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Stitchbook Issue No 14 1

MANDALA This month we are looking at Mandalas. I am using the mandala symbol in the hope of encouraging an appreciation for form, colour and pattern, using a combination of concentric circles and repeated stitches.



I would hate for any of this work to be seen as the misappropriation or trivializing of any belief system or culture.

WORKSHOP 4 Featured Artist 8 Valentine Hearts 9 The BUTTERFLY EFFECT 10 Box Full of Butterflies 12 Food for Thought 13 MEMBERS PAGES

Your GIFT this month: to use with workshop example 4:


Plastic stencil Finger dabber Calico Scrim

For avoidance of doubt, the word mandala itself simply means "circle" in Sanskrit. Chiefly found in the practice of Hinduism and Buddhism, the mandala is used as an aid to meditation. The intricate geometric designs are often used as spiritual guidance tools; to symbolise the universe; and to establish a sacred space.

The mandala pattern is also used across many other religious traditions worldwide, where it represents wholeness, holiness and all things encompassed by God. For ‘mindful stitching’ purposes, I hope that we can agree on the definition from

Why not send images to show the rest of us what you did with yours?

with love Helen x

‘MANDALA: an artistic representation of higher thought and deeper meaning given as a geometric symbol used in spiritual, emotional, or psychological work to focus one's attention. ’ 2



Stitching freestyle MANDALAS as creative therapy presented by Helen Birmingham Issue No 4: first published April 2023

This workshop looks at 4 different starting points which you could use to create simple mandala patterns in slow stitch. You know by now that I find precision and exact repetition quite challenging, both visually and psychologically. My tendency is towards rag textiles rather than conformity, so expect more of this … than this … but the idea of the workshop is that you please yourself; remind yourself to slow down; make informed decisions; let the work show you how to navigate your own universe!

It doesn’t matter which direction you take … not everything will work out, but you’ll learn from it anyway! DON’T PANIC or feel stressed! Take a deep breath and just get started ... see where it takes you! The group is here to support and encourage everyone. We have members with enormously varying levels of expertise … remember to share knowledge and ideas generously, and BE KIND. The archive of 12 techniques is permanently available to you whenever you want to try something new, and the monthly workshops and the magazines are there as inspiration and encouragement.



MANDALA presented by Helen Birmingham Issue No 14: first published February 2024 MY THOUGHT PROCESSES I know it’s a cliché, but January has felt like a very long month! Having said that, I’ve got an awful lot done, and I’m feeling really positive about the direction The Stitchbook Collective is taking, I do feel as though I hit the ground running, but also need to be aware of burnout! So, 2024 … as well as continuing the monthly workshops and magazine production, I am really keen to get the Butterfly Effect Project well underway. My thoughts about the magazine, workshops and projects are all interlinked and I seem to make connections naturally wherever I look. While researching mandalas and concentric circles I came across our featured artist (page 8) and I was so taken with her ’circles of life’ project that I knew, together with the research we had already undertaken, that this was the inspiration and direction which I needed for The Butterfly Effect. You can see on pages 10 & 11 that I now have fixed parameters established which unite the techniques and ideas in our previous group work, and I am ready to launch the kits in March/April 2024. As well as looking at curating some group exhibitions in my gallery in Scarborough, my long term aim is to try to negotiate a gallery space to show The Collective’s group projects at K&S Harrogate 2025. I would hope to display The Kimono, The DNA Spiral, The Primordial Soup Quilt AND the Butterfly Effect together, in an attempt to fully establish my vision for us becoming a recognised exhibiting group.

All of the examples in this workshop are much easier to follow in photographs and in the online video rather than in words. Go to to watch the video. Example 1 This piece of work follows naturally from our work on slow stitching and rag textiles. It is a great way of using up even the smallest offcuts of fabric, and works particularly well with chindi rags (from old saris), together with the wonderful interfacing G700 which we used in the workshop on Snippet Rolls in Issue 5 of the magazine. 1.

Lay a patchwork pattern of scraps onto the interfacing and iron it well to ensure that all of the pieces are attached properly. In this example I have enhanced the circular pattern with the placement of the fabric. (Option: pin and tack the work onto a piece of backing fabric, here I have used a layer of orange felt, to give added stability.)


