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

Monday, 27 July 2015

Certificate Module 3: last thing ...

Almost forgot to do the evaluation.  Here it is:

Certificate Module 3: Finishing up the details

Module 3 Chapter 11: composite sheet with completed accessory

Here, at last is the completed composite sheet with completed accessory.  Sorry, the colours in the photographs are distorted and dull.  For some reason my printer, which up to now has behaved itself beautifully, has decided that it too will conspire against me.


Chapters 1 and 2: Collecting images of spirals, drawing and printing to record research  - 30 hours
Chapter 3: Fabric colouring - 8 hours
Chapter 4: Stitching by hand and machine - 11 hours
Chapter 5: Making cords - 7 hours
Chapter 6: Making tassels - 3 hours
Chapter 7: Making buttons and toggles - 9 hours
Chapter 8: Beadwork - 15 hours
Chapter 9: Design and make Resolved Sample - 35 hours
Chapters 10 and 11: Design and make a fashion accessory, create a Composite Sheet - 33 hours
Chapter 12: Research 3 artists - 8 hours

Health and Safety Measures observed during this module

Chapter 3: colouring fabric
  • Wear a mask and protective clothing when mixing dye
  • Protect work surfaces and clothing from dye
  • Dispose of left-over dyes correctly so as not to damage people or the environment
Chapter 4: Stitching by hand and machine
  • DO NOT STITCH THROUGH YOUR FINGER WITH THE SEWING MACHINE!  (A trip to A&E was the result of my failure to observe this rule.  One learns from experience.  Take care when free machine stitching and always use an embroidery foot on the machine - naked needles are dangerous.
  • Store scissors, craft knives pins and needles in a safe place, well away from children and pets.
Chapter 5: Making cords.
  • When making machine wrapped cords, take great care while guiding cord through the machine. 
  • Store any long cords well away from young children.

Chapter 7: Making buttons and toggles
  • When making toggles by wrapping strips of man-made fabric around a knitting needle and sealing it by melting by hot air gun or soldering iron, make sure that this is done, preferable outside or at least in a well-ventilated room to avoid inhaling fumes. 
  • Have a heat-proof surface nearby to lay things down on.
  • Take care not to touch hot surfaces.
  • Put hot tools on heat proof surface to cool before putting away.
  • Take care with position of electric flexes.
  • Store hot air guns and soldering irons in a safe place away from young children.

Chapter 8: Beadwork.
  • Again storage.  Some beads can look like sweets.  Store them where young children cannot reach them.
Chapter 12: Research 3 artists
  • Take care when researching on computer to avoid straining eyes, neck and shoulders.  Set a timer for 20 minutes when you sit down at the computer.  When the timer rings, get up walk around the room and do a few stretching exercises for neck and shoulders before carrying on.  This advice is also useful when doing prolonged machine embroidery.

Certificate Module 3 Chapter 12: Research Three Artists

Catherine Slater
Certificate Module 3 Chapter 12
Research Three Artists

Zandra Rhodes

There can be very few people living in the UK, or even overseas, who have not heard of Zandra Rhodes.  Her unique and exuberant style, in both her designs and her personal appearance are widely known and loved.

Since graduating from the Royal College of Art, specialising in printed textiles, her colourful and exciting designs have burst onto a delighted world.  She broke away from the conventional all-over patterns, producing hand-drawn, directional prints and playing with contrasting colours.  She produced her designs in many colourways and this, along with the careful placement of the prints, gave them many different looks.  Some favourite themes, such as spirals, feathers and what she calls “wiggles”, the latter possibly inspired by a family love of jigsaw puzzles when she was a child, crop up time and time again in her designs, each time combined with new elements and looking fresh and new.

Feathers and spirals


Spirals and wiggles

She very quickly started designing her own garments.  Although the prints were designed flat, Rhodes was fascinated by the fact that they would not be seen in that way, but would be placed on a garment.  As she explained: 

“I was excited by the idea of things divorced from themselves, prints designed flat but never used in that manner.  In learning to design for dress fabrics, I was involved in a special adventure, that of patterns which would not hang flat but would be cut and put together again in many different ways.”

