Tag Archive | free machine embroidery

Love is in the Air continued….

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As promised in my last blog here is the update ……  After working with the tweed and silk velvet earlier this week I am now well and truly addicted to these.

I have continued with the heart theme to produce a trio of completed pictures that I would like to share with you.  (please excuse my shadow in the photographs- if anyone can advise me on how to photograph framed work behind glass I would appreciate the advice)

Here are some close ups

Double heart


Heart in Heart


Of course I am always drawn back to flowers – so here are my flower interpretations of this technique.  Again I have used a combination of tweed/wool and silk velvet fabrics with free machine embroidery and hand embroidery.  Both have been embellished with buttons and I have added an eyelet charm on ‘Double Bloom’

In the Breeze

Double Bloom


















I hope you like these – I am off to find some more tweed and silk velvet 🙂


Love is in the Air

Walking through the shopping centre today I found that love was definitely in the air – there were Valentine gifts and cards in every shop window.

This has been my inspiration for today.

Love is in the Air

Close up of loose French knots and vermicelli free machine embroidery on the tweed.

I have loved working with the rugged woollen textures and contrasting them with the luxurious silk velvet so I decided to work with larger ‘scraps’ today.

Three contrasting wool and tweed fabrics were layered onto a fine wool.  These have been attached with free machine vermicelli stitch.  I have added silk velvet hearts using free machine embroidery.  The piece has been further embellished with hand embroidery using hand dyed threads, a glitter thread is used for running stitch down the right and loose french knots are added to the tweed using a fine cotton perle.  A ‘love’ charm is added for accent.  The final piece is framed in a box frame.

Close up of large silk velvet heart and running stitch with glitter thread



I will keep you all updated on my next projects with these fabulous textures…….

Close up of small silk velvet hearts and heart embellishment.










Love is in the Air

Stash or Trash?

Have you ever looked through your stash and wondered  ‘Why did I buy this?’

I have been trying to incorporate bits and pieces into my work as you can see in my Bits and Bobs posts.  So last week whilst visiting my Mam she decided to have a look through her stash and produced a bag of felted blanket pieces, well when I say pieces I really mean a bag of tiny scraps that resembled floor sweepings:


Tiny scraps of felted wool blanket and tweed


The question was asked – ‘why did you buy that?’  Truthfully my mother did not have a clue.

We are frequently drawn towards fabrics through their colours and textures and this little bag of scraps obviously appealed so much to my mother that she was compelled to make a purchase. They have been in her stash cupboard for a few years.  We emptied the content of the bag and I laughed at the tiny pieces of scrap fabric that had tempted her to hand over her cash.  At this point she challenged me to take them away and do something with them.

Challenge accepted.

Within my current workI have been using small pieces of neutral fabric to produce background fabrics for my embroideries therefore I decided to try to use these in a similar way.  The fabrics were varying thicknesses but most were dense as some had been felted.  The fabric pieces were closely placed together on a backing fabric, I used free machine embroidery to secure these in place.

Creating a background by piecing together fabric scraps.

I was pleasantly surprised with the end result and I now had a textured and rugged surface to work on.

This background screamed out for a  sumptuous addition, amongst my stash I found a piece of my hand dyed silk velvet – perfect

Kates Kloths Hand Dyed Silk Velvet

I applied silk velvet flowers onto the rugged background with free machine embroidery and these are completed using hand embroidered french knots. Foliage is added with silk fabric, heavy hand dyed yarn and hand painted silks that are machine  embroidered in place.


Close up detail of french knots and silk velvet flower.

Completed textile piece is presented on a piece of natural coloured heavy woven wool fabric.

Completed work presented in a box frame.

Stash or Trash Trio



I was so pleased with he end result I have created another two to make a trio statement.

So we ash the question again Stash or Trash? You decide.

I am off to see what other treasures I can find lurking in the corners of cupboards and drawers……..




Here are a few close up photographs – I hope you enjoy them 🙂 




Bits and Bobs

How many of you have a cupboard full of fabric scraps and bits and bobs that ‘will come in handy one day’?  Well I have to admit that I have cupboards and boxes of fabric scraps.   Over the last couple of weeks I have challenged myself to incorporate these within my embroideries and I would like to share with you some of the results.  I have produced three miniature quilts using this method.