Cut a circle from a piece of scrap paper, and pin it down onto the centre of your work. Stitch a line of running stitches around the circle as a guide.


Stitch a circle of blanket stitch, using a fine wool or thick embroidery floss. If you are unsure of how to create blanket stitch, don’t forget the RSN Stitch Bank which is invaluable!


At this stage, I then worked an area of seed stitch and blanket stitch around the outside of my circle. How you complete the slow stitched element of this is obviously your own choice.


I then continued stitching smaller and smaller concentric circles of blanket stitch, using the paper template as a guide, to make sure that my stitching remained even.


Once I had reached the centre of the design, I decided to add couched sections, and beads. You will see that I actually ended up with 13 sections rather than a more standard 12, so you may want to measure out your work more carefully than I did!


I made this piecce rather larger than the size of my stitchbook (!), and decided to stitch the whole piece onto the front of a cushion.

I believe that as my confidence in our group projects grows, my own work, related to genetics and heredity, will begin to become more intertwined; as The Stitchbook Collective becomes an essential part of my own evolutionary story. I thank you all for that, and for having the belief in me to want to continue on this Voyage of Discovery together. 4

Example 1


Example 2 You can see in this example that I used a plain piece of felt as my background, and variegated sock wool to stitch the circles. I deliberately drew the circles ‘wonky’ and used the blanket stitch in a much freer form to fill in the eccentric spaces between the rings. This turns out to be one of the favourite pieces of mindful stitching which I have completed in quite a long time!

Example 3 In this example I would like to look at how you might isolate the mandala to use in a larger composition. You can see that the central mandala form was made in a very similar way to the one at the beginning of this workshop (Example 1). Once the piece was finished, I stretched and mounted it over a circular piece of card, which made it almost into a badge or a button form. This gives the mandala a 3D quality which I really like. Of course you could simply mount the mandala onto Bondweb (or another interfacing which prevents fraying) and cut it out ready for stitching onto another piece.


Example 4 In the magazine this month you have a stencil and a finger dabber, together with some scrim and calico. You will need to use a fairly thick paint (i.e. acrylic) .. see video for demonstration of how to use the finger dabber. Your challenge, (to share with the rest of the group? but no pressure if you don’t want to) is to create a design which uses your stencilled image in a repeat pattern, which you can then stitch into .

I’d love to see what you come up with. We all learn from each other, and a technique which you think might be really obvious may not have occurred to others? Show me what you can do??

It has been pointed out that I don’t very often show you samples attached to my own Stitchbook pages, so from now on, I will try to remember to include an example of a page which I have made using the technique in the current workshop. This is the page which I completed this month. Those of you who know me will know that I always wear a phone holder round my neck. I’ve had the ‘same’ phone holder for years, and every time it wears out, or bits fall off I mend it. It reminds me of the 100 year old broom which has had several new handles and lots of new heads! Anyway, the circular bit in the middle of this piece was a bit which fell off my phone holder a while back, and I decided to replace. with a more dramatic spiral. (I’m not sure that I actually like the new addition, but that’s another story!) The bit that fell off has been waiting for a place to ‘live’ ever since, and this month it has found a new home in my Stitchbook. I’m happy with it there … now to make changes to the phone holder!! Lol x





‘The Circles of Life have their origins in the crocheted circles of my old neighbour Hennie. Hennie starts to forget and becomes introverted. She prefers to crochet rounds all day long. From the moment I told her that I really like them, she has been giving me her rounds. I call them 'Hennies' . Hennie crocheted the first rounds from her own leftover yarn. Now that these are gone, I give her my leftover yarn and wool. This is how we exchange yarn and 'Hennies' . They now make the connection where she no longer has the words.

I was so inspired by Jolande’s website that I made my own version of her work from the Circle of Life series using an old piece of stitching from one of my previous projects, and you will see its influence on the Butterfly Effect project. See p 10 & 11

For the Circles of Life I ask 50 women to choose a 'Hennie' , find strips of fabric and felt them into a piece. I process that piece of cloth with the 'Hennie' into a Circle of Life. Working on the Circles of Life I feel like I am one with these women. They envelop me.’


