My first post in 2015! One of the things I have resolved to do this year is to try and clear the backlog of UFOs (UnFinished Objects) in my ARTHaven, and also to get back into some more textile-based work. One of my oldest UFOs was a project to create decorative drapes for our pine four-poster bed – something I started and never finished. I made the curtains but not the decorative top part. Last autumn I got a new adjustable bed to help with my various medical conditions (I am sleeping a lot better these days) so the four-poster had to go, which I was very sad about. The whole of the top section lifted off and could be disassembled, leaving the bed intact, so we kept the top and disposed of the pine bed base. A local carpenter used the timber from the upper part to create a new half-tester which is attached to the wall above the bed.
As before I have a small strip-light wired to the inside of the frame, and in the picture you can see the pull-cord hanging down. You can also see the velcro strips attached to the framework, to attach the fabric drapes – I will need to add some more for the decorative top part.
When I started making the pieces for the top, I also cut some smaller pieces in the same design and fabric, and used them to decorate a bag that I made:
You can see the separate flaps, each embellished with machine applique and hand embroidery, and each one finished with a different style of tassel.
These are the card templates I made for the bed project. At the back, underneath, you can see the two templates for each piece – the larger one is for cutting the fabric, and the smaller one for cutting the heavy interfacing. After cutting these out, I tacked the fabric onto the interfacing so that the applique and embroidery would go through both layers, and to finish each piece off, the edges of the fabric would be turned in over the interfacing, and a backing piece added.
The smaller templates are used for cutting out the applique pieces which are first ironed onto some Bondaweb.
What I have decided to do now, is to make each finished piece double-sided, and to attach the tops to the outside and the inside of the frame, respectively. Hopefully they will hang properly, but if not, I shall have to make separate pieces for the inside and outside, and maybe add tassels only to the outside pieces.
The next picture shows the pieces I have already started, with the machine applique. Top right is a pile of more pieces – no room to spread them all out to be photographed.
The next photo shows some of the embroidery materials to be used to embellish the pieces. I have a collection of coloured threads with lurex – as usual the photo doesn’t show the sparkliness of these yarns – they are the large spools at the back. In the front of the basket is a selection of different coloured embroidery threads, and on the table in front, scissors, my mother-of-pearl stiletto and some crewel and chenille needles, and on the left, a selection of Indian shi-sha mirrors.
I have done a lot of embroidery using these in the past, including on my wedding dress. These little circles of mirror have quite rough edges, and no holes for sewing them down as you’d find with sequins; there is a special shi-sha embroidery stitch which anchors them onto the surface of the fabric, rather like a rubbed-over setting of a gemstone in jewellery. When these tiny mirrors catch the light, they wink and flash, which is very dramatic on any fabric in motion such as a curtain, and they give a very rich, exotic look. I love them! Originally they would have been made of flakes of mica, but they are made of glass these days – the mirrors are far from optically perfect and look rather dull and grey before they are attached, but they do reflect the light wonderfully well.
Here are the pieces to which I have added embroidery so far. Some of them require further embellishment. The stitches I am using are fairly simple ones – chain stitch with variations, and stem stitch. I have never been any good at satin stitch or long-and-short stitch, and love using chain stitch to cover areas with colour, and for outlining shapes.
As I progress with this work, I shall be showing some detail shots of the embroidery, but at this stage, this is just showing what I have done so far, after opening up the box and reminding myself what I have already achieved. I did all this so many years ago that I couldn’t really remember at all what I had done, and when I opened the box, was surprised to find my book on tassels, and also some wonderful notes from an embroidery day I attended when we lived in Plymouth – probably back in the 1980s! It was like Christmas, opening the box and finding all the lovely fabrics and shapes. This has to be one of the oldest UFOs in my possession, and high time it got an airing and was finished!