I first read about the Stitchbook Collective over the summer. It’s a 12 month course organised by Helen of Untangled Threads, each month you receive a box of goodies and instructions on different types of what I would call free-style embroidery. I was very tempted but I resisted initially (I’m saving up for a new sewing machine!) but then I saw the results of the first box on posts by Nana Cathy and Wild Daffodil – I ordered my box straight away!
What appeals with this course, apart from making a gorgeous textile book along the way, is all the different techniques and products she will be teaching us about, all those things I’ve seen at the shows and not had a clue what to do with! Well I’ll be learning over the next few months – I think it’ll be somewhat out of my comfort zone too!
The first box is called Texture, we got some calico to use as a base mainly, some other pieces of textural fabric such as hessian and gauze, threads and yarns, fluffy ones, smooth ones, curly ones, all sorts of goodies!
Helen provides written instructions but there’s also a brilliant video, I ended up watching it and pausing it for the next section, watch and stitch, watch and stitch!.
First we tore a piece of calico into nine pieces and each one became a mini sample, using different stitches, layering, creating holes, nine different ways of creating texture. I’m having to learn to like torn fabric edges!
Apologies for the dark photos, we’re into winter lighting here!
I found that the further on I got, the more I felt brave enough to do my own thing and make it mine – the first few were pretty much as Helen stitched them, by the time I reached the half cotton ball I was making it mine – or rather making a dandelion head! Helen provided some ecru DMC thread, I started using a creamy variegated thread and it works really well, adding the softest touch of pink or grey. I added sequins too, these are the satin ones I bought for my Zoe box.
We arranged them on an A5 piece of calico and stitched them on, I tried to use stitches that connected with the sample, either french knots, running stitch etc. I filled a little gap in with three mother of pearl buttons.
Our second sample involved making a ‘textile piece’ from lots of loose threads and some water soluble stabiliser. I made one from the creamy yarns and a second one from coloured threads she gave us with a few extra added. The stabiliser basically stuck everything together without being hard and gunky. The idea then was to just go with the flow and create something!
My cream one worked out best, I like the movement in it, it reminded me of the patterns on the beach. I made a background of overlapping leftover fabric, just using lines of running stitch to secure it, adding a bit of interest as I went a long. I secured the thready piece over the top with a few random stitches, I then tried a piece of sand coloured tulle from the box over the top and I liked the effect, so I then just embroidered over the top.
I didn’t really start with any great plan, apart from echoing the wavy lines, so I used blanket stitch along one, couched some thread along another. I tried to incorporate some of the sample techniques, so I did a curved row of tiny scraps, a woven rose stitch, a bit of a couched spiral, I squeezed the other half of the cotton ball under the net and stitched through it.
I started adding sequins and beads, different stitches such as feather stitch, chain stitch…
The problem is knowing when to stop!
I eventually decided it was complete, I was happy with it.
The box includes a page to stitch the samples to, as it happens I’d already bought some pages for another project, so I used an extra one so I could have the samples and the finished piece opposite each other in my book.
I still haven’t decided what, if anything, to do with my coloured one, I might even try some random machine embroidery over it – I’ve nothing to lose!
I’ve already got the next box of goodies waiting to open, I think this one is on pleats and edges. If anyone fancies joining in follow the link above as there’s still some kits left.