Exercise 2.3 drawing with stitch-reflection

My research for this part of the project included the following:


  • ¬†Mark making in textile art- Helen Parrott (Batsford)
  • Drawn to stitch-Gwen Hedley (Batsford)
  • Embroidery stitches-Lucinda Ganderton (DK)

My Pinterest boards:


  • Alice Fox
  • Lyne Girard


  • I made 13 stitch samples
  • Threads used– Black cotton thread, variegated cotton/silk finish sewing threads,Wendy Shimmer 100% polyester ‘fringed’ wool, Senses lace wool by Stylecraft 80% acrylic 20% mohair,Vintage mending thread by Sedamo, Jute garden string, embroidery threads in various plys, Tuscan chunky wool by James C. Brett 56% acrylic 20% cotton 24% wool, Flutterby wool by James C. Brett 100% polyester,Black wool 100% acrylic, white paper string, dyed wool tops, Wendy cosmic fun fashion wool
  • Methods used- Hand Stitch-chain stitch, straight stitch, back stitch and free motion machine stitching. Although only 4 types of stitch used I achieved variation across the pieces by using the same stitches in different ways.
  • Different textures of thread- Thick-wool, chunky-wool, fine-machine sewing thread, feathery– cosmic fun fashion wool, soft-velvety wool and wool tops, Rough-Jute garden string, delicate– vintage mending thread
  • Different texture of stitches- Thick and thin stitches-the french knots on sample 1 moth damage and machine stitching and hand stitching on various pieces, Fine flowing stitches-free motion machine stitching on various pieces, Bold-the chain stitch in wool on the IOW lace 1 sample 1, Delicate-free motion machine stitch on sample 3 chard leaf, Curly– wool tops sample 2 chard leaf, Graphic– Hand Stitch sample 1 frayed hole, Fine and rough together-sample 3 frayed hole
  • Qualities of line- Repetition-french knots sample 1 moth damage and sample 1 watermark silk, Layering-sample 3 frayed hole cross hatched stitches and some of the free motion stitching, different thicknesses of yarn– on sample 1 IOW lace 1 and sample 3 frayed hole, Length of stitch-sample 1 frayed hole, sample 1 watermark silk, Direction of stitch-herringbone effect on sample 4 frayed hole and sample 3 frayed hole the cross hatch stitches.
  • Other possibilities and translations- I used Bondaweb on some of the samples to stabilize them as they were very delicate and would have ripped or torn when sewn on. It was helpful on some pieces to pre punch holes with a needle then stitch into them. This helped when using thicker yarns so when pulling through it didn’t tear the hole open and when sewing on thick card.
  • Other observations– I used stitches that integrated well with the samples and others that stood out from the surface. The french knots stand out and layering stitches makes them project more from the surface. Machine stitching on the Tyvek flattens the paper. Stitching around the texture paste ‘bumps’ really emphasised the texture. On a few of the pieces the backs are just as interesting as the front, I especially like the back of the hand stitched piece on the texture paste sample as I feel it still represents the drawing but without the texture. I like how the stitches overlap on the back. On the free motion machine stitched pieces the backs are basically the same as the front unless a different colour is used in the bobbin and then you can see the bobbin loop which adds a bit more texture. I actually found that doing the free motion stitching on my sewing machine was much more relaxing and meditative than hand sewing. I sort of go off into a trance while machine stitching, moving my hands to the flow and steady hum of the machine- it’s very therapeutic! I found I had more control over my stitching with the free motion stitching, although not much variation, than with hand sewing. I feel this is because I am more confident on my machine than I am with hand stitching. I need to concentrate more when hand stitching-where im putting the next stitch, making sure the thread isn’t tangling behind. The sewing machine machine gives me more speed- like loose flowing quick sketches/drawings while hand stitching is akin to very fine, detailed drawing.

Exercise 2.3 Drawing with stitch onto paper

I started with the Tyvek paper samples inspired by the chard leaf drawing. I made a few notes on the lines to help me interpret them into stitch.

Feathery veins,bobbly,thick and thin,straight and curved, broken and continuous, puckered.