Background fabric created using free machine embroidery onto fabric scraps

Background fabric created using free machine embroidery onto fabric scraps


I have used a range of fabrics and textures to create a background fabric.  These have been layered and pieced together with free machine embroidery, these are worked on 3″ squares.

By using different fabrics, papers and lace you can create an interesting and textured background fabric.

Shabby chic inspired my first couple of quilts. Live, Laugh Love and Love, Life, Happiness were embroidered onto the background fabrics along with free machine appliquéd hearts.  The fabrics were further embellished with hand embroidery and buttons.



The first set of squares I created were Live, Laugh, Love.  I made a background by quilting a piece of hand dyed cotton using free machine squiggles and hearts.  The squares are hand sewn onto the quilted fabric; the back fabric is attached and the edges are finished using blanket stitch.

Close up - Live, Laugh Love Miniature Quilt www.kateskloths.co.uk

Close up – Live, Laugh Love Miniature Quilt

Live, Laugh Love Miniature Quilt www.kateskloths.co.uk

Live, Laugh Love Miniature Quilt
















For the Love, Life, Happiness quilt I made a background fabric from fabric scraps.  I have free machined strips of fabric together and then quilted them.  The three squares were then hand embroidered onto this background and finished with blanket stitch.

Close up - Love, Life, Happiness Miniature Quilt www.kateskloths.co.uk

Close up – Love, Life, Happiness Miniature Quilt

Love, Life, Happiness Miniature Quilt www.kateskloths.co.uk

Love, Life, Happiness Miniature Quilt
















I love the rugged finish on both of these miniature quilts and the most satisfying thing is that all materials were found treasures in my bits and bobs box.

As you will know by now I love flowers and at this time of year I am fascinated with the delicate structures of the seed heads.  My third quilt is inspired by these.  I have free machined seed heads onto my pieced background fabrics and then further embellished with hand embroidery. My backgrounds have been created using fabric scraps/strips and free machined together.


Close up - Seed Head Miniature Quilt www.kateskloths.co.uk

Close up – Seed Head Miniature Quilt

Seed Head Miniature Quilt www.kateskloths.co.uk

Seed Head Miniature Quilt
















I have loved making these.  They have provided me with the perfect opportunity to switch off and unwind for a while.  A good coffee and a relaxing playlist always help.


French Sunflowers

There is nothing nicer than a field of brightly coloured sunflowers dancing together in the gentle breeze to cheer you up and make you smile.  I travel to France every year and each time I see these fields of sunflowers I am instantly relaxed and smiling.

Sunflower field.  Francueil, France July 2015

Sunflower field. Francueil, France July 2015

I have recently returned home to England after spending two glorious weeks in the Loire region of France.  We have a very humble abode in the guise of a 1980s touring caravan which remains in storage in France as I fear it would fall apart if we were to attempt to tow it anywhere. This little caravan is our home for two weeks every year on the banks of the river Cher where I have the most spectacular view from my front door.

Sunset on the river Cher

Sunset on the river Cher

We first visited this camp site in 2005 and since then we have embarked on a 1500 mile round trip every year for the last 10 years.  The boys all enjoy fishing and I enjoy reading quietly in these beautiful surroundings. The local wine cave is within walking distance so what more can a girl want or need.

Sunflower fields have been the inspiration for my textile work over the last few years and I would like to share a few of these embroideries with you whilst these cheerful flowers are still in the forefront of my mind.

Straight Stitch Sunflowers

Straight stitched sunflowers embroidered onto hand painted silk calico. www.kateskloths.co.uk

Straight stitched sunflowers embroidered onto hand painted silk calico. www.kateskloths.co.uk

Sunflowers in France

Sunflowers in France

This embroidery is worked entirely in straight stitch.  Through using a variety of yarns in a range of thicknesses you can instantly add dimension to your work.  Hand dyed threads and fabric will provide a wide range of shades.

I began this embroidery by hand dyeing a piece of silk calico fabric, this is a soft unbleached fabric that has natural slubs within the weave.  The outline of drooping petals were then painted onto the fabric using acrylic paints and a fine paint brush.

