Design Feed


I have been following Rachel's progress on her foot stool done in canvas work on her blog.  I used to do a lot of canvas work but got bored with it.  Now I think I would like to stitch a piece.  At the Embroiderers' Guild they have a huge selection of threads for this kind of work on the sale table, so I can get the thread cheap and I'm sure I must have some canvas in my stash.  Next step was what would I stitch?

I found a colouring book on-line from 1615.  It was originally written for glaziers and plasterers but I'm sure some of these patterns would work.  (These are the kind of things one finds on in the Internet Archive.)

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There is a design index at the beginning setting out all the designs as thumbnails.

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Then these are expanded to full page prints later and there are some interesting designs that could work.

Screen Shot 2021-01-26 at 2.05.47 pmIt also has some recipes for mixing colours that come with the warning that these might be dangerous, still, it is interesting to read how it was done back then.

Screen Shot 2021-01-26 at 1.52.14 pmI intend to have a play around with these designs and see what I can come up with.

An outcome of that bus trip

One of the traders at the quilt show had some small panels for sale that caught my eye.

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This is the work of an Australian designer from the 1920's, Margaret Clarke, (1901 -2001).  They were totally charming and I had never seen her work before, which isn't surprising because her output wasn't large.  She started in her teens and did these paintings for a sweets manufacturer at the age of 17, had one exhibition where the promoter stole all the money from the sales, and every piece had sold.  (Today the originals are much sort after.)  Then she married and was lost to the art world.

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When I looked at my purchase I realised that I would like to buy some more of this fabric, but the trader hadn't put their name on the packet, so I set off on-line.  I found a shop on-line and all the fabric was on sale, how lucky was I?  I wanted the panels to make quilts for my grand daughters and great grand nieces and I saw that there was an embroidery panel available as well, so I ordered that for good measure. 

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I have finished all my "Silly Stitching" and thought that these might take their place.  Now they have arrived.

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I see there are better images on the net of her paintings.

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I have no idea just how I will embroider the pieces and they may prove to be more difficult than I think they are but the panels will make great little quilts.

The Plush Work

I first saw this work at a antique quilt exhibition in France.  At that point I didn't know about the French quilting tradition, then I saw this post from      .

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Now I have been playing around with the technique. In Cecile's post she also had a link to the same quilts that I had seen and says that the tin templates that were used were sold by pedlars and could sometimes be found in Secondhand Shops.  She made her template from cardboard.  There is also a mention of these tin templates being sold in the USA and they sometimes come up in antique auctions.  There is another very good tutorial at This tutorial has a link to a PDF file of templates.

Looking at those old quilts I realised that they are all made on a wool or wool felt fabric.  I then found some woollen fabric left over from a tweed skirt I had made.  As it turns out this was a good choice because the weave isn't super tight and it is easier to pull the woollen thread through when stitching. Having said this I believe that any fabric that has an open weave should work with this technique.   But, it is still quite hard work on your wrists, mine were a bit sore by the time I had finished. 

The other difference was the wool I used.  I had bought a bag of tapestry wool from the 2nd hand stall at the Guild which only cost $10.00.

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When I looked at Cecile's post I see she was using wool used in crewel work which is a lot thinner than the tapestry variety so there was going to be a different outcome, but not quite a much as I had imagined.

This is Cecile's who has also worked on a wool fabric.

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This is mine.  I tried to keep the stitching the same as hers but I think that if I had used a third colour layer, that would have covered that slight gap you can see.

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The different wool used does affect the finished piece.  I wish I had taken some close up photos of the original quilts but I think that they would have used what ever wool they had to hand so there would have been a difference here as well.  This technique used left over or repurposed wool and fabrics originally and these would have been classed as scrap quilts as beautiful as they are. 

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 I was reading in one tutorial that you should mount your work in a hoop.  Not possible with small scraps of fabric but I will mount another piece of wool fabric in a halo and see what the difference is.  I might try some different shapes but because of the strain on my wrist and time involved in the stitching I can't see this becoming a major technique for me.  Still it was a fun exercise. 

Now what am I going to do with all that wool?



That Bus Trip

So that bus trip.

I bought very little in the way of fabric, just 2 small purchases but we stopped at a farm shop and I bought lots of vegetables.

We first went to the quilt exhibition in Beaudesert.


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This town sits just below the tablelands (The Scenic Rim) and is a hub for the farming communities that surround it.  The quilts were packed in and the following are the ones that caught my attention.

