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

Baby sized quilt

I am enjoying using the coloured threads in my Boro-inspired work. I am struggling to get my tension correct on all my circles. The more tense the TV show in the evenings the tighter my stitches get!

My daughter in law sent me some fab rainbow variegated cotton from the USA for a Christmas present. I am enjoying playing with the different colours

This is Aunt Lydia’s crotchet thread – size 10 in Mexicana colour way

I decided to use bigger pieces of fabric in my new quilt

I am not stitching my patterns within the confines of each piece of material so I thought why tack together so many little pieces?

I also changed my construction method. I usually tack around each piece of material. This time I did the tacking in stripes about 1.5cm apart. This is stopping the centres of the squares from moving as I stitch. It’s quite labour intensive but worth it in the long run.

I will definitely do it like this again.

I started off my design thinking that I would decorate a corner with coloured circles of different sizes – with a section of flowing stitches to break up the density of the pattern

The corner went well- but I hadn’t factored in the boredom of sewing in straight lines …. I had to stop and add more circles- I think I will add a few more up the centre section – I will keep you up dated …

Sample of my boring blue lines – I quite like the effect ……

Adding colour to my boroinspired stitching

I found some variegated coloured crotchet thread in a second hand shop the other week. I had been searching online for a big ball of rainbow coloured thread but it was going to cost far to much to shop it. The box of cotton balls had many more colours than the rainbow I required but I restrained my self to one of each colour and a couple that went in between below is my stash and my first experiment.

I finished my second quilt with some of the coloured threads- it is a present for someone – I will add a pic when they have revived it.

I bought some plain calico shopping bags sometime ago and decided to add a panel of boroinspired stitching to one side.

These have been great fun to do

I found a Great British Sewing Bee note book kit – I have a few of these – they were produced in 2012 to accompany a TV programme – the consist of a nice quality journal – fabric and instructions to make a loose cover for the book.

It had to be done …..

Art journalling weekend near Witney Oxfordshire

I had a fab weekend art journaling with my friend Debbie – she has a small conservatory set up to work in – I do like working in the light after my lower ground kitchen.

Debbie is a certified Brave Girl instructor and we worked with two of Melody Ross’s short courses. These are such fun to do – the workbooks are full of great ideas, images and text- check out http://bravegirlsclub.com/ for more info

I Worked in a journal that I had previously decorated with lots of watery mandalas. I am having some respite from drawing these with all my hand quilting. I found that if I add a layers of white acrylic with a credit card they make great backgrounds that I can add text and images to.

The first work book gets you to look at concepts around being true to yourself

I had fun layering up paint and collage (the tree was in a Psychologies magazine) and adding text using various stencils and found letters

We were quite prolific – having the backgrounds started already makes a big difference.

Saturday night we went out to Blenheim Palace and walked the Christmas light trail.

On the way home I thought I dropped my phone and left it on a park and ride bus. My calm thoughtful journal pages were disrupted by a bad nights sleep and the need to let out a lot of frustration.

However – after getting my daughter to hack into my iPhone account the phone was discovered in Debs car!

So my pages based on ‘flying free’ resumed at a calmer level

Lots of swallows, cages and let it go stuff for this one.

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. 😂😂😂