A range of hand dyed threads are used to add texture to the petals and background.  Threads used include fine cotton, cotton perle, chinese silk, medium silk and stranded linen.  Interest is created through altering the length and denseness of the straight stitch and changing the direction of the stitch in each petal.

Silk Painted Trapunto Sunflowers

Silk painted sunflowers with couching and trapunto www.kateskloths.co.uk

Silk painted sunflowers with couching and trapunto www.kateskloths.co.uk


Trapunto is a form of Italian quilting where shapes are filled, this is a technique that can add dimension to your work and provide raised and flat areas.  This is also known as the ‘stuffing technique’ because through utilising two layers of fabric and outline stitches specific areas can be filled.

I began this textile work by using clear silk gutta (resist) to outline the sunflower and leaf shapes onto a piece of stretched silk habotai.  Once this has dried silk paints are applied and allowed to spread to the resist.  I have used iron fix paints therefore once dried the fabric is pressed to fix the colours and then the gutta is washed out – this will leave a white outline.  To enable the shapes to be filled I layered the silk habotai onto a piece of calico fabric and tacked these together.

Working through the tow layers the flowers and leaves are outlined by couching a thick hand dyed cotton thread to cover all white lines.  When all of the outline is covered I have selected the areas that will be raised, using embroidery scissors a small cut is made into the backing fabric to enable filling to be pushed into the shape until the required thickness is achieved, the incision is then sewn closed.

Once the desired shapes are filled I have added french knots in the flower centres using a viscose ribbon and straight stitch stars in the background with cotton thread.

Shadow work Trapunto Sunflowers

Shadow work sunflowers www.kateskloths.co.uk

Shadow work sunflowers www.kateskloths.co.uk

imageThis embroidery is a combination of shadow work and trapunto.  Within this I have used a sheer fabric as the top layer and coloured fibres to fill the petals and leaves.

To begin I tacked together a piece of hand dyed organza onto cotton calico. I have used hand dyed threads to stem stitch around the petals and leaves.  Once the outline was completed I have made small cuts into the backing fabric and filled each petal, leaf and flower centre with hand dyed silk fibres.  Once the shapes were filled and the incisions closed the final details were added, stem stitched leaf vein and french knots in flower centre.




Sunflower Textures

Manipulated fabric to replicate the texture of sunflower centers. www.kateskloths.co.uk

Manipulated fabric to replicate the texture of sunflower centers. www.kateskloths.co.uk

imageThe petals and seed heads provide an array of different textures and these have been the inspiration for this piece of manipulated textile art.

The main fabric for this work is hand dyed silk velvet, this is a very soft fabric that can be easily manipulated to create texture.  For the raised circles in the centre of this work small areas of the silk velvet have been free machine embroidered with circles – the ruched effect is  produced by winding shirring elastic onto the bobbin and this pulls the fabric into small raised circles.  The outer edges of this work have been free machined with vermicelli stitch with machine embroidery thread on the bobbin and in the needle.

Texture is further added using a fabric that I have named ‘bubble fabric’.  hand dyed nylon organza is gently held near a candle and moved in circular motion, by allowing the heat of the flame to melt the fabric in with your circular movements you can create a bubble textured fabric.  If you would like to experiment with this technique I advise that you do this near a sink full of water, if the fabric ignites it can be easily extinguished.

Further embellishments are added with French knots and beads.


I hope you have enjoyed reading my sunflower post and seeing some of the textiles that I have created after visiting France and being inspired by these wonderful flower fields.  Even after visiting for many years I am still  in awe of this vision and I look forward to seeing them every year. I am going to leave you all with a photograph of the enchanting château situated at the end of our camp site.   I am already looking forward to returning to this magical place next year.

Chateau de Chenonceau, France

Chateau de Chenonceau, France


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Remember ……..

Poppies GardenI walked into my garden this morning and looked at these beautiful poppies.  Sadly they are a little bit past their best but I still admire them every day. These poppies were taken out of my Grandmothers garden when she moved out of her home to live in a care home several years ago.  My Grandparents had lived in that house all of their married lives and it was the only home that I had ever visited them in.

I can remember all of the fun times we had in that house.  It was filled with love and laughter.  I love these poppies and the memories they bring.

