Project 10: Stage 4: Making your textile piece


UPDATE:  I have added the finished lining pieces and addition samples after feedback from my tutor and have added these to this blog.

Following on from Stage 3 as I have previously said I decided to make up only the front of my carpet bag with a view to completing it after tutor feedback.  I decided to allow for small changes to the design such as placement of the applique photographic/felt pieces which in turn allowed for how I cut and sliced them.  The design itself allows for the suggestions in the course material of changes in colour, texture and pattern particularly taking into consideration the different fabrics and yarns used.

img_3890The first stage was to decided on the woven central section and this is I decided to do 2 samples – one with a variegated yarn in shades of blue, pink, lilac and green and other using two different variegated yarns but in more muted blues and browns. This yarn was chosen specifically to reflect the colours of the water and also some of the gentle colours of the flowers on the banks of the river.

img_3888The second sample I loved the colours and I also managed to get the edges of the woven area even.

However the brighter first sample became the one I used for the final piece – I had some plaid fabric of unknown wood/acrylic mix, (due this being a skirt I made several years ago), in the same colours and these contrasted well but also harmoniously with some of the photographs I was intending to use for the applique.

img_3929The appliqued sections were made up by backing the chosen photographs with felt and then stitching from the felt side with chosen colours in the bobbin in a variety of different stitches to create texture.  At this point I sliced the images into the sections required but allowing for some variation.  The images I chose were of different trees as I bore in mind the fact that they would be representing the planks of wood of the bridge and the images themselves add an illusion of texture – I had really liked the process Maggie Grey’s book (pages 20-21) and felt that this technique used some of my literally hundreds of photographs I have taken for this theme for this project.

img_3936Before appliqueing the sections onto my chosen woven section I did two samples to see how this worked and to check whether I needed to adjust either my stitch setting or my needle.  I used a simple zig-zag stitch with width of 3 and length of 1 which worked well.  The only thing that was a slight issue was if I stitched horizontally across the rows as this could leave a slight hole – on the final woven section I backed this section after stitching with the ice-dyed calico both for strength and also so that any movement of the weft was disguised although fortunately I was able to prevent any such holes.  In retrospect I would add a stabiliser of some nature to the woven section before appliqueing the shapes – this could not obviously be an iron-on version but could be simply basted in large stitches.

img_3932To double check that the colours of the woven section did work I did the second sample on a small portion of the ice-dyed calico that I had chosen for the border and suffice to say am more than happy with the combination of colours which create harmony but also gentle movement.

My cartoon of the textile piece was clipped to a notice board in front of my sewing machine for the duration of the making up of the piece and was referred to constantly for positioning and also checking the size as each area was added.

img_3942The final woven centre was stitched with different coloured threads both to add a little additional definition to the appliqued photographic images and each section was made up of two slightly contrasting images – I wanted to define each section as if they were two sides of the lengths of wood that made up the bridge. My pins for the edge of the panel can be seen as I marked out the position to add the plaid strips for the inner border.

img_3944I took considerable time deciding on the positioning of the outer border appliqued sections as I was very much aware of trying to prevent too much bulk in the seams and this is where I referred to the cartoon in order to create the illusion of perspective on the textile piece.

img_3947I can honestly say after stitching the outer border on with the appliqued sections completed I stood back and realised this was totally different then my original ideas – when I read through my blogs written before I started Part 5 with just my ideas and thoughts I had something very different in mind with a Clarice Cliff inspired woven design at the forefront!



The original idea was based on this panel which I had not completed for Assignment 4 – again it was based on a photograph taken in Dovedale but the huge problem was the length of time it took and the effect on my whiplash injury so unfortunately it was not going to be possible irregardless to take this forward.  However the weaving does work on the whole and it is something to bear in mind for future projects.

img_3948Going back to the final piece I was unsure whether to add hand-stitched details or to free-motion quilt the front – I am very much aware the wadding and quilting adds strength to a bag and additional padding which can be of great benefit so decided on the latter.  I firstly chose to use a polyester wadding behind the central panel before adding a cotton wadding but leaving the back piece off as I feel it would be neater to do the lining as a separate piece for inserting into the bag once the back is completed and attached to the front – I would use small stitches to secure the lining and bag exterior as well as binding the tops together using bias cut strips of the plaid fabric.

img_3974For the actual quilting I chose a fine metallic thread with an iridescent sheen and free-motion quilted in an all over design – the intention of this thread was to give the impression of the sparkling water of the river in Dovedale as it gently flows over the rocks and underneath the bridge.



