Module 5 – Chapter 6

 Tucks, pleats and gathers

In this chapter I experimented with the different effects that can be achieved using different fabrics and tucks, pleats and gathers.

I started with machine stitching on a long strip of cotton lawn shown below.


Image 6.1

From the top:

  • Basic straight tuck – 3 rows
  • Box pleat
  • High tuck with 3rows of stitching
  • Tuck filled with piping cord
  • Narrow pin tucks – 3 rows
  • Zig-zag stitched tuck
  • Wavy pin tucks
  • Filled tucks with bits cut away to reveal the filling of loose silk threads

image Image 6.2

From top:

  • Twin needle tucks, curved – 4 rows
  • Twin needle padded tuck using 3rd thread – 4 rows
  • Tuck turned side to side – 2 rows
  • Straight tuck snipped into fringe
  • Short tucks crossing each other

image image

Image 6.3 a and 6.3 b

From top:

  • Twin needle tucks overlapping
  • Zig-zag stitch tucks with 3 different size stitches
  • Box pleat with snipped sections pressed open
  • High tuck folded into angles and stitched flat
  • Snipped tuck with ends tied with threads

When I look back at some of my landscape textures in chapter 1 (shown in 6.3 b above), I can already see how such simple techniques can be applied to represent natural textures.

Next I tried some hand stitched samples using a synthetic transparent fabric.

imageImage 6.4 – Hand stitched tucks on transparent fabric

Clockwise from top left:

  • Dart shaped tucks
  • Double tuck
  • Pin tuck
  • Box pleat
  • Stuffed tuck
  • Straight tucks
  • Overlapping narrow tucks
  • Straight tucks top stitched to make them wavy

I liked the changes in tone created by the folds in the transparent fabric which wasn’t evident in the cotton lawn samples. 

Combined tucks

Next I explored combining different methods of creating tucks and pleats. image Image 6.5

From top:

  • Transparent fabric; stitched with twin needle rows first, then machine gathered parallel to the tucks
  • Transparent fabric; Corded tucks using twin needle and 3rd thread, then diagonal pin tucks stitched across
  • Cotton lawn, corded tucks using twin needle and 3rd thread, then the fabric was cut into strips, alternate strips were reversed and stitched back together.

I was pleased with all three of these samples.  I could see how they could be used to represent the different plates and strata of rocks in my source photographs.  Whilst I am not particularly keen on the feel or look of the synthetic fabric, it does work well in terms of having body and holding raised shapes well when gathered (in the top and middle samples in 6.5.)

image Image 6.6

From the top:

  • Scrim stitched with filled tucks, the pin tucks stitched across them.  Whilst the semi-transparent nature of the scrim produced interesting changes in tone where the fabric was doubled, it wasn’t good at holding shapes.
  • Fine linen, pin tucks stitched along the length, then stitch lines in a grid were gathered to create ‘puffed up’ sections, a bit like seersucker.  I was very pleased with the texture created using this very simple technique.
  • Cotton lawn stitched with straight tucks, alternate ones were slashed with a seam ripper , then cut into squares and re-stitched together.



Image 6.7 – Calico, machine stitched strips gathered at irregular intervals


Image 6.8 – coarsely woven synthetic fabric, machine stitched to gather, then zig-zagged over, then some threads withdrawn to make holes.  This produced an interestingly textured sample.


Image 6.9 – hand pleated calico, stitched at each end, then the edges painted.  The stiff calico worked well for this quite structural piece and I think the paint on the edge helped to accentuate the form.


Image 6.10 – calico, 5 tiers of pleats.  I gathered underneath each tier to make the tier above raise up. 


Image 6.11 – coarsely woven synthetic fabric, threads pulled to create gathers.  This created some useful pebble shapes.


Image 6.12 – cord zig-zagged over to gather


Image 6.13 – transparent fabric strip gathered using wire, then twisted into spiral


Image 6.14 – transparent fabric, stitched in spiral then gathered to make cone shape – a bit like a jellyfish!


Image 6.15 – cotton lawn, Machine stitched gathers, then stitched over in places.  This didn’t work particularly well.  The lines and folds created were more subtle than I was aiming for.  Using much larger gathering stitches would have produced a more dramatic effect.


