Wednesday, November 22, 2017

18th November 2017 Stitching life and Layered backgrounds

Our November meeting began with a very wide-ranging talk from Theresa Saxon about her stitching life, which she called “Kids, Kits and Magazines”!  Theresa brought a plethora of finished works, which she had created over the years; from beautiful children’s dresses and dungarees decorated with appliqué, to complicated kits and designs from magazines.  She talked about how she started by making clothes, then moved through phases of crocheting and  using kits for embroidery. She gave an amusing account of her initial, thwarted, intention to branch into quilting. However, she succeeded in the end and brought with her a variety of beautiful quilts made for her family. Her talk described how her stitching projects linked into her family and work life and we were all amazed that, with a husband, four children and a career, she had managed to create so much, and that so many items had survived numerous house-moves between continents!!

 Despite Theresa's saying in her talk about the importance of kits and magazine project instructions for her, she is  also very clearly a creative embroiderer designing her own projects and this came out in the workshop which followed, where Theresa explained to the group  how to create a variety of backgrounds by layering chiffon, tulle netting and scraps of fabric and thread on to a cotton base.  Theresa provided a wide variety of bonding agents for the group to experiment with and an information sheet, which will prove extremely useful. 
 The attached images illustrate just how much members got out of Theresa’s workshop and how much was produced in a short time!!
Doesn't it make your fingers itch?!

Saturday, October 28, 2017


We had a very productive Saturday workshop with Anne Pitts, a retired art teacher, who shared her knowledge and skills and encouraged us to use sketchbooks and to work freely. We experimented with drawing very quickly using wax crayons and then adding water colour, also using water colour
pencils and oil pastels.
We then had a go at simple, formal pattern making, by cutting out shapes and using the cut-out shape to form the next part of the pattern. Some ladies even started creating their own work from the
ideas they had brought! It was a very enjoyable workshop and hopefully everyone has taken away ideas to use in their own designs.
The workshop followed a very interesting talk by Pat Kelly on the Friday evening, entitled " The history of colour and natural dyes". Pat focussed on the primary colours and we learnt a lot about how these colours and dyes have been used over the centuries and by different groups of people to emphasise their status and to control others. Pat always researches thoroughly and it was a very informative talk and it is a shame not more members attended.

Monday, August 21, 2017


Our annual event, remembering Janet's sister, Jean O'Neill, was held in aid of Bowel Cancer on 29th July this year.

Janet has made a photo collage of the day and sent a message to go with it.

Thank you so much for your support. The total raised to date is £610 which
is incredible! Thanks also to Haldane Fisher for buying the bags for us! You are all amazing! Thank you. Janet x

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Quilts and Crazy Patchwork 24th June 2017

On Friday evening Sheila Huxley brought along the Mannin Quilters' Suitcase collection and talked about the samples it contained. She is pictured holding up the crazy patchwork Manx quilt, which she and Marian Cunningham had made, with many Manx motifs included in the design.

This was a prelude to the workshop on Saturday, where we learned that the "crazy" relates, not to the state of mind of those participating, but to the crazed glaze on the Japanese porcelain,which was all the rage in Victorian times.

Our morning was spent choosing materials and colour combinations and placing them on the base material. We found that it is a far from random task and quite demanding. Silence reigned for much of the time! After lunch the really fun part began with the embellishment of the pieces, using a variety of stitches in different threads, adding ribbon, lace, buttons and beads. Quite a lot of progress was made and all agreed that it had been a most enjoyable day and that our pieces were NOT destined to become UFOs.

I hope to receive some photos of completed pieces, that I can add later.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

20th May - Casalguidi Workshop with Angela Teago

Angela explained a little of the history of Casalguidi-style embroidery.  It is a style and not a technique and it came from a small Tuscan village where the embroidered motifs reflect the architecture of the churches.  It is an interesting mix of counted thread work and free-form stitching. We were shown the basic stitches which make the style recognisable as Casalguidi. For example, the background four-sided stitch, the Venetian rosette and bars of padded stem stitch.  Angela also demonstrated a couple of other stitches characteristic of Casalguidi, so that we can build on our samples later.  Angela brought along lots of finished pieces, in both coloured thread and the more traditional white on white.  The workshop was very well organised and informative and we all thoroughly enjoyed the day and learnt a lot.
And finally what was achieved - for such intricate work, ladies did very well in the time and it is to be hoped that some pieces will be completed for display at the Royal Show!

