Tag Archives: embroidery

Military history, family keepsake

Goodness – it’s been a while! I’m not sure where the summer holidays have gone, but they are certainly winding down now.  Those of you who follow my facebook page will know I’ve been busy over the summer …. to those of you who don’t, I apologise for the long absence, and promise to share some of those pieces with you over the next few weeks.

I was honoured to be asked to create a keepsake piece around one family’s history – a military history around two brave and distinguished officers in both World Wars.

Joseph Weston Coyle was born in 1884 and died in 1967, having served in the British Army in both World Wars and received the Military Cross in WWI.

1918 Military Cross

Denis Weston Coyle was born in 1917 and died in 1995. He served in WWII, and received an MBE and DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross) for his actions in Burma.

1945 MBE, DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross)

I was asked to create a memory piece to display their war medals … something simple, but that would allow the family to see and remember an important part of their history.

Along with the medals, I had all the family papers relating to these two men, and a small box of military memorabilia that had belonged to them both. It was absolutely fascinating to read through it all, to get a sense of what they had both done with their lives, and I felt very humble afterwards, and privileged to be entrusted with this piece of work.

It seemed obvious to me that the medals, and the photos, should take centre stage of this piece ….when I was planning the layout, it immediately struck me that I could scan and print the photos onto fabric …. and that some text should document exactly what the decorations meant.

I had a beautiful piece of antique, heavy linen with a simple grid pattern woven into it which made the perfect background, but it was clear even before I started that it wasn’t going to be strong enough to take the weight of the medals and badge, so I stretched the  it over an artists canvas box frame, with a thin layer of quilt batting in between the linen and the canvas.

I kept the embroidery very, very simple – no more than was needed to attached the fabric-printed photographs, and the text – I wanted it to look as much like script as possible … and no more than names, dates, and the decorations.

The cap badges and other memorabilia went down the side …. apparently this has opened up another round of family questions as they try to unearth the identity of the military gentleman in the little locket.

Finishing and framing are all part of the service …. there’s no glass, so that the medals can still be touched.

I am so glad I was commissioned to create this family keepsake … not only to have the chance to set some very precious memories for this family out where they can become a part of their daily life, but also because it’s made me reflect back on my own grandfathers, and the part they played in WWII – and made me thankful that all they did means that neither my husband, nor my son, are likely to be dragged into the sort of conflict that can destroy a generation.

Keepsake Quilt: White work … til death us do part

It’s nice to get a little bit of breathing space to work on one of my personal keepsake quilt projects, even if it is little one hour snatches here and there …

I’ve gone back to the white work blocks I started during the ‘Embroider, Embellish, Create’ course I took with  Karen Ruane . Though I’d got all my blocks prepared, I only got 2 blocks (more or less) finished,  and then Christmas took over and January went past in a whirlwind … and now it’s time to pick it up again.

So I’m working on the first of the blocks for my children … this for my oldest daughter …


I’ve cut away some of the linen base, and buttonholed around the edge of it … and the buttonhole will continue along the edge of that strip of broderie anglaise, anchoring it into the base cloth. A pale pink ribbon to echo the colour of the thread got threaded through the trim fragment, and it’s all held down with french knots.

My grandmother – who I still miss, even after 7 years – knitted those little booties for her. They’ll be going into a special little pocket at the bottom of the block.

The whole piece … starting to come together, but still a long way to go yet …

I’m still waiting rather nervously for the gods of textile to smite me down for chopping up an antque doily … maybe if they like what I do, they’ll spare me?