6.16 – transparent fabric machine gathered in grid.  I was very pleased with this very lively texture and can imagine using it if I decide to represent some of the seaweed textures in my source photographs as the ‘bubbles’ formed look quite like the pods and sacks in seaweed.

My next few experiments were made using shirring elastic.

image image

6.17 and 6.18 – Cotton lawn shirring elastic in bobbin, free-embroidery circles, front and back of fabric.  I was very pleased with the lovely, inviting tunnels created on the back of this sample.


6.19 – Cotton lawn shirring elastic in bobbin, stitched in grid


6.20 – Cotton lawn shirring elastic in bobbin, stitched in bands


6.21 – Cotton lawn shirring elastic in bobbin, stitched in wavy lines


6.22 – Cotton lawn shirring elastic in bobbin, stitched in wide zig-zag lines

This was another really interesting chapter which has given me lots of food for thought for my final assessed piece.


Module 5 – Chapter 5

 Quilting, padding and stuffing

Wadded quilting:  this is the method of quilting with which I am most familiar i.e. three layers stitched together.

Image 5.1 – cotton lawn top, cotton wadding, calico base.  Stitched in grid design using contrast thread


Image 5.2 – a scrap of eco-dyed scrim top, cotton wadding, calico base.  Stitched using contrast thread using free machine embroidery.

image Image 5.3 – brushed cotton top, double layer of cotton wadding, calico  base.  Stitched using white cotton.  This produced a very soft sample with quite high loft due to the double layer of wadding and the softness of the fabric.

image Image 5.4 – synthetic organza top, strips of sari silk as wadding, calico base.  Stitched  with white thread.  use of this semi-transparent top enabled the colour variations and folds in the silk wadding to show through.

image Image 5.5 – cotton scrim top, cotton fishing net wadding, calico base.  The netting was placed on irregularly i.e. there were thick and thin patches. This was quite heavily quilted in places with white thread in some places, and less so in others to add to the variation in the height of the loft.  I then snipped it in places to reveal the netting, which was found on the same beach as the rocks in my photographs in chapter 1.  This is one of my favourite samples.  The use of natural fibres and variety of smooth/low patches and higher patches with the net bursting through create a very exciting surface.

image Image 5.6 – Synthetic organza top, tissue paper strips as wadding, calico base.  Stitched in white thread in shapes similar to the torn paper pieces.  This produced a very flat, smooth sample.

image Image 5.7 –  synthetic organza top, strips of knotted cotton lawn as wadding, calico base.  Stitched along the length of the wadding strips and then melted in places to reveal the wadding.  The textures of this sample were quite pleasing i.e. the bumps formed by the knots, the edges of the strips poking through the top layer, and the burned edges of the synthetic top.

image Image 5.8 – cotton lawn top. cotton wadding, calico base.  Stitched in double lines (not a twin needle) with white thread  and then punched with large tapestry needle to make holes.  I was surprised at how effective the needle punch holes were.  I can imagine this technique being used in my final piece to represent pebble areas.

 Shaped quilting – for these samples I used a base fabric, added shapes made from various materials and then a top layer.

image Image 5.9 – cotton scrim top, pieces of sea-smoothed pottery (also found on the same beach) and a calico base.  Stitched with blue thread using free machine embroidery to fill the spaces around the shapes.  I chose blue thread to echo the pale willow pattern on some of the pottery.

image Image 5.10 – polythene top, map pieces as filling, calico base.   Stitched around the shapes with white thread.

image Image 5.11 – tights fabric top, slices of silk pod as filling, calico base.  Stitched using free machine embroidery to fill the space around the shapes.  I pulled the fabric tight over the silk pods to create dish-type shapes.  I quite liked the slightly alien appearance of this sample.

image Image 5.12 – nylon netting top, cords of twisted threads as filling, stiff Aida base.  Stitched along the sides of the shapes to hold them in place, and then snipped in places to further reveal some of the threads and add more texture.

image Image 5.13 – silk chiffon top, haberdashery items as filling, calico base.  Stitched in white to outline the shapes.

image Image 5.14 – synthetic organza top with large needle holes punched in it, knotted yarn filling, calico base.  Stitched in white to outline the shapes.

image Image 5.15 – plastic vegetable netting top, cotton wool filling, calico base.  Stitched in white thread.


