Written Reflection for part 2 ATV: Surface and Stitch

I started this project by brainstorming a list of different types of papers, techniques and tools that I could experiment with. I then looked back at my drawings to select 6 to work from. I looked for drawings where I had captured interesting lines, marks and textures and chose ones that I felt would give the best scope for further development. For each of the works I chose, I wrote lists of descriptive words to help me translate the qualities into paper samples. I wrote notes on papers and techniques I could employ to create effective paper samples, experimenting and logging the results and evaluating the successes and failures.

I took on board what I had learnt in 2.3 to develop my larger considered pieces for 2.4. I now had a better idea of the properties of different papers and how they might react. Using a viewfinder was very beneficial in selecting interesting areas of work- a part instead of a whole can give a whole new perspective on a piece of work and it’s something I will definitely use again. I feel I chose works which allowed for the criteria of scale, repetition and placement.

I feel I have gained new knowledge on how different materials will react to manipulation. Also using stitching in new and different ways and combining the materials and stitch to create a ‘feeling’ or tactile representation of a drawing has given me new ways to work which I may not have considered before. I feel I have opened up a bit more in this project, trying not to worry so much about whether something is right or wrong and experimenting and not worrying if something doesn’t turn out right- if it doesn’t work I have still learnt something and these failures often lead on to something that does work. I have made comprehensive notes detailing all the experiments which will be useful to look back on and have researched different artists, created Pinterest boards for inspiration and looked at several books on manipulating materials and going from drawing to stitch.

I need to still learn to push the boundaries a bit more and not be afraid to experiment and developing skills to enable me to move a piece of work forward, taking it in a new direction with different materials but still having it embody the essence of the original piece.

Research point one p.71 of ATV

Susan Lenz Research point 1- Analyse how they select, apply and alter their chosen materials

“Generally my work is conceptually driven and meant to articulate the accumulated memory inherent in discarded things. I seek a partnership with my materials, their purposes, values, and familiar associations. Memory, universal mortality, and personal legacy are central themes.”

-Susan Lenz from an interview on www.textileartist.org/susan-lenz-interview/

“Vintage and recycled materials are combined with meticulous handwork and self-guided, free motion machine embroidery. I am drawn to textiles for their tactile qualities and often make work that is meant to be touched.”

-Susan Lenz from www.Susanlenz.com/Artist%20statement.shtml  

I chose Susan Lenz for this research point as her work spoke to me on a deep level, her graveyard rubbings have a poignancy that I really connected with. Preserving memories is important to me so maybe that is why I connected so strongly. So although Susan’s work is not about mending or repairing, she does use found and discarded textiles but in a way that tries to recapture and immortalise precious memories. Her work asks us to look at our family heritage and preserve it for future generations to look back on.

Her Grave rubbing quilt series can be found here www.graverubbingquilts.blogspot.uk

For this series, Susan uses a crayon to take rubbings from gravestones. She does the rubbings directly onto fabric and sometimes on actual vintage clothes and textiles.She visits graveyards wherever she goes and takes rubbings. She looks for interesting motifs, quotes, symbols and words but rarely takes rubbings of people’s names, preferring for the final pieces to remain anonymous, maybe adding to the poignancy as you will never know whose graves these rubbings came from, or who they were, their memories lost.  She gathers vintage items such as child’s nightdresses, ladies gloves, tablecloths, hankies, doilies and she adds these to the bases of her quilts. She cuts out the rubbings and applies them to her quilts and art pieces with applique and she likens this to ‘graffiti’ that surrounds the vintage items. She adds hand stitching, free motion machine stitching, vintage buttons and trims to complete the pieces.


Image from       https://www.textileartist.org/susan-lenz-my-true-calling/

Susan visits antique stores to find her materials for her work. Sometimes people give her items if they know what she does so that although they don’t know what to do with family items/heirlooms, they will be used and remembered in Susan’s work. She also does a few commissions for people using their family’s vintage textiles and memories.

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/lunaiow/oca-susan-lenz/     – my Pinterest board

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqE7n_0GK6U        – Making plans for your precious possessions | Susan Lenz |


Assignment two Stitching: Placed and spaced

Brief: Explore the creation of a series or small collection of stitched textiles inspired and informed by your drawings and your stitched paper explorations.

