shell shape.


Figure 12 Multiple spirals within spirals


Figure 11 Design based on Zigguret


Figure 12 Futuristic Architectural design


Figure 13 Top left – Amphitheater, middle “village” and bottom left building with steps

All of the pieces were painted with chalk paint. I think I could have gone on forever rolling up cardboard.

Module 3 – Chapter 1 – Research for Spiral – Man-Made and Natural

Hunting for spirals was fun as they exist everywhere, I most on the Internet and some in my garden.

Man-Made Spirals – Cultural inspired spirals, watering can nozzle, architectural spirals and mosaic garden path

83c6daa5132a79e5638d2345dd5cfeef     spiral2


maori       Watering can


Spiral-Architecture-Main     zigguret



Spirals made by Nature – Passionfruit sprials, pine cone and shells

PF2     Passionfruit spiral


pine cone     bb6dc462c3b50724c91877e27a538f6c


Simple drawings of Spirals:

Drawing 1     Drawing 4Drawing 2


Drawing 3Drawing 5Drawing 6

I did these sketches using the contour drawing technique, I did try to find the Fibonnacci sequence of the spirals. Now onto colouring paper.

Module 2 – Chapter 13 – Artist Study

I have always like the look and feel of Black Work since I started doing embroidery many years ago. Black Work has a fascinating history and my information is taken from “Embroidery Book” by Mary Thomas bought by my mother in 1974 and passed onto to me several years ago.

Thomas states that any embroidery worked in black thread on white is called “Black Work” (page 21). She also outlines the history of Black Work stating that it was introduced into England during the reign of Henry VIII by Queen Catherine of Aragon, giving it also the name of “Spanish Work”. She further states that the Spaniards adopted this style of embroidery from the Moors and Arabs, who borrowed it from the Egyptians and Persians (page 21).

Through an internet research I found this piece of embroidery on Miriam’s Middle Eastern Research blog that dates back to the Mamluk of Egypt circa 13-14th Century.


This description is taken from the blog – “This is thought to be a fragment of a garment, made between the 13th and 14th century in al -A’zam in Upper Egypt. At this time the rulers would have been Mamluk. This is a linen even weave, with silk blackwork, pulled thread and openwork.” I believe this piece maybe found in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Excellent examples of Black Work in the  16th Century can be found in the detailed paintings of Hans Holbein the Elder and Younger. Holbein the Elder was born in 1460 in Augsburg, Germany and died in 1524 in Isenheim, Alsace. He was renowned for his religious paintings and also for the realism of drapery, dress,  architecture, ornament and color of his latter works (reference). I found it difficult to find an example of Holbein’s painting depicting Black Work, the image below is titled Painting of a 34 years old woman circa 1516-17 illustrates embroidery on the bodice, head band and waist.

HHElder 2


Hans Holbein the Younger (son of Hans Holbein the Elder) was born in 1497 Augsburg, Bavaria and died in 1543 of the plague in England. Holbein the Younger’s work beautifully illustrates Black Work. Below are examples.

Anna Meyer HHyounger

Anna Meyer 1526

Lady of the Cornwall Familyhhy

Elizabeth Seymour (date unknown)

 Not only was Holbein the Younger a remarkable artist  but a fashion designer for the court. The artist made designs for all the state robes of the king; he left, in addition, more than 250 delicate drawings for everything from buttons and buckles to pageant weapons, horse outfittings, and bookbindings for the royal household (reference).  Not only has Holbein left a legacy with his paintings, we also have the back stitch used in Black Work named after him (reference).  This is because if you have a close look at the paintings the Black Work is based on plant forms and geometric shapes that are outlined with a running stitch (or so it seems).

So how to do Black Work.

I have an excellent reference in my “Royal School of Needlework Embroidery Techniques” by Sally Saunders. Without repeating the text verbatim here are the main points.

1. It is advisable to use an even weave fabric in a frame

2. Thread type can vary and the colour does not necessarily have to be black, with shading achieved by using different weights of thread.

3. A blunt tapestry needle should be used for the diaper pattern and a crewel needle for the outline stitches.

4. Stitches used in Black Work include, back stitch or Holbein Stitch Illustrated below, stem stitch, cross stitch


5. Outline your design on graph paper or on the fabric and determine if your design is linear, repeating, or diagonal and what type of fill in pattern suits your shape. Essentially you can design your own fill patterns based on Holbein  stitch and straight stitches. Below is page 97 from the Royal School of Needlework Embroidery Techniques book that illustrates some ideas on fillers.