Valentine's Day, celebrated on February 14th, is a special occasion dedicated to expressing love and affection to those closest to our hearts. It's a day when people exchange tokens of love, affectionate messages, and acts of kindness with their loved ones.

I do hope that you will all approve of my plans for the remaining hearts which were part of our fabulous project and helped to raise the AMAZING total of £2,249.60 (received by MIND on 3rd January 2024.) I have mounted the remaining hearts as a wall hanging and several ‘strings’ of hearts, and have offered them as a ‘Valentine’s Day’ gift to Cross Lane Hospital in Scarborough, This is a specialist NHS mental health hospital which provides inpatient facilities for adults detained under the Mental Health Act 1983. The wheels of administration turn fairly slowly, but I am hopeful that I will be able to present the gift to them to display in the hospital at some point in the very near future. I have a personal connection to this wonderful facility and I know just what amazing work they undertake. It will be very meaningful to be able to offer this token of love from all of us. Cross Lane Hospital, Scarborough 9

The Stitchbook Collective’s GROUP PROJECT for 2024/25 is finally ready to launch! I have spent a lot of time turning ideas about this project over and over in my mind. It was very important to me that all of your suggestions were taken into account,, but also that I came up with a design which had enough individual elements for ALL members to be able to make a significant contribution. I looked back at pieces of work which we have undertaken both as a group and in our monthly workshops, and have tried to take elements and techniques from all of them, hopefully combining them into one coherent design which we will all be proud to take ownership of.

After much soul searching, I have decided that I really do want our future to lie in art textiles and contemporary thinking rather than a more conventional or traditional approach to needlework and embroidery. I will be contacting the Galleries Team at The Knitting & Stitching Show in the next week or so with a comprehensive proposal for allocation of an exhibition space in 2025. The proposal will include: Boro-inspired KIMONO DNA spiral Primordial Soup Quilt and The Butterfly Effect With that in mind, I was keen for the Butterfly Effect Project to have elements from each of the previous pieces, in order to be able to curate the exhibition as one entity. I have taken the idea of recycling and rag textiles from the Kimono, the needle felting and repeating but

related elements from the DNA spiral, and the construction of a narrative from the Primordial Soup quilt, and combined them into the piece I am presenting to you now. I love the idea of making ‘wearable art’ and was reminded of the amazing RED DRESS project. Those of you who haven’t come across it yet, take a look at the project website: https:// Couple the RED DRESS with this month’s featured artist project Circles of Life, the narrative which we have already established with the butterfly effect and the mindful nature of slow stitching and I really think we’ve got something worth shouting about. The project will be in phases. Phase One will be making the butterfly wing inspired needlefelted and stitched squares which will form the structure of the dress. The kits for this will be ready by March/April. You’ll be able to sign up from next months magazine.

will accompany the kit, and all materials will be provided. I would anticipate that each member will make a set of 4 squares, as pictured. I have an amount of money set aside from your subscriptions to offset the cost of this project, but I may have to ask for help with the postage. I’ll let you know on that one. Phase Two will be to make butterflies, foliage and other additions which will eventually be wired onto the dress, shawl, headdress and maybe even shoes. It’s ambitious, but I genuinely believe that it is achievable! I do hope you'll be with me on this. I am super excited by the prospect of working together to make something amazing, and if we can raise funds and awareness for mental health along the way, what’s not to like?? I’d really love to hear your response to the design, good or bad, but please be kind, as I feel fully invested in this idea now!

A comprehensive instruction leaflet


The Butterfly Effect


One of our members, Tracey Ingham, posted this wonderful piece on Facebook, and I cheekily asked her if she would be happy to share the instructions with the rest of us. Unbelievably generously, she offered to make up another chest, write instructions and photograph each stage for us! THANK YOU SO MUCH TRACEY x x I know that I’m going to make at least one of these! I’d love to see images of any chests you make from this pattern.


by Tracey Ingham After reading Helen's thought processes about the butterfly and her father's collection, the idea of butterflies escaping from their drawers popped into my head. I made lots of butterflies and then the little chest of drawers , and have finally got round to attaching the butterflies to the box.

