Module Four, Chapter 6 Hard Edge Applique

Page 1 – Bond and Stitch


Looking at my rubbings in the previous chapter I really liked the sinuous shape of the oyster catcher Page 1, Chap 5


so I decided to use this but enlarged it to make it easier to stitch.  I used a blue colour palette but picked black for the first applique, the base, to suggest shadow and depth.  I head bonded that piece to denim backing then layered 2 more pieces keeping the idea of moving the shape along like the rubbings.


I tried free motion satin stitch for the first two but its too hard to keep even so for the final pieces used foot on satin stitch. 


The lighter thread on piece 3 makes it ‘pop’.  Finally I reversed the top piece and used a patterned fabric.  It looked a little empty so I added an ‘egg’!  which is a bit irregular in outline as I couldn’t see it very well!

I like this little sample a lot and really lied the denim as the background.

Page 2


The curves are not so pronounced as the original to make the stitching easier.

Page 3 Raised Applique


Padded applique.  The shapes for this sample come from my border pattern in Chapter 5, page 5, the V shape of the bird in flight and the egg.


Simple shapes to edge and pad.  I am using batik cotton fabrics in this chapter, the colours and hues lend themselves wonderfully to layers.  The bird V shapes are cut out and bonded one at a time.  I used some different auto stitches to do the edges and was surprised how well they worked.  Definitely more interesting than plain satin stitch.  The background is green cotton backed with tearaway which just gave it enough substance.

The first 4 Vs are not padded just overlaid.  The final V is padded with black felt cut out slightly smaller than the cotton and bonded, really just round the edges. 

I found an egg like batik pattern for the eggs which are all padded, again with felt.  I paid careful attention to the void areas created by the shapes.

Page 4


Despite this I felt that something was missing at the end in the composition so I added a little egg as a focal point with yellow thread instead of the blue, I feel this finishes it off nicely.  I’m pleased with this sample.




Page 5 – Free Standing Motifs


Again I went back to my rubbings and took inspiration from Chap 5, pages 11 and 12.


I used the angular shapes and cut them out, moving them around to create the composition, finally tracing around them for the finished idea – see page 6

I did cut out the free pieces individually but later on folded the fabric, fused it together and then traced  on the outline, stitched and cut out.  Far less fiddley although it probably wouldn’t work with padding as well.

Again I used batik fabrics with some contrasting threads.  I added another auto stitch which also worked well.  The padding was again done with felt.

Page 6


The final composition, marked for padding and free stitched pieces.  Actual size.  – – – indicated stitching for ‘free’ pieces.

Page 7




I like the colours and composition.  The smaller free piece < should have been satin stitched, the auto pattern is too big and clumsy.  I used an auto stitched on the two rectangles under the triangle and filled in between with the same stitch.  Not sure it really works!

Page 8


At the end I felt it needed something more, it looked ‘unfinished’ so I added the satin stitch triangles and I feel it looks better.  Focal point is the long triangle on top of the two rectangles, the lighter colour draws the eye and it is in bas relief also.

Page 9 – Resolved sample using applique methods


I was thinking of flight so wings were foremost in my ideas.

I really love the V wing shape and also the fingered wings from Chap 1


which suggested a wonderful shape that would translate well to ‘free’ applique with the stitching just down the centre.  I decided to keep it simple with just the two shapes in varying sizes for perspective.  The flock patterning in chapter 1 was also in my thought for this piece.


Page 10


Having picked my shapes and ideas (also influenced by Cap 2, page 16 – the spiral of bird feet – the decreasing sizes) I had no suitable background fabric but I really loved this sample from Chapter 4 so that was my inspiration.


This is cheap bridal satin that I had painted with two shades of oil based stencil crayons – yellow and red.  I liked the colour and the idea so I took a piece of satin and covered it over with a yellow oil crayon brushed/rubbed on.  I didn’t want such a stark contrast as the white on the original so after doing the base I cut out decreasing wing shapes in sticky back plastic and stuck them on before applying a second layer of red oil crayon.


After removing these shapes I was left with my background fabric which I was very happy with.  Plenty of contrast but not jarring and receding and angled bird shapes.


Page 11


Next I had to chose my applique fabrics and I used batiks again, they blend so well together.  I picked the fabrics you can see on the page in shapes of green/blue green.  I ironed the strips onto Wonderunder before tracing around and cutting out the shapes in a variety of sizes.  Perspective large to small at top.



The larger shapes at the front would be padded.  I carefully laid out the cutouts on my background for max effect leaving some of the background free as an echo of the applique.

