Monday, 24 March 2014

The Shirt Collar Project

I have been working for two days now on a secret project The Shirt Collar Project run by lovely Kathleen from Murgatroyd and Bean. Though we were sent our collars back in the mists of time (I really can't remember!) the momentum has recently been building as we approach the deadline.

Here is the brief ...

"The Shirt Collar Project 2014
This inaugural collaboration involves ten, British, female artists and begins with a common starting point; the humble shirt collar. 

The Brief: 
"The 2014 project is about your response to a base material which someone else has chosen for you. In this instance, a detachable, pre-worn shirt collar.

The collar doesn't have to remain collar-like, you might choose to rip, deconstruct it or add to it. Any medium goes; dye, stain, rivet, bury in earth, paint, stitch, print..."

There have been tantalising glimpses of the various artists work in progress and I am curious to see the variation that evolves. Will post details of big reveal soon .... but do take a look at the activity and the other artists while you wait!
The other artists involved are ...

Monday, 17 March 2014

Cat ... pattern for embroidered cat

Embroidered Cat downloadable pattern

Embroidered Cat downloadable pattern ... stitching together in progress
Embroidered Cat downloadable pattern  Front feet detail
Sewing cat together

Embroidered Cat downloadable pattern Face detail
Side View and stitch detail

Embroidered Cat downloadable pattern Back detail
Back view showing Feather Stitch detail
 I am experimenting with a three dimensional cat as one of the new kit design possibilities. So came up with this rather aloof gentleman. A Cat made in white felt who stands 14 cm high and is easily made up and uses a few stitches to bring him to life. I really enjoyed designing him and hope you will enjoy making it too. Sadly and mysteriously my camera just stopped working this morning after I had set everything up for a whizzy photo shoot! So these are only taken with my iPhone ...
I am cutting out a more sinister Cat in dark colours today so keep watching this cat space! More work in progress! But this pattern can be completed in any personal colour choice of course, and I always love to hear how you get on and might even run a small gallery of finished cats, if you are brave enough to submit photos of your work ...

You can download the pattern HERE
With that download you will not only have the pattern but all the detailed instructions of how to assemble the cat and a stitch library show the stitches used and some more to try. There is also a stitch guide to show you where to apply the stitches I have used. All for only £5.00
Embroidered Cat downloadable pattern ... sewing in the whiskers
Stitching whiskers!

Embroidered Cat downloadable pattern ... side view

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Embroidery Kits ... New Photos, and Mother's Day download

I had to pop these up as I am so pleased with them. Lovely Vannessa from Hoop ... a very fine photographer as well as wizard wool shop owner, of Hoop Haberdashery took these photos of the embroidery kits for publicity purposes and because I have only ever had my own rather homespun ones.

With the new designs coming along nicely (I am awaiting funding to produce them) I have rather neglected showing these kits off a bit. Not sure how long I will produce these once the new ones are up and running. So to promote the coming of the new kits I am offering a lovely free download for every one of these kits ordered for the next two weeks. Click on the caption below each photo to take you to the relevant webpage. Once you have ordered your kit via the website, send me an email to with the code DL314 in the "subject box" so I know you qualify for the free download.
See pictures of the design you will receive below .... A great present for Mother's Day!
Teapot embroidery kit, unpacked

Lovebirds embroidery kit, unpacked

Bird embroidery kit, unpacked

Completed embroidery using the download pattern
This is how your download could look ... perfect present for Mother's Day

Detail completed embroidery using the download pattern

Detail completed embroidery using the download pattern

Iron on Transfer Pens

Why does it take me so long to find answers ...

Many of you have I hope had success with printing one of my downloads onto fabric so you can stitch the design without the need for other transfer methods. But there is an alternative for those who may not have a printer or just want a more direct method. Especially for linear designs. It also means you can transfer designs to other weights of fabric and other colours ... even patterned fabric!
The answer ... Iron Transfer Pens. I just received a pack of eight colours made by Sulky bought from Amazon

As a start though I am offering a FREE download of this design (below) for every kit ordered this next two weeks. The next blog post will explain more ...
It is the same bird as in the Sampler 2014 but larger and uses 6 strands of stranded embroidery thread. This was a happy experiment for me also!  See following blogpost for finished article ...
All instructions will be on the download.
As you can see I am still working on this one and will post when finished.
I am designing lots of motifs for this method as it is quite addictive and has endless possibilities!