Project13 (Small)

Sample 1: Wedy cosmic fun fashion wool 100% polyester couched onto sample using pink embroidery thread. I liked how the feathery bits of the wool spread out across the surface like the veins in the original drawing. The variation in colour works well in relation to the original colour of the leaf. Couching the wool on meant I could lay the wool where I wanted, around the bumps and dips of the surface, in a flowing fashion instead of trying to sew curved lines. I think I would have lost a lot of the feathery effect if I had sewn using the wool.

Sample 2: Dyed curly wool tops couched on with pink embroidery thread. I chose the wool tops as they were curly and soft. Again, couching gave me more flexibility, the pieces of wool tops were to short to sew with anyway. It allowed me to follow the lines of the bumps and dips again and the wool gave me thick and thin lines. I like the texture and contrast of the soft wool tops against the crispy Tyvek paper. The original leaf was bumpy but soft but also stiff enough to hold itself up on the stalk.

Sample 3: For the last sample on the Tyvek I used variegated cotton sewing thread and I used free motion machine stitching on my sewing machine. I went round all the bumps and dips and filled in the inbetween with lots and lots of small repeating circles, layering over in some places to create ‘bubble clusters’. I also stitched some vein like lines using the sewing machine. This is my favorite sample of the three. It looks and feels very organic and a good texture has been created with the stitching. The only downside is that having the paper under the sewing machine foot has flattened some of the bumps. I also like the reverse of this one as you can see the bobbin thread which adds another dimension to the texture.

Project14 (Small)

I chose to use the black tissue paper sample with the white hole reinforcement stickers on inspired by the 1st IOW lace drawing . I used black cotton sewing thread and chunky black wool.

Raised, thick,stiff, delicate, overlapping, repeating, honeycomb, layered

The tissue paper sample was very thin and delicate and I knew it would tear if I tried to stitch on it so I ironed some Bondaweb on the reverse to make it a little more stable. I used my sewing machine to free motion stitch around each reinforcement sticker. I did quite an erratic pattern, overlapping in places. I then used the wool and chain stitch to create the raised pattern. I like how the wool raises the image up from the surface and the contrast of thick and thin yarns/threads. The black free motion stitching looks good on the back, more circular-on the front where the stitching slips off the white onto the black where you can’t see it as well, it makes the circles look quite distorted.

Project10 (Small) (2)

The next sample was based on the collage of the moth damage on the blue velvet dress. I used chunky wool, embroidery thread in different plys, ‘flutterby’ velvet soft wool (100% polyester) and cotton sewing machine thread.

Soft, creased,ripples,splodges/circles/spores,different textures, flowing, gentle, wavy.

My favorite part of the sample is the actual moth damage part. It reminds me of spores or cells and I like the texture it represents.

I started with the chunky brown wool and did large french knots on the handmade paper ‘moth damaged’ part of the paper sample. I then used 6 ply and 3 ply embroidery thread to make medium and small french knots. The french knots stand out from the surface giving the ‘splodges’ more depth. Next I used free motion machine stitching in blue and white to ‘draw’ ripples and wavy lines. At the top of the sample I used free motion stitching in diagonal lines, building up denser in some areas by layering the stitches over one another. I used some velvety soft wool to create the lines and creases over the blue crepe paper. I couched this on with embroidery thread which gave me the freedom to place the lines where I wanted. I really like this piece, the contrasts of hand and machine stitch, the different textures all on piece. There is lots more room for development of this piece as well- I could free motion machine stitch over layers of the blue velvety wool which would give great texture and depth and build up more layers of the straight machine stitch for even denser areas.

Project15 (Small)

I moved onto the corrugated cardboard sample inspired by the lines of the watermarked silk on the waistcoat.. I did 2 different samples on the one piece. I used acrylic black chunky wool, grey mohair wool and white paper string.

Straight, wavy, blurry,smooth,different size lines, light and dark, staggered.

Sample 1: I used the chunky black wool to sew lines over the ‘waves’- the remaining top layers of card. I started at the bottom by using different size stitches, some close together, some further apart. The result looked quite untidy so as I moved up to the next ‘wave’ I used evenly spaced stitches, in various sizes. For the top wave I tried to keep to evenly spaced stitches of similar size.

Sample 2: I used white paper string and stitched down each channel, one long stitch per channel. I then used the grey mohair wool, thinner and a bit ‘fuzzier’ than the black wool. I started by just stitching over the grey wool without going through the cardboard but this just pulled the paper string together so then I sewed over the grey wool going through the cardboard each time over the top layer of paper ‘waves’ same as before. I changed the direction of the stitches so they are running in a different direction to the channel.¬† I like the contrast of light and dark with this 2nd sample and the overlapping threads.

