Anatomy of a project


I get so much satisfaction working with textiles, it’s an activity that absorbs me completely and that I enjoy so much – taking something from conception to completion and solving all the problems of design and material and construction along the way, and the opportunity to learn new techniques, to refine old ones and to get a better understanding of how different textiles handle under different circumstances and in different combinations fascinates me.

I’ve spend a good part of this month working a tiny patchwork in my spare time – it’s just under A4 size but I’m very pleased with the outcome and don’t begrudge the time it’s taken. Sometimes it’s nice to take a time out from working for other people and to do something for myself.


I started with a sketch of what I wanted to do – a combination of square, wild goose and hexagon patches and drew it up properly measured out.




I had a lot of pieces of blue and complementary colours from a patchwork piece I did from children’s clothes a couple of years ago. (Yes, I am the most dreadful magpie when it comes to hoarding fabric). I cut out and pinned the measured paper pieces to the fabric. Each piece of paper was numbered and had an arrow to show right way up . . .



This was necessary because when I get to this stage – all the little pieces cut out – I would otherwise have no idea where they all went!!

Once I got to this stage, the next task was to baste all the pieces onto a backing fabric – in this case a remnant of light cotton from a set of curtains. I make this difficult for myself because I like to preserve the detail of the original garment if I can, so pretty hems and buttonholes and pockets have to be incorporated rather than chopped out.  And so the patchwork starts to take shape – I am too impatient to take the path of virtue and baste everything before I put it together – I like to see it all come together as I’m working through. Regardless of method, I am happy with how the different elements work together and the textures and colours of the fabric:


When I’d completed the patchwork itself, I framed it in strips of old white linen salvaged from an antique napkin that was on the verge of disintegration and backed the whole thing onto a page made from old calico curtain lining – ivory, though in retrospect I think white would have looked better – hemmed in chevron stitch.

And then, because I can’t leave well enough, I played with some lettering and did a combination of different techniques to put my mark on it!



M – embroidered satin stitch, lettering comes from a Calligraphy Source book I adore.

A – beaded letter – the beads were salvaged from an old junk-shop necklace – very pretty blue glass but with lilac inners . . .

G – not terribly clear, but the piece of lace suggested the letter so I appliqued it in place with very tiny stab stitches so they don’t show at all!



The ‘P’ is a yo-yo, with the tail just a gathered oval in the same fabric

I – an small strip of vintage beaded trim that came out of my gran’s sewing box . . .

E – embroidered, shaded satin stitch, tho I didn’t change colour . . .

S – used buttons to form the letter shape, all from stash.






L – stem stitch embroidery

A – I love this little piece of pleating. *Such* a fiddle to do, but I’m really pleased with how it came out.

U – simple back stitch embroidery, punctuated with French knots at each end.


N – two shirred strips from a piece of cotton voile out of stash

D – a cute ruffle from a piece of salvaged muslin and another yo-yo from a thicker piece of linen with a lilac check.

R – stuffed applique, the denim is leftover from one of the dresses I’d used in the patchwork


The ‘Y’ I am probably least happiest with. I used an offcut of a nasty amethyst polyester satin to make a double row of flounces (I’d bought it to make Honey a princess dressing-up outfit). It didn’t cut well. I wanted a nice pinked edge, but the fabric snagged in the shears and fluffed it more than I would have liked, and because it was so small the flounces didn’t quite stand up the way I wanted them to. Ah well, we live and learn, tho I think that adding the beading redeems it, and it still looks sweet and in character with the rest of the lettering.

And – ta-daaaaa – here’s the finished article. I’m happy with that – it rather neatly conveys a picture of what I’m about and what I do – what do you think?



4 Responses to “Anatomy of a project”

  1. Oh that’s VERY pretty! That’s something that I would frame and hang on the wall. What are you going to do with it now?

    • It’ll go into my “sketch book” . . . along with other similar experimental/sampler pieces . . .

  2. Gorgeous! Such a lot of work in the lettering. I think I’d be framing it too, after all that work — or maybe scanning it and using it on the website.

  3. Great job on the patchwork! And so interesting to see the process from start to finish. As a non-quilter, it seems daunting! The finished piece makes me think I should give it a go.
    Thanks, by the way, for stopping by my place and for your comment! I did make my 4yo happy for the moment, but I do know that it won’t be so easy in the coming years. My son is 8, and the girls who attend school with him make me very, very afraid for what we’ll be dealing with! Boys are so much easier!!!

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