Tag Archives: wool

Bespoke charcoal slow cloth cushion

I’ve been working some more weaving … this is a bespoke cushion from before Christmas, which was intended as a gift … so I’ve delayed posted the pictures until well after the event, to avoid spoiling any surprises!

It all started as an old charcoal cashmere pullover – badly mothed and coming apart at the seams – that had huge sentimental value. A gift for a special man, made from his father’s old pullover… what was wanted was a modern, stylish cushion suitable for a man’s study ….. but the wool was in such bad condition, that the only way to make it into memory cloth, was to make it into slow cloth.

First things first … into an old pillowcase and into the washing machine at 90 to felt it … and I was glad I’d put it in the pillowcase, otherwise I’d still be pulling little black bobbles out of my machine now! Once it was felted and the wool wasn’t going to unravel on me, I cut strips from it, each roughly 5cm across and around 50cm long. I wove them together onto a linen base, and used chevron stitch in black embroidery silk to hold the edges down and together. And then quilted over the top of the whole thing in turquoise silk, ecru cotton and silver metallic embroidery thread, just a fairly straightforward running stitch, because it didn’t want to be too fancy and feminine.

With the top completed, time to turn my attention to the backing … I am the most terrible cheat when it comes to buttonholes … I can do them, but they drive me demented, so if I can get out of it, I will. My favourite cheat, currently, is using old shirt fronts as the backing for cushions. In this instance, an old dress shirt – I thought the black lines worked well with the cushion top colours and lines … and hey presto, buttons and buttonholes already present and correct! YAY!

Top and bottom together, with a 45cm x 45cm cushion pad inside … and I think this is a pretty stylish, masculine, modern cushion, perfect for a study chair!

Sunset rain, lilies

Coming back after weeks of various injuries and ailments, too tedious and frustrating to revisit, to one of my favourite blocks from the cloth-to-cloth course. I loved the contrast between the vibrant exuberance of the silk and the sober solidity of the dark wool suiting fabric, and the feel of the two together was somehow quite luxurious.

I have a little penchant for oriental textiles, so one of my favourite places to visit is Dancing on Temple Tops … blogging about the ongoing adventures of a seamstress in Tokyo. A recent post on the Ikeda Collection caught my eye, in particular the glorious clutch purses, and I thought that this piece, with quilting and embroidery, might be an ideal starting point for a little experiment in that direction.

Inspiration comes from the strangest of places.

A glorious page of scribble from Bella (age 3) done specially for me,  could so easily have gone the way of so many other artworks (sadly … how is it possible to keep it all?) if it weren’t for the central red squiggle, looping around itself.

Hmmm. What if?

What if I traced over it?

oh yes, I like that, and with a bit of batting and some red silk fabric, ex-skirt-lining, for backing, it was time to start working those embroidery threads.

I still like it, but on its own it’s not enough … and the detail is dissolving. I needed to do more, both to clarify the floral element, and to properly fix the woven cloth into a coherent whole.

So. Whipped the stab-stitched lines to define individual petals and leaves, and stitched down within them to suggest the structure of the petals, and I brought in a couple of additional colours to further delineate the different areas.

And the more I worked on it, the more it seemed to become a pair of waterlilies resting on a pond at sunset … and the more I knew I needed to fill the spaces between somehow … without overcomplicating the design or distracting too much from the flowers. Waves? A suggestion of current & waterweed? Ripples? Ripples, yes, from raindrops, expanding and interrupting each other, each one a little off-centre from the next, but fulfilling its purpose to join both the design and the fabric into a single whole.

So pleased with the result. The finished piece is supple, but with reassuring weight and structural stiffness, and the feel of it under hand is just wonderful, and the shimmer of the silk and the texture given by the stitching over the batting distracts the eye from the almost-regular checkerboard pattern of the underlying weaving.

A little border, a little folding, a little finishing:

I love this bag.