Project11 (Small)

I had lots of paper samples inspired by the frayed hole on the blue velvet dress drawing, as there were lots of different elements on the drawing. I used, black embroidery thread,jute garden string, vintage mending thread, black cotton sewing thread.

Straight, diagonal,folded,geometric, knobbly, frayed, loose,rough, uneven, loose, hanging.

Sample 1: Handmade paper with texture paste. I wanted to outline the raised bumpy bits on this piece. I used 3 ply embroidery thread to stitch round each ‘bump’ using a mix of straight stitch and back stitch. In some places, when I put the needle in to start the next stitch, i put in through the base stitch, ‘splitting’ and dividing the line of stitch, which gave a really good ‘3D’ effect to the finished piece. It also makes the line look like rough pencil sketching where you go over the line a few times. I really like how this one turned out. The handmade paper is fragile but the texture paste gives it weight, the split lines of stitch give it a geometric, 3D look and it’s really tactile to hold. The reverse side also looks really good and resembles drawn lines.

Sample 2: As I liked the effect of the first sample I used another piece of the same paper sample but this time I used free motion machine stitching to draw around every bump. I like the end result, its very organic looking but I prefer the depth I managed to create on the 1st sample. The reverse is nearly the same as the front in this case.

Sample 3: Was the handmade silk paper with the scored brown parcel paper behind a frayed hole. I used some Bondaweb on the back to stabilise the sample as the paper was quite delicate. I used jute garden string separated from 3 ply to 1ply. I overstitched around the edge of the hole. I created some loops of stitching which I then cut to become single strands of frayed thread. The effect was good, rough and frayed. I then used some vintage mending thread to fill in the centre of the hole with straight stitch in a herringbone pattern. I wanted to try and create the ‘bumps’ that surrounded the hole. I was going to use satin stitch with the jute string but it was too thick and kept fraying even though I ran it through some beeswax first. It also kept tearing the paper when I pulled it through with the needle. I switched to some more vintage mending thread and tried again. The thread was too fine to create a good satin stitch so i ended up doing straight diagonal lines in one direction then going back over it in the other direction so I had a sort of cross hatch pattern. I enjoyed doing this sample and I like the different textures of the threads. The string worked really well for the frayed hole and the contrast between the rough thick string and the smooth vintage mending thread compliments this piece. The back looks like a simplified version of the front.

Sample 4: I liked the stitching I did to create the herringbone pattern at the centre of the hole in sample 3 but you couldn’t see it that well as it wasnt to scale so I only managed to sew a few lines. I decided to further experiment using the brown parcel paper sample that had been folded and scored. I used the vintage mending thread and followed the diagonal score lines for each straight stitch. It created the herringbone look again but you could see it much clearer on this bigger sample. I thought it might have given it a bit of a 3D look but it didn’t really. I was still pleased I had experimented further though as I liked the end result, its quite crisp and clean.

Project12 (Small)

The last of the samples were those inspired by the IOW lace 2 pencil drawing. I used black cotton sewing thread, grey variegated sewing thread, mohair wool and Wendy shimmer wool (Fringed wool). For 2 of the samples i used stitch to create the delicate flowery background and the other one to represent the bold, dark creases.

Thick, thin, bold, delicate, repeating, continuous, random.

Sample 1: Free motion machine stitching over deli paper and black tissue. I used black cotton sewing thread to free motion stitch a random flower pattern. I like the contrast of black and white on this piece, it marries well with the theme of shadows and light i used for the paper sample.

Sample 2: I used a grey variegated silk finish cotton thread to stitch random marks onto the silk handmade paper. I used backstitch and straight stitch. I don’t think this sample pops like the first one, it looks a bit flat and blah.

Sample 3: I really liked this paper sample, simple but effective. I stabilized it with Bondaweb to start with and then i used free motion stitching to stitch vertical lines, layering them, but this puckered up the sample and the lines were not thick enough. I added some grey mohair wool in single long straight stitches up and down the sample but again, too thin. I then added some of the ‘shimmer’ wool (fringed look), again in single long stitches. I was not pleased at all with this sample. The stitches and yarn types are all wrong and it just isn’t pleasing to the eye.