Cabinet Extract from Issue 9 I have always been fascinated by botanical illustrations. My father had a butterfly collection which he kept in a rather tall, austere Victorian cabinet of glass covered-drawers, and I somehow accepted that the rather macabre stabbing of the samples with entomology pins was a necessity rather than a cruelty, I remember he had collections of cigarette cards and silks with butterflies on them too. I used to love going to Tring Museum and standing on tip-toe to open the lidded cabinets and gaze in wonder at the iridescence of the wings.

Making a 2 Drawer Chest I use stiff card for the outer casing and a slightly thinner car for the inners. It is up to the individual and what card you may have available. I use a fairly tight weave cotton fabric for covering (batik or other fabric that I have for patchwork). I attach the fabric using Pritt stick on the folds to speed the process but you can lace it if you prefer. Check all your measurements as different thickness of card and fabric can make a difference. Sorry I use imperial measurements as these are the rulers I have.

2 Drawers outers and inners From card I cut: Outer


2 4 4

2 4 4 See photo 1

51/2 square for base 51/2 x 11/2 for sides 55/8 x 11/2 front and back 53/8 square for base 53/8 x 13/8 for sides 51/2 x 13/8 for front and back

Cut fabric a good inch larger in height and width than each piece of card for overlap Label all cards in centre then lay cards on matching fabrics. Using Pritt stick fold down corners first and then sides. Make the corners as sharp as you can. See photo 2 Using sewing machine on a very small zig zag and matching thread join the sides, back and front to the base. If you do not want to use a machine they can be ladder stitched together. See photo 3 Join all 4 corners together using a ladder stitch. (for this I use a curved needle, which makes the process easier, and linen thread as you need a strong thread to pull the stitches tight) The outer drawer should have fabric facing out and the inner drawer with fabric facing in. At this point you can add a button or bead for a handle. With a fairly substantial needle sew through the front of the outer card to attach the bead/button and secure firmly. Then place inner drawer into outer drawer and either glue or slip stitch the top of the sides together See photos 4 and 5

Drawer casings

Before you start cutting card for these, measure your drawers - width/depth/height to make sure you have the right dimensions. From Card I cut: For top and base cut For sides cut For back

4 55/8 squares 4 55/8 x 15/8 2 53/4 x x 15/8

Cut fabric a good inch larger in height and width. Glue the fabric to the card as for drawer and shown in photo 2. Machine stitch using matching thread and small zig zag: Sides and back pieces to base and then stitch top to back. See Photo 6 Fabric should face in when you then fold over the top to create the casing for the drawers. Using ladder stitch join the 2 corners then the top to the 2 sides Place drawers into casings and glue one on top of the other or if you prefer you can stitch them together. See Photo 7 and 8 Final Outer Casing Measure the top and sides to ensure you have the correct sizes From Card I cut

2 6 x 6 squares 2 6 x 33/4 for sides 6 x 33/4 for back

Cut fabric a good inch larger in height and width. Glue the fabric to the card as for drawer and shown in Photo 2 Machine zig zag stitch sides and back to base then machine stitch top to back as in drawer casing shown in Photo 6 (can also be hand stitched). Place the outer casing over the two encased drawers (you can glue it to hold it in place) Ladder stitch corners and then top to sides and back. Finally ladder stitch together around the front casings to neaten hold them all in place. See Photos 9 and 10


Photo 1: Drawer cut card

Photo 2: Gluing fabric to card

Over half of all British butterflies have been placed on the latest UK Red List of species.

Climate change and habitat loss are to blame, but we can save butterflies if we help them to thrive.

Photo 3: Drawer base with 4 sides, machine stitched.

Photo 4: Inner and outer drawer

Photo 5: Drawer with inner inserted

Photo 6: Drawer casing The large tortoiseshell butterfly, once common to English Woodlands, has been driven to extinction in the UK, although they do continue to survive in some areas of Europe.

Do we really want our legacy ONLY to be able to experience butterflies which have been caught, killed, relaxed, pinned and labelled?