Image 5.16 – synthetic organza top, small balls of wool fleece as filling, black cotton base.  Stitched with white thread through a twin needle to create dense areas of stitching.

Padded quilting – for these samples I used a base layer and top layer, and then added stuffing afterwards.


Image 5.17 – cotton jersey top on calico base.  I stitched these enclosed shapes and then slit the calico on the back and inserted synthetic wadding to fill the shapes, and then stitched the slits closed.  I was pleased with the beautifully smooth, rounded shapes created with this technique and with the use of a twin needle to create an outline around the shapes.


Image 5.18 – synthetic organza top on a calico base.  I stitched the leaf shape and then stuffed it from a slit in the base fabric using a mixture of cut threads.

Corded quilting


Image 5.19 – this sample has just one layer of fabric, I used calico.  The cording was created using a twin needle and a thick thread fed through the hole in the footplate of my sewing machine.  This was the first time I have used this technique and am very impressed with the simple texture that can be added to a piece of fabric in this way.

imageImage 5.20 – in this sample I combined a couple of techniques i.e. corded and shaped quilting.  I used a calico base, pale grey synthetic top and tiny balls of wool fleece as the shapes which I stitched around with cord through a twin needle.  I am pleased with the landscape-like effect that this has produced.  I had a go at trying to melt the surface of this sample with a candle which wasn’t particularly successful.  I was hoping the fabric would pucker and shrink over the filling but it just melted into holes.  I have ordered a hot air gun and will try again when it has been delivered to see if a more controllable heat source is more effective.

image Image 5.21 – in this final sample I used cotton lawn, loosened the bobbin tension and then cord quilted from both sides of the fabric.  I then unthreaded the machine and stitched through the fabric to produce needle marks.  I was very pleased with the sketch-like effect produced.

I have really enjoyed this chapter.  My introduction to textile art was through quilting.  I visited the Festival of Quilts and saw some of the workshops run by people doing strange and interesting things to fabric which made me want to know more!  Using these three methods of quilting in explorative ways, ‘with non-standard’ materials, has been very informative about how they can be used to represent different textures.

Module 5 – Chapter 4

Fabric investigation

In this chapter I explored different types of fabrics and how they respond to different treatments such as stretching, fraying and exposure to a direct flame.

I collected samples of a variety of fabrics, both natural and synthetic as shown in images 4.1 and 4.2 below.  The code  W or NW refers to whether the fabric is woven or non-woven.

image Image 4.1


From left top to bottom:  Coarse linen W, Fine linen W,  loose weave fabric (synthetic) W, silk mesh W (synthetic) , Bondaweb NW (synthetic), interfacing NW (synthetic).

From right, top to bottom: Cotton / polyester batting NW (part synthetic), wool felt NW, brushed cotton W, fine cotton lawn W, lightweight calico W.

image Image 4.2

From left top to bottom:  silk dupion W, sari silk W, cotton muslin W, sheer nylon (synthetic) W,  synthetic organza W.

From right, top to bottom: synthetic sparkly organza W, silk chiffon W, silk organza W, curtain tape W (synthetic), velcro  NW (synthetic), cotton interfacing W, pelmet stiffener NW (synthetic).

I then selected four fabrics to investigate their qualities further.

image Image 4.3

Fabric Interfacing – synthetic – non woven
Creasing Doesn’t crease easily, creases spring out when released
Stretching Doesn’t stretch along the length, pulls apart on the bias
Fraying Pulls apart to create a fibrous edge; shorter fibres exposed when frayed on the bias than sideways
Melting Melts easily, creates a hard blackened edge; Puckers when held close to heat source

image Image 4.4

Fabric Wadding – cotton/polyester mix – non woven
Creasing Doesn’t crease
Stretching Doesn’t stretch , pulls apart easily
Fraying Doesn’t fray, pulls apart to create a soft edge; the same in all directions
Melting Doesn’t melt despite some synthetic content. Smoulders and turns black.

