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

Friday, 15 May 2015

Certificate Module 3 Chapter 10: Design an Accessory

Well it didn't quite work, but it's given me some more ideas

I thought I'd like to develop further some of the ideas in the resolved sample.  A friend had jokingly said that she'd like to have one of the slips on the scroll as a brooch and that gave me the idea to perhaps make a set of brooches which could be worn singly or together.  Also, based on the background of the scroll, I liked the idea of a decorated rectangle of fabric, perhaps as a cuff.

I set to work decorating some fabrics to use as either a brooch or a cuff.   I still had some cotton fabric that I had dyed for an earlier chapter and I printed it using some of my home made ammonite print blocks on that and on various sheer fabrics.  I layered these up using Bondaweb, sometimes trapping snippings of fabrics and threads between the layers.  I then bonded the resulting fabrics onto pelmet Vilene.  I played around with machine stitching on some of them, both to echo the printing and to bring pattern and texture to plain areas.  Some of these I cut into ammonite shapes for brooches.  When I saw the resulting fabrics together, I thought it would be interesting to combine a cuff with some brooches.  I could make a decorated cuff onto which I could put some brooches.  They could be worn on the cuff or detached and worn as brooches.  This, I thought, was a satisfactory development from the slips attached to the scroll I had made for Chapter 9.  It also echoed the adaptability of the ammonite in its lifetime.  The cuff I decided would be decorated purely with machine stitch, while the brooches would be decorated by hand-stitching and beadwork.

3.10.1  The prepared fabrics and a few brooches at various stages

I decided on three brooches, all in the peach colour of the one on the right in 3.10.1.  In order to link them in terms of design, I used the same colours of fabric, thread and beads in all three, but adding interest through different patterns.  I used the blue and orange fabric on the right hand side above for the background.  I found it was the best background, in terms of colour and texture, to show off the three brooches.

3.10.2  The completed brooches

I backed the cuff with cotton to be comfortable in wear.  I considered various methods of fastening the cuff.  My first thought was with loops and hand-made buttons or toggles.  In practical terms, however, this would be awkward to fasten.  My next thought was to stitch buttonholed loops on each short edge so that the cuff could be laced up with machine wrapped cords.  This would give more flexibility in how it could be worn, since the size could be adjusted by the lacing, allowing the cuff to be worn on the wrist, upper arm or even around the ankle.  This still left the problem that the wearer would need assistance in putting it on.  Since not many people nowadays have a lady's maid, this could be a nuisance.  Perhaps, I thought, I could experiment with elastic in the core of the wrapped cords, so that  the cuff would be stretchy and could be fastened up before being slipped on.

Before I could try this out, however, once I had stitched brooch pins on to the back of the three brooches and fastened them onto the cuff, I wrapped the completed cuff around my wrist to see how it looked.  I then became aware of an unexpected pitfall.  When bent into a cuff, the brooches stick out too much to be practical in wear.  Also the back of the brooches (which were not meant to be seen) become visible and unsightly.

I considered whether I could keep the background flat, making it part of a larger neckpiece.  I looked in the mirror, holding the piece in different ways to see how it looked.  I rather liked it when I held it up to my neck as a stand-up collar.  I thought it could be linked to other pieces. (See 3.10.3 below.)


It reminded me of armour and the idea of protection (which links nicely with the ammonite's protective shell).  I became quite excited at the idea of making soft body armour, a sort of emotional/psychological/spiritual protection.

Suddenly, from thinking I had almost finished this chapter, I was contemplating starting it again!!  I had been keen to finish off Module 3 before the Summer School at the beginning of July.  It would be nice to be starting a new module on returning home.  I briefly considered that I might make the three brooches my fashion accessory, putting hanging loops on the back of the "cuff" so that it could be mounted  on a wall as a decorative brooch keeper for when the brooches were not being worn.  It was tempting in a way, since my considered sample had turned out to be more time consuming and labour intensive than I had anticipated.  When I thought about it, there were several things that I wasn't best pleased with about this piece:-

  • It hadn't occurred to me to vary the size of the brooches and I think that would be an improvement.
  • The finish on the cuff part was not neat enough to please me.
  • I used felt to back the brooches, but just used scraps I had around the house and the colour didn't match the scheme.
  • I feel I have rushed it, just wanting to get something that satisfies the brief before the Summer School, something easy that doesn't take too long after the prolonged labour of Chapter 9.
  • In general, I feel the quality of the work I have done on the piece is not up to the standard that I would be happy with.

I am so fired up by the idea of a set of pieces of body armour that I really do want to follow it through, even if it means that Module 3 takes a longer time than I had anticipated.  All of this module has been such a joy that it will be nice to stay with it a while longer.  This is the only chapter that, until now, I haven't been able to make my own.  Now, however, I feel I have taken ownership of this project.  Watch this space ...


  1. Will watch with interest, lots of exciting possibilities...cheers judith

  2. I know just what you mean when you end up in an unexpected place and want to start the journey all over again. When is anything ever finished?

  3. your brooches are so beautiful, Catherine

  4. Your ideas are inspiring Catherine. X