Develop a series of three stitched pieces showing

  • A sense of repetition
  • variety of scale
  • A placement design

Project11 (Small)

These are the three pieces I chose to work from; the tyvek paper and stitch samples based on the chard leaf, the paper sample based on the collage of the moth damage on the child’s blue velvet dress and the paper sample from the collage of the lace veil.

Piece one: From tyvek samples

Project4 (Small)

I had enjoyed heating the Tyvek paper to make samples and wanted to take this a step further to see if I could get a similar effect with heating fabric. I knew I would need a man made fabric, something with polyester or nylon that would melt. I rummaged around my supplies and found some green satin lining fabric. It did say to not introduce any new colours at this stage but, this was the only piece of this fabric I had and the green was a similar colour to the original chard leaf that the tyvek samples were inspired by, so I felt it was justified. I cut a small square to experiment with. I used a heat gun and placed the fabric on a teflon mat to heat it. I used scissors to hold the fabric in place as I didnt want melted fabric sticking to my fingers. The fabric heated really well. Heat from a distance took longer and created larger bubbles, up close created more dense, clustered bubbles and really close and concentrated heat melted the fabric creating holes. I moved on to bubbling a larger piece. I worked on small sections at a time from a distance and then I went back into areas with more concentrated heat for smaller bubbles and holes. The fabric retained a soft silky quality but had an added ‘crispy/crunchy’ element to it. Before the fabric was soft, silky,shiny, slippery, loose and flowing, now it was smaller, crispy/crunchy, hard around the hole edges where the fabric had melted, it still retained some drape but had lost a lot of its shine and slippery surface.

I decided to combine the free motion machine stitch from one sample and the cosmic shimmer ‘feathery’ wool from another sample onto this bigger piece.

I started with the free motion stitching. I used a variegated polyester sewing thread and a pink sewing thread. I sewed around the bubbles and circles creating areas of stitch which was quite intense in places. I really liked the overall look when i had finished, the pink and green together and the bumpy texture ( the back of the piece looked like some kind of bizarre random smoking which I loved!), but felt it may have been a bit basic so I decided to continue on with my original plan of adding the cosmic shimmer wool. On the tyvek samples I had couched the wool on but as the machine stitching had taken a good couple of hours already I decided I would use the machine to sew down the wool as well.

Evaluation: Although I had liked the cosmic shimmer wool on the white tyvek sample, once I had completed my fabric piece I really didn’t like the wool colour against the green. The orange part of the wool clashed with the green and it also covered up a lot of the machine stitching. I liked the feathery/vein affect the wool gave but I think the two together was too much. The piece felt like it had lost a lot of its bumpy texture. On the bright side, the reverse of the piece still looks good and captures the effect I was trying to create.  Although the machine stitching was repetitive in its nature, because it was applied around the bubbles of texture it gave the piece a very organic look before the wool was sewn on.

Project5 (Small)

Piece 2: From the paper stitch sample of the moth damage

Project6 (Small)

I used just the middle part of the sample for the inspiration for this piece. My original thoughts for this second piece were to sew calico patches onto blue velvet but when I placed some calico circles onto the velvet I didn’t like the contrast of the fabrics very much. I wasn’t too keen on stitching them on either as this would mean they were raised slightly whereas from the sample piece the patches sort of meld with the blue underneath, its the knots that stand up. I found some muslin and decided to try needle punching that onto the velvet with my embellisher machine. It worked really well but was quite stark white so i did another sample with muslin I rubbed some tea over. This was ok but was still quite white. I then noticed the back of the velvet fabric where the muslin had been punched through and the reverse was just the texture I was looking for. I tried the next piece working from behind, still white, so I added some brown and fawn coloured wool tops under the muslin before punching through. This effect was great, gave me good colour and contrast of texture.

I cut a large piece of the blue velvet (Again, I know it said no colour but I could not find any White/cream velvet and the sample I was working from was coloured blue, so it wasn’t a new colour added in). Working from the reverse I layered the wool tops and the muslin into circular type patches and used the machine embellisher to punch the fibres through to the front. I kept going over it until i had the texture I wanted on the front.

On the sample I was working from I had couched on some blue velvet wool to represent the creases. I decided to see if I could needle punch the velvet wool onto the fabric. This worked extremely well and although the wool was embedded it was still raised enough to add dimension to the piece. The french knots were the final part. On the sample I had used chunky wool, 6 ply and 3 ply embroidery thread. I started off with using the chunky wool. Because everything else had been scaled up the wool knots looked too small so I started doing one knot on top of another to make them bigger and so they stood really proud of the surface. I then used a fawn coloured wool to do single french knots and finally 6 ply embroidery thread to do even smaller french knots.

