I have long been fascinated by the potential of fabric – from the sensuality of silk to the pliability of felt. And there is a satisfaction, unlike using a machine, in using needle and thread by hand, especially in developing an embroidered design.
I began to sew dresses when I had trouble finding the right size and colour in the shops. Initially I sewed every seam with backstitch, but as I preferred embellishment, such as simple embroidery, I bought a sewing machine for the long seams.
I worked from only one pattern – a caftan style from which I cut numerous dresses, each appearing a little different due to texture and colour. That was around 30 years ago and I’m still wearing some today. I made jackets, scarves and waistcoats too. It was the decorative potential of these clothes I enjoyed.
It was from the necessity of making clothes, I expanded to create wallhangings, scarves, bags, soft jewellery and toys from my children’s stories. I experimented with fabric paint and taught myself simple crochet for bags and large waistcoats.
In England I belonged to the Embroiderers’ Guild and saved their quarterly magazines which confirm the originality and relevance of contemporary embroidery. From the personal to politics, it can be a convincing means of self expression far removed from the polite and often wishy washy connotations of the past.
In this section I’ll share with you my creations, including bags, embroideries and designs or fabric paonted and stitched items for the house.
Under FEATURES I’ll explore the talent of others, as well as interesting aspects of fabric design.
Here are some of my hand-stitched accessories:
Here are some embroideries on scarves, wallhangings and jackets. I use mainly chain stitch but also satin, chevron, interlaced band and Romanian stitches as well as fabric paint:
MORE DESIGNS FOR INDOORS
When I first came to Crete I wrote SEA SONGS – IDEAS FOR A HOME IN THE SUN, with suggestions for planting terraces and decorating indoors with designs based on Greek mythology.
These can be created with fabric paint and simple embroidery.
Cut a piece of medium weight white cotton to the size needed when folded over. On one half paint a mottled wash of pale blue, green and pink fabric paint to resemble water.
Draw or trace a woman’s face ( fashion magazines are useful for this). Surround her with fish and water weed. Place tracing over black carbon – black side down on material and transfer outline with a sharp pencil or biro.
Emphasise the image, using a black marker pen. When dry, press image with a very hot iron. This seals the paint and you can later wash it in the normal way. Surround the outlines of face and fish with simple chain stitch.
Stitch the two sides of the mat (right sides together). Turn the right way,fold in edges of opening and secure with small stitches.
Stitch braid round the outer edge to finish.
You can use the same technique on pillow slips, with or without the addition of chain stitch:
And these are two designs I did for chair covers: