Tag: hand embroidery

Marking Time

Sometimes you’re the chalk, and sometimes you’re the sandpaper. At the moment, I’m definitely the chalk.

I’m trying to get the curtain of the ark project finished and I’m mired in the doldrums of the middle third of a project where it’s obviously not finished but the novelty has worn off.

I’m slowly picking away at it, but it’s a struggle…


Have you ever held out against a new thing, only to discover, once you finally succumb, that it was just the thing you had been looking for?

Yea, well I’ve gone and done just that with Instagram.

Cutting it fine for tomorrow’s Morningside Makers Market! #workinprogress #craftfair #Edinburgh #hoopart

A photo posted by Katy Bromberg (@mymisericordia) on

Not only is it absolutely amazing for displaying your caffeinated beverage of choice, but there are heaps of vibrant and inspiring hand embroidery artists keen to interact with and support each other.

Sunday morning snooze #gingercat #sundaymorning

A photo posted by Katy Bromberg (@mymisericordia) on

So, if you’re missing out on photos of my work in progress, Kipling trying to help me, or (very occasionally) my breakfast, come and say hello at mymisericordia! I’d love to follow you lovely people, so let me know how to find you too.

Note to self – don’t get these plates confused! #workinprogress #workingbreakfast #watercolour #cheeseontoast

A photo posted by Katy Bromberg (@mymisericordia) on

Beyond the Fringe – Adventures in Mending

A recent dip into a familiar but long-neglected charity shop (I used to work around the corner, so it was a convenient place to pop in during lunch breaks) yielded a lovely wool Pavlovo Posad Russian shawl with the tags still on.

I’m on another Victorian literature bender, so a voluminous shawl seemed just the thing, and I’ve always loved Russian textiles, so I wasn’t even very disappointed to find a series of tears in one corner when I got it home. (Not even disappointed enough to take a before photo, I’m afraid.)

Scrapiana, mender extraordinaire, has inspired me to be a little more creative about my mending, so I grabbed a scrap of batiste and my trusty box of embroidery thread and set to work.

First I satin stitched over the cut portions and into the whole parts to ensure that there was good adhesion to the batiste (it’s very hard to break yourself of the habit of satin stitching in the most thread-conserving method) and then I buttonhole stitched around the edge of the mended areas with black sewing thread. About eight stitches into that buttonhole stitch I realised that I was a card-carrying obsessive hand embroiderer, I’m pretty sure that no one else would have thought it was a good idea!

In the end, I’m really pleased with how it came out, I’ve trimmed off the excess batiste (please ignore the bit where I folded the batiste accidentally) and it looks quite tidy.

I’m finding this mending thing quite therapeutic, I’d love to hear about your favourite mended pieces – they don’t even have to be yours!

An Illustration in Watercolour and Embroidery

I thought I’d put together a tutorial showing you how to use watercolour with embroidery. I used this technique to make a present for my dad and I enjoyed it so much that it will shortly be making an appearance in more of my work.

As a starter for ten (as they say), I copied an illustration so I only had to think about being faithful to the original, rather than worrying about composition and colours and balance.

Choose your image:

I chose the William Steig illustration from Amos and Boris below. It had a lovely wash-y sea and not too many colours to work with. I also thought that I could recreate the skips and skitters of the pen marks in embroidery quite effectively.


Work out how you’re going to present your piece when it’s finished. I framed mine, which gave me an idea of the size it needed to be. Watercolour doesn’t stand up to frequent washing, so keep the item’s final use in mind (not so good for a baby blanket). I had to make some adjustments to the illustration so that it would fit into the frame, but the nice thing about working onto tracing paper is that you can try things out before you commit to drawing the final lines.

Copy onto fabric:

I use a super high-tech method for transferring my designs onto fabric. Pin your fabric to the front of your paper (if you used pencil, it’s a good idea to go over the lines with a dark pen). Tape the fabric and paper to a window and trace in light pencil, stopping for a rest when your arms go numb.

Mix your colours:

For this piece I pre-mixed my colours, I knew I had a lot of sea to colour and I didn’t want to end up with half the piece a slightly different shade than the other. I was also a little worried about getting just the right colour of sea-turquoise.

Fabric, even when it’s been pre-washed, absorbs watercolour differently than paper, so play about with a scrap to get used to it. The paint sits on top of the fabric for longer, so there’s time to dab off mistakes with a clean rag, but remember that some of the paint will wash away when you wash it, so err on the dark side (in this instance only).

Tape your fabric securely to a firm surface. It takes a few hours for the paint to dry, so make sure you have a flat surface to keep your board on while the paint dries.

I was surprised at how long it took to cover the surface with paint, so make sure you leave plenty of time and don’t rush yourself.

Set the colours:

Once the paint dries, iron it to heat-set the colours. Use an iron which is as hot as the fabric allows, but make sure to put a white sheet of paper between your fabric and iron, in case a little paint transfers. (In the interests of science, I have to admit that I haven’t tried a control piece where I didn’t iron the fabric, but fabric paints are generally heat set, so it makes me feel more secure.)


Now it’s time to get the threads out. Play with stitches, thread thickness and colours until you get the feel you’re after. If you’re using a lot of outlines or shading, look closely at how the artist used thickness and direction of marks to ensure you keep the feeling of immediacy that can sometimes be lost in the translation between drawing and embroidery.

One more tip, consider that sometimes a very dark brown, gray or blue will look better than black against the watercolours. Be brave!

Wash, starch and frame:

When you’re done stitching, it’s time to give your piece a wash and a starch before framing it. Use the coldest water you can, add vinegar or salt to the water and if it looks too light in places, you can always touch up the watercolours once the piece is stretched.

wamos book
I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial, I’d love to see any pieces you make with it and please let me know if you have any questions.

With a New Brush

wamos book

Ever since I made the Amos and Boris piece,

I’ve been itching to try some more watercolour embroideries.

watercolour 5

So, with the help of a new sketchbook (naturally), I thought I’d make myself a swatch book and play with some ideas and techniques.

I think my favourite is dry-ish paint on dry fabric. I like the way you see the varying amounts of absorbtion and dilution, a nice contrast from the relatively controlled feeling of the stitching (which is a little absent in these swatches).

So keep your eyes peeled for the next watercolour piece, and a wee tutorial in case you’re inspired to try it yourself.

Sending All My…

For various reasons, I’ve been thinking about my understanding of art, how I relate it to my work and how my work may (or may not) broadcast my understanding of art to other people.

In essence, my understanding of art is that it makes you think, no matter what the medium or where it is presented.

Due to the relatively mechanical nature of hand embroidery (a blessing and a curse for the easily-distracted stitcher) I am left with plenty of head-space to fill with thoughts that I either direct into the piece when things are going well or cast around me when they’re not.

web stitch

The aspect of my work that I most struggle to communicate when selling is that I’m not only hand-stitching because I enjoy it and it’s different than machine embroidery, but to give someone an object which has hours of human contact behind it signifies that you have set aside those non-returnable hours for the contemplation of the receiver’s existence.

The making of any piece, but especially a commission, means that I ponder the recipient, the giver, where I imagine the piece will live, how I hope they will speak about it to people who ask and much more. If you think intentions can travel through objects, I send all manner of good advice, good wishes and happy thoughts with each piece.

The more art I make the more I discover that I like the way it moves my thoughts outside of myself and towards other people.

So that’s the rather sneaky surprise about art, the definition is that it makes you think… but it doesn’t always say who that ‘you’ will be.

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