This led her to experiment with pattern and shape, treating herself as a canvas: pinning samples on her body and studying the results in a mirror.  For Rhodes the pattern was the important thing, the shape of the garment being secondary and devised to show off the print to best advantage.  

 Here, the placement of the flower print on the shoulders and the handkerchief points at the hem and sleeves work very well with the chevron shawl print

I was very interested to read what Rhodes thought about the print being the primary thing and the form of the garment deliberately chosen to show the print off at its best.  It made me reconsider the shape of the belt decoration I was making for my fashion accessory in Module 3 of the Certificate in embroidery so as to be more sympathetic to the shape of the motif decorating it.

Rhodes is passionate about stitch and many of her garments include hand-stitched embroidery and beadwork, as in the beautiful evening jacket below:

"Zandra Goes to Hollywood" collection, hand-embroidered and beaded sheer evening jacket

I find Zandra Rhodes’ work fascinating – exciting, innovative and showing that a deceptively simple motif, like a lightbulb, a wiggling line or a medal can be used to make an exciting fabric print which can be made up into a stunning garment.  Her self-confidence in treading her own path and being brave enough to do something new and revolutionary is also a great inspiration.  Rhodes puts herself into her intensely personal work and the hand-drawn patterns on her garments make the viewer feel touched by the soul of the designer.

Deirdre Hawken

I was very pleased to see that Deirdre Hawken was one of the three artists we were asked to research for Module 3, since I have very happy memories of a two-day Embroiderers’ Guild workshop with her at Galashiels about 30 years ago!

Deirdre Hawken is a hat maker whose exuberant creations sing out across a room or even from out of the computer screen.  Her hats are FUN!

Hawken had a traditional millinery training and believes that this is important  for the construction of her hats, which is always immaculate.  Although her training was traditional, her hats are certainly not.  With a Deirdre Hawken hat, your head can be adorned by anything from a plate of salad to a tin of sardines!

Broad Bean Salad hat

Sardine hat

Hawken’s hats are constructed meticulously,  some, such as Nasturtium, pictured below, built up on a traditional straw hat base.

Nasturtium hat
Others, like the liquorice allsorts hat  and prawn hat below are headpieces, constructed with wire as well as other materials.

Liquorice Allsorts hat

Prawn hat

Like Zandra Rhodes, Deirdre Hawken’s work is unique, innovative and exuberant.  Like Rhodes, Hawken’s work is meticulously crafted.  The techniques used may be traditional ones, but she makes the work her own and adds her own inimitable style and sense of humour.

Chocolate Box hat

This is something that all of us who are embroidery students should try to learn.  We need to have a sound grounding in basic techniques and to be able to use them to a high standard, but we should also try to let our imaginations soar within that technique and to be able to use them in a highly personal, innovative way.

Michele Carragher

Michele Carragher is perhaps best known for her exquisite embroidery embellishing the costumes for the television series A Game of Thrones, based on the novels by George R.R. Martin.  She has also worked on other television and film costumes, notably that of Channel 4’s mini-series Elizabeth 1.

The series A Game of Thrones  is set in a fantasy world, medieval in character.  Various families are involved in a power struggle to rule their world.  Each family has a distinctive symbol which is embroidered on their clothing.  House Stark, led by Eddard Stark, has a wolf as a symbol, while Eddard’s wife Catelyn is of the Tully family, whose emblem is a fish.  House Lannister’s symbol is a lion and House Baratheon’s is a stag.  Perhaps the most interesting costume for me, was that of Daenerys Targaryen.  Her father and brother both killed, she was the only survivor of her family and had to fight for her right to rule her kingdom.  Her family traditionally had a history of being able to control dragons and, as Daenerys matures and gains in power and confidence, her costume becomes more dragon-like and scaly.

Carragher on her website, generously shares how this was achieved, by a type of smocked fabric, with the smocking stitches worked on the reverse of the fabric and then pressed and lock stitch added using metallic thread.  She explains it in detail in her website:

Dragonscale dress

Dragonscale dress details

Another of my favourite costumes is that of Catelyn Stark, whose dresses are fairly plain, but, on special occasions, enhanced by a wonderful padded and heavily stitched and beaded collar.

 Her daughters too wear a fish collar.

