PSB – Challenge No. 3 – Abstract Embroidery Art

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Abstract Embroidery Art - Retro ClaudeAbstract Embroidery Art - Retro Claude

And now for my final Petersfield Sewing Bee challenge. I put an abstract twist on this challenge and came up with my abstract embroidery art.

The focus for this challenge was embroidery, inspired by the embroidery therapy that was offered to many soldiers across the world after WW1. Surprisingly ahead of its time, embroidery therapy tapped into the therapeutic nature of lots of handicrafts and helped soldiers deal with their psychological trauma.

For this challenge we were provided with 1 metre of linen. We could use as much or as little as we liked and we could do any kind of embroidery that took our fancy.

Now originally for this challenge I had really high ambitions. I wanted to make a dress completely covered in embroidery like something from a Dior haute couture collection. I had visions of beautiful 3D petals, pastel colours and not a square inch of fabric left un-embellished. However, this, of course, didn’t happen.

I changed my mind for lots of reasons. To start with the amount of time involved to make something like that is ENORMOUS.

But also, somehow I couldn’t make a start. Maybe it was because I knew I would never be happy with the result, or because it didn’t feel right for this WW1 challenge? I don’t know. All I know is suddenly and completely changed my mind and had this sudden desire to create an abstract art piece.

Now abstract art pieces aren’t usually my thing never mind abstract embroidery. I’m a dressmaker not an artist. But I have really enjoyed this little moment of self expression. I felt that it was so right for me in my life right now and I ended up doing my own little piece of embroidery therapy.

I chose to create an abstract pattern after I started to do some research on Pinterest. (Side note, if you don’t follow me on Pinterest you definitely should) Embroidery patterns can be incredibly twee. The same old flowers and scrolls, cross stitch borders and french knots. But then I cam across the art of an artist called Izziyana Suhaimi.

The Embroidery

I was so inspired by the dense colour and texture of her work and I knew this was something I wanted to try for myself.

Embroidery Art - Retro Claude

I decided to work in stripes of alternating directions and within a blue/grey colour palette. To be honest I didn’t have a strategy or a design in mind I just went for it and hoped for the best.

I must admit I am really pleased with the result. In many ways, this piece wasn’t so much about the finished art work but the process. I found it so satisfying to watch the embroidery grow and cover more and more of the fabric.

Abstract Embroidery Art - Retro Claude

My favourite section is this one where I used only light colours. I find it very calming like clouds on a sunny day that make the heat that little bit more bearable.

Abstract Embroidery Art - Retro Claude

I stopped once I was happy with it. They say that is the great difficulty with art; knowing when it is finished. In my case my patience for embroidery ran out at about the same time I began to like the piece, which has a very happy coincidence.

My next dilemma was what to do with it? How do you display embroidery?

And so I turned it into a wall hanging.

The Method

I started by cutting around the embroidery and then making a backing for it in the same fabric.

Then, I left two little tabs at the top as I knew I wanted to create a channel to feed a length of dowel through.

I then frayed all the edges as I wanted to continue the texture created by the embroidery. I joined the two layers together by zig zag stitching over the frayed edges. This should stop them fraying anymore.

Next, I turned the tabs under to create the channel before I zig zaged the top edge, making sure to catch the bottom of the tap in the stitching.

I threaded the dowel through and created a thread to hang it from using some left over embroidery thread. I left the ends of the thread long and frayed those a little too.

And there we have it! An abstract embroidered wall hanging.

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To say that this has been something completely different for me is an understatement. But I have REALLY enjoyed it. I feel so inspired to go and create some more art and do some more embroidery.

Abstract Embroidery Art - Retro Claude

If nothing else the Petersfield Sewing Bee has given me that.

If you want to take a look at my other challenges you can find No.1 here and No.2 here.

Claude xx