Posts filed under ‘Machine embroidery’

Some fun with ATASDA

It has been nearly a year since I have blogged here and a year since my mum died. The past year was very mentally challenging and I feel I have just come out of a fog. Cleaning out 60 years of accumulated possessions was a very long process.

However I have not been idle as all that textiles art stuff is great therapy. I will work my way backwards and hopefully catch up on all the textile art of the past year. First up, last weekend we had a wonderful eco dyeing day in Melbourne with some of the ATASDA Victoria group. I unwrapped my bundles today and had some interesting results with the most vibrant being on some silk/wool broadcloth from Beautiful silks.

I also folded up some concertina book pages (A3 mixed media 210gsm) and experimented with a variety of garden prunings: ornamental grape leaves

Sheoak needles butterfly:

Purple leaved prunus, rose and E. cineria

Instead of string ties I tied up the bundles with silk sari strips

And my recently returned home recycled book called ‘Wild Silk’ from the ATASDA In the Making exhibition in Sydney. The theme of the exhibition was ‘Look Inside’ and I thought a book was ideal for that!

Many of my artworks relate to environmental themes and this relates to the two ways of sourcing silk threads/woven fabrics. The commercial production of mulberry silk entails feeding the cocoons in mass production and boiling the moths alive to preserve the single thread. On the other hand, ‘Wild silk’ allows silk worms to remain in their natural habitat with the cocoons being collected after the moths have exited (tussah silk).

Inside were more items to look inside!

Tussah silk paper ‘Chinese secrets’ (thread holders) boxes

A middle section for the tussah moth to hide:

And a little book with silk paper cover to read about making ethical and responsible choices when shopping for clothing:

The tussah moth joins a bogong moth in my growing moth family:

March 29, 2023 at 6:13 pm Leave a comment

Treasure Trove Challenge

Another challenge I took part in last year was with ATASDA (Australian Textile and Surface Decoration Association) which included members Australia wide. Currently the challenge art pieces are on display at Epping Creative Centre and will travel to other venues as restrictions ease.

Members nominated to join the Challenge and were given a Challenge partner. Each person created their own ‘treasure’ in whatever textile medium they chose. The only limitation was a size one for posting. Once finished my treasure, based on a conch shell, was posted to my partner to create the ‘receptacle’ or treasure holder. You can view all the treasures and their receptacles on the ATASDA website galleries.

To create my shell I began with needlefelting, then wet felting to create the base ‘fabric’. The piece was free machine stitched, lined with natural dyed and twin needled silk, formed into the 3D shell and then handstitched and beaded.

My treasure partner used nuno felting to create a wonderful ‘stage’ for the shell:

January 10, 2021 at 9:27 pm 2 comments


The 2020 Biblio Art Prize at Blarney Books & Art is now open for viewing, both in Port Fairy and online.

The Biblio Art Prize began in 2009 and has become very popular, attracting entries from around Australia and overseas.  It was instigated by and continues to be run through Blarney Books and Art in Port Fairy, a quirky bookshop plus art gallery that is an institution in Victoria for locals and travellers alike. A book title is chosen from a hat and the entrant is expected to read and respond to the book in some way or form.

This year Blarney Books and Art chose to select books written by Australian authors for the art prompt. I was emailed The Labyrinth by Amanda Lohrey and promptly supported my local bookstore by buying the book. As one of the finalists my piece is included in both the online and physical exhibitions.

Title: Perfect Imperfection

Book Title: The Labyrinth by Amanda Lohrey

Medium: Textile Art: Goldwork, Free Machine Embroidery, Hand Embroidery.

Brief Statement:

This book brought to mind the Japanese aesthetic of wabi sabi, its complexity and imperfectness, which is reflected in all our lives. The book explores the elements of strength/resilience and kindness/softness.

The Labyrinth speaks to:

            How we care for others,

            How we respond to adversity,

            How we accept the imperfection of human nature.

The artwork started with a base of natural silk, strong yet soft. I painted the colours of sea and sky and used frottage to simulate the grey gravel of the zen garden. The soft cotton, repeated stitching is a meditation on the labyrinth, the metal of goldwork the strength that holds us all together. The twisted tree, reminiscent of my beach walks, represents the complexity of family relationships and the chairs the warmth and belonging of community.

A labyrinth is the opportunity to meditate on the perfect imperfection of life and living.


The piece is framed by Mulbury Framers in Highett who use beautiful reclaimed and recycled timber.

January 10, 2021 at 9:00 pm Leave a comment

Art Quilt Australia 2019 at the NWM

As a member of the National Wool Museum I was lucky enough to be invited to the opening and prize winners announcement on Thursday night. Openings at the NWM are always well run and have interesting speakers so Kerrie and I went along for the preview.

After a glass of Hill wine (one of my favourite cellar doors), a welcome to country, and a few speeches the winners of the Expressions: Wool Quilt Prize and OZQN Award of Excellence were announced. Here are a few of my favourites from the night. All the quilts were amazing and very different so do go along and see the exhibition.

