Work done for City and Guilds Level 3 Certificate in Embroidery with Distant Stitch.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Certificate Module 3 Chapter 9 A Resolved Sample completed3.9.F153.

I seem to have been working on this sample for an age.  However, it has not been a chore but a total joy.

My sample was inspired by a pair of ammonites which I bought in a local crystal shop, aptly named "Treasures".

3.9.F1  The original inspiration

I liked the fact that the ammonite was fairly dull and matt on the outside, but the polished inside was rich with colour.  This gave me the idea to make a scroll for my resolved sample, something which would be pretty plain and simple on the outside, with muted colours, contrasting with a rich, colourful surprise on the inside.

As previous posts have detailed, I dyed some fabric before printing it with a lino cut block I had made based on drawings of the ammonite.

3.9.F2   Dyed and printed fabric

For the outside of the scroll, I sandwiched the dyed and printed fabric with a layer of felt and then some dyed but unprinted fabric.  I then machine stitched around the ammonite shapes and on the markings inside.  I used a thread closely matched to the ground fabric in the needle, but the pale blue of the printing for the bobbin, so as to show up subtly on the inside.

3.9.F3   Outside of scroll printed and stitched

3.9.F4    Inside of scroll after stitching

I liked how, on the outside of the scroll, the stitched ammonites looked to be embedded in their surroundings, much as the original fossils had been.  I also liked the sublety of the inside stitching, adding a bit of texture without being defined enough to overpower the coloured ammonite shapes I had planned to apply.

I decided to apply seven ammonite shapes to the inside (just because I like the number 7).  Each would have a different treatment and they would be in bright colours to contrast with the background and the outside.  I decided to use the old idea of "slips", so that I would complete each ammonite before planning how to lay them out and attach them to the background.

3.9.F5   Ammonite 1 beadwork

3.9.F6   Ammonite 2 machine embroidery

3.9.F7   Ammonite 3 hand stitching on cotton with layers of metallic and sheer fabric

3.9.F8   Ammonite 4 completely French knots.  This was my favourite one to do as I love French knots.  It took ages!

3.9.F9   Ammonite 5   hand stitching (satin and straight stitch).  Believe it or not, this one was started at the 2013 Summer School!

3.9.F10   Ammonite 6  blocks of straight stitch on a cotton background layered with sheers and net 

3.9.F11   Ammonite 7 different colours of dyed cotton layered and stitched and then cut away.

When I tried a sample layout, there was still a lot of space around the ammonite shapes and so I tried putting some Dorset buttons at random between the shapes.  I liked the effect as it made me think of the bubbles of air in the sea which would have been the original home of the ammonite.  One of my shapes had a dark blue background and I thought it made it stand out too much to the detriment of the others.  Sian suggested that I give each ammonite a dark blue background to link the different colours and treatment.  This worked well and it was fun choosing a border which would suit each shape.

Here then is the completed inside of the scroll:

3.9.F12   Completed inside of scroll

As you can see, the above image has a partly completed beaded fringe along the bottom of the scroll.  When researching ammonites, I discovered that their nearest living relative today is the nautilus.

3.9.F13    Chambered nautilus

I was intrigued by the tentacles from the creature and thought I would try to add this element to my sample.  I could use either cords, knotted or machine wrapped, or else a beaded fringe.  I experimented with both on a small sample and found that the beaded fringe gave the texture and movement I wanted.  I thought that when the scroll was rolled up, the beaded fringe would have something of the look of the tentacles in 3.9.F13.

3.9.F14   The completed scroll lying down

3.9.F15   The completed scroll hanging on the wall

3.9.F16   A close-up of the fastening

I considered two ways of fastening the scroll.  One idea I considered was wrapping and tying it with machine wrapped cords.  Another was to use one of the toggles I had made and fasten it with a simple button hole stitched thread loop.  I preferred this latter option since it kept the simplicity I wanted for the outside of the scroll.  Only a little bit of bright colour and bling from the toggle and the beads hint at the richness inside.

I have really enjoyed this chapter.  I have come to love beadwork which I didn't expect to like at all.  A new (and efficient!) heating system in our home has made my north facing studio comfortable to work in, and a new Bernina has made machine embroidery a joy instead of a chore.  Both of these improvements were financed by a legacy from a much-loved aunt who died last year.  And so, I'd like to dedicate this piece of work to Auntie Dodie.


  1. I'm really impressed, Catherine, this is so beautiful. What a great resolved sample

  2. Well done Catherine. Although the beading detail and embroidery is lovely on each ammonite, I especially like it when rolled up like a nautilus.

  3. Gosh Catherine, I have been watching your progress with interest, and your results are amazing. When rolled up it looks like a treasured relic from the bottom of the sea, or more like a sea anemone. I love the toggle. The rich colours you've used look like petrol on water. Lovely!

  4. Stunning and inspirational work Catherine, your joy of this module shows in the quality of the work. Really well done on creating such an original and beautiful piece of work.

  5. Great detail and thoughts, with the bonus of the woodblock workshop that your put on facebook. Here's to the next module...cheers

  6. Wonderful work Catherine. I admire the way you've worked through this. What a beautiful result.

  7. Wow Catherine - this is absolutely gorgeous! I'm so impressed by the way you approached this, and by the wonderful result you achieved. You are an inspiration!

  8. This is absolutely gorgeous! Wow! Congratulations on creating something so lovely! :)

  9. What a wonderful series of stitching and beading samples and the scroll looks so effective as a wall hanging. Beautiful work Catherine

  10. What a wonderful course you are doing, you really have to work thru a subject don't you! It's great to see one object interpreted in so many different ways.