Evaluation: This was my favorite piece to make. I love everything about it, the plush softness of the velvet, the french knot texture, the randomness of the cheesecloth and wool tops needle punched through to the front, the neutral colours against the deep blue. The wool tops and the muslin is really embedded into the fabric, in effect creating a whole new fabric in those patches. I could see this as a much bigger piece, like a wall hanging or maybe an art quilt. I enjoyed the techniques I employed- the machine embellisher and working from the back of the piece and sitting and hand stitching french knots upon french knots- I thought that might get quite boring as it was very repetitive, but sitting in the evening with the TV on, hand sewing was very relaxing. I also like the fact that the original moth damage on the blue velvet dress was such a very small, hardly noticeable part of the item and now here it is translated and transformed, scaled up into an art piece in its own right. It is a very tactile piece with so many textures.

Project7 (Small)

Piece 3– from stitched paper piece sample of collaged lace veil

Project8 (Small)

Working from the larger considered sample I had done in the previous exercise, I decided to just chose the bottom part of the piece with the black swirl. For the previous exercise I had stated that each segment could be a piece on its own merit so I thought I would put that to the test. This section of the sample also gave a really good placement piece with the swirl.

First I experimented with bleaching some patches on black cotton drill. I was expecting the colour to go to beige/fawn like it did on the black card but it went red, later fading to an orange colour. I looked at using calico and brown cotton but I felt I would have to hem the patches before attaching them to give a neat edge so I decided on felt as that wouldn’t fray. At first I was just going to use the seed stitches to hold them on but then i thought I would try the embellisher again so I could embed the felt into the cotton drill. I was really happy with the result, even the needle mark holes from the machine just added to the texture.

For the base I used calico. I wanted to use white cotton but I didn’t have any and didn’t want to wait to order some. I wet the calico and crumpled it, wrung it out and repeated this process several times to really crumple the fabric. I then put it in the tumble dryer. The calico came out with the crumples dried in but I had not allowed for any shrinkage so my piece was a little smaller than I started with!

I cut out the swirl from black cotton drill. I used this as it was quite thick and firm like the cardstock on the sample piece. I added Bondaweb on the back to stiffen it up a little more. I attached the swirl to the calico with a machine applique stitch. This gave it quite a ‘clean’ edge (although it has frayed a little since). I then cut out the felt patches and used the machine embellisher to embed the felt into the drill. I embroidered little seed stitches onto the felt patches with embroidery thread.

I then needed to do my loose scribbly stitches, inspired by Hilary Ellis. I used 2 ply black embroidery thread for this. I found it a bit easier this time to create the random scribbly look and I am please with how the stitches turned out. They are so different from the other stitches on the piece or from any of the other stitches I have used in this assignment.

Evaluation: I am happy with this piece. It combines a good range of different stitches. The loose stitches really contrast with the placement of the stark and graphic swirl and the neat applique stitch. I think my evaluation that this part of the paper sample could be a design in its own right is correct, it stands alone as a bold piece. I would have liked to have been able to achieve a more crumpled finish in the calico, so if I were to further this piece I might look at different fabrics and ways of maybe heat setting creases into fabric.

Project9 (Small)

Project12 (Small)


  • More notes, ideas and samples are included in my sketchbook and learning log such as the sample above which I ended up discarding.



Exercise 2.4 Developed and composed stitch

Brief: Develop two more considered and larger pieces that take on board what you have learnt at the sampling stage.

For my first piece I chose to work from the college of the lace veil from the previous assignment.Project16 (Small)

The paper base: I used a view finder to find a part of the collage I found most interesting and then I photocopied the original collage, cut out the part I had chosen and then messed around with the scale by photocopying it at different percentages. This gave me a range of samples to choose from. I went for the 200% bigger and then used a viewfinder again to choose which part I wanted.

In my sketch book I wrote notes and ideas on how I was going to put the piece together and also experimented with small samples to ensure my ideas would work.  The image I had chosen had 3 parts to it which I could have done as 3 separate pieces as each was segment was interesting in its own right but I decided to stick with it as one complete piece as I liked the contrasts between the patterns and textures.

