slower, quieter : experimenting with appliqué

appliqué experiments

Sewing is frequently on my mind when I’m painting and drawing and painting and drawing is frequently on my mind when I’m sewing. Lots of intersections, lots of overlap. I wondered what might happen in the translation process – from paint to cloth. Wondered if it would be interesting – what it might change or reveal. I decided to try some things this week. Make my self start, start before I had it all figured out, before I know what they might be. I chose a couple simple and small designs to begin. The ideas emerged from my sketchbook work, my little daily paintings.

appliqué ideas

appliqué ideas

appliqué experiments

At first I tried turning, basting and ironing the edges of my sometimes tiny shapes before stitching. It was tedious and awkward and I found I liked cutting shapes and turning the edges under as I stitched much better.  And the translation process is interesting. I found lot’s of inspiration there. It is slower and quieter than paint. I think hard about relationships, my decisions are deliberate. And there is an element of happenstance – the cloth brings unexpected details, textures and colors I did not invent.

appliqué experiments

I never would have chosen a warm red for this piece- but it was all I had so I tried it and I love it. Making those big, bold  red stitches was surprisingly satisfying.

And it’s the perfect kind of sewing for the morning – before I’m quite awake. I love having something all ready for stitching, waiting for me when I get up – everything cut and pinned. It is also good traveling work, subway work, sit in the park work.

sketchbook swan

I have plans for lot’s more of these. Some tiny and some large. I’d love to do a very large stitched interpretation of this swan. It will take me one million years to make.

applique experiments



    your work is very good especially the swan and the decorative frame. I agree about the quiet work hand stitching brings to oneself. I am 80 and my fingers work slower than my mind. I am replacing pieces on an old quilt given to me when I married over fifty years ago. A simple quilt with just squares. Many of them are worn and thread bare and worse. Choosing replacements from an unbelievable stash of material and sewing them on has proven to be soothing and awarding. No great artistic feat but connecting again with memories of the various fabrics. I enjoy your sharing of your world. Thank you, Joan Coles

  2. Sometimes you just have to let your imagination run just to see where it takes you. Sampling is a great way to interpret those little chinks of ideas that pop into our heads. I’m looking forward to seeing where you take these.

  3. susan hall

    what a lovely post , i so enjoyed words and pictures.
    iam in the process of learning hoot do the backlisted needle turn method go appliqué . phew even saying it is mouthful but I’ve had lots of lovely help from people on instagram and its all getting lots easier.
    if you’d like you can see on ig susiestitch1.

  4. your work is always so beautiful,’s surprising how much creativity can be produced in found moments like the start of the morning or travelling to work on the bus or train..I tend to find that turning the edge of applique under with the tip of your needle makes for a much nicer finish, the trick is to use the finest needles, Clover black applique are very good (though a little pricey) but hand on heart, it’s those old vintage ones that you can sometimes find in antique markets, they come in little folded over paper packets and are nice and strong but also as sharp as a moonbeam.

  5. Sonia Simpson

    Have you ever seen Janet boltons applique?
    A UK artist I think you would love her style

  6. I love reading your words; you articulate what so many of us feel about handwork.



  7. I love applique work and love your idea of putting your sketches into cloth! I started a quilt of repeating appliqued blocks a few years ago just so I would have some handwork to do when I felt the mood take me! (No pressure that way!) My favorite method is one I adapted from Becky Goldsmith and Piece O’ Cake Designs – I finger press the borders under and then pin my piece down with tiny applique pins…and use a piece of clear plastic with the design drawn on it to correctly place pieces.

  8. Kim Gilligan

    What a wonderful idea! I wake up, put the coffee on, give the cat his tablespoon of cream, meditate then write in my journal. To follow either the meditation or the journaling with a bit of hand stitching may just lead me to create the rest of the morning instead of cleaning/surfing the net aka wasting time.

  9. Bronwyn

    Love these because I hate throwing anything away, and it’s more fun than the postage stamp crazy quilting I sometimes do to use up bits I can use.

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