Sunday, July 31, 2016

Dedicated Follower of Fashion


Dedicated followers of fashion

The early 1800’s saw some of the most extravagant dresses ever created. Brightly coloured, heavily trimmed and elaborately embroidered with huge sleeves, tiny waists and billowing shirts.
This was also the golden age of satire and fashion provided a rich source of material for social satirists. They ridiculed the fashions of the day, depicting and exaggerating such trends as towering hairdos, gigantic hats, tight corsets, puffed bosoms and bottoms, and riots of frills.
George and Robert Cruikshank published a series of “Monstrosities” between 1816 and 1828 lampooning the fads and follies of Regency fashion victims as they promenaded in the park. They were hugely popular and are still good for a chuckle.
In the 21st century we still have extreme fashion. I wonder what the Cruikshanks would have made of this outfit!
Whilst totally unwearable by all other than Lady Gaga it demonstrates the deep relationship between art and textiles. Vincent van Gogh’s Wheat Field series was the inspiration behind this couture dress by  Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren.   Couture fashion drives forward textile design and embroidery techniques to create visually stunning art.
I have recently enjoyed the coffee table book “Embellished, New Vintage” by Karen Nicol, a mixed media textile and embroidery designer and artist based in London.
The book is “inspirational”, a visual feast for textile artists and embroiderers and will take you on  a journey through the process of inspiration and creativity. Karen’s clients include Clements Ribeiro, Matthew Williamson, John Rocha, Anthropologie, Designers Guild, Givenchy, Chloe and Chanel.
If you would like to find out more about Karen Nicol this 11 minute video is very interesting.
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Saturday, July 30, 2016

World Embroidery Day

In our busy lives it is not always easy to find time for our needlework, today we have the perfect excuse to sit and embroider.
In 2011 the Swedish Embroiderer’s Guild founded World Embroidery Day and it is celebrated each year on July 30. The Swedish EGA ask ”We hope that you and everyone else will join us in making this day a happy stitching event all around the globe.”
The guild have created a Manifesto which we can all embrace.

Manifesto for World Embroidery Day 30th of July

Textile reflects our world; embroideries can show the expressions of our time. Embroidery and textiles can focus on the social injustices between countries.
By the means of embroidery we can draw attention to the necessity of engaging in the force of textile in global trade and with it in world peace. Textiles is a power and let us use embroidery as an inspiration for people to engage in creativity that leads to a better understanding between countries and between people.
To embroider is a peaceful occupation. It can be traditional made from a common remembrance, drawn designs, from a pattern, or from your own imagination. You embroider for joy, beauty, decoration and for the creation of identity.
Stitches can be decorative, beautiful, comforting, repeating, healing, telling, pleasurable, rebellious, caressing and perfect.
People embroider out of joy, as a hobby, professionally, for the bare necessities of life and as an act of freedom. You embroider together with others or in meditative solitude.
We want to acknowledge embroidery as an act of free creativity, which can lead to free, creative thoughts and ideas. We want to tie our embroidery threads from the privileged northern hemisphere together with stitches that are sewn by embroidering sisters and brothers all over the world.
We want to be part of a joyfully creative peace movement.
The initiative came from Skåne Sy-d, a local group of Broderiakademin, the Swedish Embroiderer’s Guild. The first World Embroidery Day took place in Vismarlöv, 30th July 2011. The importance of embroidery must be made known and World Embroidery Day will spread around the world. Make 30th July a day filled with creativity for the sake of Peace, Freedom and Equality.
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Friday, July 29, 2016