The top part of the image reminded me a bit of blown ink but after I sampled that I decided it wasn’t ‘crisp’ enough so I settled on making a cut stencil from black card which I felt worked much better and gave a cleaner, crisper look. For the middle section I used crumpled white recycled packaging paper and then I lightly coloured over the texture with a black chalk pastel. I sprayed the piece with hairspray to prevent the pastel from smudging. The bottom section comprised of two parts, one on top of the other. For the base part I used the same white recycled packaging paper crumpled up. For the black swirl I used black card and then I used bleach to leach the colour away in circular patches.

Project17 (Small)


Stitches: I attached the cut out stencil piece to a sheet of white card and I hand embroidered small straight stitches around every line of the stencil. I wanted to stay with the crisp/clean lines and this stitch worked well to achieve that.

The middle section was attached to the white card base and then I used free motion machine stitching to sew lots of overlapping circles in a sort of ‘scribble’ effect. This created a dense effect of texture and tone. The next part was the crumpled white paper on which the black swirl would sit. This part to me, looked like scribbly writing. I knew I had seen stitching that looked like writing while looking at artists in part one so I went back to my research and found it was a piece called ‘Enigma’ by Hilary Ellis. Inspired by this idea I used thin sewing machine thread , double threaded, to create my own style of scribbly stitches. This was actually a lot harder than it looked-trying to be random and leaving longer stitches pulled out and securing them in place-  sort of controlled random scribbles!

Lastly I attached the black swirl with glue and used brown embroidery thread to do little ‘seed’ stitches on each bleached patch.

Evaluation: I like the overall contrasts of this piece, the bold and the straight lines with the crumpled, mixed with the scribbly stitches and straight uniformed stitches. There are different textures in the papers used and the stitches add to this texture. I particularly liked the loose ‘scribbly’ stitches. It was a technique I had not tried before but I feel it is a very effective way of translating the marks from that section of the collage into stitch.project18-small.jpg

For piece two I chose to work from the pencil drawing of the waistcoat from part one.project1-small.jpg

As above, I chose an interesting piece of the drawing, photocopied it and played around with scale and size until I found the optimum section to work from. I gathered different papers such as corrugated card, recycled corrugated card, handmade silk paper, brown parcel paper and glassine paper.

The paper base: I had chosen a section of the drawing that had interesting angles and lines in so I needed to create my paper base using the varied papers I had chosen. The glassine paper had similar qualities to the silk lining of the waistcoat, it was a little brittle and very shiny, the handmade silk paper was like the wafer thin ribbon ties on the original waistcoat and the corrugated card translated well into the lines of the watered silk. So, even though I was working from the pencil drawing it was still good to think back to those textures of the original waistcoat to complete the overall feel of the paper piece. I used the brown parcel paper as a base and then cut out the other papers and attached them with glue. I folded the crease lines from the drawing into the glassine paper before attaching it.Project2 (Small)

Stitches: I looked again at the paper samples I had created in exercise 2.3 using the corrugated card and black wool. I wanted to keep the colours more neutral and consistent with the original colours of the waistcoat if possible so I had to sample a few different yarns to use in the ‘chanels’ of the corrugated card. I made some small samples for my sketchbook and the yarn I felt had the most potential for this piece was jute garden string. On the sample I had attached the string to every channel but that made the string sort of blend into the card so I decided to leave some channels in between. This worked better as it made the string more visible. Each piece of string was couched on with a smokey invisible thread. I then used vintage mending thread in a dark brown to ‘oversew’ the string representing the shadowy lines on the drawing and then I oversewed the string again in a pattern to represent the watermark lines. The dark brown thread contrasted nicely with the jute string really making the pattern stand out. On the glassine paper I used vintage mending thread and I hand stitched running stitch along some of the more prominent crease lines. I then used some chunky wool to hand stitch some bigger stitches at the join between the glassine paper and corrugated card. I used running stitch again on the handmade silk paper to interpret the crease lines.

Evaluation: I like that this piece is not square, I have purposely left it angled as I feel this gives it more dimension and depth. The corrugated card part is quite firm but the glassine and handmade paper is quite floppy and soft reminiscent of the original fabric. The neutral colour palette works well and helps to give it an aged look. The oversewn jute is most effective in depicting the pattern of the watermarked silk. If more time could be spent on it I think maybe it would have worked filling every channel with the jute as it wouldn’t matter if it blended in as the darker embroidery lifts it up again.Project3 (Small)