Autumn 2012
Welcome to my Newsletter

Shades of purple pervaded my summer of stitching; as autumn approaches the last clematis flowers display a final splash of this regal shade across their velvety petals. An evocative colour: worn by the emperors and cardinals of ancient Rome and Byzantium; mauve was a fashion shade adored by the Victorians after the discovery of aniline dyes by Sir William Perkin. Inspiring my purple passion is a heady mix of late 1960s fashions and the era of Biba; plus all the beautiful and curious flora in shades of mauve, amethyst, grape, and deep purple in my garden.

In July I exhibited and demonstrated at Art in Action, my new collection of embroideries referenced diverse themes: the free spirit of the late 60s influenced a swirl of lacey florals, all in a haze of purple; the Red Border at Hidcote garden inspired another Jazz Age palette of stitch. Below are some images of the new embroideries, and the stories behind the stitched works.

For the 'Vintage Favourites' section, which I introduced in the last Newsletter, I have chosen an intriguing collar and a small 1920s embroidered motif from my archive drawer. Fashion embroidery has always featured highly as an aspect of my creative work and I love to reference fashion, vintage and contemporary, when I am designing. The samples I created for Art in Action looked to a variety of dress details: collars, cuffs, fancy sleeve shapes of 60s and early 70s clothes.

Autumn in my studio begins with a new theme of work as I prepare for an exhibition at the Macclesfield Silk Museum next June. Once again it is a colour theme and diverse references which tantalize my imagination ready for another stitching marathon. 'Singing the Blues' is the title of this new embroidery collection.......

Apologies for the missed June Newsletter, as it never made it online (think it got submerged in layers of silk and thread during a busy stitching summer!), but I hope you enjoy reading this early Autumn Newsletter.

'Pavonina' Lace

A swirl of lacey flora creates an elaborate pattern within a shaped panel, styled from a late 1960s sleeve shape. The free spirit of this detailed floral machine embroidery references 'flower power' romance, indulging in a purple haze of threads in mauves, pale lilacs, violet, mixed with tints of blues, magentas, pinks, ochre and metallics. Original sketches of anemones (see Spring Newsletter) and centaurea plants inspired the first design stages.

'Pavonina' seemed an apt title for this embroidery, named after an early species of anemone, the 'Peacock' anemone. The fanciful nature of this embroidery touches a nostalgic note, as I remember the peacock fashions of the late 60s: floral prints, Art Nouveau swirls and Indian paisleys.

Detail: The curious flowers of the centaurea are perfect for stitch textures: the thistle -like centres were stitched on water-soluble, then manipulated into shape. The relief stitchery appears reminiscent of the stump work embroidery of another era.

On the Wildside

During early June driving down the narrow country roads of Gloucestershire, en route to Hidcote Manor Garden (see below), I was stunned by the lush foliage and flora of the roadside verges and hedgerows.

The endless rainy days had created a wildflower paradise of verdant hues dotted with the pinks, mauves, and creams of clover, cow parsley, campion, and wild vetch.

In contrast to the garden flowers of Hidcote, my imagination turned to a wildflower lace of delicacy and detail. The design explores plant patterns in a naturalistic structure; the brighter greens fade into misty tints as the machine stitched lace grows up the simple dress panel. Still to be finished, the single lace panel will be suspended within an acrylic frame, like a specimen sheet of pressed flowers.

Hidcote Garden Revisited

I spent a week 'in residence' at Hidcote Manor Garden in June, my temporary studio was in the historic chapel. The inspiration of this beautiful garden is overwhelming, and arriving early each morning I had the luxury of wandering through the garden rooms solo, to study and sketch the plants.

It was the vibrant palette of the Red Border which was the spark for my 'work in progress', plus an extra bright splash of Clarice Cliff colours, referencing Art Deco themes. Just as the ' Hidcote Lace' dress panel had looked to the fashions of the 1920s to style the free machine embroidery, it was elaborate collars that caught my imagination for a new work (see below: 'Collar for Clarice').

Autumn is the perfect time to enjoy the famous Red Border at Hidcote, to observe the dazzling heads of dahlias. I cannot resist another peak before the winter months, to get a more ideas to keep me busy stitching!

» Visit the Hidcote Gardens website

Photo: The Red Border in early June

'Collar for Clarice'

Vivid shades of orange have rarely entered my thread palette for embroidery. But one March day at Hidcote, an exotic flash of orange on a Fritillaria imperialis caught my attention; in the summer it was the stunning copper oranges of the Lilium pardalimun in the Red Border that shone out.

Early sketches and doodles of collar shapes pursued floral motifs inspired by the Calendula plants; the garish Marigold (not from Hidcote!) inspired sunburst shades of embroidery threads. Design also delved into the Art Deco era again with studies of Clarice Cliff's Jazz Age ceramic patterns.

'Collar for Clarice' explores a lacey structure of machine embroidery spinning around a circular shape. For the Art in Action display I chose not to complete the collar; instead letting the bold marks of graphite drawing complete the collar story, with the stitched lace texture falling across the surface. A fashion piece destined for a frame rather than a figure, but still shimmering with the pzazz of the flapper.

The photos trace the story of 'Collar for Clarice', from sketchbook to stitching

Vintage Favourites

Selections from my archive drawer to inspire and enjoy:

Art Deco motif
Excuse another indulgence into the 1920s era, maybe I was a flapper girl in another life! This embroidered motif filled with abstract Art Deco patterns (12cm long & I of a pair), evokes the colour and style of Clarice Cliff ceramics.

Machine embroidered using a silky floss top thread and a simple black cotton in the bobbin, worked on a fine mesh of black scrim. These embroidered motifs were sold in haberdashery shops, and bought by dressmakers to enhance their finery.

With collars on my mind, I could not resist a close look at this fashion accessory. A fancy collar created with braids in delicate aqua and metallic (once silvery but now with a tarnished tint). The back reveals the story of its creation, with the rows of braid carefully laced together with hand-stitching, then attached to the neckline patterns of aqua rickrack (a zigzag braid used for decoration, origins 19thc) with insertions of metallic braid.

The fastening is made from padded buttons, encased in crochet, then covered with the matching braid - fiddly but perfect! A finely hand-crafted example of frippery from another era (1920-30s), suggests directions for a contemporary creation.

Diary dates

Saturday November 10th
Textile Fair at Compton Verney
11am - 5pm
Sue will be attending this textile fair, featuring specialist textiles, local artists, vintage clothes and unique christmas gifts.

Visitors can also see the stunning textile exhibition: Tapestry: Weaving the Century at Dovecot 1912- 2012 (20th October - 16th December)
Compton Verney is an award winning art gallery in Warwickshire.

Workshops in 2013
'Inspire' are organizing Quilting & Creative Textile Retreats in 2013.
Sue will be teaching at two of their venues, in Lancaster ( 26-30 June) and Basingstoke (11-15 September).
For more information contact:

And finally...

The September issue of Embroidery features an illustrated article about my work, a glimpse into my creative world. I was interviewed in my studio during the early summer.
If you would like to buy a copy, please contact or call 01932 260 738 ex 38

And a last image from my garden
The wet summer has been enjoyed by the beautiful Hydrangea Annabelle!

© 2012 Sue Rangeley. All Rights Reserved.
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