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The quilts were so "packed in" that it was difficult to see some of them and the one I liked the most was tucked away in the corner of the hall.

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It included hand and machine quilting, which was done on a domestic sewing machine, (not a long arm commercial machine) and the piecing was perfect.

There were some commercial vendors there and all were small businesses.  So small that all the sales were 'cash only', no-one had an EFTPOS machine!  There were some great 2nd hand fabric dealers and I found a range of fabrics called "Federation Fairies" that was new to me.  No one had a business card so I am hunting down this range on-line.  So much we take for granted, like business cards and point of sale machines.

From here we headed to Boonah, another small country town.

to be continued.

Getting last week organised

I know that sounds counter-intuative but some times I just do things and I have to get my mind to catch up with my actions!

My week started with car troubles and that just threw all my plans into disarray.  Because I had an appointment at a set time and the car battery was flat I just hopped on a bus to get to my appointment, which was at the Genius Bar at Apple.  (You have to make an appointment a week in advance they are so busy.)

The problem was with my watch, which I had lost some time ago and then found a week later in the garden.  Turns out that someone had found it, tried to get access to my information, failed, and then dropped the watch in the garden for me to find.  (Must have been someone local.)  I ended up having to buy a new  watch.

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So, Mickey is back again but I need lessons on how to work this thing.  (My phone calls keeps going to my watch!)

It was an hour each way on the bus and then another 2 hours waiting for the RACQ to come and tell me my battery was flat, then he tells me I have to drive around for another hour to charge it again.  That was Monday.

Tuesday is my day at the Embroiderers Guild.  This week there was no parking at the train station.  Luckily there was a disability parking spot at the next station but again It got me rattled.

Wednesday I had a lecture at the State Art Gallery.  I had a bad coughing attack in the middle of it.  Ended up even more rattled, I enjoyed the lecture but the place was packed and I felt stupid.

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Thursday I stopped.  I was due to judge at a regional show but I knew I couldn't drive all that distance so I cancelled at the last minute.  Something I have never done before but I knew I wasn't fit to drive.

Friday I went on that bus trip and chilled out.  I will tell you about what happened later, but by the time I got home I just about had my head together.

Saturday I was back to normal so mowed the lawns and worked in the garden till I dropped.

Sunday I unpicked my knitting.  What a mess. So I put that aside and did some 'silly stitching'.

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Now for a new week.  (I have to get that knitting sorted.)

A reel of blue sewing cotton.

That is what Sharon Jewel started with.

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She had bought this to repair her husbands shirts.

She then bought some homespun fabric and cut it up in pieces measuring 300X300mm.

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Over a period of about 2 years Sharon filled over 100 pieces of fabric with embroidered images.  These originated for random images and thoughts, that arose over time and outside the deliberate processes of thought.  She then drew these images and words onto her fabric with a pencil and proceeded to stitch them with her blue thread.

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Sharon has used simple stitches to express complex ideas, some of which seem disjointed.

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But all hang together as a train of thought.

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I asked her if she found the process 'meditative' but she hadn't thought about that, only getting the idea onto the fabric.  But she said it was something that she could put in her pocket and take anywhere and just stitch.

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When asked how she removed her pencil markings she replied that if they were not covered with stitching she washed the fabric in soap and water and then ironed it.

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Sharon doesn't come to embroidery with all the trappings what we, who have embroidered for years and have absorbed the 'rules' of embroidery that we were told must be adhered to.  She just stitches what she thinks and feels.

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Yet there is a cohesion to this body of work. 

It isn't beautifully mounted in frames, but is like random thoughts pinned to the wall.

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This exhibition is something one wouldn't expect to see in embroidery but that makes it even more special.

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A lot going on where I live.

I live in the Redland's Shire of Queensland.  This was, until the last 10 to 20 years a very rural area.  There is rich red soil, perfect for growing all kinds of foods, but fruit, and in particular, strawberries, have been the favoured crops. 


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This has always been a hot spot for koala, but urban sprawl has seen the suburbs extend right out to the bay, removing habitat, farms and native animals.  The Bay Islands, where I live, is a small microcosm of what used to be, but even that is being eroded.

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At the moment they are re-directing aircraft from Brisbane out over the bay which the birds are finding hard to handle.  From September to April this is home to migratory birds, some come from Siberia.

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But on the up side, there are a lot more services than there used to be.  Our local council hosts two galleries, one in Cleveland and the other at Capalaba and at the moment both have excellent exhibitions.

