Monday, 5 January 2015

Decorations for Half-Tester

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.

01 Half-Tester Construction

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:

02 Bag

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.

03 Templates

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.

04 With Applique

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.

05 Embroidery Materials

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.

06 With Embroidery

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!


  1. Dear Shoshi,

    first i wish you a happy new year.

    Nice that you can sleep very well now, in the new bed. Its brilliant.

    You have a four-poster bed? Oooooh its a dream of me. Wonderful. Oh my God, the flaps are very great. The colours, the patterns, the embroideries, soooo wonderful. I love it.

    The Bag is so beatyful, the tassels, i love them.

    All the things looks a little bit like medievil and oriental. Very nice.

    I wish you all the best an send lots of greetings from Germany

  2. That's stunning Shoshi! It will look stunning when it's finished.

  3. Well, Shoshi this is another amazing project. The work that you have already put into it is phenomenal! Love the bright colours and patterns. It will be so beautiful when completed -- I look forward to seeing it.

  4. Hi Shoshi, thanks for the visit, you're very kind. I look forward to seeing the progress you make with this project it is going to look amazing when finished. Happy crafting, Angela x

  5. Wow, this seems like a very complex project with all the embroidery and applique! I'm sure it will look marvelous when finished! Thanks for visiting my blog earlier Shoshi! I really appreciate it!

  6. What a great "textile" start to the New Year Shoshi. What a great sewing project.Glad you have launched into a UFO and had such success. Looking forward to more textile works this year.

  7. You are such an artist! Miss you

  8. Hi Shoshi! Thanks for your visit to my Gelatos post. Here's a little trick if you want to catch a good deal on Amazon UK. Sign up with your email, look up the item you want to buy, specify the maximum you're willing to pay and you'll get an automated email when the price drops to or below the level you specify. You can also see the price history for each item, which shows you how low the prices can potentially drop.

  9. Got your message Shoshi! In order to create an alert, you need to create an account and log in. Enter your maximum price in the 'Desired Price' box and then click the button next to it that says 'Start Tracking'. Easy-Peasy!

  10. It's not Amazon you need to log into to track prices, Shoshi, but the CamelCamel website. Here it is again:


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