Fearless freehand

Fearless freehand

A few weeks ago I asked a group of sampler stitchers – “how do YOU define freehand embroidery within a counted sampler?”
There were lots of replies and varying definitions but one thing that did come across was that many who normally work within the safety of a counted chart are a little apprehensive about venturing into “uncharted territory”.
Hands Across the Sea Samplers will shortly be releasing a chart of a beautiful and unusual Scottish sampler that has small freehand motifs. They do not need to be included as the sampler will stand well without them, they could even be cross stitched. However, we want to take the fear out of freehand and for you to be able to stitch these with confidence and enjoyment.
I have designed a small chart and step-by-step photo trail tutorial for you. Whilst this motif has been made up it incorporates all the actual flowers that are freehand stitched in the Scottish sampler. The tutorial uses the stitches found in the orginal sampler.
When I first started stitching a freehand design I was a little nervous of drawing a shape onto my linen. Tracing a design has issues with dimensions in relation to the linen count. Without a guide line it is easy for the embroidery to “grow” out of proportion.
I prefer, where possible, to tack a loose outline with my needle, sketching out the shape in thread. The lines and placement of a motif are easily changed and refined without leaving the fabric marked.
Screenshot 2016-07-28 12.17.32
This is the method we have used for our reproduction and within the sampler’s chart there are guide lines for the freehand motifs laid out in the same manner as above . There are close up photographs of each of the stitched freehand motifs within the chart.
Using the graph above roughly tack out the stems and one flower head. There is no need to count this out exactly – this is freehand. Listen to your needle, she will guide you.
The sampler’s flower stems are made up of short satin stitches but stem stitch would work well if you prefer.
We do not recommend sewing tightly packed stitches to start – they are hard to unpick if your shape is not right.
Travel up the stem spacing the stitches out so that you are getting a feel for the shape.
When you get to the top and you are happy with the shape, work your way back down filling in the stem with the desired coverage. Repeat for the next stem.
I want my stems to curve and not bend in hard angles. To curve my outline I use a couching stitch to lift my loosely tacked line.
See how the shape softens.
Keep repeating the process.
Until all the stems are stitched.
Turn over your work.
Your waste knot and some uncovered tack lines will be showing.
Clip out the visible tack lines and remove the waste knot. There is no need to secure it. Be careful not to clip out the flower head !
Turn your work back over and stitch the stamens on the first flower. All you need are two or more straight satin stitches.
Do not worry about counting out your stitches. Your flowers will be individual, think about the shapes you are hoping to achieve and experiment.
For the third flower I tacked out the shape of the petals first.
I then used the same process for the stems to stitch the flower. Make your stitches a little shorter than those on the stem.
Each of the stamens are formed with a single thread with two passes.
The tips on the orginal sampler are over one cross stitches. Stitch them slightly on the loose side.
The next flower is made up of three steps. First stitch the vertical satin stitches. A single thread with two passes.
Then add the three long horizontal satin stitches and finish with the short diagonal stitches to the outer edges.
The final stem has a row of  hanging flowers.
Use a tacking stitch to decide on placement.
Then embroider the flowers with satin stitches.
The last step is to add the leaves. Leave the leaves until last so that they can be shaped to sit well with the flower heads.
Hands Across the Sea Samplers hope that you will stitch this small motif and that it takes the fear out of freehand for you. If you have any questions we are here to help. We would enjoy seeing some photos of your stitched motif.
The Scottish sampler will be released at the end of August and with its autumnal palette will be a perfect project for the Fall.
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Thursday, July 28, 2016


An interview with Kaffe Fassett

On Monday we looked at some knitting aids. If I think of knitting the one designer that jumps straight to mind is Kaffe Fassett who is best known for his signature knitwear and quilts: elaborate patterns rendered in layers of glorious colour.  His extraordinary passion and insatiable appetite for colour is apparent whatever medium he uses, whether he is painting, knitting, creating patchwork, needlepoint or mosaics. He is one of the most influential living textile artists.
Kaffe ventured into the world of knitting on a visit to a Scottish wool mill. Inspired by the colours in the landscape, he was thrilled to find the same colours in yarns. He bought 20 colours of Shetland wool and some knitting needles, and on the train back to London a fellow passenger taught him how to knit. His first design appeared as a full page spread in Vogue Knitting magazine.
Fashion house, Missoni and fashion designer, Bill Gibb commissioned Kaffe’s early commercial collections, and his one-of-a-kind designs have been collected by famous names such as Barbra Streisand, Lauren Bacall, Ali McGraw, Irene Worth, Shirley Maclaine and H.R.H Princess Michael of Kent.
His work was the subject of a 1988 one-man show at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the first time a living textile artist had such a show there. The show toured nine countries.
Kaffe gave an interview in 2012 that I have watched many times. The video clip is 35 minutes and is well worth watching.
Alternatively there is a shorter video available at 15 minutes of an interview with Kaffe Fassett which he undertook when visiting Aberdeen Art Gallery in July 2014 to launch the exhibition, Kaffe Fassett, 50 Years in Colour.
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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Wordless Wednesday


Wordless Wednesday

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