Autumn 2014
Welcome to my Newsletter

With autumn days around the corner, the copper leaves of the maple tree in my garden are highlighting the changing colour palette for the new season. But, I could not resist a burst of bright pink from a peony flower in June, as a final goodbye note to summer!

This fantastic bloom, with its exotic Chinese heritage, is also a perfect specimen for inspiring embroidered corsages. I shall be looking closely at these amazing petal structures; perfect ideas for the 'Petal Power' autumn workshops which I am teaching for three embroidery groups. Next Spring in Spain, it will be Mediterranean flora sparking stitch patterns, more about this exciting new workshop in the newsletter.

Thinking of 'Curious Flora', I am reminded of the extraordinary JohnTradescants (father and son) of the 16th and 17th centuries, plant collectors and gardeners, whose 'Collections of Rarities' formed the heart of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, when it began in 1683. On October 4th I shall be setting up my 'Pop-up Studio', in the famous Ashmolean Museum, just one of the special events of The Big Stitch day. Full details about my 'Pop-up Studio' are included in this Newsletter.

In May I welcomed visitors to the 'Open Studio' exhibition at my home in the Cotswolds, as part of Oxfordshire Artweeks. A reminder of that successful show features in 'Open Studio Reportage'. If you missed this year's show, I shall be opening my studio again in May 2015.

'Vintage Favourites' continues to be a part of my Newsletter, and a rather unusual collection of Alice in Wonderland embroideries is my choice this time.

I hope that you enjoy reading the Autumn Newsletter, and I look forward to meeting some of you at The Big Stitch on October 4th.

Click to enlarge the poster
Sue's 'Pop-up Studio' at the Ashmolean Museum

The Big Stitch is a special event organised by the Ashmolean Museum in partnership with the Embroiderers' Guild; following on the success of The Big Stitch in 2012, once again the museum will be hosting talks, workshops, demonstrations, tours throughout the day from 11-4. This event celebrates all things embroidered, especially highlighting the unique 17th century English embroideries of the Feller Collection in the Ashmolean's exhibition: 'The Eye of the Needle'.

The elegant space of The Cast Gallery is the setting for my 'Pop-up Studio'; surrounded by the beautiful, classical statues, my studio set will offer visitors a peek into my creative world and a snapshot of my studio practice.

An artist's studio is where ideas are nurtured and developed; the journey from 'mood board', via sketches and designs into stitch is always fascinating. The displays will give a glimpse of my embroidery world, through original sketches, stitched samples and finished works; I shall be demonstrating throughout the day and visitors are welcome to drop in to see me at work (no booking required, a free event).

The cool, classical marble carvings will complement the whites and creams palette of 'Vita's Jacket', a confection of lace stitches and floral embellishment (see the 'Mood Board' for this theme in the Spring Newsletter).Another story in stitches will be revealed on the day, with a colourful array of quirky patterns stitched into an embroidered lace, a creation I am working on especially for The Big Stitch. This idea is literally taking shape as I write; my studio table is strewn with notes and sketches, a colour palette of threads and fabrics and a collection of book illustrations. Meet me at the Ashmolean and see the first samples!

For more details:  |

The Eye of the Needle - English Embroideries from the Feller Collection exhibition runs until October 12 2014.

Booking essential with the Ashmolean on October 4, for The Big Stitch

This exhibition has some real gems of historic needlework, inspiring!

Reportage: 'Open Studio' May 2014

The exhibition held in my garden studio was open over five days in mid-May, as part of the popular annual Oxfordshire Artweeks event.

Photo credit: Emily Gale

Against the background of my summer garden, still filled with tulips (the exotic 'Zurel' variety was cocooned in tissue paper to prolong their petals for the opening of the show!!), visitors could catch a glimpse of the diverse flora which inspires me.

While inside a fusion of flower paintings and embroideries were displayed on the walls; a collection of embroidered corsages enticed the eyes, so much so that I virtually sold out! It was also a chance for visitors to see the works that I had created for the exhibition at the Macclesfield Silk Museum ( 2013); the stitched lace works were suspended in contemporary acrylic frames, textile art to adorn walls rather than as fashion embellishments., which seems to be the direction I am pursuing now.

Opening my studio gives visitors a rather more intimate peek into my creative world, and it was the colourful arrangements of threads, fabrics, sketches that drew extra interest and lots of questions! I always love creating these tableaux of inspiration, and at the moment I am arranging the studio sets for the Ashmolean day in October.

Here are a few images from my exhibition, with a glimpse of my garden studio, inspiration sets, and the 'Primrose' painting which was sold in the first ten minutes of opening!

I shall look forward to 'Open Studio' 2015, May 2 -10.

Details will be announced in the Spring Newsletter.

Springtime in Spain - Embroidery Workshop

Sue has been invited to teach a workshop in Murcia, Spain,in April 2015. The class is organised by Castanea Craft Holidays, who offer textile classes in this beautiful region; the classroom is fully equipped with machines and materials. An exciting opportunity to explore creative stitch in the idyllic setting of the Murcia landscape.

For full details:
Email: or visit

Fabulous Flora
19 - 25 April

Embroidery inspired by the botanical beauties of the Mediterranean. Create vibrant patterns in machine-embroidered lace, enhanced with stitch sparkle, applique and beading.

(A basic knowledge of machine-embroidery is required)

Vintage Favourites

Selections from my archive drawer to inspire and enjoy.

A collection of Alice in Wonderland embroideries

The story of Alice in Wonderland has always entranced children, artists, designers, film directors etc.; but I had never seen a collection of embroideries inspired from the illustrations in this famous children's book before, until I discovered them in an antique textile shop in Oxford some years ago. Very appropriate it should be Oxford too, home of Lewis Carroll, or Charles Dodgson, the Oxford don's real name.

The wonderland of Alice has caught the imagination of one embroiderer, or maybe more into creating these delightful stitched characters. There are fifteen in all (some are shown in the photos).

I wonder, were these intended to decorate children's clothes or add to a fancy pair of curtains in a child's nursery, who knows? Some of the larger ones measure 4x4 inches; the stitching is all hand-worked on fine muslin with coloured threads, using very simple long, horizontal stitches. The edgings of the cut-out shapes are finely stitched by hand in black thread to prevent fraying; black stitched outlines also describe the contours of clothes, details of faces, figures, animal textures etc.

There is a similarity in the embroidery style to some of the fashion motifs from the 1920s I have, but whether they date from that time is uncertain. So a bit of a teaser as to their origin, but maybe that suits the nature of these Alice in Wonderland embroideries and the imaginary world that inspired them!

Missing from the collection are a number of the curious characters, such as the 'Mad Hatter Tea-Party' group, and the 'White Rabbit'; if you see them at a vintage textile fair, perhaps you will let me know! Or maybe I will get stitching and conjure a White Rabbit to join this embroidered story…………………

And finally...

A feathery fringe of stitching catches the mood of my last Masterclass in mid -August, entitled 'Free Spirit'.

The diverse themes caught the imagination of the class in an exciting range of samples: reinventing the swirling flora, paisleys of the 1960s into fashion applique; ethereal butterfly beauties flying free in stitched iridescence; delicate floral stitchery for a bridal mementos; the free spirit of rainforest flora evolving as embellished decorations and lace patterns; natures untamed wild side resurfacing as an intertwined texture of cords and applique; mythical birds inspiring rich silk applique; the spirit of ancient history sketched in stitch……

The 'Free Spirit' of embroidery inspired us all and we hope to meet up again next summer to continue the projects.

© 2014 Sue Rangeley. All Rights Reserved.
If you wish to unsubscribe from this newsletter, please click here.