Michele Carragher’s website says:

As a Costume Embroiderer Michele specialises in hand embroidery and surface embellishment, using traditional hand embroidery techniques, smocking, beading and surface decoration. She works directly onto the completed garment or starts with motifs and textures on silk crepeline/organza, which are applied to the costume and then worked into once on the actual garment. Michele finds hand embroidery has more flexibility and diversity than that of embroidery created by machine, as there is a greater variety of thread choice and colours to use. It is also possible to work more easily on garments that are already constructed. 

The costumes for “A Game of Thrones” were designed by Michele Clapton and Carragher worked closely with her, interpreting in detail Clapton’s thoughts on the general feel of each garment and what she wanted them to say about the character wearing them.  Carragher makes extensive use of beads and metal thread embroidery, producing three dimensional effects, often working slips which are then applied to the garment.

Like both Zandra Rhodes and Deirdre Hawken, Michele Carragher’s work  involves meticulous traditional techniques, but used in a creative way to produce stunning results.

Below are some more images of Michele Carragher’s costumes.




Certificate Module 3: Costing of Materials

Catherine Slater
Certificate Module 3
Materials Costing

Article Made
Cost of item
Amount used (estimate)
Estimated Cost
(Resolved sample)
White cotton fabric
£3.49 per metre
£ 0.87
Dylon cold water dye in 3 colours
Local pharmacy
£3.25 per pack
3 packs
£ 9.75
Softcut for lino print on fabric
£1.42 per sheet
1 sheet
£ 1.42
Acrylic paint: Martha Stewart set
£35.00 for set of 10 colours
A tenth of a bottle
£ 0.35
Machine sewing thread
Local craft shop
£1.55 per reel
6 reels
£ 9.30
Machine sewing thread metallic
£2.40 per reel
¼ of a reel
£ 0.60
Rings to make Dorset buttons
Henry’s Buttons
£0.99 large £0.30 small
4 large, 3 small
£ 4.86
£1.00 per pack
4 packs
£ 4.00
Local craft shop
£2.00 per pack
4 packs
£ 8.00
Stranded cotton threads
£0.90 per skein
20 x ¼ skein= 5
£ 4.50
Paper yarn
The Works
£2.00 for 10 skeins
2 skeins
£ 0.40

(Fashion Accessory)
White cotton fabric
£3.49 per metre
1 metre
£ 3.49
Craft Vylene
Art Van Go
£5.90 per metre
0.5 metre
£ 2.95
Acrylic paint: Martha Stewart set
£3.50 per tube
10% of a tube in each of 3 colours
£ 1.05
Stranded cotton thread
£0.90 per skein
2 x ½ skein
£ 0.90
Multi-coloured pearl thread
£1.50 per skein
2 skeins
£ 3.00
Rayon thread
£2.40 per skein
One third of a skein
£ 0.80
Machine sewing thread
Local craft shop
£1.55 per reel
½ reel in each of 4 colours
£ 3.10
Local craft shop
£2.00 per pack
½ of each of 2 packs
£ 2.00
£1.00 per pack
½ of each of 2 packs
£ 1.00
Brooch backs
£1.00 each
£ 2.00
Craft shop
£0.85 each
£ 3.40

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Certificate Module 3, Chapter 10 Finished ... well, nearly

Sewed up a storm today since I promised to finish my fashion accessory in a week.  I've finished the belt and finished the belt decoration.  At the moment, the decoration is just pinned onto the belt, so I still have to work out whether I want to sew the decoration on permanently on one place, or work out some sort of carrier so it can slip onto the belt and be moved around.  I can see the advantage in the latter, which, indeed would also enable the decoration to be worn on another belt, but it's late and difficult thinking can be left till another day.

Here are some pictures of the belt and its decorations.  I enjoyed making the cords to fasten it and was able to use some pretty shells I bought from a hippy type shop I discovered while on holiday and also some of the beads I'd made earlier in the module.

They are not very good photos, since they are just taken with my phone at night, but I'll post some better ones when I've finished it properly.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Certificate Module 3 Chapter 10 ... getting there ...