The winner of the Award of Excellence was Neroli Henderson with her deceptively simple and very effective quilt Whitewash. Highly commended in the Wool Quilt prize was Alison Withers Change for Earth. Not only is Alison’s execution and skill incredible she also makes very pertinent statements about current issues.

Prize winners

Two other quilts that I loved were Susan Mathews and her use of print effects in Banksia Country 3 and the wonderful composition and texture of Jill Rumble’s Landlines

And another wonderful piece from the entries that appealed to me was Kerryn Taylor’s Flinders Ranges Panorama with a wonderful group of tapestry inserts. I absolutely loved the texture and colour of this art quilt.

This is a must see exhibition for all textile and art quilt lovers.

September 7, 2019 at 10:53 am Leave a comment

FME with KHF

We were extremely lucky to have Kathryn Harmer Fox visit for a three day workshop called ‘Using your sewing machine as a creative tool’.

Kathryn was a great tutor for an experienced group as she didn’t waste time with too much instruction but just let us get on with it. Her teaching philosophy was very open ended in that she would make suggestions occasionally but generally would question us to make us justify our choices.

The photos show how my piece progressed from a photo of a very cute penguin taken at the Melbourne aquarium many years ago, not very clear as it was taken through glass. Firstly the piece was sketched onto the canvas and the bottom of the penguin coloured in Inktense pencils. Small pieces of fabric were added, the background painted and then more fabric added.

Some people used glue to keep the fabric in place while stitching but I hate how it makes the needle sticky so I simply slid the piece under the needle on the machine and held the pieces in place with a chopstick while stitching.

I will be hopefully finishing this off in the next school holidays. Currently sewing 70 small ‘Mirka Mora’ softie sculptures for stuffing and finishing by my Visual Art classes.

August 30, 2019 at 11:19 am Leave a comment

Slashing & burning with Alsyn

During the school holidays I had a little trip to Hobart for a 4 day workshop with Alsyn Midgelow-Marsden, organised by the Stitching & Beyond textile art group. Alsyn is from the UK, lives in NZ and is often in Australia to run workshops.

Before slash and burn

Alsyn was also at Ballarat in April this year (where I had a fabulous workshop with Claire Benn last year) however I decided on a change of scenery, Hobart is so easy to get to from Melbourne and I love visiting the city.

S&B are based in Hobart but welcome members from all over. To participate in one of their many excellent workshops you need to be a member (only $20 a year). I booked an Airbnb with a fabulous host in a beautiful old restored home in New Town, next door to the amazing Royal Tasmanian Botanic Gardens. I arrived a day early for the workshop, dropped my bags, walked along the track to the city, bought a green card from the very helpful Metro Shop and bused down to Kingston Beach to visit the fantastic store Wafu Works. I couldn’t go too crazy as my luggage was already full of paraphernalia for the workshop, however I did purchase a few little bits and pieces including some beautiful paper, a calligraphy brush, some grey boro thread, indigo fabrics and vintage indigo scraps.

Nuno felt on silk

The first two days of our workshop were spent working on techniques and building up samples. Lots of slashing-soldering iron, burning and heating-gas tea light candles, camp stove and blow torch, stitching and felting-needle and wet and colouring silk and metal. The final two days were to TIF (take it further) and develop the elements for a piece of work. Chris (one of the S&B organisers) suggested we may like to create an A3 piece to enter into the S&B Challenge exhibition which will travel around Tasmania (which is my aim). My inspiration for the workshop was this photo of The Bluff:

Barwon Heads Bluff

Thank you to Alsyn for a wonderful 4 days, I now have enough elements to make a series!

Possible elements

Also thank you to Chris and the other S&B members for their wonderful hospitality and organisation. I had a great time and will definitely return.

April 22, 2019 at 11:01 am 2 comments

A day at the AQC 2015

I had a very enjoyable day wandering around the Australasian Quilt Convention in Melbourne yesterday.

I tend to attend once every few years, but there were a couple of incentives this time. A friend had entered her quilt in the AQC Challenge, which had the interesting theme of ‘True blue’ and I needed to stock up on some threads. I didn’t get  pictures of many quilts, it was quite crowded, but you can see them all here. The other quilt exhibits were also very interesting. There are a couple of highlights below.



Best of the best Queensland

Best of the best

It is also good to go every few years to see what is new in gadgets and to try a few techniques to see if I am interested in adding them to my repertoire. My first step is to check out the brochure (which I’m registered to receive in the post each year) and work out which workshops or talks I am interested in trying.

First up I decided to have a try at traditional English paper piecing (which I have not done before) on a pincushion. The tutor was very good and I have now learnt how to make a ‘fisherman’s knickers knot’ and also found out I probably wouldn’t progress to making a quilt! Another tip, which the purists won’t like, was to use the polyester bobbin thread for the stitching. It will last much longer than cotton and if you are putting this much effort into the piece you want it to last!

