About tesswyatt

I trained as an art teacher and enjoyed my work very much. Since moving to Edinburgh in 2013 I have been working full time as an artist. I make mixed media pieces and journals

Boroinspired Christmas trees

I saw a lovely hand sewed Christmas decoration on Instagram and I fancied making something similar

I found some fat squares of tartan fabric and decided to use them with my collection of chambray/ blue cotton fabric

A friend gave me a selection of Christmas tree shapes – I drew around one on to the fabric with a biro – I tried using my blue washable fabric marker but, it didn’t show up enough. I used some of my mattress protective cover remnants and some wadding that I was given as padding. I used thin strips of a red based tartan to add contrast to the blue.

I cut the shapes out on double thickness fabric because when I did them individually I found it very difficult to cut them accurately enough. I pinned the fabric together before I cut out the trees.

I cut around the padding using one side of fabric and then pinned the three layers together

I stitched the fabric pieces to the wadding using running stitch in a rainbow thread- then went around the edges with a simple stitch that goes over the three pieces of fabric ( whip stitch?)

I stitched the tartan to the tree on both sides with running stitch

I am having great fun decorating the shapes with white crotchet thread – using my shashiko/ boroinspired stitching and buttons- I have added ribbon to one shape but decided to add the hanging loops after wards to the others.

A friend asked how big the trees were and if the could be worn as a broach. They are 2.5″ tall so a bit too big for me. I decided to have a go at making a smaller version. It was a bit fiddly I followed the above stages for making it – thumb added for scale

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Thimble research

I am amused at myself. This might be a very boring post – unless you are into a rant about thimbles …..

When I was making my Boro-inspired mini quilt and sewing very intensively recently – I hurt the skin on the ball of my thumb pulling the needle through the fabric. I wanted to find something to protect my skin so that I could continue quilting regularly. I thought a thimble might be just the thing.

For some reason I always thought that you wore a thimble on your thumb. Must be something to do with my dyslexic brain and the ‘th’.

I have struggled to find one big enough because I have large hands (I need to wear Men’s gloves …. ) partially because of the size of my thumb and partially because they are not designed to fit thumbs …. I have not been deterred. One of the annoying things when purchasing thimbles is that they come in sealed bubble packs so you are not able to try them first.

I have been on a thimble hunt online and in haberdashery departments in Edinburgh,London and Newcastle and Amsterdam

I have bought several adjustable ones that cut off my circulation – thimble review below

On my thumb is a Hemline thumb thimble which is very uncomfortable – I had to file the corners because they stuck in my skin – would not recommend

Index finger is a Clover adjustable ring thimble – it digs into my thumb- I think it’s supposed to be worn on my middle finger to push the needles through the fabric

Middle finger is a Prym soft comfort thimble – which is very comfy and soft but doesn’t fit my thumb – you can try these on – I thought I might use it to protect my index finger on my right hand ( I am a lefty) I keep taking it off absentmindedly when I am sewing – if I could find an xtra large I think it would do the trick

Ring finger – adjustable finger shield again by Hemline – it says its adjustable to fit any size ………. not my size

Little finger – traditional metal thimble – nope feels horrid

When we were in Amsterdam the other week I was reminded that the Dutch are tall larger than average- and that they may have larger hands and feet. My step Mum has size 10 feet and she could always find shoes off the shelf when she and my dad lived in the Netherlands. May be they would have larger thimbles?

I visited a quilt shop and had a quick lesson looking at how to do big embroidery using a traditional technique. I have not been doing it properly but when I explained to the shop owner what my problem was -she agreed a thimble would probably be the best option.

Correct position – ( showing the rocker technique ) https://www.threadsmagazine.com/2008/10/29/perfect-your-hand-quilting-stitch

Bird Blocks had a selection of brightly coloured semi hard plastic thimbles in a jar and metal ones to try on in a box – typically the largest sizes were sold out. I did however buy a pink one – that reminds me of Spangle sweets – it’s not very comfortable because the plastic doesn’t let my thumb breathe.

