We are a group of women (but men are welcome!) who have an interest in textile art and embroidery. We are of mixed abilities and there is no need for you to be able to sew to come and join us - there are no tests!
New members are always welcome - why not call in and join us as a guest for a few months?
Meeting fee for visitors is only £5.
Our meetings vary - we have talks and workshops, show and tell - we also have lots of weekend workshops and playdays. For details of what's coming up (and what's been and gone!) check out our programme below...

Monday, 27 April 2015

Frances Pickering Workshop - A Bumper Blog Entry!

This weekend, twenty of our members were lucky enough to take part in a Branch workshop with famous textile artist and bookmaker Frances Pickering, author of "Page After Page" and "Under The Cover". Frances arrived with her husband / able assistant Jim, and together we had a wonderful weekend of making, eating and laughing together, ending up with some incredible artwork.

This is Frances explaining to us how to fill the pages of our books:

And so that you know the dizzy heights we were aiming for, here are some examples of Frances' own books:

As you can see, Frances is a talented artist, and she has developed many different techniques for making textile and paper books. 

Unfortunately a year wouldn't have been long enough for us to learn all of the different methods Frances uses, so we concentrated on making a book with a dyed fabric cover. We painted our books with Koh-i-noor dyes, added lace and fabric strips, dyed them some more, then covered them with acrylic wax to preserve the colour before stitching and adding beads. When complete we bonded the outside and inside covers together, made some pages (which we also dyed), and completed our books with braid (thanks Jim!) and fastenings. 

Without further ado (this post is going to be long enough!) here are our members' own creations : 

Liz's book has lots of hand-stitching and is fastened with beaded braid and a button. It has tatted embellishments and she has rounded the corners before hand stitching around the edge of the cover. 

Maureen's vibrant cover in shades of blue, yellow and green has hand-drawn leaves and is fastened with a braid and a lovely shell which Maureen has made into a button. She has also added beads to the threads which have fastened the pages into the book, which you can see hanging from the spine. 

The theme of Helen's book is Shakespeare and she has added running stitch and french knots to her cover, and has also coloured three fabric buttons which she has used to fasten her book. 

Carol has added some woven silk ribbons to the dyed cover of her book, which she has embellished with sequins, before adding three buttons and braid to fasten it. 

Sandra has appliqued a stencilled tulip design to the front of her book, and she has embellished the cover with machine embroidered tulips and writing. 
You can see the pages she has dyed to match the cover. 

Jo's book has a lovely vintage feel and to match that is fastened with a simple cord and antique button. She has attached fabric patches which have been edged with running stitch. 

There is lots of machine and hand-stitching on the cover of Janice's book, which has a floral theme. She has added a beaded bookmark and has also used buttons as decoration, as well as for fastening her book. 

Natalie has dyed the cover of her tall book in shades of purple and brown before adding machine embroidery and an appliquéd thistle, which she has hand drawn and painted prior to adding it to the cover. 

The theme of Alexis' book reflects that of her wedding last year, with lots of hand-drawn and painted daisies applied to her dyed scrim-covered book. She has embellished it with machine embroidery. 

The theme of Davina's green and blue book is Coriander, whose Indian name is "Dhania". Her cover features appliquéd coriander flowers which have been embellished with hand-stitching. She has added a 2-tone cord to fasten the book. 

Anne's book cover has lots of applied hand-painted flowers and leaves, which are enhanced with hand-stitching, and the design is echoed on the hand-painted vintage fabric buttons which decorate the opening edge of the book. She has also added a bookmark with the same flower design attached to the end. 

Catherine's Van Gogh-style cover is in many vibrant shades and is hand-embroidered in running stitch and french knots using lots of colourful threads. She has used three buttons and twisted cord to fasten the book. 

Rona dyed her book in very vivid shades of blue and purple, adding contrasting hand-stitching and an appliquéd flower which is decorated with blanket stitch and french knots. 

 The theme of Rachael's book is Abbeys, and she has applied front and rear windows and brickwork using her sewing machine. She has also used paints and collage to decorate the inner pages, using different page sizes and cutting windows through her work from one page to the next. 

Irene has used subtle shades of purple and brown for her book of "Thoughts, Words, Prayers", and has added a decorated label as a book mark. She has decorated the hand-stitched cover with buttons as well as using them to fasten her book. 

Margaret, to whom we owe a huge debt of gratitude for arranging this wonderful workshop, somehow managed to find the time to do some sewing as well! Her cover features many kinds of lace, coloured in delicate shades of green, along with strips of machine-embroidered ribbon.

Jan chose Daisies as the theme for her book, which has and edging of daisy-type lace which Jan has hand-painted. There are also hand-stitched daisies on the back cover along with hand-painted vintage buttons used for the fastening and for the bookmark. 

Jane's book is in shades of green and purple and features hand-drawn thistles on the front and back, which have been machine embroidered. She has added a twisted cord in the same colours. 

Mandy's book has a tulip theme and the cover is decorated with hand-painted tulips and sheet music as well as lace, hand-stitching and beads. The lace edge was painted to give a greater contrast against the green of the book. 

Wyn worked on two book covers during the weekend, which she coloured using diluted emulsion paint as well as the Koh-i-noor dyes, giving a muted, subtle finish to her work. Hand-embroidery will follow. 

And here we (nearly) all are with our wonderful tutor Frances Pickering, her husband Jim, and our wonderful works of art. 
Thanks again to Frances for travelling all the way from Kent to deliver this wonderful workshop, and to Margaret for organising it (and us), and to Wyn for providing such lovely food for Frances and Jim that they want to come back.  

Here's to the next time! 

*If you're interested in finding out more about Frances' work, both of her books are available on Amazon for £12 each.


  1. These books are breathtaking and each one is a treasure. How thrilled you must all be with what you have made. I am going on one of Frances's workshops later in the year and have already enjoyed two others. I love her work and her books.

  2. What a wonderful array of books! You are a very talented and skilled group.

  3. Isn't it amazing how you ended up with so many different outcomes from one workshop. I did the same workshop just after moving here and had such fun.

  4. What an awesome experience it must have been to have taken a workshop from her. Thanks for the great post and all the super pictures! I have her two books and they are wonderful :)

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  6. Absolutely gorgeous; got to try and get her to come to our branch.

  7. What a marvellous selection of books - really inspiring.