Iron on Transfer pen instructions
Print out the design ...Draw around the design carefully using an appropriate coloured transfer pen.Downloadable design fror tranfer

Pin or tape the design drawn side down onto the chosen fabric and iron using a hot setting, checking that it is transferring and does not moved. 
Keep going until it has left the design clearly on the fabric then you can begin embroidering! 
The drawing can be used several times. So if you have downloaded a motif it can be placed in a repeat across the fabric, as shown. When it will no longer print you only have draw around the design again using the transfer pen ...

Friday, 7 March 2014

London trip

I don't get out much ... I don't mean to moan but it takes a lot to winch me from my work, which I do love. I am getting ready for the showcase called "Make Do", which will be the finale to the business course I am on run by School for Creative Startups and will be held in Selfridges Hotel, at the end of May (more details closer to the time)
It is a chance to showcase our businesses and meet buyers, press, public and investors, and there is much to do beforehand. Yesterday I went up to Somerset House to have a 1-1 with Doug Richard and Medeia and I am feeling now hugely pepped up and less deflated about the whole thing. It can feel like an uphill struggle sometimes but our chat smoothed out many wrinkles and I am clearer about the way forward now.
But there is still lots to do ....
The treat afterwards was to go to Muji in Longacre for a new notebook and those lovely fine line pens and then to The Cloth House in Berwick Street.
If you love textiles and you have not been there it is a place you must go as soon as you can .... I love it.
have a look at the site and you will see what I mean though there is nothing like going there ... so GO!

Cloth House interior
Dress weight indian cottons, muslins, delicious colours

The Cloth House vintage braids and trimmings
The Cloth House vintage braids and trimmings

Linens bought from The Cloth House

I bought some beautiful linen for my ladies to work samples on. So if you are one of my ladies, I am going to work on some materials this weekend. Also this weekend I will construct a tutorial on the transfer pens I am so happy with ... 

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Granny Ann

An oil painting by Roger Nicholson of my grandmother Ann
Oil painting by Roger Nicholson of my Grandmother Ann

I have been rooting about in the folios where I keep my father Roger Nicholson's loose sketches and paintings, and some flat oil paintings. This one appeared of my grandmother Ann, then in her 70's when I was just a small child of six maybe. She does appear very severe as many women of that generation could be and obviously took the whole process of having her portrait painted by her youngest son very seriously. She had six children in all, my aunts, Olive and Nina, and my uncles, Jack, Jim, Robert and Roger my father. It was Robert and Roger who were the bright young things in the 1950s in the textile world, designing beautiful wallpapers and fabrics. Some seen below which are now in the V&A archives where I put some of them for safe keeping after he died in 1986
from designs made by my father for wallpapers or furnishing fabrics

Granny Ann ... Things I remember ... her making wonderful sardine sandwiches and battenburg cake for tea in fluted tea cups on a tray ...  I remember allowing me to riffle through her button box for hours and sit beside her in the sunshine outside her front door while the bees bussed about in the furry irises there, how she disapproved of me saying "yeah" as she was so very English and would rather I had said Yes! Though she lived when her children were small in a corrugated iron hut in the Australian outback where she had gone to be with her husband, and found herself bringing up her six children amongst the spiders and huge ants (my father loved telling me stories about the black Joe's and white Joe's and how they would pitch the two ant rivals in battles, as small boys) with the sun shining piercing swords of burning light through the holes in the corrugated iron roof of their hut ....
But when she came back to England with her youngest children she took pride in her Englishness, her soft white complexion which she powdered to enhance which highlighted the fine soft hairs on her cheeks ... She died at 93 I think ... it was a while back now

Furnishing Fabric by Roger Nicholson 1951
Furnishing fabric 1951

Furnishing Fabric by Roger Nicholson 1951
1951 Furnishing fabric

1960 Wallpaper by Roger Nicholson designed for Palladio

1960 Wallpaper by Roger Nicholson designed for Palladio
This Wallpaper was in my sister Naomi's room ...