Another beautiful brooch.

This one completed by Celia Kay.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Millefiore - update

Just in -  what beautiful brooches. Well done to the anonymous ladies.

28th-30th April Visiting tutor, Jenny Adin

Those attending the Friday evening meeting were greeted by a wonderful display of the exquisite work produced by Jenny  and we knew we were in for a treat. Jenny's talk, "Preserving the Past and Creating the Future" didn't disappoint.

Knowing from primary school days that all she wanted to do was stitch, Jenny obtained one of only 6 coveted places for a 3-year apprenticeship with the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court.

 The RSN was founded by Lady Victoria Welby to give genteel employment to "ladies", who had fallen on hard times. The organisation flourished and expanded. Well-known designers were brought in and items were created for great State occasions like the coffin cover for Queen Victoria's funeral and Queen Elizabeth's Coronation train.

Having completed her apprenticeship, Jenny spent 10 years in the Studio at RSN working to their exacting standards of perfection. We were fascinated to learn that she was the one working on Catherine Middleton's wedding dress up until 2am on the morning of the wedding!

The arrival of Jenny's baby daughter brought a change of direction. She decided to go free-lance and, with her own home-studio, she now divides her time 50/50 between commissioned work and teaching.

Her teaching skills were experienced by those on the very enjoyable, two day workshop at which they learnt the intricate methods to create their own millefiore brooch.

Unfortunately there are no photos of these available, just one of the happy group who took part!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Simple Landscapes - 25th March 2017

After her talk "My Story in Stitch" on Friday evening, Helen Sargent followed up with a very interesting and relaxing workshop. We were shown all sorts of methods for creating a simple landscape using various media and methods. These involved tracing or direct computer printing, paints or material pieces, hand or machine sewing. We were a small group and, with freedom of choice, we all chose differently! We all went away with works in progress - see below- and I am hoping that, later in the year, I can add photos of completed pieces.

                              Computer printing

                         Betty chose paint, machine and hand stitching.
            Maureen opted for appliquéd material, paint and machine stitching.

         Maria's piece with many patterned material pieces - ready for quilting. far as we got....


Monday, February 27, 2017

25th February 2017 -Silk Paper Making Workshop

There was a good attendance at the meeting prior to the workshop. Apart from the "business" there was a sales table with items from "Silk Sacks" and "Silk Route", supplied on a sale or return basis. By the end of the day there was not a great deal to return!

12 ladies stayed on to participate in the workshop under the tutelage of Maureen Kennaugh. It was a very relaxed, and enjoyably messy, time. Everyone completed several pieces of paper and some went on to create 3D pieces. As these didn't have time to dry, it is to be hoped that they will be finished off at home and a later posting will show what ladies have done with them.

Maureen went to a lot of trouble to arrange the sales table and prepare a productive workshop, so we are most grateful to her.

Update to Upcycling

Don't leave your shirt as a UFO - it can become a cushion-talking-point!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Museum Visit on 21st January 2017

Our visit to the Manx Museum was a real treat for those who attended. We started with a fascinating power-point presentation by Yvonne Cresswell. This prepared us to fully appreciate the exhibits and hidden gems that we were going to be shown. The quilts and samplers held by the museum are not just examples of techniques and design but the materials used tell their own story of the social history of the era, when each was made.

Apparently the Victoria and Albert Museum (no less) regards the Manx collection very highly. The V&A have pieces preserved purely for aesthetic appeal and with no back story, whilst on the Island, each piece has as detailed a provenance, as possible, which provide signposts to further research.

Afterwards we viewed the items in the galleries in a different light and felt very privileged to see many pieces - from a (possibly) 16th century stumpwork box to 20th century work by Larch Garrard and Alison Quaye - which are not usually seen by the public.