The larger pieces were padded stitched on using auto stitches for extra depth and I also used a curved auto stitch inside the pieces to emphasis the padding.

The smaller pieces were bonded on and satin stitch edged, I used two different shades of thread to match the fabrics but both were of the same tone.

The free shapes were formed by bonding the cottons together first, then layering organza over, stitching and then cutting out.



I stitched on all the V shapes first then added some small satin stitch Vs to suggest more distance away, they would have been too small for fabric appliques.My design fabric was backed in white felt as its quite lightweight and needed more body with all satin stitch.  This actually gave it some good indented texture as well.

Page 13


The free applique was attached by simply stitching down the centre.  I felt that I still didn’t have a focal point to this composition so I decided to add a small blue bird, the greens were all blue based so it wouldn’t be discordant.

Finally I used a soldering iron to sketch lines in the organza on the free large birds, the plain surface was too bland and this created some surface texture.  The piece was edged with an auto stitch to finish.





The padded pieces



I’m happy with this sample, I liked the shapes and the colours and the background came out just as I wanted as echoes of the applique.

City & Guilds Machine Embroidery, Module 4, Chapter 5

Developing Designs for Applique

Page 1 – Rubbings basic


I decided to use the shape of an oyster catcher from a photo, Chapter 1, Page 7.  This shape was sinuous and intriguing, representative of a bird but almost serpent like, see drawing middle left of page.

I traced this out 5 times, altering the size a little each time and trying out various groupings before permanently glueing the cut card.  I liked the void shapes formed by this design.  Wax crayons were used to rub over.

Page 2


Top of page is the first rubbing done in blue only.  It has come out well and the voids are curvy and interesting.

The second rubbing was done first in purple, 2nd in blue with the card moved over a little so you get a double outline.

Page 3


Further experiments in rubbing with the same design. The third sample is 3 colours with the card moved each time.  The green is too strong and has made it muddy on the right.

The fourth sample has colour graduation pink, red and orange red highlighted in yellow, moving from left to right.  Quite effective.

Page 4


Rubbings – Extending the idea to make a border design.

I thought a wing feather pattern would be interesting so I looked back through my earlier images.  I decided on a wing photo from Chapter 1, page 14 – ‘finger’ feathers.  I wanted a solid shape to contrast so decided on an egg.  My third element was the silhouette of a bird in flight in that iconic ‘V’ shape.

Page 5


The first drawing is of wing feathers from Chapter 1, page 6 but I decided not to use this.   The ‘finger’feathers from page 14 had the most interesting shape, then the egg and the flying bird silhouette.

Middle of the page is my first positioning but it didn’t flow or create a good void.  I rearranged into the design at the bottom (card I used was from a tea box…..).  This design is balanced and should repeat well.

Page 6


Three rubbings of this design.  First in blue only and then a second repeat with the card moved along, slightly crooked….

Second sample again with two repeats, first in purple and then the card was lowered for the second try in red.

Third sample two repeats with the card shifted over to the right for the second set, not that distinct, the yellow second colour not strong enough.

Page 7

In this fourth sample I thought I’d try doing a ‘shadow’.  Two repeats, first in purple then the card moved to right for a second set done in black.  Black is a bit overpowering and the first rubbing is hard to see


Page 8 Rubbings – more ideas


I  copied this bird from a chinese embroidery – Chapter 1, page 24.  It had interesting feather shapes and lots of fluid lines – curves, straight lines, geometric shapes.

I used my L shapes to isolate a portion of the drawing and then drew just this section.  The dotted lines in the first drawing show the area I used.

Page 9


I simplified this design for the first rubbing and also turned it on its side to avoid the strict rectangular shape.  I kept the pieces of card fairly big, cut them out and then moved them apart.


Page 10


This rubbing of the simplified shape was done in 2 colours with the card moved over to the right and down for the second colour.  Really quite effective and the voids are interesting.

Page 11


This time I went back to the full original drawing and used every shape, cut out and moved apart again.  The angle is also changed as before from the original picture.  Lots of individual pieces!


Page 12


This has come out really well and the shapes and voids are very clear.  The first rubbing was done lightly in green and then the second light layer in blue.  Very effective.

Page 13


The same pattern with three repeats, yellow, orange and red orange.  The card has been moved over to the right each time.  Really interesting and effective result.

Undersea Bowl

This is not part of my City & Guild course but I thought I would put some photos up of the fabric bowl I have just finished.  It’s a combination of hand and machine embroidery using batik cotton and sari silk strips.  I even made the fish!  I have used some paua shell fragments I brought in New Zealand.  I’m really pleased with it.





