Thursday, 29 January 2009


I bought some amazing tussah silk roving from the wonderful Jacinta's Etsy shop - it was so beautiful that I had to make something with it right away!  The colourway was called 'Ironbark', and reminded me of forests.  I have been listening to the audiobook of the wonderful 'The Silmarillion' whilst crafting recently, and so Taur-im-Duinath came to life.

Taur-im-Duinath was a great, dark forest in the south of Beleriand in 'The Silmarillion'.

First of all I made the felt with my embellisher.  As well as the tussah silk, I used scrim, Cotswold locks (from another fantastic Etsy seller) ,  and wool roving.

To make sure I stuck to the basic shape of the pendant when it came to adding surface embellishment, I cut out a guide and tacked it onto the felt.  I then added more scrim, a metal bead and many more Toho Japanese glass beads as well as some tiny vintage Italian glass beads, as well as some hand embroidery (French and colonial knot, stem, split, chain and running stitches) in cotton and rayon threads.

To finish it off I whip-stitched around the edges with cotton thread.
The finished felt.

I mounted the felt onto a vintage brass tag to give it a good weight for hanging as a pendant, and then added some lovely delicate brass chain for the necklace.

The finished piece.
I really enjoyed making this necklace.  It feels like my ideas have evolved a bit since I last tried making a necklace in this way - particularly the idea to whip around the edges which tidies them up and frames the piece well.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009


I have begun to learn how to 'smock' - an very old embroidery technique used to gather fabric.  It's probably most often used for clothing, but I want to explore whether it will be something I can incorporate on a small scale into my fibre pieces for extra texture.

You have to do two main things to smock - gather the fabric, and then add topsitches to hold the pleats in place.

I tried out 'smocking dots' - iron-on transfers in a grid pattern that guide the gathering stitches, as I am almost incapable of accurate measuring!

Smocking dots transferred onto fabric
Once the measurements/dots have been made, you sew a number of parallel threads for gathering the fabric.

When you've added the required amount, you pull them to gather the fabric into pleats.

Once the pleats are in place and the guide threads tied off together to hold them there, you can add the actual smocking stitches.  So far I've tried outline, cable, feather, diamond and honeycomb stitches.  Once the stitches are finished, you can remove the guide threads.  The pleats are now held in place by the smocking stitches, and have an elastic quality.

From top left, clockwise: feather, outline,cable,diamond and honeycomb stitches

Friday, 9 January 2009


This is a felted, embroidered and embellished piece I made for my Dad.  It was inspired by the colour of the sea on the lovely island of Tiree, the outermost of the inner Hebridean islands here in Scotland, and one of my favourite places.

I decided to try a free-er, more organic feel to the boundaries of the piece, so I took my Dad's advice and tried working to a roughly circle shape.  I made the felted base with my embellisher from all sorts of different fibres - wool roving, Wensleydale locks, angelina fibre, bamboo fibre, tencel fibre, silk tops, silk throwsters waste, cotton nepps, silk fabric, cotton scrim, muslin, and I also trapped 3 tiny cowrie shells from Tiree onto the surface in pale organza.

Then I embellished the surface felt further with all kinds of things.  I used lots of different threads (rayons, silks, chenille, slubby, fine, cottons, linens) to give more texture, by couching and hand embroidering in bullion, French knot, feather, chain, stem, running and sorbello stitches.
French knot stitch and one of the cowrie shells
Bullion stitches and couching
Feather stitch and chain stitch

I also added some needlelace pieces in wave-like shapes for extra height and varation.

Needlelace pieces
I used a 12 inch wooden embroidery hoop to frame the piece.  I really enjoyed making it and choosing how to embellish it.  The only difficult thing was knowing when to stop!