Archives for category: Fabric
Copy of iron on transfer

The second Grasby lockdown challenge arrived by post, as had the first one. Exciting. Always nice to get things through the post that aren’t bills. And as regular readers know I love starting new projects.

Challenge instructions

My first thought on opening the envelope and seeing the transfer and instructions was to cut it up! Not to destroy the transfer but to re-arrange and abstract it. Ironically to all have the same starting point and see what we all do with it is something that has intrigued me for a while. Lockdown being the perfect way of doing this without seeing a colour or thread that somebody else is using influencing your own choices.

But even after thinking about it for a while, and sleeping on it for a couple of nights I still kept coming back to cutting it up.

I then looked at the procion dyed fabrics that I did ages ago and was being precious about. I didn’t want to cut them up or hide them too much, this was the perfect project for a piece, so I selected my favourite green (comfort zone!).

Only having the one transfer I decided to cut up and play around with photocopies. I didn’t want them to be symmetrical and cut the first one into four off centre pieces. I quite liked the negative spaces between them, but felt it didn’t look balanced as three were very curvy lines around the teardrops and the bottom left one stuck out whichever way I turned it and the other pieces.

Looking at negative spaces

From this I realised it would be more interesting with more pieces. Still not wanting symmetry I folded it off centre and cut it in to strips, which once unfolded gave me arrow shaped pieces.

Cut in to more pieces. Moving pieces around assessing negative spaces

I shuffled them around on the fabric until I was happy with the negative spaces and the balance of the lines and teardrops.

Looking at negative spaces
Cut up transfer

Once I ironed them on to the fabric I realised that the negative spaces were more about the spaces between the paper than the printed transfer. No going back now!

Transfer ironed on to fabric
Assessing colour palette

Although the green is in my comfort zone I did challenge myself with thread colours. I do not usually use pinks and purples from choice, I used to hate purple, but have come to like it over the last few years, especially with this sort of green. It felt a bit flat and dull until I added the zingy yellows. I also looked at the threads as single strands rather than blocks of colour in the skeins or reels.

Various thicknesses of line

I started stitching with various thicknesses of thread, some fine (single strand of floss) and some perle, also altering the quality of line with the type of stitch: stem stitch, chain stitch, couching, stab stitches, fly stitch.

I soon realised I needed more variety of colour, slightly different shades and more textures of threads.

Assessing more threads for colour and thickness
Balancing colours, stitch and quality of line across the piece (background fabric colour odd in this photo due to working with a daylight bulb and taking photos as I worked).

I used each colour around the piece in several places to try and keep a balance across the whole, and in places repeated the line in the same colour but in different weights of line, either by using another row right up close of stem stitch, or chain stitch or using more strands of stranded thread, or the same colour in a heavier perle.

Work in progress

The ‘open’ teardrops I continued the stab stitches across the fabric as if they had escaped from their enclosure, this was as lockdown was beginning to be eased slightly.

Finished piece

The finished piece, not sure what I’m going to do with it. A needle case was suggested, but it’s much to big. But maybe not, a knitting needle case for sock needles with the teardrops on each pocket having the size of needles stitched in to it.

The pieces using a variety of techniques by the rest of the Grasby group can be found on the Grasby Embroiderers Facebook page.

We are now waiting for lockdown challenge#3.


A busy few weeks, but all the same I was surprised to realise it’s four weeks since I last blogged.

One of the fun things I’ve done was a procion dyeing workshop. I had done a little before, but it was much more hit and miss than this.

We all started with two colours and did a gradual run from one to the other (9 pieces). I picked Turquoise and Golden Yellow, knowing I would get some useful greens. We used 10 inch squares of calico and each piece was put in a plastic bag and left for 24 hours.


We had two reds, two blues and two yellows to choose from, a warm and a cool one of each. For the next batch I did equal quantities of two primary colours. So deep oranges, purples and greens, four of each in various shades.