image Image 4.5

Fabric Synthetic loose weave, woven
Creasing Doesn’t crease much
Stretching Doesn’t stretch along or across the weave, stretches a lot on bias
Fraying Frays very easily.  Edge along the bias can be frayed easily.
Melting Melts easily and creates hard edge which seals it and stops fraying.  Doesn’t pucker when held near heat.

image Image 4.6

Fabric Synthetic organza, woven
Creasing Doesn’t crease much, retains feint creases when released
Stretching Doesn’t stretch along or across the weave, stretches a lot on bias
Fraying Frays very easily.  Edge along the bias can be frayed easily.
Melting Melts easily and creates hard edge which seals it and stops fraying.  Puckers when held near heat.

Next I explored how different techniques can be applied to create a variety of edges on fabric:

image Image 4.7

From top to bottom:

  1. Synthetic loose weave, frayed and cut
  2. Synthetic interfacing, melted
  3. Cotton lawn, scallop edge machine embroidery
  4. Cotton scrim, snipped and twisted
  5. Linen, frayed and cut
  6. Synthetic yarn, knotted and twisted
  7. Synthetic organza with corded edge
  8. Silk, gathered and twisted
  9. Synthetic netting, twisted and stitched over
  10. Linen, zig-zag stitched with loops pulled from machine thread
  11. Chiffon, knotted and stuffed with yarn
  12. Wool felt, snipped and twisted
  13. Wool felt, snipped and folded

This experimentation has increased my understanding of the qualities of different types, weights and structures of fabric, and how these can be used to artistic effect.

Module 5 – Chapter 3

Texture and relief in paper

I chose four of the photographs of rocks that I had taken and edited to show the textures more clearly, and then used a selection of papers to try to translate the texture using paper.


Image 3.1

Image 3.1 shows, in the centre, my photo of smooth, cobble-like rocks with deep gaps between them.  The paper representations are, from the top clockwise: 

  1. scrunched up balls of tissue paper trapped under a sheet of tissue, and then the top layer was cut to make the gaps.
  2. waxed tissue, heavily creased and then snipped
  3. tissue paper torn into strips, twisted, then knotted and twisted again
  4. torn patches of waxed tissue layered on top of each other, with a single layer over the top

I think that samples 1 and 3 were the most effective as they had the height required to represent the cobbles, whereas 2 and 4 were 2-dimensional.

image Image 3.2

Top left is my photo rock with numerous layers of loose shale.  From the top:

  1. rolled strips of tissue trapped under a smooth sheet of tissue
  2. waxed tissue paper scrunched up, flattened and then creased sideways
  3. tissue paper folded, ripped and cut along the folds and then opened out
  4. thin strips of torn tissue paper layered on top of each other

I think sample 1 was effective in terms of having some height, but could be adapted to make it more effective by using longer rolls of tissue.  Sample 2 was probably the most effective in representing the texture of the layered rock as it had both height, and contrasts in the colours formed where the paper was layered.

image Image 3.3

Top left shows two photos of which has layers of strong block shapes between fine layers of shale.  Clockwise from the right:

  1. tissue paper torn into strips, creased along the strips short-ways
  2. Knotted linen thread trapped under creased tissue paper  so that the creases run the same way as the threads to add more height
  3. waxed tissue paper heavily creased then torn into strips

Seeing these samples on my computer screen makes me realise that a sample with a combination of all three would produce a good representation of this rock, with sample 1 representing the blocks, and samples 2 and 3 adding texture and the impression of fine layers.

image Image 3.4

In this sample I creased some waxed tissue paper and then tore it in to block shapes which I layered and trapped under another sheet.  I was very pleased with the textures, and veining,  that were created using this layering method.

Module 5 – Chapters 1&2

Texture in landscape

The design inspiration for this module was textures found in natural landscapes.  I am a frequent visitor to my local beach and am always impressed by the huge variety of rock formations and fossils that I observe there and so decided to use this as the basis for this module.  I started by taking some photographs of rocks there, representing some of them in paints and inks and then applying some effects on the computer.  These are shown below:

imageImage 1.1:  rocks with different shapes and textures, some smooth and some sharp edges, some hard and some flaky.

image image

Image 1.2                           Image 1.3

Images 1.2 and 1.3 show sketches in inks and pastels of rock formations.  Image 1.3 shows interesting wave-like formations in shale rock.