Outside of bowl


City & Guilds Machine Embroidery–Module 4, Chapter 4

Resists and Colour Discharge

Page 1

Resists – Masking Tape


I used masking tape on fabric to make a resist pattern


I used oil based stencil sticks, very similar to Markal paintstiks, the paint was applied thickly onto the masking tape and then scrubbed onto the fabric with toothbrushes.

Once dry the tape was peeled off to reveal the resist.  Quite dramatic.  This sample was on calico which took the colour really well.


Page 2

Using small pieces of masking tape on heavyweight paper the same technique was applied.  The only problem was that some of the paper surface came off with the tape but it is not really noticeable.



Page 3

This sample was done using masking tape shapes on a piece of tea dyed flannelette.  The paint stick colours were blended and overlaid, this fabric also took the colour really well.


Page 4

Sample 4 – this was done with scraps of masking tape on denim.


The paint appears quite hard to see but the taped areas do show up really well.


Page 5 – Sticky back plastic/self adhesive paper resists.


For the first sample I used a dark green cotton, probably too dark!  I used various sizes of star stickers, the fabric took the paint well.


For the second sample I took birds shapes from earlier in this module and cut them out from sticky back plastic.  I used satin for this and I am really pleased with the result, the fabric takes the colour beautifully and has a lovely sheen in the resist areas, the birds are quite sharp.  I used some extra scraps of masking tape as well.


Page 6

Here I did an experiment on cotton chintz, with masking tape and painted with metallic acrylics, very effective and the cotton glaze didn’t stop the paint taking, although I hate the original colour of the fabric!



Page 7 Stencil resists

For this section I used this plastic net tape, paper doillies and a flat stencil.  Spray paints were very expensive so I did find some walnut ink in green and lilac, also some cheaper fabric paint which did come out rather thickly and tended to leak under the stencils.  A lot of supplies needed are only available from the UK or the US so prices with exchange rates, P & P and Canadian customs and taxes become rather prohibitive.


Sample 1 – using the tape on the page with three colours of spray paint on calico.  Takes the colours well without too much bleeding.


Page 8


Here the paint was too thick and it clumped up under the net, on calico again.


Sample 3 was made using a rubber kitchen mat with quite small holes, not very successful!  The satin fabric did not absorb it well so it ran under the mat, this is a fabric for oil sticks not spray paint!


Page 9 Calico with a stencil

You can really see the difference with an expensive fabric spray paint, this is some I had left over from a Dale Rollerson course.


It sprayed evenly and the calico took it well, a really nice sample I think.


Page 10

This was made using a paper doilly on calico with the walnut inks


Again the walnut inks sprayed evenly and the fabric took the colours well.


Here’s the doily, it looked so pretty I kept it!


Page 11

The first sample is again a doily on pale blue dyed flannelette which takes the colour very well, these were some   Setacolor I diluted and put into spray bottles.



The second piece I call my satin mess……Using the doily with the walnut inks, the inks ran, hopeless.  Paintsticks only for this fabric!


Page 12

I used spray paint over the stencil on white flannelette and then painted acrylic metallic paint over the stencil.  RAther pretty.



Page 13 – Wax Resists


The first sample is made by drawing with a wax candle onto paper then spray painted over to show the wax lines.  I did press firmly but it’s a bit disappointing.


Page 14

Hot candle wax was flicked onto cotton and then when hard the fabric was sponged with fabric paint.


When it was dry I removed the wax blobs and then ironed (between greaseproof paper) the fabric to remove the rest of the wax.  It actually went through to the other side as well.  I had used a red candle and the colour remained, quite neat.  It would be fun to do this with a bunch of different coloured candles.

This was on cotton and it does result in quite a stiff fabric.

Page 15 – Creating backgrounds using resists.


I used the flannel for texture and decided to use feathers as my theme. I cut out various sized feathers from sticky back plastic and layered these on the fabric.  Next I used green walnut ink to spray the background.  Once dried I used my oil base crayons to colour in the resist areas.  This was a bit tricky as the feathers were quite fine.  I ended up having to draw the fine bits in with a pencil tip dug into the crayon.  The large areas were toothbrushed as in pages 1 – 3.  Then I free motion stitched the feathers leaving as much as possible visible of the coloured paint.

I like it but another time I would use calico, the flannel made it difficult to get more precise edges on the paint as it ‘fluffs’ a bit.  Because the feathers were so fine the paint tended to seep under the plastic as well.

Page 16



Page 17 – Colour Discharge

Using a new bottle of bleach I tried out various fabrics and papers.


