Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Window Treated

My living room boasts an enormous picture window which overlooks the living room. The recess is 3.12m by 1.65m. Such a large window is best covered by full length curtains, but a radiator placed under the windowsill made this inadvisable. I have been fretting for years about what to do with it, but now it is a well-dressed window and another job can be ticked off my list.

The window is covered by a single roman blind. It was a horrible sewing job and one which I would tackle differently with hindsight. Imagine wrestling all that fabric through the sewing machine throat - it was a struggle! We used a very nifty piece of blind engineering by Super Gliss which raises and lowers the blind via a chain attached to a special track. The blind tapes are fed through a tape which also houses fine fibreglass rods, which make the pleats a little crisper. I made full-length dress curtains on either side of the window, hung from a handsome steel curtain rod and curtain rings from John Lewis, and finally completed the "outfit" with a simple pelmet hung from the same pole by the same rings, which gives the illusion that the blind is also hanging from the pole. I used a textured navy cotton velvet chenille which is lined and interlined with a bonded purpose-made fabric, also from John Lewis. Now we can keep cosy and I can move on to the next projects - the living room leather sofas could do with some new cushions so cover-making will be fun to plan.
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Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Actual Stitching Content

I have not been well enough to get to meetings of the Great Western Embroiderers for some time, but keep in touch with their activities. I knew an exhibition of work inspired by Swindon's Borough Council's Lydiard House and was thrilled to visit there in the company of my friend, Maggie Harris. It is an unexpected treasure of a house and park. Photography is not normally permitted but, for the purposes of exhibition preparation, on this occasion it was allowed.

So much inspiration, but little time and a ginormous roman blind to be made meant I had little time to work on an exhibit. I thought long and hard, however, and revisited through my photographs a number of times. I had noticed a barrel-topped stationery chest on Lord Bolingbroke's desk in the library, which appealed to me for some reason. I wondered about trying to make one in textiles and then decorating it with a design from somewhere else in the house or in the estate church, St Mary's.

Eventually I homed in on the carved oak box pew, which is tucked away within the highly decorated and lovely church, and decided that this could be effectively adapted to adorn my Bolingbroke Casket (readers across the pond: this is not a container for mortal remains! We use the word for a small, ornate container over here).

The Casket is fashioned from a sandwich of dupion silk, pelmet vilene and black felt, and stitched in a combination of metallic and polyester threads.

I traced the design outlines onto greaseproof paper (in lieu of the tracing variety)and then traced the outlines with machine stitching before tearing the paper away. It was then a matter of free-embroidering to colour in the appropriate spaces and emphasizing some of the outlines, before meander quiliting the rest of the surface and satin-stitching around the edges. It was then stitched together to form the shape and a magnetic class was mounted to keep the lid in place

It looked very much at home in the display case at yesterday's exhibition opening by the Mayor of Swindon.

It is a very wonderful exhibition and I was so impressed to see the diverse methods employed to interpret and respond to the house and church, gardens and artefacts to be seen at Lydiard. It is scheduled to last until the end of April, but I understand that there is a possibility the exhibition period may be extended beyond that. It's such an inspiring place - a number of other items and views caught my eye yesterday! It was also wonderful to catch up with old GWE friends.