Image 1.4 – layers of hard rock, shale and rock pools creating layers of colour and texture.

image Image1 .5 – thick and thin veins of white on grey

image Image 1.6 – naturally formed ‘cobble pavement’

image Image 1.7 – huge ammonites – wavy white lines on grey.  Smooth ripples.

image Image 1.8 – smooth loaf-shape blocks – rich orange, gold, cream and grey

image Image 1.9 – Image 1.8 represented in paint


Image 1.10 – cracked surface, rough layers, sharp edges


Image 1.11 – contrasting shapes, textures and colours


Image 1.12 – Layers of strong blocks, pebbles, smooth flat shale and flowing, bubbly sea weed

Images 1.13 to 1.15 below show examples of different effects applied to the photographs to try to accentuate the shapes


Image 1.13


Image 1.14


Image 1.15


Chapter 2 – Paper relief investigations

In this chapter I investigated the qualities of different types of white paper.  For each type of paper I tried tearing it in different directions and folding it to see how it creased.


Image 2.1

In image 2.1 I tried:

Handmade paper:  this was difficult to tear in a line, but it pulled apart well to create soft edges.  It folded well and created a stronger shade where it was folded double.

Old envelope:  this ripped in straight lines when tearing along the grain of the paper.  It was opaque and so didn’t create any change in shade when folded double.

Newspaper:  tore in irregular shape with nicely jagged edge, but the print detracted from the shape of the edges.  Folded with sharp edges.

Parcel wrapping paper:  this ripped in straight lines when tearing along the grain of the paper.  As it is not transparent it didn’t create any change in shade when folded double


Image 2.2

Tissue paper:  tears well with natural looking edges.  Folds with sharp creases and change in tone created where folded double.

Waxed tissue paper: lovely paper as it creates a soft fibrous edge when ripped which is slightly whiter than the rest of the paper.  Creases with sharp edges and creates a change in shade created where folded double

Bottle wrapping paper:  folds easily but no change in tone.  Rips in straight lines and layers come apart creating variety of shades.

Draftsman’s tracing paper: creates a an interesting rough edge when ripped .  Creases with sharp edges and creates a change in shade created where folded double.


Image 2.3

Dressmaking pattern: pleasing fibrous texture along edges when torn.  Folds with sharp edges and change in shade when doubled.

Lens tissue:  doesn’t rip in a straight line; creates soft blurred edges. 

Deli paper: tears in a straight line.  Folds with sharp edges and slight change in shade when doubled.

Cartridge paper: Tears in layers.  Folds with a sharp edge and little change in shade when folded double.

image Image 2.4

Image 2.4 shows an experiment to see the effect of scrunching nine different papers up.  Each piece was A4 in size and was scrunched down to fill the 1/9th section of an A4 page.  The papers were, from top left, clockwise:  Waxed paper, bottle wrapping paper, parcel wrapping paper, tissue paper, toilet paper, recycled tissue paper,  newspaper, handmade paper and, in the centre, dressmaking pattern paper.  This experiments showed that some of the papers form stronger shapes when scrunched.  For example, the thicker papers such as parcel wrapping paper and newspaper created harder edges where they were folded.   The tissue paper and waxed tissue paper were still slightly transparent in places and created less pronounced shapes.


Manipulated tissue paper

Using tissue paper, I tried a number of ways of manipulating the paper to see the effects.



Image 2.5

From top left, clockwise:  torn and creased; strips snipped across and then folded; torn creased and hole-punched; fringed and twisted; twisted and knotted;  scrunched; creased into lines; torn and twisted in strips.


Image 2.6

From top:  gathered tightly; gathered in patches; block shapes torn and trapped under creased layer; block shapes torn and trapped under smooth layer; small pieces scrunched and trapped; torn and woven.

This chapter has demonstrated to me the variety of effects that can be created from simple layering and manipulation of various papers.  I can see several which will lend themselves to representing my rock surfaces.

