Category Archives: Textile Art Projects

Clothes That Tell Stories


I love clothes that wear thin and fade and take on the shape of their wearer. Especially in these days of so-called “fast” and “disposable” fashion.

These are my winter gloves given to me by my dad.  They’re a little big for me and have kept the shape of my dad’s hands, I’m still coaxing them to mould to mine.

These gloves and my last post got me thinking during this most consumption driven time of the year.

I have a great dislike for “ready aged” garments; jeans sold with faded patches and rips, I feel it’s a reflection of our impatient society that people can’t wear a garment long enough to achieve this cherished wear and tear organically. Authenticity and history has to be earned and takes time.

I love to see an authentically aged, worn and torn garment with a bit of honest mending. Take a look at Tom of Holland‘s visible mending work and a gorgeous collaboration he recently worked on with Brighton vintage shop Wolf & Gypsy.

If you want more, also have a search online for Japanese boro textiles; and the quilts of Gees Bend. Just beautiful and a beauty that was born out of necessity and functionality that makes it all the more beautiful in my book.

“Slow Fashion” and “Slow Textiles” are ideas that have been around for a while in the textile art world, but seem to be gaining some momentum in the crafting world. I wonder, is it because this insatiable impatience for a quick fix that we all seem to have is now creeping into our sewing? I saw this great video on the BBC website recently about designer Carin Mansfield who sells beautiful clothes that are crafted to last and “Slow Stitch” a book by textile artist Claire Wellesley-Smith has been on my wish list for too long. Ruth Singer is another textile artist that has written some great books on textile manipulation and uses a lot of “slow” textile processes in her work and her current exhibition “Narrative Threads” explores the emotions, histories, stories and memories caught up in textiles.

Creativity is always at its best with limited materials or techniques available, it’s a great practice to test your creativity, give it a try.  Anyone can throw money at a project, it takes true creativity to make the best of what you have and I find work in this style to be the most inspiring.

I hope you enjoy your sewing in 2016 and cherish the process as well as the end result.

New Curtains from Old Fabrics for a New Home!

So, I’ve been unforgivably quiet recently.  It’s been a wrench to be kept away, but the reason is that I was moving house.  It was a bit of a pain at times, but the end result = a much nicer flat in a much better area of Brighton and wondering why we didn’t do it years ago!  Isn’t that always the way.

Hey ho, it resulted in a thorough clear out (I think I prefer to call it a “stock take”!) which means that I will be having a sewing sale of some of my clutter,  erherm, overflow sewing stuff, at the workshop in a few weeks and now have some lovely new storage at the workshop courtesy of my very handy dad!!

One of the things I couldn’t wait to do in the new place was to make some curtains.  I decided to make some in the style of the workshop one that gets lots of compliments (see some pics of it here if you haven’t been to MIY Workshop).

I have a rather large collection of hand embellished household linens.  You know, the kind of pretty things you see at car boot fairs and antique shops and charity shops and think; “Oh it’s lovely but what would I do with it?”.  Fortunately that’s never stopped me from acquiring things, but they were shamefully kept hidden in boxes until I decided that this could be the perfect use for them.  They’re now functional and I get to look at them everyday.  I realised when putting these ones together that they’re also kind of modular in design; some of the pieces that have stayed whole within the curtain can easily be removed and the size of the curtains can easily be modified by adding or removing pieces.

Here’s how they look from the inside….


….and close-ups of some of the lovely details (all hand worked and by anonymous makers)…..


I particularly love this appliqué – the stylised shapes of the flowers, the delicate fabrics applied onto organdie and the lovely fresh colours (which I realise may fade in the sunlight, but I’m interested to see how they will change).

And here’s how they look to passers by!


So as you can see I’m not exactly a fan of the traditional net curtain!

We tried another net curtain alternative in a different room…..


Net curtain stretched over a wooden frame made to fit into the gap left when the sash window is opened.  Great for keeping out all the pesky insects that make a bee line for your room as soon as you open the window!  It’s a bit rough and ready, but is a prototype work-in-progress and definitely has potential.

