What Are You Stitching?

5th July 2024

Helene Gordon

‘I love using fabrics and putting them together so they are pleasing to the eye. I let the fabrics guide me and embellish them where I want to accent the subtleties of the fabrics being used. I use a variety of silks, velvet, laces and cotton bits. These are some of my pieces.’

‘The first one is silks on silk with sashiko, boro, French knots and silk mini rose. The background silk is a small floral, embossed silk. I left some open spaces so the embossed silk could be seen as well.’

‘The second one is an example of sashiko, boro work and embroidery on various cottons, lace, and ribbon. This is a piece that can be used to embellish the back of a jacket or top.’

‘The third is a set of photos of a ‘stacked’ fabric collage using bits of batik fabrics, laces, netting and fibres. Several of the tiny flowers were fussy cut. I used a linen background, lined in dupioni silk and used the piece to create a pocket for a linen shirt I had bought but had not yet worn.’

‘Lastly, this is a fabric collage that I framed on burlap backing and then on a batik fabric. It is made up of old silk kimono sleeves and bits of silk, ribbon and velvet. It is both hand and machine embroidered. I call it ‘Happiness Askew’. I loved using the different fibres and embellishing them.’

Your pieces showcase an amazing variety of techniques, Helen! The combination of mixed fabrics and stitches create something really beautiful. We love how all your collages have such appealing colour combinations, and how you turned the ‘stacked’ piece into a delightful pocket for your shirt. Thank you for sharing!

Elizabeth Showan

‘I am a botanical artist inspired by Mary Delaney, an English artist who painted on black paper. I have in the past made wall-hanging screens and curtains using fabric and embroidery. I have now decided to interpret botanical families in the same way.

I have the book The Botanical Wall Chart: Art From The Golden Age of Scientific Discovery. It contains the watercolours of the breakdown of plant development and seed, showing details seen through microscopes. I have enjoyed interpreting some of these.’

‘Here are examples with appliqué, hand and machine stitching of the passionflower family.’

‘This one is called Nasturtium and lastly, this wall hanging was inspired by a photo of crosses planted in the grass by relatives outside Westminster Abbey after a service of remembrance.’

Elizabeth, you can certainly see the influence of the talented Mary Delaney on your glorious stitches. We love the detail in your botanic samplers and the remembrance service you have stitched has a powerful composition. We hope you received a great deal of stitching joy from creating them!

Conor Hughes

‘This is a Rowan Dean kit, ‘Waterlilies’, that I bought in 1991 at Voirrey Embroidery in Cheshire, UK.

I laid the first stitch of it in 1998 after we had emigrated from the UK to South Africa.

I did about 20% of the work (the big trees and the fenced skyline on the right) before my career got too busy and I put the project away ‘until I had more time’.’

‘Last year I finally did have more time and joined an embroidery class with the wonderful Lindsey Leatherbarrow here north of Johannesburg.’

‘The first thing I learned was that I couldn’t see to embroider! So, after two cataract surgeries, I finally tackled the remaining 80% of the kit, under Lindsey’s guidance. Last month I put the final stitch in the embroidered frame piece and took the finished cloths to Bev Botha, an excellent local framer (and also an embroiderer herself).

So, this piece is 33 years from acquiring the kit and 26 years from first to last stitch.

I am relieved that I am so pleased with it – there were times when I thought, but what if I don’t like it when it’s done!? I hope you like this veteran piece!’

Conor, we love that you never gave up on your 26-year WIP! Your ‘Waterlilies’ has been finished to perfection. We can imagine this was quite  satisfying to finally see it finished. A fabulous story of perseverance and commitment, well done!

Do you enjoy making collages? Have you stitched a botanical sampler? Or have you completed a long time in the making WIP?

Whatever you are stitching, we’d love to see it! Email photos of what you’ve created with needle and thread along with a few details about your stitching journey to news@inspirationsstudios.com 

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