I did try out different quilting patterns before committing to the final piece and also this proved useful in order to get the correct needle, (for my machine a Red Tip Janome needle), and also to reduce the tension down to 2, (normally 5), and changing the foot to a free motion darning foot as well as dropping the feed dogs – the most crucial of those stages is the tension and the needle as this prevents breakage of a very fine metallic thread which I have never used until today without it breaking constantly!

The final result of the quilting enhances the background fabric with the ice-dyed patterns whilst also not detracting from the strong structural shapes – the quilting adds a feeling of movement reflecting the water of the River Dove and Manifold in Derbyshire as I state above.

The only issue I  have with the end result is the fact that the applique to the bottom left has not gone into the left hand border as I originally planned – this was an oversight on my part but on the other hand it is also not a ‘deal breaker’ for me as I feel the border is broken and disjointed whilst still having the depth of perspective that I required.   As I look at it further I do like the fact the bottom panel is defined clearly from the rest of the bag – it is as if it is the foundations for the structures above and that in itself is a design detail

As I have written up these notes I have added some of my samples to my theme book and some onto display cards – this will need to be altered for assessment to create a coherent displaying showing the stages of the project and how it has come together.

Before starting Part 5 I had spent some time dyeing different fabrics to see what qualities I could use but my final choice was the one caused by a broken freezer – the ice-dyed calico!

img_3928I also have different sketches in my theme book including one of an idea that was swiftly dropped – the design painted onto calico using acrylic paint, Inktense pencils and textile medium. I liked the fact that the design does work in this media but it was not suitable for the end result due to the fabric being too stiff for me to stitch in the way I would like to but it is worth bearing in mind too how this works.


I had decided to leave completion of the rest of my samples until after my tutor feedback and these samples primarily included the finished lining pieces, back panel and samples of the strap, zip placket and key fob.

img_4447I did one additional small sample of the woven central panel in order to show the ombre style shading of the wool I used clearly – the original version has been used for the actual central panel so this is purely for sample purposes and useful reference in the future.  One thing I forgot when working this sample is to use a simple dowel rod to keep the weaving from becoming pushed down the base of the cardboard as each row is gently tamped down.


The back panel I decided on just using the tweed fabric which I backed with the cotton batting and quilted using the same metallic thread and free motion stitching that I had for the background of the front panel.  I am aware that I had not got the fabric as straight as I would like but this is due to having to use what I had available – bearing in mind this is an old recycled skirt.  However I have discovered that the quilting does stabilise the fabric when it is not cut on the grain although I had to pin very carefully.  On thing I do regret a little is not stabilising the edges first – a simple straight stitch but with a longer length than usual would also prevent any fraying of the fabric.

Please note if this section was not the back of the bag the fact the lines are not completely straight would really bother me as I am aware it is in incorrect but as I state I am working with a recycled skirt and having to cut slightly off the grain purely for being able to cut this section as one whole piece.

The lining pieces were relatively simple to do – I decided on one tweed side and one ice-dyed cotton with the pieces being stitched so that the ice-dyed cotton is the lining for the tweed back outer piece and the tweed lining lies against the front outer piece.

img_4476For the lining for the back section I added a simply made pencil pocket which I placed to allow for the recessed zip.





For the front panel lining I made the pocket separately before top stitching it to the fabric.  I also stay-stitched around the exterior of the lining piece – this has pulled a little along the bottom seam but am aware that this will not be an issue when the lining is stitched together.



As I make up the bag I have to bear in mind and be very careful of the side edges particularly when adding the lining as there will be resulting sharp corners at the sides.  As the lining and outer pieces are stitched together the handle tabs will also be added at the side edges – when the lining is turned through to the inside and after pressing I will top stitch around the whole of the top edge which will add strength to the handle tabs.  I have added a sample of how I intend to work this top edge to my display mount board for assessment.

