Sunday, 15 November 2015

The Continuing Story of

Having had a wonderful course at West Dean with Rosalind Wyatt learning how she gets that beautiful flowing handwriting onto fabric using a fine thread and hand stitching, I finished the book cover for "Emma" by Jane Austen.  I started the cover before I went on the course but finished it off while there having learnt Rosalind's technique.  Rosalind mainly using couching and chain stitch applied with a loose tension to achieve the lovely flowing handwriting effect and uses a single strand of a fine silk sewing thread.  We were told to look at handwriting as marks rather than specific letters which would allow you to break down the shapes more easily.  We looked at different handwriting as well as type faces and then stitched over words printed onto fabric before tackling a piece just by eye. I found I needed to put a line of running stitch to keep the lines of writing straight - this running stitch could then be removed later.  We all worked at a steady pace on the course as the technique was quite intense but I found this suited me as it gave me time to think how I was going to proceed with the other book I had covered which I intended would be about my mother and my childhood.  Below are the results.

The cover of this old copy of "Emma" was falling apart so I have collaged different papers, printed letters on fabric, images and dyed fabric to create a collection of correspondence/writing and then added embroidered words.  Any paper that I have used has then been covered with silk organza to not only hold it down but by adding some drops of blue dye to the fabric makes it appear as ink blots.

This is the book I covered which I intended would be about my mother and my childhood.  The story so far follows:

So this is being done as an altered book and the photo on the left is my mothers favourite photo of my sister and me playing "wash day" in the garden - it has been printed onto cotton fabric.


This photo of my mother has been printed on organza and the writing is stitched by hand on to silk organza.


Here I have created a pocket into which I have tucked a pattern for baby shoes/slippers.  The photo which again has been printed on organza has been set in an aperture cut from one page and backed by the next.

This is the instructions for baby shoes handwritten straight onto the page which has been painted with white acrylic - there are also lovely little images in the book which I have kept.

This is a photo printed onto cotton fabric that was taken sitting on the hall floor by a passing travelling commercial photographer - the image was black and white but the photographer tinted our play suits, our cheeks and our hair.   I know my mother made our play suits and I found a very similar pattern that she might have used.

Again, the instructions for the play suits have been written straight onto the page.

Here we are pushing our prams in our party frocks and again I found a very similar pattern - but looking at the photo the garden is still quite young and I remembered how the hedges grew around the garden, a shed was added and various fruit trees, in particular a greengage tree.

I have lots more to do to finish this book but plenty of material and ideas.  One idea in particular is that of paper dolls - I loved paper dolls when I was young and thought it would be fun to do all the female members of my family dressed in colourful finery.  I also thought I could do them as bookmarks.  The book is split into three sections - you may just see that I have used old, vintage thread cards to mark the start of the other two sections.  

The image below is my first attempt at stitched handwriting on organza that I did with Rosalind Wyatt.

And finally I have very quickly collaged together images of writing and printing that I have either done or collected on different fabrics and papers - perhaps another book cover!!


  1. I wish I had read this post before we met up today - I could have told you how beautiful they are and how much I admire them - so delicate and thoughtful. I loved paper dressing up dolls too - I wish I had kept all my Bunty magazines with the dolls on the back! I shall look forward to seeing the books for real when ŵe next meet up xx

  2. Thank you for your lovely comment - looking forward to our day together and hopefully I will have done a few more pages. xx