Photo 7: One drawer in casing

Photo 8: 2 drawers in casing glued together

Photo 9: Top and one side complete casing.

Photo 10: Drawers being completed 13

For me, this is the perfect exchange on the Facebook discussion page, and I was thrilled. Don’t be afraid to share feelings or opinions .. just remember to: ALWAYS BE KIND.

A: I like to layer behind a gap/hole in the fabric, highlighting part of the hidden fabric and sometimes embellishing the space. Voile can be used to screen the hole/space and obscure the gap. Ooh! I feel I have quite a bit to explore and when I do I will post! You have made me think - inspired me. A good question. X

A: I think part of the trick is to focus on what you said about ‘negative Q: Um, feel a bit 'stupid' asking space’. Don’t think of a hole as an this, but what's the idea or reason empty space which needs filling, for making and using 'holes' in think of it as a container. It may only textile art? I can see the effect contain a thought, or a feeling, but created with open weave fabric, and have a basic awareness around it’s not necessarily empty? That’s a 'negative space', but still scratching bit ‘zen’ but it’s a concept which I enjoy x

my head regards full holes, eyelets, .... I think I find them 'disconcerting' as an 'empty' space A: Broderie anglaise and traditional that needs to be 'filled'.... Thankyou pulled work are very decorative and have been used to produce some xx A: Don’t ever feel stupid asking a question. An enquiring mind is so valuable. I think that the beauty of making holes is that you can see what’s behind it. Layering and obscuring. And also mending and covering. I love the concept of layering to represents time, going backwards or deeper. A: Just because it’s fun and liberating to experiment and see where the needle takes me.

beautiful household items as well as trimming on dresses. I think for many people experimenting with different techniques in a less formal way, less expensive too, gives me a way to feel connected with the past and keep the brain engaged on something different. just have a go and experiment A: Maybe take that ‘disconcerted’ feeling and think about any narrative that might arise. Ask yourself why it is disconcerting? You don’t have to delve deep into psyche to find interesting responses x x.

by Deanna Hunter Hi everyone, i just wanted to share this with you all. For those of you who have been here from the beginning you'll know I've been a fashion and textile student for what feels like forever. I was in the second year of my HND in textiles when i joined the Stitchbook Collective. I thought it would inspire me creatively and teach me techniques I could use in my course. It ended up being so much more than that for me. And now i have come full circle. I am in my fourth and final year of my honours Degree and this is some of my work. Helen has been such an inspiration to me and now my whole project is based on slow Stitching. I wouldn't be here without the Stitchbook Collective or Helen and her wise words. Thank you so much for everything and wish me luck for the next four months because its going to be a lot of hard work but I'm excited to see how my project evolves. This was me practicing my layout for my interim show next week.


WasteAge Coat by Mary Whitehouse

Hainsworth is a long-established company producing wool cloth for apparel and furnishing, for military uniforms and blankets. The company is proud of its heritage of over two hundred years of weaving, including making uniform cloth for soldiers at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815; you may have seen them featured on television as they made cloth for the ceremonial military uniforms worn for the Coronation of King Charles III.

I am a student at Bradford School of Art, studying for a Foundation Degree in Textile Practice. In the second year of the course our project was to reimagine industrial waste materials from A W Hainsworth Mill in Pudsey, Yorkshire into a high-end. Fashion item The design of the coat inspired by the that would grace the college fashion heritage of the wool industry in show. Yorkshire and a quilt in the Quilters’ Guild Collection. The materials I selected were all milled wools. There were narrow strips of fabric, and small rectangles used as samples for potential customers. These samples reminded me of the Kent Uniform Coverlet, which is made from many pieces of military uniform wool arranged in blocks around a central medallion. Most of the coverlet comprises an array of squares ‘on point’. It was made between 1860 and 1880 do it could be that fabric from uniforms made with Hainsworth cloth is The reason for writing this now is that included in the Kent Coverlet. coat has been selected for the Old Parcels Office artspace Open 24 Show I used Susan Briscoe’s pattern for a Hanten Jacket as the starting point for from 10th February to 10th March. the coat. Panels for the sleeves, back, and left front were constructed from strips of blanket fabric. All seams were joined using a faggoting stitch. The pattern of squares in the Kent Uniform Coverlet led me to place coloured woollen squares ‘on point’ in

WasteAge Coat

an array on the back of the coat. I used an embellishing machine to needle-felt the squares onto the cream blanket background. This creates a reversible fabric, with the effect of the needle felting being quite different on the front and reverse of the fabric. For the right front panel of the coat, I was inspired by the patterns made by the movement of heddles of the looms at Hainsworth Mill to create a design that used the narrow strips of coloured cloth, which were machine pieced.