I have stated in my design that I wish to have  a recessed zip and this will be added about 1 inch down from the top edge of the bag – at this point I must confess to having realised I have made an error in my design and not allowed for the addition of this in the lining pieces.  However I feel I can still add this zip albeit in a different way by making the zipped placket section but neatly edging the pieces so that they can be top stitched directly to the lining pieces – it may not be conventional but it would be a problem solved.

The sides and bottom of the bag will be formed by boxing out the corners – simple but effective without having to be concerned about adding side or base panels which I have had some issues with adding to bags neatly in the past.

img_4485One final, but I feel personally essential, addition is the kumihimo braided key fob which will be stitched to an inner side of the bag – this is so that I can just clip my house or car keys onto the fob and not be having to always look for them in the bottom of my bag!!  I would be adding a small split ring to the cap at one end and this would then be attached to a D-ring on the inside of the bag.

From a practical point of view the bag will serve its purpose of being an art bag but will also be used as a practical hand bag – it is large enough (37 x 30 cm unstitched so approximately 35 x 28 cm finished as I use a 1 cm seam allowance).

As I now finish making up the textile piece or my section of it the course material asks the following questions:

  • Can you see a continuous thread of development from your original drawings and samples to the final designs?  If I go from the very beginning of my theme books then no as I have primarily finished sketches with some developed into textile ideas including using dissolvable fabric or weaving with some ideas developed into possibly applique designs at Stage 3.  However if I start at the point where Part 5 starts then yes I can see a thread of development very strongly from the beginning through to the end result – one of my first paintings in my larger sketchbook became one of the two designs that I had to choose from with the final choice resulting from a sketch at Stage 3 of this project.  It is this final sketch that became my final end design.
  • Do you feel you made the right decisions at each stage in the design process?  If not, what changes would you make?  Yes I do now feel that my decisions were correct – I was unable to do this final project concentrating on it totally until literally the past few days due to completing my fifth assignment on my art history module but this proved useful and beneficial as it forced me to step back some days and look again at what I was doing and how and that enabled me to make the decisions that I did.  I dismissed what I thought would not work and spent considerable time thinking about each stage and how the idea would work before moving on to the next.  It was only in the final stages of the textile piece that I realised fully that the design would work in a much better way than I had envisaged.
  • Were you able to interpret your ideas well within the techniques and materials you chose to work with?  Yes I felt I was able to do this but I confess to another chance incident at this point – the book Image to Stitch was a library book I had had out for about 3 months and forgotten about and it was on the day I was due to return it I discovered the photographic technique I ended up using for my applique and suffice to say the book was swiftly ordered from Amazon the same day!  I felt that my design was strong enough in its simplicity that the techniques I wanted to use would work but I had to keep in mind the perspective illusions that I wanted to create at all times – it was the perspective created by the photographs that enabled me to choose the dyed calico, the yarn for the centre woven section and the plaid to create a feeling of calm and harmony but with a gentle sense of movement.
  • How successful is your final design in terms of being inventive within the medium and coherent as a whole?  I am happy with it – I feel it has been far more successful than I anticipated and I have been more willing to step outside of my comfort zone than I have previously.  I did not anticipate doing an abstract piece or one that required the use of some of my photographs and that alone was  technique I had never used before but one I am now keen to explore further.  I feel my design has been inventive in the use of those photographs to create the design – they create a slightly stronger feel to the piece as the photographs mean it is not as flexible as fabric would be if appliqued but they also add an element to the bag front that I do not feel just plain fabric alone would have achieved.

So my final piece of my own I show again below – very different from what I had planned but stronger and more linear than I had expected it to be at any point when I sat painting the scenes of Derbyshire and when I expected my ideas to be more organically shaped with more hand stitched detail or reverse appliqued detail.  For this project I let the designs flow and develop in an almost evolutionary process without a set idea until the very end – it was literally as I started to make the piece I fully realised that yes this will be that carpet bag I had originally thought about.


As a point of note – the handles will be woven and fabric backed with a simple buckle or tie fastening above the recessed zip.  I will also put an additional D-ring inside the bag attached to either the front or the back with a small snap fastener to hook my keys onto as I am always loosing them at the bottom  – a small practical point that will be incredibly beneficial.


Grey, M. 2008.  Image to Stitch. London. Batsford



This entry was posted in ASSIGNMENT 5, ASSIGNMENTS, Coursework, Part 5, Theme book and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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