Extreme Surfaces for Stitch - West Dean College July 17 - 20

Mary's beautiful composition of painted Bondaweb, newspaper, foils, gilding flake and jewel dots - and seaweed!

Every now and then in your teaching life you come across a 'super' group. 'Super' in the the way they work together, share their materials and experience and of course they produce some fabulous work. It is particularly unusual to find this on a three day course - it is something I would associate with much longer course. Nine students who have never met before with the widest divide of experience and age from 17 to much older, experience ranged from very little through City and guilds up to degrees and a PHD in textiles based subjects.

"Where sheep may safely graze . . " 
The view outside the workshop door - sigh . . . it is so beautiful.

Of course, being at West Dean College www.westdean.org.uk helped, what with stunning surroundings, space to work and wonderful food it would be difficult to find anywhere else more suited to creativity.

This is going to be along post I'm afraid - I was going to do it in two parts but I have run out of time. Life has been more frantic than usual in the last few days.

Our studio - each student has their own table with it's own power supply - and space!

We started off by painting up all the products - we would be working with Bondaweb, Vilene Spunbond CS800 (heavy weight), Tyvek, cellophane and not on the course description but it's hard to say no! Newspaper.

The following images all incorporate painted Bondaweb in some way.

 Painted Bondaweb layered with polyester organza, skeleton leaves and gilding flake.

 Painted Bondaweb on Decovil 1 iron-on interfacing with just a few jewel dots . . .

 Painted Bondaweb with various threads and jewel dots.

 Just painted Bondaweb . . . Fab!

And then the newspaper started to arrive . . . .

Although using newspaper wasn't part of the course it would have been mean to to stop the group using it as most of them had seen what others groups had been trying on this blog - they were all very well informed.

When you are using newspaper and you have sewing machines to hand it would be remiss of me not to show the group how to create faux chenille with newspaper. All the newspapers used are what was used to paint all the products on so they have a mixture of paint and procion colourwash on.

 Newspaper with polyester organza.

  Just plain old newspaper

Newspaper faux chenille with a Tyvek sample. 

We then got out the soldering irons and started to cut shapes from Vilene Spunbond and polyester organza. This process is basically applique but using a soldering iron rather than scissors to cut out your design from any kind of synthetic fabric. You can achieve more intricate shapes with a soldering iron.

 Polyester organza . . 

 . . which was backed with a bright green organza and an acetate sheet to create a 3D shape.

 Polyester organza and Vilene Spunbond applied to a pelmet/craft Vilene.

 Chrissi created several of these delightful designs cut from Vilene Spunbond.

 Vilene Spunbond and polyester organza layered up and ironed onto more Vilene Spunbond . .

  . . and a detail.

A simple sample - 2 layers of polyester organza with a shape cut out leaving the negative space.

  . .and more . .

We also played with texturing and foiling Tyvek - half the group liked it - half didn't, Tyvek isn't for everyone.
 A selection of Tyvek samples.

 An exquisite corsage created from unpainted Tyvek.
 A very beautiful and well considered sample of layered Tyvek and polyester organza, Bernadette created a whole range of samples based on Alliums.

 A lovey colourful sample of Tyvek layered with polyester organza that has zapped with a heat gun to reveal different layers of colour. (cheeky reverse applique)

 Everything you can do with Tyvek you can with cellophane.

As you can see the group produced some fabulous work - they did get around to stitching some of the samples but I didn't get round to photographing them. I am hoping some of the group will send me some images when they finish stitching - Hint, Hint!!!

I would like to thank Mary, Christine, Bernadette, Lauren, Chrissi, Jane, Gill, Annabelle and Emily for a fantastic 3 days.

If you are on Facebook go to
to see many more images.


I'm now going to dash about collecting all the kit I need for the TSG summer school starting tomorrow in Shropshire - I am going to be student for a week - sheer bliss - it will be hard work and great fun.
I will be on a course with Ruth Issett - FANTASTIC!!!! I will be very quiet for a week . . . x


  1. hello! I found you via a photo on Pinterest. These works look amazing!! I love the idea of working with different materials and stitching some together. Cellophane, who would have thought!


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