Module 4 – Chapter 12

Study of three artists

Cas Holmes

Cas Holmes spent four years at art college training in painting and drawing before becoming involved in stitch.  This background combines beautifully in her work which has been described as ‘painting with cloth’.  Cas collects overlooked ‘ things’ left behind by others on streets and hedgerows and uses them in collages to create meaningful artworks.

Relevance to this module:

  • using scrap paper to create artworks.  Whilst I used scrap paper to make paper pulp, Cas often uses it as part of a collage
  • creating interesting book forms – Cas combines fabric, stitch, paper and print to create fascinating ‘books’.  I created several experimental book forms before settling on a design for my final assessed piece.
  • text in art – many of Cas’s artworks feature a word or phrase either printed or stitched in to the piece to help tell a story.  The base fabric of my assessed piece was designed by overlapping several layers of text as a rubbing, print and stitched form.
  • stitching into paper and fabric – having created a mixed media background, Cas stitches on top.  I experimented with ways of stitching into handmade paper on a fabric grid and used this technique for the sails on my assessed piece.

image image

Images 12.1 and 12.2 Stitched books combining papers and fabric


Image 12.3  Using text in artworks

Lois Walpole

Lois Walpole graduated from Saint Martins School of Art, London with a B.A.(Hons.) in Sculpture in 1975 and obtained City and Guilds qualifications in Basket Making from the London College of Furniture in 1982.   Since then she has worked full time as an artist/ basket maker .

The materials used are often recycled materials…“These artefacts combine the techniques and often the forms of basketry with the detritus of consumerism and the natural materials of my immediate environment” Lois Walpole.

Relevance to this module:

Using recycled materials – in this module I used waste paper such as old dress-making patterns to create pages for some of my experimental books, as well as the basis for paper pulp, and old vegetable nets for paper-making grids.

image Image 12.4 – Basket made of recycled paper


Image 12.5 – basket made from drinks cans

Ineke Berlyn

I bought three of Ineke’s books last year and was very sad to hear of her death earlier this year.  She was an international prize winning textile artist, who combined her love for colour, fabric and travelling to create a collection of work and sketchbooks. 

My reason for selecting her for this chapter is because of her frequent use of text in her stitched works.  Sometimes these were used as ways of turning sketchbook pages into quilts (image 12.6 below) and sometimes as a way of creating pattern (image 12.7 below)


Image 12.6 – Obama’s inauguration quilt

image Image 12.7 – Indigo words

Relevance to this module:

Ineke  used text as a way of both creating narrative in her artworks as well as layering the text to create pattern.  This was a technique that I used in my assessed piece in which I used the words ‘Jolie Brise’ and the degrees of latitude e.g. 42°N, to tell the story of my travels, as well as layering the text in several ways to create pattern.

Module 4 – Evaluation of assessment piece

The completed embroidered assessment piece for Module 4 is a photograph/sketch album based on the design topic of media.

How do I feel about the resulting conclusion?

I am very pleased with the final piece.  It feels very pleasant to the touch as the Calico has softened due to handling and has a slightly brushed feel.  I feel that it shows quite a lot of creativity in the various elements that I used to decorate the fabric and in creating the marine parts e.g. sails, rigging, ropes and cleat.  It also has an emotional connection in that it represents a special sailing adventure that I am undertaking.

Is it fit for purpose?

Yes.  It meets the brief as it is an embroidered panel, larger than A4 in size, which has been folded to create an item related to media.  I used several techniques from the Module including:

  • lettering made from rubbing over raised letters
  • machine and hand embroidery lettering and doodling
  • making grids from drawn thread work
  • paper making
  • stitching into handmade paper
  • making interesting book forms

If I was asked to make it again, what changes would I make to the way I designed it and the way I made it?

  • I would probably dye the Calico a slightly darker manila colour before starting stitching as it has become slightly grubby-looking after all of the handling, printing, stitching etc.
  • I think it would be interesting to have a contrast of the text size by adding in some tiny text in as well as the larger ‘Jolie Brise’ lettering.
  • I would overstitch the ‘rigging’ and ‘rope ladder’ with a silky thread in order to give a contrast to the matt surface of the cover and make it stand out more