Assignment 2 – Placed and spaced

For this assignment I have selected to work from one of my stitched papers which originated from my drawings of the Damask silk stays.


As part of the brief was to start with a textile with a relatively traditional quality and I have chosen to use Calico.  It is a world away from the Damask silk used on the original garment but the stays were lined with a linen fabric.

I started to experiment with ideas using an interfacing fabric and used this as a basis for making decisions as I worked on my first sample.  I selected the main features as a starting point, the ridges in the corrugated card suggested pleats or folds and the raised rectangles of card which represented the straight stitching from the original garment suggested a feature or window. The stitches I used in the paper sample were chain stitch in cotton perle and cross stitch in tapestry wool and cotton perle.

Sample work in sketchbook


Sample 1

Sketchbook work

From my first experiments I divided my fabric piece up and marked where the pleats would be put, I didn’t want to cover the piece in pleats but just have sections of pleats between the rectangular areas.  I know that I can not make the windows in the pleated area as the pleats will not stay in place after the fabric is cut and it would be to bulky, luckily this worked out as 3 sections of pleats with two rows of rectangles.  I stitched in the pleats to start with using running stitch in black cotton perle.  Pleats use up quite a bit of fabric so I had to allow for this when cutting the original piece of fabric to work on.  I have again used the original paper sample as a reference to the 5 rectangle areas between the rows of pleats.  I used a card template to work out how big to make them and then stitched around the shapes before cutting some of them out of the fabric.  I then washed the fabric so that it frayed on the raw edges as I didn’t want perfect rectangular opening but a softer window.

I gathered together small pieces of red and black fabrics, these were scraps of different fabrics from my collection, a shiny polyester silk, cotton velvet, netting, threads etc.  I did not have any Bondaweb to fuse the fabric pieces to a backing fabric under the windows so had to hand stitch them down using either cross stitch or herringbone stitch. I tried to do something different to each window around the idea of the stitched paper sample.


Some of the windows I padded with polyester wadding to give a raised effect.  I also slashed and cut the upper fabric on some of the windows to reveal the coloured fabric underneath.  The whole sample was then hand stitched using a variety of threads and stitches with reference to the original paper sample.

I have used cross stitch, running stitch, chain stitch and herringbone stitch and the treads I have used are cotton perle, stranded cotton, polyester sewing thread and rayon threads.

Experimental stitching
Close up of one of the windows

Stitching like this is way out of my comfort zone because I naturally like things neat and tidy,  I have deliberately worked in an experimental way using the original stitched paper sample to lead me throughout the exercise still within the bounds of using only a few types of stitches and materials that I already had in my stash.

Threads used in Sample 1

Sample 2

This sample follows on from Sample 1, using the rectangular shapes, pleats and stitches but worked in a different way.

Sketchbook work for Sample 2
Working on layout designs for Sample 2 in sketchbook

I have now purchased some Bondaweb and started by fusing some of the fabric scraps that I used in sample 1 onto a polycotton backing fabric (left hand photo).  I fused together some sheer fabrics (right hand photo) cut them into wavy strips and fused this on top of the other fabrics.

Result of the two layers of bonded fabrics

The fabrics I have boned are netting, polyester satin, old synthetic scarf fabric, felt, polyester lining fabric, and velvet.  I have not purchased any fabrics but managed to use suitable materials from my stash.  I have selected an even weave cotton fabric which is heavier than calico but a similar colour for this sample as it will be bigger than sample 1.

I have experimented with the layout of the bonded pieces in my sketchbook and have deliberately chosen a repeating pattern layout which is part of the criteria for this exercise. For this sample I have cut out rectangular shapes from the bonded fabrics and have appliqued them onto the cotton fabric using a straight stitch on my machine.  The use of pleats has been reduced to just one pleat worked by hand in black cotton perle to separate the rectangular bonded fabric pieces into rows.

Example of appliqued rectangle

While I worked on this sample I thought that it would look better if I stitched an outline of the rectangle shape in the areas where there were no appliqued ones.  I think this was successful.

I have stitched over the top of the applied rectangles with cross stitch worked in different threads.  I also experimented with working just half of the cross stitch.  I have used the contours of the bonded fabrics within the rectangles as a guide for working the cross stich,  stitches are deliberately random in size and shape.  I have used cotton perle, stranded embroidery cotton, rayon threads and polyester sewing thread.

Finished sample 2

The sample is a repeating pattern and if the ends are joined together they continue the pattern. I could have experimented with a lot more stitching but it is very time consuming and where do you stop experimenting?

Sketchbook details


Sample 3

For this sample I wanted to use a different base fabric, one that could be manipulated within itself still using rectangular shapes, cross stitch and running stitch which are the theme of my chosen orignal worked paper sample.  I started to experiment with a piece of cotton scrim in a large embroidery hoop, necessary because scrim is very flimsy.  I also soon found that it was easier to work on with a piece of net fabric behind it (please excuse the sequins this was repurposed fabric) as my first attempts with no backing fabric didn’t work at all.

Sketchbook samples for Sample 3

I have manipulated the threads of the scrim with a needle to make the rectangular shapes as you can see in the photo below.  Scrim has a very loose open weave so the threads are very easy to move around.

Scrim fabric and initial embroidery experiment

I have continued to use cross stich as the basis for my stitching but in a more informal approach.  I like that you can see the stitching underneath the fabric as a shadow particularly with the finer threads.  I have used cotton perle (no 5), stranded embrioidery cotton, and a rayon thread.  I deliberatly have not use very thick course threads like tapestry wool as they would not work very well with such a light fabric substrate.


I have continued to work in an experimental way across the fabric trying to bring different ideas within the same boundaries taken from my original sample, mark making exercise and stitched manipulated paper sample.  I have also used the same colour palette in reference to the samples and original textile piece.


From left to right

Blocks of experimental cross stitch worked in cotton perle and stranded cotton.

Cross stitch in stranded cotton worked around manipulated threads of the substrate fabric.

Cross stitch using cotton perle No 5 on the edges of the manipulated threads to maintain the open areas of the substrate fabrics.

A more considered row of cross stitch and back stitch using stranded cotton.

Cross stitch in stranded cotton this time used to pull a group of threads of the substrate fabric together (2 rows).

Rayon thread with stranded cotton (1 thread) used to oversew the groups of substrate fabric threads together.

Just for interest here is a photo of the reverse of the sample.

Reverse of sample