I had a busy day today, doing the work I'd planned on my belt decoration.  Yesterday I had coloured some fabric for the belt, mixing colours to match the colour I'd used digitally earlier.  I was quite pleased with the results.  The big, heart in the mouth job was taking apart the belt decoration I'd made and cutting it down to a shape with oval ends.  To get a more precise, neater result than I'd had with the rectangle, I used compass, ruler and protractor to draw a square with a semi-circle at each end.  I transferred this onto two pieces of pelmet vilene onto which I ironed bondaweb.  I cut out the shapes and then ironed one onto the belt decoration and one onto a new piece of dyed fabric for the backing.

3.10 Belt 4

I turned in the raw edges and tacked them with contrasting thread (easy to see to remove!) to keep the raw edges under control.  I then slip stitched the two pieces together by hand.

3.10 Belt 5

3.10 Belt 6 - completed belt decoration with brooches attached

I am much more pleased with the result than the first belt decoration, firstly because it is much neater and well finished and secondly because I feel the shape now echoes nicely the shape of the printed and stitched shapes.

Finally, I printed the fabric which I had coloured yesterday for the belt.  I wanted a subtle, barely there print and I think it has worked fairly well.  Once it's dry I'll fold it into shape and see how it looks with the decoration.

3.10 Belt 7 - printed fabric for the belt

Time for a cuppa now so off to put the kettle on.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Certificate Module 3 Chapter 10 Design a Fashion Accessory: first thoughts after tutorial

So I hadn't been happy with my first attempt at making a fashion accessory.  Things were so busy in the run up to Summer School that I hadn't had the time, or been able to get into the right mindset, to sit down calmly and consider what was wrong with it and what was right.  Whilst I found the idea of starting over completely an exciting one, at the same time my new idea was a huge one and deserved more time and consideration than I was able or willing to give to it.  I felt I had become stuck in Module 3 and was keen to move on.  I was confused.

I usually find that, when I feel in that frame of mind, several things help: firstly letting it simmer at the back of my mind while I think of something else, and secondly getting some outside advice from someone who isn't, as I am, too close to the situation to judge.  We had planned a relaxing break in Malvern for a week before Summer School, walking the hills, chilling out and visiting some much-loved relatives and so I put the problem out of my mind for the moment.  I knew that my tutorial with Sian at the Summer School would help and, of course it did.

Sian suggested that I shelve my new idea for body armour for the moment.  She thought that it would make an ideal Diploma project for me, since the Diploma would allow me to give it the time, thought and effort that it deserved.  She thought (and I agreed) that I had spent enough time on Module 3 and it was time that I moved on to Module 4.  She liked the beaded brooches I had made and suggested that the background I had made would perhaps be more suitable for a belt decoration.  This was a lightbulb moment for me and I liked the idea very much.  Sian suggested that two brooches would be enough and suggested placing them on the background so that the beaded lines radiating out from the centre echoed the stitched lines on the background.

3.10 Belt 1

I had tried my best to make the corners of the background piece neat, but, with the thickness of several layers of fabric and the stiffening effect of acrylic paint and stitching, this was very hard to do.  Of course Sian homed in on this straight away and suggested that I might try to improve this.

When I thought about it once back home, I realised that, quite apart from the quality of finish (or lack of it!) I wasn't happy with the rectangular shape when everything else had been rounded shapes.  I used Photoshop on my computer to cut up the background digitally to see the effect of rounding the ends.

3.10 Belt 2

I liked this shape much better and decided that I would unpick the stitches around the edge and re-make the background.

The next decision to be made was what sort of belt would look good with the belt decoration.  Again, some playing around on Photoshop with some folded up fabric gave me some ideas.

3.10 Belt 3

I was hoping that I would like sample 1 best since it was fabric I had dyed and printed already and would take least effort.  The other samples were produced by playing around with hue, lightness and saturation on Photoshop.  However, I thought that sample 2 looked best with the belt decoration.  I like the layering of techniques with the belt being decorated by printing only, the background having print and stitch and the brooches (detachable) having print, stitch and beading.  It seems a very satisfactory progression.  The ends of the belt could be curved like the ends of the decoration background.

Now that the main decisions have been made, I am ready to embark on the actual making process and then I'll have fun deciding how the belt will fasten and how these fastening will be decorated.  I have some ideas floating around in my mind of machine wrapped cords decorated with tiny ammonites and/or toggles and buttons, but these have not yet coalesced.