Thursday, 15 May 2014

Experiments in spontaneity

This is a picture-heavy post, so apologies for that, but hopefully you'll like them!

I wanted to do something different in the Thursday class, something to break us all out of our comfort zones. I also wanted to revise some neglected stitching techniques, such as whip, feather and cable stitch, and teach them to the "new" girls. So while I was pondering how to go about doing this, I tripped over the work of Lauren Shanley, entirely by coincidence at the same time as Gina! I posted the results of my first experiments back here.

So fast-forward to this term. First off, stick a quick collage. Use pictures from magazines, keep your eyes peeled for motifs, shapes, colours that appeal. Try and get things stuck down fast before the inner critic wakes up and starts getting you to double-think and dilly dally.

These are all postcard size.

Hopefully you will have warmed up your spontaneity muscles by now. Repeat, but this time stick down fabric onto a piece of Bondawebbed calico. We used an approximate A5 size of fabric. Again, work fairly fast.

You will find as you do this, that you start to "audition" different pieces. This is absolutely fine, just don't over-think it or worry about the colours clashing. You will instinctively know what colours to use where, and whether you have got the balance of light/dark/size "correct" (whatever that is). Just go for it.

Here are Carole's collages, paper and fabric:

You'll note that Carole has actually followed the paper collages quite closely with her fabric piecing. This wasn't my intention, and was in fact a mistake as Carole now freely admits. It has made it very hard to continue with the spontaneity.

The first fabric piece is the hardest to work with, as it is the most similar to the collage. This is now a practice piece for the stitch techniques. The second collage is more successful as it loosely follows the colours and blocks of tone, but without being too prescriptive.


When you have ironed your fabric pieces firmly onto the Bondaweb and backed the whole with some sort of stabiliser (I use a tearaway paper type of thing) you can start to stitch. 

I outlined most of the blocks then started to add some detail. I used free machining patterns and doodles, and some textured stitch with whip stitch and cable. I also couched some thicker threads by hand. 

At this point, there was a halt in proceedings for people to get to grips with pulling up the bobbin thread to create whip and feather stitch, and using thick threads in the bobbin to stitch cable stitch:

And here's where we're up to after today's class. 
First of all, Maureen's fabric collage, only started this afternoon:

The Indian motifs were 'found' not stitched today :)

Then for those who had already stitched their "backgrounds", we tried breaking out of the confines of bands and blocks, with large patterns and motifs crossing the whole piece. Doing this helped enormously, and things are starting to take shape and feel more cohesive, less random. This is Sheila's:

This is Sue's - she included a fabric/paper transfer (using the Bondaweb on organza method) to add the flower - the other half was used in her paper collage:

and here is Jill's:

I must say, I am mightily impressed with Jill's work! She probably struggled the most to feel "happy" with her paper and her fabric collages, but now she's off and away and starting to enjoy it!

Here is where I'm at (my excuse is I am busy teaching not stitching, so I'm lagging behind now!)

I'm not sure I like them, I prefer Jill's! They might grow on me...definitely need more work, I've only really just started...

Finally finally, to complete this very long post of pictures, I have started a mini book of collages, trying to use bits and pieces I find every day. Here are the first couple of pages:

Look at that, some bits and pieces found at Brighton's Open Houses a weekend or so back.

And looky here, some other bits and pieces I found!

None other than Emma from Skye, and Alison Fibre Frenzi! Oh, and some tea and very good banana cake...


  1. So sad that you all got to meet up, and if didn't! :(

    Next time!!

    Lovely collage! Xx

  2. Fab collages! And great to show there's more to FME than most people realise. Can't say I find much use for feather stitch, but I do love cable and whip for texture and bold lines.

  3. Great work... but how many hours is this class? I didn't realise you were such a slave driver ;)

  4. Love all the vibrant colours.

  5. All delightful....but must admit I was particularly taken with Jill's work. Maybe its the lime green ;-)
    And what a lovely photo....lucky girls; I am so envious!

  6. I love picture heavy posts, specially the fabulous one at the end! Delighted that you & Alison allowed me to squeeze a short (but sweet) visit in to a ridiculously mad but wonderful few days around The Wedding.
    Great pieces from your students, you are an inspiration!


Thank you for reading! I love reading your comments, and always reply personally if I can.