This was followed immediately by a free workshop run by Toyota sewing machines on FME. Although I would say I am fairly proficient at FME it was great to have a go on their dedicated FME machine. If you are looking for a low cost entry to a machine specifically designed for FME (the workshop participant cost for these was A$599) it would be a good machine to buy as it made the process very easy. As I have just purchased the Janome 6600P I have a few extra ideas on how I can use my new machine in the same way to make FME much quicker and easier. Once again the tutor was very helpful and had lots of her interesting works on display.

Wendy Hicks

Wendy Hicks

We practiced straight stitch first, then the zigzag which automatically adjusted size according to the foot pressure. Finally we started working on some simple bookmarks like the ones above.

Straight & zigzag practice

Straight & zigzag practice

By doing a bit of price checking between stalls I managed to stock up on some good quality machine sewing threads and the show specials enabled me to get some sample packs of a few threads I’ve been wanting to try.



I also picked up a handy roll of bag stiffening material and my buy of the day was this great rotating cutting mat. We used these to cut the templates for our pieced pincushions and it was a very handy piece of equipment. Show price was A$49.95 so a pretty good buy.

All in all a fun day out.


April 18, 2015 at 4:24 pm 1 comment

Studio update

I managed to finish my ATC  and Fabric swaps on time and all have now been posted . I won’t blog about the fabric yet as it will take at least a week to arrive at destinations in USA and England. The ATCs should have arrived as they were local.

The theme for the EGV December ATC swap was green. I started with vliesofixed strips and scraps of sari silk, dyed silk rods and other fabric onto a cotton sheeting that had paint overspray from an Angie Hughes project. This was overlaid with green organza and then fine black netting. I have used FME and Flower stitcher over the layers and then burnt back sections using the heat gun. The whole piece was vliesofixed onto pelmet vilene before being cut to size and then zigzag edged. They are named ‘Eucalyptus Forest’.





Now I need to do some cleaning up in the shed so that I can start on the wedding dresses.

I have also finished off the tiling above the sink in the studio. I sourced tiles from Restorers Barn, Mill Markets, Bunnings and some beautiful handmade tiles from Gillian’s gorgeous shop, Leaf & Stone, at Wintergarden. I am really happy with how they turned out given it is my first wall tiling attempt and I chose a variety of sizes, shapes and thicknesses of the tiles. Kind of reminds of Mexican adobe style.

I also used some vanilla coloured grout out of the garage so a good, cheap, recycling effort all round.


Tiling 2

Close up showing the different thicknesses-lots of fun grouting!

Tiling c-up

January 5, 2015 at 3:23 pm 2 comments

What a blast!!

Having survived the toddler tantrums four times, I felt quite at home this weekend creating my own ‘tantrum’ for Dale’s challenge. I began with the colours and the idea of some sort of cosmic blast. The colours were based on some balloons from a charity function we attended:

Bits and pieces: scraps of silk fabric, silk fibres, some dyed cotton scrim, were ironed onto a piece of hand dyed cotton using bonding powder. The base is some of Susan Lenz’s gift of black felt.

It has been painted, covered with an old chiffon scarf, machine stitched, heat gunned and now the finishing details are going on by hand.

Should be winging it’s way west after next weekend.

I will be participating in the Friday Night sew in on March 19th. Sounds like a great idea, I will get some handstitching out for it and maybe combine with a little foot soaking as well.

Visit Heidi’s blog to sign up and maybe win a prize as well.

I have booked in for a great creative beading workshop with Lisa Walton in July. Luckily it is a Monday (my free day). There are spaces left if you are interested.

Time to sleep


March 2, 2010 at 10:12 pm 3 comments

Birthday Giveaway

Sewjourn is having a birthday giveaway, be quick it ends at 5pm tonight.

I have just downloaded my September copy of WOW, great inspiration there and well worth the miserly subscription. I am about to incorporate Julie Smith’s wonderful article on making a mermaid’s purse (or cuff actually) into my sea angels. I have just about finished all the machine stitching and will spend the next two weeks with the hand stitching.

Here is another taster.

 The first is the twin needle stitching on the neck of one dupion silk gown:gown pintucksThis is the other gown painted with a mixture of acrylic, opulence ink and dyn na flow then sprinkled with salt:

pink gown:saltI painted some pearl cotton with the leftovers but they are a bit stiff, even after being in the dryer. They might be okay in a twisted cord or couched on. This is in the wet stage, it actually dried much lighter and will be toned down with overlays.

The last photo is another of the wing pieces. On the corners I have stitched using the Maggie’s technique from the Perth workshop. I’m hoping these will look like fragments of fishing net once dissolved.

wingsSorry about the flash off the glass cooktop.


September 6, 2009 at 11:35 am 1 comment

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