Black Paper, interesting how it produces an orange colour.

The second sample is purple tissue papers, very easy to bleach.

Page 18

Bleached fabrics – to stop the process dunk the fabric in vinegar and then rinse.


The first sample is a piece of green cotton dabbed with a paintbrush of bleach.  Discharges beautifully.


The second piece is heavy denim that was a failed experiment with the spray paint that I decided to recycle.  The denim took the discharge well but the spray paint blocked the discharge from the painted areas.


Page 19 Discharge cont


The first sample is black paper printed with bleach using my feather block.  Great result, very effective.

The second is a piece of batik cotton just  painted with bleach and again, a good discharge.


Page 20 cont


The first piece is some cotton I hand dyed a couple of years ago using my feather block..  I really like this example, very pretty.


The second is again using one of my blocks from this module, the bird on green cotton.  I used various thicknesses of the bleach to obtain the different effects.


Page 21

This page is a couple of paper napkins I tried the bleach discharge on.  Interesting that the red one at the top worked well but the lower striped napkin did not discharge at all!


Page 22 Colour Remover

deColorant is only available in the US and again very expensive to ship in.  I used a basic discharge paste instead, paste, dry, iron and wash.


The first piece is another bit of my hand dyed cotton and I painted it on in fernlike shapes.  Very effective.


Reading up online deColourant also comes in different colours, when you use it the colour replaces the original.  I decided to experiment so I mixed some blue fabric paint into the paste.  The original green cotton is quite dark but you can see that the light blue I used has taken a little.  Interesting.


Page 23


The top piece is cotton dyed with Setacolour and printed with discharge paste with my egg block.  There is a very faint patterning although I applied it thickly.  The paste is age unknown – does it lose its power like bleach or is the Setacolour resistant?


The second piece is the cotton batik that took the bleach so well but there is little change here.


Conclusion is that if you really want to remove colour bleach seems to be the better bet, although there is some interesting prospects mixing colour into the discharge paste.  I didn’t do a huge amount with this paste as I have asthma and the smell wasn’t doing me much good!

City & Guilds Module 4, Chapter 3


Types: Film, Sticky Film, Fabric, Paper

Stitches need to be ‘locked’ to hold together when backing dissolved.

Page1 – Edges Using Automatic Patterns


A piece of soluble film was straight stitched to the edge of fabric and several rows of automatic stitches were stitched across from the fabric onto the film to create a border.  A few lines of straight stitch were were down the border to hold it before dissolving.



Not hugely successful, should have done a couple more rows and the auto pattern didn’t hold together that well.

Page 2 cont


Overlapping lines using Greek key pattern



The deeper fringe is better and this pattern held together better

Next I used a wavy auto pattern which looked great and I thought I had caught up each row into the row ahead (logistical problems getting the rows correct!).


As you can see this pattern did not hold together well, too much empty space


Page 3 – Edges Using Free Embroidery


A random grid was stitched over the Solvy


then I stitched a random free motion zig zag over it with a pink top thread and green in the bobbin. 


I think the final result is quite effective especially using the two colours.  Grid holds it well, without it there would be no structure at all.


Page 4 Design using free motion straight stitch


I decided to use feathers stitched on a grid, my drawing is at top of page.  I made a free motion grid and then stitched the feathers freehand using two colours to differentiate.  Heavyweight Solvy.


It held up well with the grid and makes a pretty effective free handing border and keeps the lightness of feathers.


Page 5 second border free motion, no grid


I decided to use the nest design from Chapter 2 as it was ‘airy’ but could still hold its form if stitched correctly.  I had to be careful to keep all the elements joined by overstitching.  I used 4 different colours for emphasis and drew the design on the film first – heavyweight Solvy.


It held together pretty well – I used layers of straight stitch and circular stitches for the eggs.


Page 6 – Adding a fringe edging

I used a multi-coloured thread, some lines were an automatic stitch – foot on and the alternating were free motion straight stitch.



The auto stitch held up fairly well but the straight stitches just want to curl up!


Page 7 – Grids using straight stitch


Foot on grid using straight stitch and zig zag stitch.  Straight lines and diagonals using pink and blue thread.  Lines differing widths apart.


It came out quite attractively, airy and lacy and I like the two colours


Grid with ‘blobs’


Vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines with blobs – had to stitch these carefully as the film had a tendency to tear.   The blobs were sideways stitches then up and down over the first layer.


Page 8 – Grids using Automatic Patterns


Foot on, blue and green threads, two different auto patterns, heavyweight Solvy


This created a very solid sample, I did run a straight line down the centre of the auto pattern lines to help keep it all together, very attractive.