These are available in UK as a Hemline – ‘light weight soft pliable thimble’ it will need me to cut a hole in it some where – they come in packs of two in Scotland and in a bubble pack so no trying on again ……

There is definitely an ergonomic problem – thimbles are just not designed to go on a thumb. However they are not very comfy for my middle finger either….

I bought a leather thimble – which I think will need unpicking and restitching to give me a bit more room. I think I might use it for a bit and see if the leather gives.

Luckily the thimbles have been very reasonably priced so my research hasn’t cost toooo much. I have to say the most effective one so far has been a home made one that I constructed using a gin bottle lid and some plasters ……..

Tea bag sampler

I decided that I needed a few projects on the go whilst I am making my quilt. I can’t really put it in a bag and take it to a coffee shop.

Over the last few weeks I hadn’t been using my teabags.

I made up an A4 quilt and backed it with old felted wool. I have been searching for various blue hues threads. Cotton crochet thread works very well for sashiko stitching. However blue crochet thread is not easy to find off line. Coats do a nice range of colours in a heavy weight cotton thread in their Duet range.

Trisadalia do an electric blue, Anchor a French navy and Gutermann a good navy blue ( just in case you are interested )

I started exploring different stitches – but got bored

So I began layering with more teabags and text – printed onto a teabag print.

In the last post I talked about enjoying working on a small scale ( rather than my quilt) it’s particularly good for working in circles.

I also enjoying disrupting the stitches by layering and ripping off bits of teabag to reveal the blue underneath

The text I am adding is the list of hashtags I use when I post this type of work on Instagram

#sashiko #borostitch #wabisabi #slowstitching #meditate #patchwork #mindfulness #creative #thelittlethings sashikostitching #boroinspired #handsewn #embrioderyart #handquilting#contemporaryembroidery #makersmovement #stichersofinstagram #visiblemending

I have discovered that being more selective and adding a lot of hashtags has improved my interaction with other Instagram users …..

I thought you might like to see the back

A denim bag panel and reflecting on my boroinspired quilt

Over the last five years I have been art journalling or working on ‘A’ sized paper. I have been working intuitively but thinking in rectangles. When I started sewing I loved the newness of the method and the feel of the material (though my fingers and hands are rebelling at the repetition and the skin on the top of my right thumb is rough and pitted where I clip it with the needles) .

I really enjoyed starting my big quilt. It is a rectangle, but I am struggling with being intuitive on such a large scale.

I sewed a bag panel and then started an A4 sampler. I realised I might kid my self that I work intuitively but I am always assessing the design….

I saw a couple of denim bags on social media and wanted to have a go at a boroinspired panel.

I found a denim bag in a shop sale which was decorated on the top 3rd – some of the design was heavily machine stitched – so I covered that section of the panel with patches and stitching. It needed more.

Boro is the Japanese term for mended cloth with sashiko stitching -I read that it was built up with layers over years. To make cloth stronger and warmer.Maybe working so fast over a couple of days means that the fabrics don’t have time to bed down or build up any sense of history.

Anyway, I didn’t like my panel as it was. When I am art journalling- or working in other pieces I have found my self in the mind set – that if it doesn’t look like it is working, I set it aside for a bit or add another layer…..

I looked back at the bags that I liked on social media – a stripy design appealed. So I added another layer to my panel

This ability to assess a design – look at the balance of texture/ pattern / shape is lost for me on my quilt. I am enjoying working on such a large piece and can see that there will be a huge sense of satisfaction when it’s finished, but the assessing, control freak is not a happy bunny. 😂😂😂

Boroinspired quilting

I have always wanted to have a go at making a quilt. I was given a small blue one when the children were small that I always loved.

I have never been able to imagine cutting out the fabric neatly with 90 degree corners and straight lines. Doing some research around my teabag quilts after some one said they looked a bit like sashiko- I discovered the fabulous world of Japanese stitching and boro inspired patching.

There are lots of sources on Pinterest and blogs about the history of /methods online

https://www.architecturaldigest.com/gallery/an-experts-favorite-japanese-textiles#9

Above is an early 19th Century bed cover.

