Scraps Of Inspiration, 7

In the last few years we’ve seen an incredible expansion of interest in hand stitch, especially with the Slow Stitch movement with attendant features of mindfulness, torn fabrics applied using running stitch, straight stitch or pattern darning, the embrace of meditation, and so on. As a hand stitcher, aka embroiderer, from the 70s, this is a development I’ve welcomed. I’ve never ‘abandoned’ hand stitch and hand quilting, but in the past 5-6 years hand stitch has become a much more significant feature of my own surface designs. The Glorious Straight Stitch, as I term it, has always been a favourite, and during the pandemic, having all the time in the world at home, I found myself truly calmed by simple hand stitching, listening as I always have done when making, to recorded books and more recently, podcasts.

One of the questions in my previous post, was about the kind of edging I needed for this work. I didn’t think either of my favourites, fine binding or facing, were just right. I felt they were just too neat for this raw edged hand stitched style, which continues the line of several raw edge applique works I’ve made and shown in the last few years. It was the border treatment I worked on this next work, Caribbean Crush, that gave me the solution:

Caribbean Crush border: dark patches were individually machine sewn to the back, folded over to the front and stitched into place like all the other bright coloured patches in the body of the quilt. Further information on this work at
A segmented binding was folded to the front, machine basted down into place. The basting’s removed as I complete each section of the hand stitching.

I needed to construct a segmented binding, which was easy enough given that I had various groups of pieced strips partly used. I added bits of them into a long strip of the background fabric, avoiding joins at the corners; sewed this to the back of the quilt, folded it forward and hand stitched the raw edge down onto the front of the work, in the manner of all the other applique on this quilt.

I love improvised, machine pieced patchwork, but without any planning for this to happen, raw edge applique has taken a major position in my recent body of work, and I haven’t planned anything pieced for ages! Below are some examples: clockwise from upper left – Pandemic Pattern, 2020, detail; “Make Do And Mend” banner 18″ x 24″ for Lift The Sky project ; Regeneration 2, 40cm x 40cm, 2019.

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