Free motion grid, quite a lot of puckering despite using heavyweight Solvy.

I used patches of granite stitches in a different colour over the top and it is quite effective.


Result is much less solid and very lacy


Page 9 – Motifs, Overlay Motif



I decided to use one of the bird motifs from Chapter 2 over the grid.  I used my cardboard cutout and drew the outlines on the heavyweight dissolvable.  First I did a free motion grid in blue using straight stitch.  I filled in the grid with foot on automatic stitch to complete.

I outlined the birds in orange and used two shades of orange inside, straight stitch free motion for the wings and tail to suggest the lines of feathers and granite stitch on body and head.  A blob of turquoise for eyes.  Needed some ‘pop’ so I added straight stitch yellow over the wings and tail.

Page 10



The final step was to make a turquoise cord with cotton thread zig zag stitched which was then (very fiddly!) carefully used to outline the birds attached with zig zag.


I like this sample, its eye catching and the solid birds are a very good counterfoil to the lacy grid.

Page 11 Stand Alone Motifs – Feathers


Feathers stitched freehand, free motion.


1. Multi  coloured thread, free motion straight stitch.  Added straight stitch lines down rows to hold together and joined ends of ends as a hold.


2. Zig zag free motion, ends connected to hold, effective


3. Multi coloured brown thread to copy bird colouring.  Joined at feather ends to hold.  Straight stitch layers

4. Heavier layers of straight stitch not joined.  Heavy overstitching keeps lines flat and together.  Heavy stitching on centre lines


Page 12 – Water Soluble Paper

Printing and stitching on water soluble paper.



I made a test sample using two stamps from Chapter 2, using acrylic paint as a resist.  Once it had dried I changed to a fine needle and tested various types of stitching – grid, circular, straight etc….


I tried to carefully dissolve the paper without effecting the stamps.  I loathe this paper, it leaves a gummy mess when wetted and it does not disappear properly.  Very hard to get rid of the sticky mess and keep the painted areas.


Page 13 cont


I then made a full sample with red and green acrylic paint stamped on as thickly as possible – hard to do without getting the stamp very indistinct.  I stitched a free motion grid over then outlined the stamps and added extra stitching.  Some granite stitch on the birds.  After stitching I painted the reverse of the stamps with acrylic wax to help keep the paper there.


This paper does not vanish but stays in gummy lumps, total nightmare.  I used a wet paintbrush to try and dissolve the lumps without damaging the stamps.  Would only use this paper again under protest!

Page 14



Page 15 – Paper cont

I decided to do a further sample using a paper serviette.


I stitched a grid and then wetted/rubbed away round the printed motif.

Not quite the same as no stamping but not gummy and to me just as effective.


Page 16


I didn’t use the paper for this piece but sticky soluble plastic with snippets and threads placed on, another layer of medium weight Solvy plastic on top.  I stitched over with an irregular free motion vermicelli pattern and then I cable stitched over the top for more texture before dissolving.  Snippets of cotton and sari silk.


It’s a nice piece, really like the cable on top and creates quite a solid piece of fabric.


Page 17 – Dissolvable fabric

I made a sandwich of dissolvable fabric, folded in half with fabric, yarns and lace snipped in between. 


Vermicelli random stitching followed by rows of foot on automatic patterning.


Unfortunately I didn’t take into account that the auto stitch colour showed up beautifully on the white dissolvable fabric but not so well when that was washed away!  I should have picked a different more visible colour as this was too similar to the snippets used.

However still quite nice with some good lacy areas.


closeup of auto stitching


Page 18 – Dissolvable Paper (again!)



I didn’t have any sticky dissolvable paper so I used a light spray of 505 instead with a top layer of medium weight Solvy to hold it all in place.  I decided to do a very transparent piece so I used organza snippets so that the paper would show in patches underneath.  I stitched with a heavy 12wt thread and then over stitched with two colours of cable stitch.  Alas, it didn’t work as planned, as soon as I tried to wash away – very carefully – the top layer of medium plastic all the paper became a gummy mess so I gave up and dissolved it all…….(:


City & Guilds, Machine Embroidery Module 4, Chapter 2

Patterns and Textures of Anything Birdlike

A set of 6 pieces

Building Patterns and Textures.

Deciding on a size for the six pieces, I cut paper to an 8” x 9” size, this seemed not too big and not too small.  I did a quick scribble of the various patterns to follow and they fitted quite well so I decided to stick with this size. Here at the 6 lined up together.