I found this web site that is very useful in detailing how to do Black Work for any one that does not have the Royal School of Needlework Embroidery Techniques book.

Bridget Riley

I was introduced to Riley’s work last year and was fascinated by how she achieved movement in black and white geometric art. Riley was born in London in 1931 and began her artistic career by studying art at Goldsmiths College (1949–52), and later at the Royal College of Art (1952–55). Her early work was figurative with a semi-impressionist style. In 1960 she began to develop her signature Op Art style consisting of black and white geometric patterns that explore the dynamism of sight and produce a disorienting effect on the eye (wikipedia).


Bridget Riley

Nataraja 1993 by Bridget Riley born 1931

Nataraja 1993


Black and White geometric


Study for Entice 1974


Study 4 Painting with two Verticals 2004

It would be fascinating to stand in front of her black and white geometrics and move from side to side to feel the movement.

My next artist is Meredith Woolnough.

Woolnough is an Australian artist who is inspired by nature to create her large wall hangings and smaller resin encased designs.  Woolnough received her Bachelor of Fine Arts (first class honours), University of New South Wales in 2006, and in 2008 her Masters of Teaching, The University of Sydney.

Her published work can be found in:

Homespun Magazine, July 2013

Sign@lement, Textiel Plus, May issue 2013 (Dutch magazine)

Embellish Magazine, March 2014

Embellish Magazine, June 2014

Birds on Branch duo


19607_new resin block group

Woolnough’s technique is labour intensive as she machine embroiders on soluble fabric, then washes this away and pins out her work in the design that has inspired her, when dry, she raises each pin and inserts a glass rod and repins to hold the design away from the substrate. I have provided a link to her Youtube video. I will have the opportunity to see her in person this April and I am sure I will be in awe when seeing her art close up.

Chapter 12 – Finished Resolve Design

After many hours of hand sewing and machining and some fabric dyeing and discharge I have completed by box purse. Here I am in my favourite chair, maybe watching a movie or cricket while I sew.



The finished box purse is a 5 inch open cube with a drawstring inset. Figure 1 is the completed purse



Figure 1. Completed Box Purse

As a comparison I placed a reel of King Tut cotton next to the purse (Figure 2).


Figure 2 Comparison to cotton reel.

I shall post images of the sides and then discuss my work.


Figure 3 Bottom


Figure 4 Side panel A


Figure 5 Side Panel B


Figure 6 Side Panel C


Figure 7 Side Panel D

Fabrics: For the panels and drawstring I used black commercial fabric plain and discharged with bleach, white fabric that was monoprinted using either Golden Fluid Acrylics or fabric paint and there is a small amount of commercial black and white fabric in Panel C. The majority of the fabric were embellished with machine stitches. Black organza was used in the side prairie point inserts, fluffy wool as an insert in Panel B and lace in Panel D ( it maybe not evident in the photograph). Commercial wool and thread used for the drawstring cord (Figure 8).


Figure 8.

Cotton cord used to make the piping around the base and top of cube (Figure 9), and also around the top of the drawstring.


Figure 9

Construction materials: Iron-on pellon and cardboard for the panels. The pellon was also used to make the cube tassels. (Figure 10). Thin woven batting for the drawstring bag.


Figure 10

Construction: The side panels were made first using different techniques. Panel A is based on square patches (black with black discharge fabric) the seam are inside out and frayed. Panel B has a rectangle of patchwork squares of dyed and discharged fabrics that were cut and rearranged to form the irregular rectangle the edges are sewn in similar fashion to log cabin. Fluffy yarn was used as a seam insert. Panel C is commercial fabrics sewn in a seminole pattern and edged with black. Panel D is  monoprinted white fabric, black discharged and dyed fabrics sewn into a lopsided log-cabin design with a small black lace insert in some of the seams. Piping was then hand sewn around the top (Figure 9).

Prairie points were made from black silk organza and inserted into the side seams of the panels that were hand sewn together.

The base is black bleach discharged fabric with piping (Figures 3 and 9).