The next few were playing around splashing reds and yellows on one piece, and blues and yellows on the other.

I ended up leaving them 36 hours as I wanted to wash them out in daylight to see the colours better as they emerged from the murky water.


This is the gradual run from Turquoise to Golden Yellow washed out and still wet. I had expected them to be more mossy shades, but was happy with the results.


The middle greens were Lemon Yellow and increasing amounts of black to give more khaki shades of green. The oranges and purples show the variations with the cool and warm mixes of the blue and red, and yellow and red.


The whole stash drying out. I also did a few threads just to experiment.


The whole lot ironed and sorted in to batches. Each fabric was labelled  with a laundry marker and the proportions noted so the shades are re-produceable.


It was a systematic approach which I have not been disciplined enough to do before, but simple to follow. I will certainly use it again, but its also fun to have some happy accidents that are one-offs.

I’ve not used any of them yet, I’m still just admiring them.

This is one of the suitcases retrieved from my Dad’s loft a few weeks ago. It was originally his youngest sister’s who died of breast cancer more than 30 years ago. She also had Multiple Sclerosis for many years, but was a great advocate of positive thinking and looking on the bright side. She was very dependant on her siblings and friends for her basic needs towards the end, which must have been very frustrating for her, but remained cheerful and appreciative  of the support they willingly gave her. I often felt very humble in her company, and ashamed of moaning about the little things that ailed or irritated me. She was always more interested in what others were doing, rather than talking about herself.

So I will treasure this, along with the tiny passport photo of her and a gift card written by her in a very shaky hand a few weeks before she died. It would have taken her a huge amount of time and effort to write those few words.


cleaned up

The case was full of paper and plastic bags filled with fabric, a few dresses and many memories. The things on the top are not familiar to me, and I’m not sure where some of the things came from, but it does reinforce my “learnt” hoarding tendencies! Some of the things I have no idea why my mum kept them when they down-sized from a largish mainly Georgian house (one end was 400 hundred years old) to a small lodge.

top of case

top of case

heaps of things out of case

heaps of things out of case

final emptied and cleaned out

final emptied and cleaned out

Some of the fabric is like looking at old photographs, they evoke as many memories. The two pieces below were used to make my sister and I ponchos in the early to mid seventies. They had a high rolled collar fastened with two hooks and eyes, mine the pink fabric had a black fringe and the other a brown fringe. I can recall the impatience for it to be finished so I could wear it.


This red was made into capes, both the same this time, with a red, silky lining. There’s an old photo somewhere of us both sitting on the stone lions at the front of Blenheim place wearing them.


It seems that there was a theme with these four blue, flowery prints. The “Wee Willie Winkie” was a nightie-case I made for my little cousin, there was also a “Wee Wendy Winkie” I made in pink, but no sign of the scraps from that.

When I peeked in the case last week I spotted what I thought were the scraps from this “nightie” I made in  needlework at school in 1972. The teacher was “scary” and very strict. Only 4 out of 200 girls were brave or stupid enough  to take needlework “O” level, me being one of them. I was the worst in the class (somebody had to be), and often told that I would fail, in the end it was the best grade I got (B). She certainly knew her stuff  and taught us well, I still occasionally refer back to my books to find how to do a particular stitch or method of doing something, and feel her breathing down my neck when I take a short cut!

We were supposed to make nightwear and use french seams, having looked inside at them this afternoon, I would be happy to make such good seams now. I thought it was much too good to wear to sleep in and used to wear it with my jeans.

vintage 1970's top

vintage 1970s top

But the cherry on the top of the cake must be this beautiful tablecloth which is just the right green to go in our dining room. I don’t recall seeing it before and don’t think it was one my nanna made (the back is not as good as the front). It has a couple of signs of wear and tear, but nothing a strategically placed plate won’t hide.


I don’t know what I shall do with most of things but, for the moment I have put them all back in the case once I had cleaned out the bottom.