Background fabric.

Reading ahead the last piece needed to be stitched on calico but I didn’t want to do every piece the same.  I decided to do alternate pieces on calico and a different fabric.  I was in the fabric shop and noticed some diaper flannelette and I liked the softness and the texture of this, it is a little more closely woven than normal flannelette.  But I didn’t want white……in my head I had an idea of an ice pale blue so to experiment I heavily diluted some Setacolour in water and then soaked the flannelette.  It came out exactly the colour I wanted, a very pale blue, probably not colourfast but none of these pieces were going to be washed anyway.  A bit hard to see the exact colour from the photo.


Page 1 – Print and Stitch patterns – bird shapes


I drew off 4 bird shapes I liked from Chapter 1, originally I was going to use the three rounded shapes 1, 2 and 4 but decided this was too much the same so I used 3 – the angular shape instead with 1 and 2.  I made stamps of these three shapes with funfoam and cardboard.




Page 2 cont


I used acrylic paint to stamp and in some cases I used a second colour over the first without wiping off to get a progression of colour.  A couple were a little muddy but it was a useful experiment.  Generally I like the result.  The flannelette took the colour really well.


Just to make things a bit different I added a pale blue fine net over the flannel before I started stitching.  I used a washable quilt marker to mark the shapes before stitching, copying the stamps.  Stitch colours were picked up from the paint colours.


I didn’t overdo the stitching as it was quite busy anyway.

Page 3 Pattern Repetition of shapes and spaces  – birds nest.


I took a couple of nest shapes from Chapter 1 but the requirement was for an open structure and neither of these really filled that.  I looked again online and found this photo.


I simplified this into the stamp below


I used calico for this with a felt backing to continue with the alternate fabric theme.  I traced the design onto Stitch N Tear and stitched from the back using a variegated rayon thread in the bobbin for the top thread.


Tp print I picked out the colours from the thread, turquoise, yellow and orange.  I overlapped the prints and used two colours for more emphasis.


I didn’t like it, the stitching and the printing didn’t look integrated so I ended up adding another layer of stitching over the printing using the same colours.

Page 5 – cont


This seemed to finish it off much better.  I did leave some outer prints unstitched and with very little paint to focus the eye into the middle more.


Page 6 Enlarging Patterns – birds feathers


Looking at feathers one side tends to have longer strands, more curved.  This type of stamp would be difficult to make so it needs to be simplified with the detail added with the stitching.   Firstly I made a stamp I loved based on the long tail feathers of the crane, page 8, chapter 1.


Page 7 cont


Unfortunately while I loved it I realised it was far too big for an exercise on enlarging!  I will save it for a future exercise!

Instead I changed to a basic shape and used the idea from the too big stamp for my stitching.



I went with orange and yellow green for the paint colours on the ice blue flannelette.  For the stitching I used blues/orange/turquoise threads.


Page 8 – cont


I really liked this (I actually had a real feather beside me to stitch from) but then I realised I hadn’t read the instructions fully……A second layer of stitch was needed over the first.  I felt that the piece to me was ‘finished’ and decided I didn’t want to stitch over my feathers.  Instead I made 3 extra feathers on net over dissolvable plastic – I used the net to hold it together with the fine feathery shapes.  After disolving I trimmed carefully and positioned them on the piece, stitched on lightly, giving an extra 3D effect.



Page 9 –Border Designs – Bird Skeletons


Very interesting how large the sockets are for birds eyes……quite out of proportion to the rest of the skull.

I picked up an interesting shape from the bird on the top left with the long curved neck and decided to use this and the shape of the skull in the bottom photo.  I did a mirrored image of the bird’s neck in one stamp.



Page 10 – cont

Working on the alternate fabric I was back to the calico again which I backed again with felt.


It’s a bit sci-fi looking!  If the border were continued with careful measuring the bird skulls would meet as the drawing.

Unfortunately the stamping was a bit messy, would have liked some of those Koh-i-noor paints here!  I decided to imitate the neck bones by alternating bands of colour.  I used strong colours of red and purple both with the stamping and the stitching to make a bold statement for this border.


I didn’t want the stitching overlapping the border area so I stamped first then stitched in the lines. The voids of the eye sockets were stitched in but I left the void areas formed by the neck curvature.


Page 11 – Altered patterns – birds eggs


I did a life drawing of broken egg shells with one whole egg and then trace and simplified this original.

Page 12 – First racing Random pattern repeat


This is a 8 x 9 drawing as per the finished piece size.  Its very busy, closed in and a bit messy!