This project was an opportunity to show how ‘waste’ material from A W Hainsworth can be repurposed to create a coat that has a long-lasting appeal and could, at the end of its life, be recycled. Creation took place within 30 miles of the mill where the fabric was produced, keeping the whole process truly local. The Kent Uniform Coverlet can be seen on the Quilters Guild Collection website collections/heritage/all/1860-1880/kentuniform-coverlet.html Briscoe, S. (2020) the book of boro. Exeter: David and Charles. My Festival of Quilts entry 2023 No one should die (which I wrote about in The Stitchbook Issue 9) has been selected for the International Women’s Day exhibition at Trapezium Arts, Bradford in March. Mary Whitehouse @yorkstitcher

Detail from the coverlet


“So here goes …..” times two! Thank you x by Annie Parkinson I've been meaning to write for quite some time but my problem is that I talk to you so often in my head as I go through the latest Stitchbook mag - but then don't get around to putting it in an email. If telepathy worked you would have received masses of feedback from me every month . So here goes …

Because of family care commitments over the past year my spare time has shrunk to an hour or two here and there dabbling in my workshop; I am way behind in actually making and finishing all the projects, I've not even tried Joomchi yet, my scissors gather dust. I have dipped in to online resources very infrequently because spare time doesn't always coincide with having my laptop with me or with exhibition times and dates. But it doesn't matter at the moment because what I get from the magazine is a comforting sense of being in a wider community, with like-minded people. And I will be rejoining you and happily experimenting, but for now you are part of my de-stressing survival kit for those long hours by the side of the hospital trolley: bottle of water, apple, mints and my Stitchbook mag, and letting my mind wander. And this is what my spare hours when I'm at home have produced.. A self portrait of a shattered woman ...though I haven't looked that for 40 years and recycled denim is too tough to stitch, bad choice… Playing around with scraps of fabric and net and weaving- and one I finished more than a year ago. Because I am rubbish at weaving, my last attempt made a good oven glove when backed with towelling, I buy loose weave scarves from charity shops and unpick them.

by Ann Evans I made a few resolutions this January, one of which was to share more of my work with the collective. I often mean to send some photos but I am deterred either by the technology or inertia. So here goes: I am sending three images, two from the most recent stitch book and another from way back last year when you invited us to de-construct a “heart”. I did take it apart and then was unsure whet to do with it. Recently I returned to it and after some stitching it put me in mind of a Victorian valentine – embroidered and lacy. With February approaching, it seemed a good time to complete and send it. My three images are, first an open weave with beads. then an open weave that turned into a spiral and finally the valentine.


Here are a few of my favourite images and comments from the facebook pages this month.

by Carol Clancy Really enjoyed having a go at the Open weave fabric workshop ! I do a lot of conventional sewing , toys and clothes for the grandchildren some embroidery and I also make a lot of 1940’s style outfits for my daughter who belongs to a second work war reenactment group, but being part of the Stitchbook Collective is something I treasure as the sewing I do then is just for me ! It doesn’t have to ‘fit’ it doesn’t need taking out or in and also there is no deadline ! I can pick it up when the

mood takes me ! Just like it did today ! I loved the little packet of fabrics and spent some quality time time just playing ! Thank you Helen !

pages for each month of my stitch book a sample page and a more considered page. I put them all on a notice board in I love the repeating nature of the collective, as things develop organically my sewing room ( spare bedroom) and my grandchildren were keen to see what we pick up something we have previously worked on but never found a had been added each time they visited. Now they are all in my Butterfly cover home for. The December covers caused me to pull book, it seemed apt to use that. out the boxes which Helen had sent our Now what about this year? I think I original stitch book workshops in. They would like a change from a book so am all contained some bits and bobs and from them came the covers for the 2023 thinking of a snippet roll, any other and 2024 magazines. Last year I did two ideas?

by Patricia Hughes


If I ever wanted confirmation that sending out fabrics and samples to use with the workshop videos again was a good idea … this is it! JOB DONE! You can expect some every month with your magazine now!

