City & Guilds Weekend

On June 3 and 4 Stitchbusiness in Durham held their summer Distance Learners Weekend for those of us enrolled as distance learners in their City & Guilds courses. Steve and I had made plans to go way back in October and had been looking forward to the visit. However, after my mother died and we returned to Berlin, I wasn’t sure I could cope with doing anything that required even a modicum of concentration. My husband didn’t see it that way. He thought that it would be good for me to spend time away from home, in a new environment, surrounded by people who shared my passion for textiles – even though my passion was on simmer. Well, he was right.

Both Tracy A. Franklin and Julia Tristan were absolutely supportive as were all of the students I met. I gained a better understanding of what I needed to do and all the wonderful ways I could present my work. We all shared our work with one another and that was inspiring.

While I was in Iowa with my mother, I did find time to go to the local quilt fabric shop in Ames, the Quilting Connection. It is a fabulous shop and if you’re ever in the area, it’s worth a stop! There must be a thousand or more bolts of fabric in the shop, all of them high quality fabric. I had a wonderful time choosing fabric with different C&G projects in mind and, while Mom was still doing well, I shared the fabrics with her and we brainstormed ideas for projects.

Now, I know this is a blog about embroidery, but for the City and Guilds class I need to do some other kinds of work, some of which require fabric. One of those samples is what’s called cut-away-applique. It involves layering fabric, machine sewing around shapes and cutting away one or more layers of fabric to reveal the layers beneath. I’d found some lovely grey-green fabric and coordinating solids and a small pattern at the shop. When Mom and I discussed what to do, we agreed that something that represented the lily pond at the lake in Minnesota where we vacationed every summer would be perfect.

Below is a photo of what the top layer looked like after I’d outlined the shape with the sewing machine. It was tricky to get a shape that looked like a lily pad and not an amoeba!

And here’s a photo of the finished sampler…almost. I have to trim the edges of the shapes so they’re more crisp. I’m using a pair of angled embroidery scissors I’ve sacrificed to fabric cutting now. During the weekend in Durham, Julia lent me her Swiss Army knife which has a pair of tiny scissors in it and those were fabulous!

I think if you hold it far away and squint, it looks a bit like lily pads. Don’t you?

The other project I started was what’s called an exploded shape. The idea is to cut out a shape, then “explode” it by cutting it apart in the same way you would do if you were making a jigsaw puzzle. Using iron-on interfacing, the pieces are attached to the backing fabric. Lastly, embroidery is worked around the edges of the pieces.

There are a specific set of stitches to be use, including chevron. I could not, for the life of me, remember how to do this stitch during the weekend. I took that as a sign to take a break and look at the work of other students for inspiration.

If you want to take a break and be inspired, check out Stitchbusiness on Flickr right here!

It was a good weekend and I did get some stitching done. But mainly it was a time to talk to other women, get grounded again and realise that life will continue and that my mother’s love will always be surrounding me, especially when I’m being creative.

Next time, a visit to Seaton Delaval Hall and some truly surprising embroidery finds!


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