This week I would like to introduce you to Christine B of Patchwork Allsorts. I noticed Christine’s interesting TAST samplers last year and after poking about her blog and reading it for while I realised how creative and talented she is. So without further preamble I would like to introduce my readers to Christine B of Patchwork Allsorts.
Why do you like hand embroidery and hand work? How has it influenced your life?
I love the unique style that hand embroidery/hand work gives to a project. Each embroiderer’s work is totally personal to them, just like their handwriting. Hand work has allowed me to express my creativity at times when it has been difficult to communicate in other ways (living in a country where you haven’t mastered the language yet!!)
How did you start? Were you taught by your mother, school or taught yourself online? If you taught yourself what attracted you to embroidery?
I was taught a few basic embroidery stitches at school and my mother still has the needle book that I made from the sampler I stitched then. However, that was a long time ago and when I took needlework up in adulthood I basically taught myself with the help of online tutorials (such as TAST) and many books! (I love books!) My mum always knitted and did hand sew a few items of clothing when we were children which probably encouraged me creatively but, she didn’t embroider. I have always liked the look of hand embroidered work and I think that is why I wanted to learn.
Do you use TAST to make samplers or incorporate the stitches into projects as you go. Or what sort of projects most attract you ?
I have made several different samplers using the TAST stitches. When the first piece of fabric was full, I made it into a needle case and started a second sampler. This second sampler I stretched over a canvas and made into a picture which hangs in my sewing room. I am currently still working on the third sampler but, when it is complete, it will become another picture to compliment the other one and will hang beside it in my sewing room.
Can you talk about your last project and/or your current project?
As well as finishing off the second TAST sampler picture, I am currently working on two projects. The first is a wool felt project inspired by Sue Spargo’s lovely work. It is a series of circles appliqued to a wool background which I am embellishing with hand embroidered stitches. The other project I am working on at the moment is a freehand machine embroidery project. It is based on a photograph of the Chalet we lived in for some years in Switzerland. I am really enjoying seeing it take shape and it is something completely different to anything that I have worked on before.
What is the project you are most proud of?
I think my favourite piece of embroidered work is the crazy quilt that I finished in 2015 . I made it as part of the Crazy Quilt Journal Project for that year. It was my first attempt at a crazy quilt and, although I made many mistakes, I learned a lot and I still love this quilt which now hangs above the bed in my daughter’s bedroom.
I love all the detail and my very favourite addition is the hedgehog stitched using bullion knots .
Do you have any UFO’s ? If so, fess up to how many?
I do have UFOs…. I don’t really like having projects unfinished, so I do try and keep them to a minimum. The ones that I have are mainly BOM quilt projects which I have joined in with online and have made the blocks but haven’t got round to putting them into quilts yet. I currently have 11 UFOs not including the current projects I am working on.
Do you work purchased designs or do you design your own projects? Or do you do both?
I work on both purchased designs as well as designing my own projects. Sometimes I find it is nice to have the structure that comes with a purchased design. The decisions are all made for you but, it is also nice to have the freedom to work on something entirely from your own imagination and creativity.
Do you have a creative design process? If so what is it? Or do you work intuitively?
I don’t think I have a design process. I tend just to see something which I like and then want to try and make one for myself. As well as the decorative side of needlework I also like to understand how something has been constructed and trying out something new is always exciting. I like to challenge myself to try a new technique each year.
What stimulates your creative process? What inspires and sparks ideas for you?
I find that I am inspired by all sorts of things. Often I will just love a piece of fabric and that sparks the idea for a project or, I will see something online that I like and just have too try it out for myself. The internet is full of inspiration and talent!
Lots of people have trouble starting a project. What makes you start a project? Do you have any tips to get you from blank fabric to stitching?
I mostly feel compelled to start a new project by ideas sparked by others’ projects that I have seen online. There are so many fantastic online tools which give you inspiration. Facebook groups such as TAST is one such tool! My advice for someone starting a new project is just to get started….. what is the worst that can go wrong? If you don’t like something you can take it out. Don’t be afraid to experiment with ideas.
Do you have stall points? If so how do you get past them? Do you have any tips to share about this.
I don’t often have stall points but, when I do, I set the project to one side but I leave it where I can see it. Having it in view reminds me to keep thinking about it and encourages me to find the way forward. I don’t think you should be afraid to throw something out if you are really unhappy with it or, to try out a stitch or piece of fabric and if it doesn’t work take it out again.
Do you have ‘go to’ stitches. In other words stitches you use frequently that you return to using over and over. If so what are they and why do you think they are so successful for you.
Yes, I do have several favourite stitches that I use regularly. The first is herringbone stitch. I love this stitch, it is easy to work and covers a lot of space in a short amount of time. It can also be added to which takes it from simple to sophisticated. Another is the reliable buttonhole (blanket) stitch which I really enjoy stitching and finally, I like colonial knots and you will find these on most of my projects.
Do you have a favourite embroidery thread, or something you use all the time? If so what is it?
I really enjoy stitching with variegated threads and one of my particular favourites is a hand dyed silk thread which is produced by Stef Francis. I really enjoy working with this thread.
What advice would you give to new hands?
My advice for someone new to embroidery would be to start with something you know you can achieve. Don’t start with something which is beyond your capability and end up putting it to one side and feeling disappointed. Build your confidence by starting with a small project and gradually increase your stitch library!
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I would just like to add that I have really enjoyed the TAST stitches, they have expanded my stitch library enormously, so thank you Sharon!! I would also like to say that nothing beats the camaraderie that is found in the stitching World…. so if you are not already involved, jump in and get started!
I hope you have enjoyed this TAST Interview with Christine B of Patchwork Allsorts. I certainly enjoyed discovering more about her approach to embroidery. Read more about Christine B’s embroidery, take a break, make a cuppa pop over to Patchwork Allsorts.
This interview is part of series that will run during 2017 as the Take a Stitch Tuesday Challenge has been running for a decade. Throughout the year I will interview stitchers about their hand embroidery and feature their work.
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