Big New Bag

My daughter Isla said she needed a new large-sized bag to hold all her things when she went to work. When I hear something like this of course, I think about creating something, rather than a trip to the shops.

Big strong and secure - a functional tote bag

Big strong and secure – a functional tote bag

I had a large piece of artificial snake-skin leather material that was looking for a role in life, so I set to work and produced this big chunky item with lots of inside pockets and a strong zip to keep everything secure.

I put a lot of effort into the interior, with discrete pockets and nice finish

I put a lot of effort into the interior, with discrete pockets and nice finish

I am not sure if this style is in line with current fashions but Isla will have a good practical bag with a unique design. The size of the body is approximately 30mm X 46mm (12″ X 18″).

I could not resist adding a few signature touches of decoration!

I could not resist adding a few signature touches of decoration!

That is one more enjoyable project completed using only materials I had at home. Though it meant a day or so without getting any jewellery work done, I think it was well worth the time spent and its at least part of a birthday present problem sorted out!

One-off items are such fun to make!

One-off items are such fun to make!

Related Post: Some Textile Work as a Break from Making Textiles!

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Some Textile Work as a Break from Making Textiles!

Those of you who are familiar with my work will have figured out that my process for making textile art pieces is quite meticulous and painstaking. This suits me fine and I love what I do but still I enjoy a change of pace now and again. This often involves dressmaking (I have made a few Indian style shirts since my trip to Rajasthan in February.) Recently I decided to make some bags for a change. I had material lying around that I could not find another use for and it seemed like a quick, fun project.

One of the new bags I made

One of the new bags I made (this one has velvet handles)

The material was heavyweight curtain/cushion fabric with nice hand embroidery on it. Add to this some bits of velvet and wool for straps and trimming plus some cotton/polyester lining material (both also lying around in my ridiculously large material stocks) and I was all set to go bag making.

Another version (this one with blue-green woollen handles)

Another version (this one with blue-green woollen handles)

The end result was three nice new bags, each with slight variations in size, proportion and strap design. A good use of materials I had at hand and a nice change from fiddly embroidery.

The third bag (this one with a red woollen shoulder strap)

The third bag (this one with a red woollen shoulder strap)

To finish the new bags off I had some wooden buttons made based on my brooch designs.

Wooden button based on my brooch design

Wooden button based on my brooch design

I have made lots of bags over the years. Here is one I made for my daughter several years ago.

A bag I made several years ago

A bag I made several years ago (designed with two alternative fronts)

The other side of the same bag

The other side of the same bag

Embroidery Workshop

I’ve been using a sewing machine for a few decades now, and over the years I’ve picked up lots of techniques, hints and tricks. However, I still love to learn new things, and so last week I jumped at the chance to attend a workshop with a renowned expert in the field of embroidery, Sue Rangeley.

Detail of my workshop piece

Detail of my workshop piece

Sue Rangeley teaches and writes about specialist embroidery techniques, including the process of stitching on soluble fabrics, rouleaux, free machining and the use of sheer fabrics. The day was particularly interesting for me because I regularly use many of the same approaches that Sue uses but with distinctly different results.

Sue demonstrating

Sue demonstrating

Sue began with a one hour talk, covering her inspirations and the development of her ideas, and then discussed examples of her own work, showing the techniques we would be using in the workshop. Everyone taking this workshop was already a highly skilled machinist, which enabled Sue to concentrate on her specialisms.

Sue demonstrating the "rouleaux" technique

Sue demonstrating the “rouleaux” technique


I was strongly struck by Sue’s highly methodical research into techniques, as I have a tendency to throw things together and see what happens. Her carefully accumulated knowledge of different organzas and other sheer fabrics gave me a lot of new ideas and fresh perspectives.

Sue shows her method of free machining on organza

Sue shows her method of free machining on organza

I spent much of the workshop working on a test piece using free embroidery on soluble media. Although I was familiar with the technique, working with someone who has such highly-developed skills in this area was really informative.

My test piece on soluble fabric

My test piece on soluble fabric

The test piece after dissolving the base fabric

The test piece after dissolving the base fabric

Some of the pieces produced by the workshop participants

Some of the pieces produced by the workshop participants

So, will I be integrating the things I learned at this workshop into my own work? I’ve got a couple of ideas that I intend to experiment with, but even though it may never be obvious, I believe that everything I learn goes on to influence the way I create.

Another test piece I made at the workshop

Another test piece I made at the workshop

I had a really fantastic day!

Sue Rangeley’s book “Embroidered Originals” is available from Amazon and most bookshops.
You can find her at: http://www.suerangeley.co.uk

Signed copies of Sue’s book available from her  website: www.suerangeley.co.uk , go  to Publications page or email: sue.rangeley@btinternet.com for  further details

Textile Neckpiece

Here are some photographs of a textile necklace that I made earlier this year.
I was aiming for a spring-feel, using lots of appliquéd fabrics then embroidering over the top. Although this piece uses lots of the same techniques as many of my other pieces, for some reason it feels a bit different to me. I think it’s partly because I used a lighter, more linear composition than usual, and partly because there’s a lot more colour variation than in my usual work – the extensive use of the pink edging is what ties it together visually. I really liked the end result though it’s quite a departure from my usual style.

Let me know what you think!
(I’ve just put this piece up on Etsy – You can also check it out there.)

On the Silk Road: Gobi (Part Three)

The embroidered picture “Gobi” was directly inspired by the amazing photographs my husband took of the Gobi desert, whilst flying from Beijing to Urumqi, in far western China. The harsh deserts of north-western China and Mongolia breed a tough and independent people, which China has always sought to dominate (although at times over the millenia, the boot has occasionally been on the other foot.)

People often ask me about the meanings behind my work, but I’m inclined to believe that the meanings and feelings that a viewer draws from a work should be down to them, thus the form hovering over the desert could have any number of interpretations. Having said that, for me the form perhaps echoes the power of the Chinese Imperial dragon that has always loomed over this region.

I’ve again included a few pics of the making of the piece, enjoy!

If you missed parts one and two, you can find them here:
On the Silk Road (Part One)
On the Silk Road (Part Two): Shadow of the Great Wall

"Gobi"

“Gobi”

A Purple Textile Brooch

Hi everyone, I’m afraid I don’t have much new work to show you at the moment because I’m hard at work on a special exhibition piece (more on this in due course, can’t say too much about it right now!)

So instead I thought I’d share a photo of one of my favourite brooches from last year, I hope you like it!

Purple Textile Brooch

Purple Textile Brooch

Bonsai tree hand-embroidery

One of my favourite ways to relax is to do hand embroidery, and over the years I’ve embroidered quite a few pieces. These include a series of works based on bonsai trees, since my husband used to train bonsai as well as make exquisite handcrafted bonsai pots.

I was inspired by the challenge of creating a sense of depth and form, and by the beauty of the pots and the trees. I embroider using a single strand of thread at a time, building up the colours and tones. I used to spend a few hours a day on the embroideries, but they would still take me months to finish!

Here is an embroidery of a juniper tree, the trunk of this particular tree had a patch of silvery deadwood that intertwined with the live bark – it was one of my favourites.

I’ll be posting some more photos of other embroideries in the future, hope you enjoy my work!

Juniper Bonsai - hand embroidery

Juniper Bonsai – hand embroidery 22 X 22cm (approx 8.75″ X 8.75″).