The drawstring bag insert was made from black fabric discharged with bleach and a fine black voile for the inside. The bag has a fine woven batting between the front and lining. A piping made from white monoprinted fabric was inserted between the lining and front.When the bag was half sewn I did some quilting lines. The bottom was gathered and then the bag was hand sewn around the sides of the box purse. To complete the bag, I added some keepers to keep the yarn cord in  place and then sewed the bottom of the purse to the sides. The final touch was to make 1 inch cubes for tassels on the ends of the drawstring cord (Figures 10 and 11).


Figure 11

Originally it was planned to use another insert on the panels with jaguar patterns made from fabric, but I felt the inserts covered too much of the design in the panels, so I did not use them. Overall I am satisfied with the box purse but have to wonder what it would have looked like round. What did I learn, that a heavier pellon should have been used instead of having to add a cardboard insert to stiffen the panels. piping is easy to make, but small 1 inch cubes are hard to sew together.

Cheers for now

Trial for Resolved design

Although we design our ideas on paper sometimes it is not just right in reality. I have sewn one panel (5 inches square) for my bag. I machine stitched on white fabric using perle cotton (Black) and then using a commercial fabric made a seminole pattern which I cut and sewed adding other pieces from the original block. Added a border of black fabric with white stitching and a fluffy wool insert, attached this to thick iron-on pellon. The paw prints (this is the incorrect term as in my sketchbook they are from the pattern on the coat of the jaguar).I made these from a hand dyed – monoprinted embroidered material, they are sitting on a piece of wool to raise them up form the surface of the panel ready to be hemmed stitched with a little stuffing. This is the trial piece.





The original idea was to have a smaller insert (3 inches square) on the panel with the individual pads that are cream coloured wool stitched with white perle and black bobbin, I have left one plain as a contrast for evaluation  (see below).





My problem is that the smaller insert hides most of the main panel, so I think the small panel should go.


January 7th 2015

On Sian’s suggestion, I have decreased the size of the insert so it is now  rectangular and placed offset on the panel. The jaguar patterns have been reworked in darker fabric. One is commercial with thread embellishment, and the second is bleached black cotton also embellished with Perle cotton in bobbin and normal thread on the spool.



Figure 1 revised commercial jaguar pattern



Figure 2 revised jaguar pattern bleached black fabric.

I like both patterns and this should not be a problem as I have 4 panels to make.

Cheers for now


Module 2- Chapter 12-Ideas for Functional 3D Embroidered item

Stage 1. brainstorming – notes from sketchbook, I had originally thought of a scarf as been a practical item for me, so I explored this idea.

Page 1

Page 1

Page 2

Page 2

But then I shifted my focus to purses and bags, I would use a purse/bag more than a scarf (weather is not that cold where I live). So I researched bags and decided upon a design from Linda Tudor’s book “Embroidered purses design and techniques”

Page 3

Page 3

Making 3-D shapes from felt: A good pass-time while watching cricket. I looked at some earlier sketches I had made from animal paws and converted these into felt shapes as well as a triangle, a wonky triangle, and a cylinder.




Paw pad shapes

Stage 2 – making a paper 3D mock up of shape and shading for tone. For the shading, I found that it was easier to do this on the computer and used images of fabric samples.

Mock up

Figure 1 – Mock up of 3 D showing sides with secondary panel and tissue paper draw string insert.


Figure 3 Scanned image before construction of mock up

Mock bag

Figure 3 mock bag

I made a full size template of the box purse and auditioned patterned paper.


Figure 4 Patterned paper sample

Sampling 2

Figure 5 Second sample

Sampling 3

Figure 6 paw panels on top of side panel


Figure 7 a


Figure 7b

Figure 3 illustrates my preference for how the box purse should look and Figures 7 a and b are close up of two of the other side.

Page 4

Figure 8 Further ideas

Construction: The size of the box purse is 4 x 4 inch cube with a draw string bag that is 19 x 12 inches of the 19 inches 4 inches is inside the cube. For the actual box/purse the side panels could be constructed in one piece and joined to the base, but I prefer the idea of individual panes with seam treatments of black organza ribbon, the base would have a cord around the outside. The panel material for for sides would be based on the mosaic construction using black and white fabrics. The paw pads would have padding underneath to give dimension and embroidered black fabric would be the material of choice. The secondary panels on which the paw pad will be attached, would be of a hand-dyed fabric in light tones of grey and raw appliqued to the main panels. The drawing string bag would be of a shibori (arashi) dyed cotton with trim and cord drawstring.

I think this will be a unique box/purse for my mobile phone, keys and maybe a small coil purse.

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