Glimmers and Triggers Triggers activate the “fight or flight” response, which creates feelings of agitation, anxiety, fear, sadness, or anger. Glimmers, on the other hand, produce sensations that make you feel calm, joyful, and grateful. I am trying to make a record of my ‘glimmers’ so that I can look back on them when my depression drops me down into that deep pit again. .. as it inevitably will. Maybe they can offer something of a lifeline? .. these photographs are the result of my stopping and appreciating in January ...

I just want to leave this thought here for another month.

I’m still collecting ideas for an Exhibition

… you can’t have closure for a button without a buttonhole. Sandra Dorey Thinking about buttons, I went on quite an emotional journey with expressions like 'button your lip' and 'all buttoned up' as an emotional state. I wouldn't want to go there with a piece of textile art - but there is obviously and deep mine to explore if ever I felt like doing so. Caroline Tracey I can almost feel that from here totally understand why it would be a tough one to work with For me, buttons take me back to my Grandma's tin of buttons that I was fascinated by lol, so, fond memories and personal connection

I’ve done the first project for this month!! Yay! I’m really happy with how they’ came out. I used some black netting I had too. I’m gonna get some more of the fabrics so I can play with dyeing them too and how that turns out I’m watching the other videos from last year as well that I didn’t manage to watch and I’m really inspired so I will do those too. I still need to finish my stitchbook from 2022 but i might just put it all together now and then the ones I finish later add to another stitchbook. I’ve still got all the kits in a box so it’s just a case of making time to get to it. I had a look through all my pages before and I’m really pleased with them all so far. I can’t wait to get my creativity back. Thank you to Helen for providing all the stitchbook lessons and projects. You have really helped me a lot in my creative journey and I can’t wait to continue it this year!

I just finished this small piece using open weave fabrics and remember reading that If you collected some together, you would make a collage. I enjoyed doing this and I think that French knots are my favourite stitch! Judi Burrows

Bethany Rose Banks


by Caroline Tracey May I pleeeease draw your attention to this artist - Lisa Kokin with reference to 'Button Work'... I've had a little time this afternoon to contemplate Helen's suggestion/request in this month's SB magazine for a possible something inspired by buttons, and have stumbled across the work below (staring in amazement and wonder at the images on the screen)... the 'story' or 'narrative' behind these works is touching too.

extract: BUTTON WORKS by Lisa Kokin My father’s death in 2001 sparked a period of introspection and existential rumination. A primal tie was broken and I was left to ponder my identity as the only child of one remaining elderly parent. Whereas in the past my work often dealt with larger socio-political themes, at this time in my artistic life my work took a distinct turn towards the personal. Buttons had made cameo appearances in much of my previous work; never had they been the primary material until this series. My parents were upholsterers and my earliest memories are of playing in their shop with piles of vinyl and foam rubber. I have sewn since I was a child and the stitch plays a major role in my work, so it was natural to join the buttons together to form a reconstructed family portrait. What began as a memorial to my father soon expanded to the realm of family portraits, past and present, human and canine. The series culminated with a three-part public commission of button portraits of Rosa Parks, Cesar Chavez and Fred Korematsu.

Helen Birmingham

My work has always had an obsessive quality and this body of work is no exception. Every button is stitched to its neighbor to form a low-tech pixilated composition. Up close each piece is an abstract mélange of colors and shapes; the further back one stands the more decipherable the image becomes. This interplay between abstraction and representation is a source of interest to me. It is as though I am painting with buttons, building my palette as I go along. adding and subtracting until the interplay of colors and forms coalesces into a coherent image.

thanks to Beverley Swain for pointing out Ann Carrington’s series called Pearly Queens 19

Issue 15:


The Butterfly Effect

KITS available to ORDER



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