Cleveland - This exhibition is from the Bendigo Art Gallery and it blew me away.

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Capalaba - Sharon is a local artist from the Russell Island.

Screen Shot 2023-03-18 at 10.01.33 amBoth are really significant exhibits and I will write about them through out the week.

to be continued:


Never Again!

My favourite seat frame is never leaving the house again!

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I took it to Embroidery with me and the wooden screw that holds the frame in position fell out, and was lost forever.  I have had this frame for at least 20 years, maybe 30 years?  It has been impossible to replace the screw but my husband came to the rescue and made me a new screw.

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It took him a couple of weeks to make it and it is different to the old one in shape but it does the job.

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So it is staying in the house, FOREVER.

A New Week

I always equate a new week with a new start.  After a bout of food poisoning it really feels like a new start.  (Problem - I ate healthy food, only it didn't agree with me.  I will have to stick with the unhealthy stuff.)  I took my daughter out to lunch for her birthday.  We had been to this cafe before but this time the food, along with the terrible humidity, really made me ill.

We got caught in the rain and had to take shelter in "That Yarn Place" shop.

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Not a bad place to have to stop.  There was some nice seating undercover on the verandah.

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And you look out on a pond,

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Flower beds,

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and back into the shop, which is full of beautiful yarns and knitting requirements.

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It was really temping looking at this but I only bought some new needles and markers.

But sitting on the verandah, with the rain falling, I took notice of the hangers that were displayed there.  A really cute ceramic wind chime,

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and some crocheted pot hangers.

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Looking closer I can see that they have IKEA bowls displayed here.

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This was made from a really soft cotton.  I might have to go back and get some of this. I know cotton would eventually rot out in the elements  but they would make a lovely hanging display.  (Some more prototyping coming up.)

To the side of the shop were some lovely garden displays.  I would love a water feature in my garden but I know it would attract mosquitoes.  Still....

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Today is my "day off."  I was going to sit and stitch flat out, but, I have hit a wall.  I was also going to mow the lawns and tidy the garden, but that wall is right in front of me.  So, I look myself off to the coffee shop, with the dog, for a cup of tea.  (I'm restricting all coffee to just special occasions.) Also, I heard of the death of a small child, the grand daughter of a friend, and my heart began to weep.

It was a good decision.  I met a fellow quilter who lives on the island who is here from Canada, I spoke with the chef about how the kitchen is going and a light rain fell on me as I sat under a tree to drink my tea.  I got to thinking that what we concentrate on, the way we spend our time, tells us what we really care about.  Stitching is high up on my list.  As is my family.  Yesterday I dropped everything to take my grand daughter to get a new pair of shorts to wear to  "scouts". 

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She has joined to local "troop" and is off to camp.  It is the last thing I thought she would like but she loves it.

While I was sitting under my tree I read another of the essays from my book "Wheesht" by Kate Davies, again telling myself just how much I enjoy this book.

Screen Shot 2023-03-02 at 11.35.02 amI think that I will buy this as a Christmas gift for a couple of my friends.  Essays are a much underrated form of literature.  The essay writting that I studied at school put me right off this genre but this book has rekindle my interest.  (Every time I pick it up I think that.) Also, I love the way Kate writes, I learn something new each time I read something she has written.  At the end of each essay she has a list of "Creative Assignments", all of which stretch you a bit.  And at the chapter I have just read is a note to read the work of Adrienne Rich.   A poet I hadn't heard of, but , I found this poem and now have an order in at the council library to read more.

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Now I think I can sew again.

Trialing some new designs - Version 1

I stitched some pin cushion fronts last year and am now trialing how I will make the pin cushions.  I had seen a number of "Pin and Clip cushions", although all seemed to be for patterns that you had to buy, like this illustration.

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These are a fairly new designs, as the clips haven't been in common useage for all that long and here they are rather expensive.  I like the feature of the clips on 4 sides but this doesn't sit very well on my sewing table.  As  result of this I have decided to try three different designs.  The first I have made out of the smaller of the 'gum tree' design that I appliqued.  I have put clip holders on two sides.

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It is the simplest of the construction methods , being just a rectangle with the clip holders sewn into the side seams and then stuffed with wadding.

But, it sits perfectly in the front of my smaller sewing machine. 

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If I had put holders at either end this would look more balanced but would not have been so ergonomic  in it's use.

Next I am going to trial a larger version.