Back to my quilt. I was offered a bag of fabric scraps by a friend if mine. I decided to have a go at making a quilt using an old single duvet as a base.

As a child I remember saying when I grow up I am never going to darn socks – after watching my mother sew little hard circles of stitches into jumpers and socks. So I am amused that the technique mum taught me is now being used to top stitch a whole quilt!!!

My aversion to the effort required to cut neat shapes means that the design will be quite organic and the top stitching will hide a multitude of sins ….

I had a bright cotton skirt that was too busy. It would make a good choice to base all my other fabric colour choices on.

I started at the edges because I thought the hem of the skirt would add strength to the final piece.

I practiced boroinspired stitching on some of the pieces

Then started adding my friends fabric scraps. She has some experience with quilting so a lot of the pieces were cut into rectangles or squares ….

I wasn’t really sure about the yellow but it does lift the blue.

I have been a bit obsessive and made my hands and back ache. So I decided to stop pinning new fabric and sewing it onto the base and concentrate on a bit of top stitching.

Jon and I are enjoying this because me adding fabric pieces is very very messy 😂with needles pins, fabric and thread all over the kitchen.

This is as far as I have got with my design. I am thinking of just adding blue pieces to the middle bit in a nod to the Japanese

history. I am using second hand pieces of fabric or clothes in an attempt to be frugal.

Attempting big stitch quilting with tea bags

I always need to try something new or develop what I am doing. I found a series of tutorials for big stitch quilting by Jo Glover. She explains what to do and what equipment to use. I adapted her ideas using a teabag top layer ironed onto interfacing. I decided to go back to 3×3 bag samplers. I basted the teabags to the layers of wadding and back piece. I won’t do that again because the tea bags don’t stay secure enough at the edges

Jo recommended buying a water soluble crayon and crotchet cotton and sewing with a number 7 needle.

Big stitching quilts use similar motifs to Durham quilts as far as I can see in my research. I found it tricky to draw a feather motif free hand so I used the above hearts – it ended up looking a bit like a Christmas cactus 😂. With the Big stitching method you are only supposed to use running stitch. I have left the top half of this piece just running and filled in the outline on the bottom section. I think this works better against the lines that Jo suggested using on the back ground. The blue lines are the chalk pen, which is lovely to draw with. The make I used was Aqua Trickmarker.

I had a go at a second piece drawing a feather wreath design……..

Again I had to go back and stitch the outline. I think I am working too small for this technique – though I like the background texture. I decided these two quilts didn’t work on their own as standalone pieces so I added text

I seemed to have lots of text floating around from this and my ‘Tea and home’ project so I decided to have a go at just doing the back ground pattern from Jo’s tutorials

I think this is one of my favourites – I do like a bit of text lol.

Links to Jo’s videos on YouTube – they are all very short

Art journalling and tea bag quilts

I have been enjoying experimenting with my teabag quilts. However, I fancied doing something a bit different. I made a collaborative quilt with Fran Halperin – she added text and pattern to my design and then I stitched a circle over it in white. I was really pleased with how it worked out.

I decided to have a go at using a quilt as the base for an art journal page. I do these usually on paper and build up lots of layers using mandalas/ printing and adding text.

On holiday in France a made a tea bag quilt that wasn’t doing anything for me, so I used that as a base

And I made a simple 3×3 teabag base.

I am afraid I forgot to take a few photos – blame it on the fact that I was away for two weeks and got over excited on the making front

I started by making a background using pen and paint stencilled through a couple of mandala stencils. I glued the lettering in place with Matt medium. Then added my white back stitched circles

I didn’t like the text it seemed too simple – so I added more – just stitching on top this time. I added a pale orange set of circles in between the white and drew on top of it with pen and gelatoes.

This morning when I got up it seemed too simple . So I attached the lettering

I attacked the other quilt which went through a similar process too

Details of the quilts – I chose the text flipping though a Psychologies magazine with soft eyes and picking out words that jumped out at me