Page 13 Second Tracing simplified


Same size, more open, good organic lines and void spaces.  Below is my egg stamp.


Page 14 – cont


Back to the flannel again.  I traced the pattern from page 13 onto Tearaway and stitch from the back with a variegated rayon thread in the bobbin.  Along the way I left out a few more lines that seemed superfluous and busy.  Then I infilled some areas with different filling patterns but I wanted it to stay fairly open.


I stamped over with shades of blue and turquoise for contrast with the stitching.


Again I felt the stamping over the stitching made it look unfinished so I added another layer of stitch using the same thread colours as the paint and just lightly outlining some of the egg stamps.  I much prefer this.


Page 15 Thicker and Thinner lines in pattern – bird footprints


I picked the standard 3 prong foot print and drew a vermicelli meandering pattern rather like a drunken bird from from large and thick to small and light. (Actual size of piece)

Page 16 – pattern.


I used calico backed with Tearaway, white thread, free motion straight stitch.  For the thicker prints I used several lines of stitch ending up with one line only.




With the stamp I decided to use a similar meandering pattern with 10 shades of the colour wheel (didn’t have violet/violet red).


Page 17 cont



Nice and bright colours.  I overstitched using the thread colour before the paint colour i.e. green thread on blue green paint, blue/green thread on blue etc….

I like the colours of the prints but am not really keen on this sample, you can’t see the stitching of white on calico at all.  I would have liked to do it on the pale flannel for a little contrast and texture.  Maybe another time a fine layer of netting before stitching would make it more obvious.

Focal Points (can be seen on all the previous photos but here is the highlighted section).

Bird shapes – here I added some internal lines to one of the bird shapes


Nests – different green stamp colour and stitching to the others


Feathers – an area of yellow stitching on one feather – no other yellow in piece


Border – black eyes on the corner skull – although another time I would use a different colour, the black does not stand out enough from the purple, perhaps orange/yellow would have been better.


Eggs – small square of red infill


Footprints – blue print out of sequence in the colours


Final photos of all pieces together



City & Guilds Machine Embroidery Module 4, Chapter 1

Birds of a Feather – Research

Page one is a list  of patterns/textures related to birds.  I have included words that create images for me.


The following pages are photo galleries of some of the bird images on the list.

Page 2 – these are all photos taken in Australia and New Zealand this year.  The crane is such an interestingly shaped bird, almost prehistoric.


Page 3 Water Birds

The markings on the duck are wonderful and the oyster catcher is like a butterfly  with his two wings outspread.  Amazing patterns.  Contrast with the monochromatic wader.


Page 4

This is a closeup of a humming bird in my garden, I was thrilled with the detail on the feathers



Lovely subtle variations of colour, very short feathers.

Page 5

Looking at the photos there is a huge variation in beak size and shape so I explored this a bit in drawing and photo.


Page 6

Feathers – a huge topic, so much to choose from! (see also the humming bird page 4)


Two toned speckles to stripes, spotting, mottling and solid colour – the latter all on the same bird!  Such profusion of patterning would seem garish and immensely complicated in a textile but in real life it works!  The centre of attention is of course, the solid block of blue that draws the eye in.

Page 7

Feathers continued.  Also refer back to Page 3 for the wonderful oyster catcher feathers with open wings and here top right with closed wings.  Beautiful and complicated either way.  The lumpy feathers bottom right are very interesting, wonderful 3D effect like mumps!


Amazing patterns, spots, stripes,mottling, speckling, colours – no end to the variations……

Page 8 – more feathers, long bargello patterns on the crane and the short downy feathers of a water bird.


Page 9

The top photo is of parrot feathers and then a cockatoo feather from Australia. 


Subtle shading and the length of the fronds decreases ending in short fluffy down close to the bird’s body.

Page 10 – Bird Feet

Like the beaks an enormous variation in size and shape.


Raptors have long talons to carry their prey, water birds have webbed feet for swimming. Woodpeckers and other grasping birds have feet shaped for climbing while a perching bird has flexible toes with one toe pointing backwards.  Ostriches are quite unique, only 2 toes with just one nail.

Page 11 – Nests

Again an amazing variety of shapes and sizes


The standard one we think of at the top made of woven grass, hay, hair and fairly shallow.

The fantastic nest bottom left, a real detached residence! Very sci-fi shape.

Then the deep nest with the definite rim in the middle, almost triangular in shape.  It appears to be made of bark or papery materials.

Page 12 More Nests/Flight

A complicated and messy pile of twigs, tangled branch platform.  Not woven but merely piled in depth.


