Enjoying Embroidery this week

An embroidery project

Alongside my own textile work this week, I did an extra activity for pleasure: ‘Stitch Club’, an embroidery project led by Gwen Hedley, organised by TextileArtist.org. Delivered via a series of five short videos, there were also excellent accompanying notes to download. The activity formed an introduction to TextileArtist.org, which is a membership site, but the project was open to all.

My introduction to embroidery

My journey into textiles began with embroidery. I went to an embroidery class in a local college (where there was a creche) when my youngest two children were small. Soon after, we relocated and I went on to do a City & Guilds course in Design & Embroidery one day a week over two years. That work went into my portfolio and helped me gain admission onto a Textiles degree course, where we were taught many different hand-embroidery and machine-embroidery techniques. I still have three huge files of samples from that time!

Nowadays, I am more likely to be concentrating on machine- or hand-quilting techniques for Amanda Jane Textiles. So it gave me a lot of pleasure to thread up a needle with embroidery thread for the ‘Stitch Camp’. I have admired Gwen Hedley’s work for decades, so it was a pleasure to follow her instructions day by day to explore mark-making, first with fabric paint and then with stitch.

Exploring embroidery stitches

It was pleasurable to explore stitches in quite a free way. In different areas of the work, you can see different stitches. Yellow and gold were my two colour choices. The thread I chose to couch down was a warm coppery-gold colour.

I used a fine gold thread for backstitch in this section.

Some sections were joined together by herringbone stitch.

Elsewhere, I joined sections with blanket stitch. There are some cross-stitches just below.

A two-strand gold thread was used for a curvy chain-stitch line.

Here, a fine gold thread used detached chain to make a ‘lazy daisy’ flower.

The finished embroidery piece

Here is the finished piece, which has quite a ‘patchwork’ look to it. I thoroughly enjoyed this experimental and exploratory way of using paint and stitch. I now need to back the work and finish the edges. Perhaps it could become some kind of bag or case for tools or art materials?

I’m so glad I took the opportunity to do this activity. Big thanks to TextileArtist.org. You can find their website here: https://www.textileartist.org/

Amanda Jane Textiles offers unique fabrics for sale here, quilt patterns here, classes here and quilts for sale here

Free Machine Embroidery does appear in one of my patterns, the ‘Pretty in Pink’ patchwork bag. You can find it in the Etsy shop here.

Are you joining me in making a ‘Watch the Stars’ mystery quilt this year? The introductory post is right here. The January star quilt block instructions are here. The second star block will appear at the beginning of February – subscribe to the blog if you don’t want to miss a post!

Watch-the-Stars Mystery Quilt 2022 with Amanda Jane Textiles, white lettering on a dark blue background, four yellow on blue star blocks at the bottom

New patterns and sea swims

I’m happy to announce the release of two new patterns ‘Seaweed‘ and ‘Hair Scrunchie for Swimming‘, which are both related to my liking for swimming in the sea!

‘Seaweed’ quilt pattern

‘Seaweed’ is a single bed quilt which is inspired by the blues and greens of the ocean. It uses repeated log cabin blocks in a particular way: the centres of the blocks are pale and the outside edges are dark. By
using pale blue to dark blue on two sides and light aqua-blue to dark jade-green on the other two sides of each block and then by rotating blocks, the surface of the quilt has a watery, ripple effect like green seaweed floating in blue water.

Photo credit: Quilt Now

The finished size is 60 x 72″ (152 x 183cm) but the quilt pattern uses 12″ (30cm) blocks, so it would be easy to enlarge the design to make a bigger quilt. It is a scrap-friendly quilt. As you can see from the photo above, several different ‘watery’ fabrics were used. As with all my quilt patterns, there are clear instructions and accompanying photos in colour. You can find the pattern in the Etsy shop here

‘Hair Scrunchie for Swimming’

The second pattern is a ‘Quick Make’ pattern for a hair scrunchie for swimming. I should emphasise that you can wear it on land too, but it works well for swimming. It’s made with a thick, synthetic, stretchy material that is great to ease on and off your hair and it dries very quickly. The fabric I used is my own ‘Lemonade Bubbles’ design (seen below), printed on Sport Lycra fabric. You can find the design in my online studio on the Spoonflower here.

The pattern is very straightforward and the scrunchie is quick to make. If you want to try the fabric above in the Sport Lycra option, it is possible to buy a swatch measuring 8 x 8″ and this is exactly the right amount to make one scrunchie!

Swimming in the Sea

In the summer, we shot a short video (showing the scrunchie in use) at the beach in Ramsgate where I live. You can see the video in the Etsy shop listing here. The sky is blue and the colours of the sea are the same as in the ‘Seaweed’ quilt above.

However, I have recently been testing the ‘Hair Scrunchie for Swimming’ during December and January! I love wild swimming, but it definitely takes time to acclimatise to the very cold water in the winter sea and to learn the correct ways of getting warm again afterwards. It’s important to be safe in the water and ideally swim with others. There is lots of helpful information available about this, for example an excellent article on wild swimming from Countryfile here. I’m grateful for my ‘rash vest’ plus my swim gloves and thermal swim hat. You can’t see it, but the scrunchie is in use, under the hat!

This week I’ll be writing my monthly newsletter, which includes colour and design inspiration prompts, textiles on the internet, news from the studio, book and product reviews and more. If you would like to subscribe, just click here.

Amanda Jane Textiles offers unique fabrics for sale here, quilt patterns here, classes here and quilts for sale here

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