MIY Workshop official opening party

My official opening party for MIY Workshop and the open studio went really well on Saturday evening.  I was a bit nervous as the “hostess with the mostess” role isn’t one that comes to me naturally, but I loved it!  Loads of lovely people came, everyone’s work looked fantastic and the whole thing left me with a nice warm glow.  Here’s a few pics from the night.

Some of my students and work by Hannah Buckley on the wall of the temporarily transformed sewing room.

At one point there were so many people that it was difficult to move – argh!

Yet more work (and people!) in the cutting room.

Terrible picture of me, but lovely MIY Workshop customised cup cakes made by one of my students – Jo Perrin, who appropriately is selling aprons she’s made for the open studio!

Last but not least I have so far forgotten to mention that I also have work in two other venues during May.

The first is Lee and Holly’s open house – 74 Lowther Road, near Fiveways (open 11am-5pm every weekend in May).

The second is an exhibition with some fellow KUTAC members at Moksha café on London Road:

Family portrait commission

This is the other textile portrait I’ve been working on and had to keep secret.  In celebration of a golden wedding anniversary.

Textile Portraits

So, back in January I mentioned something about wanting to do some more of my collaged fabric portraits.  Hmmm well, 9 months later I’ve made time to do a few!

The first is still a work in progress…yes I’m sorry I’ve started thinking about the festive season already.  This one may end up as a Christmas card.

And since Gypsy dog arrived on the scene Charlie cat has been feeling a bit neglected, so I decided to render him in an assortment of lace, silk and cotton jersey.

There’s more in progress which I’ll share with you soon.

See Swarm

A few pictures of my current project “Swarm” in situ currently part of See – KUTAC’s summer show at Brighton Fishing Quarter Gallery.

And we all enjoyed a rather nice wine-filled private view courtesy of Barefoot wines.

You still have time to see the exhibition, the last day is Monday 8th August.  Well worth a visit, even if I do say so myself.

Swarm to the Brighton Fishing Quarter Gallery

For a while I’ve been creating fabric graffiti under the pseudonym “Stitchtagger”.  I exhibited the first body of work made for this project back in March in East Grinstead.  It will be in (and around!) Brighton over the summer.  The current body of work is called “Swarm” and you can find out more about it on Stitchtagger’s blog

If you’d like to come along and see it in the flesh it will be part of see – Kutac Summer Show at the Brighton Fishing Quarter Gallery from Thursday 28th July to Monday 8th August.  We’ll be having a private view from 6-9pm on Friday 29th July.

You can find out more about KUTAC here.

Telling Tales

I’m showing my current textile project called “Stitchtags – Common Threads” at an exhibition in East Grinstead called Telling Tales.  It’s a group exhibition by 7 artists who are showing work in a range of different media – textiles, painting, illustration and photography.   Three of the other exhibiting artists are from Kutac – a Brighton based art group that I belong to and exhibit with.  Telling Tales is in the Greenstede Gallery at the Chequer Mead Arts Centre until the 15th of March.  If you happen to be up that way, take a look.  It’s the kind of exhibition I’d like to go to myself, but then I would say that wouldn’t I?!

I’m documenting this project via a blog if you want to find out more:

Exhibition coming up

I’m involved in an exhibition in East Grinstead next month titled “Telling Tales” along with some fellow members of KUTAC (an arts group that meets monthly).  Full details below.  If you fancy a day out in a lovely old market town with some varied and inspiring art, then pop along and say hello.

4th -15th March 2011 Exhibition open (except Sundays)

Private View 5th,March 2011. 1.30-7.30pm

Greenstede Gallery, Chequer Mead Community Arts Centre, De La Warr Road, East Grinstead, RH19 3BS

Contact: Leigh Wheatley Tel: 01342 325577

New year, new stuff

…..well they’re not that new, but something I want to do a bit more of this year.  I’m also thinking animal portraits……

I’m also working on something completely different for an exhibition coming up in March in East Grinstead, more on that later.  No rest for the wicked then!

Bored – I can’t remember when I last felt like that, what a relief.