This afternoon I called into a local shopping centre, the Metrocentre in Gateshead. I do not particularly enjoy shopping and therefore visiting such places is a rare occurrence which is only compensated with a shoe purchase. However getting back to my visit … I came across a spectacular poppy art installation in the middle of the mall, this was a really pleasant surprise (it was actually installed last August which shows you how often I visit shopping centres).  This poppy installation is a commemorative piece of art that really struck a chord with me this afternoon and I would like to share these thoughts with you.Poppies Metrocentre

My grandfather fought in WW2 and he rarely spoke about his experiences until the last few years of his life.  He was a brave man and will always be my hero but most importantly he was a loving grandfather whose words of wisdom will remain with me forever.  Some of these do include, pull your shoulders back, stand tall and be proud – I can always here this when I begin to slouch or loose my confidence another one is bulls**t baffles brains – my sons love this one.

My grandmother was a creative person who always supported my decisions and I dearly miss her.  She was an inspiration to me with her kind words, patience and  she had the ability to make anything out of nothing – she could feed a family of four out of her and grandads dinner rations and still have enough for the two of them; she could entertain all of the grandchildren for hours with a comb and a piece of tissue paper and she could make the best dress up outfits from random things lying around the house.

Remembrance – these poppies have brought fond memories flooding back and got me to thinking about the creative textiles that I have produced using poppies as my inspiration. I would like to share four of these with you today.

Poppy 1 – My Stenciled Poppy:


Stenciled Poppy www.kateskloths.co.uk

Using a stencil is a brilliant way of adding colour quickly to a background fabric.  You can use commercial stencils and fabric paint if you wish however I have made this stencil out of firm card and cut the design using a craft knife.  I have used a textured unbleached cotton fabric for the background and stenciled by using a small sponge and applying acrylic paint.  These paints are thick enough to transfer the image without smudging under the stencil, it is not necessary to use fabric paint if you are not going to launder your textiles and as this is decorative the acrylic paints work brilliantly. I have further embellished the poppy by embroidering long straight stitches using a rayon thread, this adds some detail and shine onto the petals and leaves.  I have attached small black beads for the flower centre and stamens. I love the texture of the fabric in this poppy.

Poppy 2 – Appliquéd Poppy



This poppy has been appliquéd onto a cotton calico fabric which has been hand dyed to produce different shades of black and grey. The poppy petals and leaved have been appliquéd onto the black cotton, I have used red hand painted silk habotai for the petals and  green hand dyed cotton muslin for the leaves.  To appliqué the petals and leaves I used the following technique:  the desired shape is drawn or traced onto the paper of the bondaweb.  This is ironed onto the reverse of the fabric and the shape is cut out.  The fabric shape is then laid onto the backing fabric, glue side down, and ironed into place.  The fabric is stiffened slightly with the use of bondaweb.  When applying sheer fabrics it is important to protect the iron with a sheet of baking parchment. The outline and detail have been free machined onto the leaves and petals.  Black beads have been attached to the flower centre.  This is such a simple technique that can be used on many different projects.

Poppy 3 – Free Machine Embroidered Poppies

Free Machine Embroidered Poppies www.kateskloths.co.uk


This is actually a small piece of work that has been free machine embroidered onto silk and again I have attached a few small beads for the flower centres.  I would like to further develop this site to include step by step tutorials so watch this space!!!

Poppy 4 – Poppy Play Time



This is my favourite poppy because it is the most creative and was a lot more fun to create.

I started out by sponging some acrylic paints onto a piece of cotton calico – no particular pattern was used and I roughly sponged a darker green where the stem and leaves were going to be and sponged some red paint where the petals would be.   I then had a bit of a ‘play’ with different fabrics, these included organza, net and hand painted lightweight interfacing. I created the different leaf and petal shapes by using a soldering iron to melt away the edges of the fabric producing a texture around the edges.  These were sewn onto the background fabric using simple embroidery stitches. Again i have used black beads and french knots in the flower centre.

Any textile work should be fun and you should not be afraid of experimenting.  As a child you have no fear of doing something wrong and therefore play and explore to create art.  As an adult you should remember how to play with materials to create textile art – within art there are no mistakes.  There is a saying that I strongly believe and use it with my students:

‘Creativity is about allowing yourself to make mistakes, Art is about knowing which ones to keep.’