I picked this photo at the bottom as an interesting look at flock patterning like miniature fly stitches all over the place.

Page 13 Flight again

These two photos are two I was lucky enough to take of condors flying in the Andes.  Such streamlined shapes as they glide and look at the ‘fingered’ wings


Page 14 – more Flight


Some drawings of different types of bird in flight and the lovely photo really showing the wing fingers.  Amazing shape.

Page 15 – Bird Eggs


Again such a variety of patterning, I found the top photo very intriguing with these irregular markings that vary in hue and depth of colour.  The broken egg has interesting shapes and geometric jagged edges.  In the bottom photo I was interested not only in the size difference but the leatherlike markings on the large egg – for strength?  Almost like bark patterning but much shallower.

Page 16

I put in this photo as it was great for contrasting different colours and markings in something that has the identical shape no matter the size.


English garden bird eggs.  Intense blue and olive shades, lots of speckles and blotches but no stripes!

Page 17 – Birds in Folk Art



The two drawings are from a tablecloth I brought in Egypt, the photo is the same cloth but a different pose of the bird.  Beautifully two dimensional.

The magnificent rooster is not strictly speaking folk art as its very representational but it is so lovely and the colours……Its totally made of paper by Diana Herrara – the attention to detail is astounding.

Page 18


The wonderful parrot at the top of the page is a mosiac bird made by Dusciana Bravura, an Italian artist.  The two fabric 3D birds on the page are made of Japanese and vintage fabrics by Josephine Hughes.  I love the shapes and the movement  and colour.  The wings in the lower photo are great, very sculptural!

Page 19 – Birds in Textiles

Peru/South America


The top left is a photo of a magnificent feather shirt in the museum in Lima.  Not only does it show birds but it is made of feathers.  Below is a photo of how the feathers were attached to make this textile piece.


Another feather textile


The central motif is an Inca god but the other shapes to left and right are birds.

In the middle photo you can see the bird fingers quite clearly.

The bottom photo is a piece of weaving and I love the wing shapes, very expressive and the reversible colours.

Page 20 cont


Whilst in Peru I was lucky enough to purchase a tapestry made by Maximo Laura, Trilogy of Three Gods.  In the top photo you can clearly see the stylised wings.

I love the geometric shapes of the bottom weaving and the simple colour scheme.

Page 21 – Birds in Art and Textiles


These are all textile designs by William Morris.  Great use of colour and stylised designs whilst keeping the birds recognisable.  Frequent use of mirrored designs.

Page 22


The top two photos are of tile designs by William de Morgan, a contemporary of William Morris as you can see by the similar colour palette.  I love the Dodo, very fun shape and lovely subtle colour shadings.

The bottom photo is a beautiful piece by Welsh embroiderer Eirian Short.  The use of silhouettes for the crows really adds depth and contrast to the landscape.

Page 23 – Birds in Samplers


These two photos are from the same sampler, stitched by me, design by Moira Blackburn.  In samplers the birds are very stylised and tend to be geometric to fit the stitch shape.  They are quite similar to some of the Peruvian bird shapes.  I do like the shape of the bird in the top picture.

Page 24 – Japanese/Chinese Embroideries


Beautiful detailed stitching, very lustrous (usually silk).  The middle piece is an antique piece but very modern in the use of restrained almost monochromatic colouring, which adds to the realism.  The bottom piece is quite geometric in shape and the heavy use of satin stitch gives it a lot of texture.

Page 25 – Birds in Sculpture


These lovely metal pieces are all by Hamish Mackie.  I particularly like the streamlined shape of the swallow, very aerodynamic giving the feel of strength and sleekness.  Full of life.

Page 26 – Paintings/Commercial Use


The top two images are from household good produced by Charloote Macey.  They are very folkart based, simplistic, clean, lack of fuss.  No movement, very one dimensional.

Contrast these to the chinese paintings, still spare in style but realistic and containing movement.

Page 27 – Wallpaper and Ceramics


The top two images are birds on wallpaper, rather busy and to be honest I don’t like the colours much!  However another instance of how bird images are used everywhere.

The ceramics are fun and lively, very expressive.  The shape of the middle image is great, simple and modern but still recognisable, more folk art really!  Love the subdued colour palette.  The birds are the bottom are still simple streamlined shapes with good colour contrast in bright hues, interesting variations in markings.

Page 28 – Ceramics


The top birds are again simplified and streamlined but retain the main characteristics of this bird type. Bright and vivid.

The bottom image is sheer fun, I couldn’t resist the iconic and often reviled flying ducks!  Instantly recognisable but actually an interesting shape!