I recently finished this piece of creative embroidery that’s been ‘in progress’ for about 18 months. It started as a sampler to try out a number of new textile techniques I’ve been learning (details at the end of the post).
The reason its been in progress for so long is because I couldn’t decide how to finish the edges – should I bind them in a different colour? Or mount the whole thing on another piece of fabric? I couldn’t decide so I lived with it for many months, returning to it often to try to decide what to do.
In the end I decided to just fold over the edges and sew them down without giving it a border.
As I reflected on this journey, I realised that it could be a metaphor for aspects of my life. I have a tendency to want to tie up loose ends, to frame things or define the and file them neatly away. But life isn’t really like that. Life is messy; it has loose ends, things that feel uncomfortable or not quite right; things that aren’t neat around the edges and refuse to be bound neatly.
I find when I can accept this, then forgiveness comes more easily. Forgiveness for myself when I don’t meet my own exacting standards, and forgiveness for others too.
Like my textile piece here, the really interesting parts of us are what is in the middle not what’s on the outside – our hearts, not the outer surface we try to bind up and present neatly to the world. And if we pay too much attention to the outside we can detract from the true heart of who we are. Better just to let our centre shine for itself.
‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.’ Matthew 5:8
For those who are into this kind of thing, here is how the textile piece was created.
This first heart was a piece of bondaweb cut into a heart shape and ironed onto synthetic velvet, sprinkled with embossing powders and then activated with a heat gun. I think there are a few different colour metallic powders but the effect is subtle.
I then edged the heart with pink seed beads and sewed random silver bugle beads on the heart and finished with pink embroidery thread parallel stitches.
The second heart was a ‘bondaweb sandwich’. Bits of metallic threads, fabric and sparkly confetti were trapped between two layers of bondaweb on top of white cotton and with a layer of pink chiffon on top. I used dark pink embroidery thread to blanket stitch the edge and then used silver metallic thread to weave in between this. Seed beads were used in a cluster and then between each blanket stitch and finally a cluster of silver bugle beads finished the heart. The photo doesn’t really show this to its best as in real life it’s very sparkly and iridescent.
The third heart was made from a piece of bondaweb painted with acrylic paints in pinks, purples, silver and bronze. This was then fused to synthetic velvet and stitched through with running stitch in embroidery floss. Bugle beads were stitched on in a rose design and then the heart was edged with chain stitch. Beads were threaded through the chain stitch as well as a contrasting colour thread.
The side pieces were a selection of fabrics appliquéd on using a variety of embroidery stitches and beads.
And finally, around the hearts I used one strand of embroidery thread to create scrolls with running thread and weaving.
The backing piece was from an old silk blouse I didn’t like anymore and the black velvet was an old skirt I made years ago for a Christmas party – I like to repurpose things.