My Very First Appliqué

First Surface Embroidery

First Surface Embroidery

Rummaging in the archives is a very salutary experience. This indescribable piece of appliqué is the first embroidery I did without guiding holes in the fabric (like the little mat I described in an earlier post). I remember starting it when I was visiting a friend – it was a rainy day, and I think her mother was at her wits’ end with us. She sat us down with fabric, needle and thread, and (I suspect) prayed for peace and quiet..

Even though the stitches are dog-legged and the colour choices leave a lot to be desired, the piece still reveals things about Rachel-the-Stitcher that I recognise today. One side of the piece for the house is sewn down with blanket stitch, two with running stitch, and one with zigzag back stitch. You can take that two ways – either as evidence of my butterfly mind, never sticking to a single method, or as evidence that even then I was thinking about the implications of a stitch. Blanket stitch is a good “grounding” stitch, because of the combination of uprights and horizontals, and the zigzags are rather reminiscent of the wavy edges of some roof tiles.

The tweeds chosen for the windows and the pattern-woven braid for the door also show early signs of thinking about what I’m doing – the square patterns of the tweed recalling leaded windows and the pattern-woven braid creating a different texture for the entrance.

The braid edging glued to the frame is also symptomatic of a tendency to over-complicate, which I’ve not eradicated to this day. I think I keep it under control, but that is all I’ve managed to do…

Incidentally, like all those little girls of long ago, working on samplers with their governesses, unaware that students of social history and students of needlework would be poring over their work in the future, I noted on the back when I finished the piece – 30th September 1975. Unlike most of those little girls, I also noted – in so many words – that “It was fun.”


  1. karen says:

    I love it….such wonderful memories too. I also think it’s amazing that you still have it.

  2. Penny says:

    How wonderful to see your early start! Obviously you were, even then, on your way to becoming a master stitcher.

  3. Jules says:

    Rachel, it’s really charming, and wonderful that you still have it. I wish so much I had kept my earl achievements. A very Happy New Year to you!

  4. deanna7trees says:

    i, too, love it. how wonderful that you kept it.

  5. Carolyn says:

    It is wonderful. Fancy having kept it, amazing.

  6. Janice says:

    Lovely to have. Are you going to put it on the wall?
    Happy New Year to you and the family.
    Janice. x

  7. Susan says:

    It looks so much like the houses I used to draw when I was little…cloud and walkway included.

    My favorite part was “It was Fun.” Happy New Year. I hope it’s fun!

  8. MeganH says:

    and that’s so brilliant that you can see the origins of your style today.

  9. ladyfi says:

    Oh, what a fun creation! (I never thought sewing was fun though…)

  10. Happy New Year! I love your picture – I still draw houses like that!

  11. Alex says:

    It’s lovely and so interesting to hear you going through it and thinking about your possible stitch and fabric choices.

  12. Terrie says:

    Such a pretty picture. Fabric arts are always the long lasting art piece to my eyes.

  13. Anita says:

    Wonderful memories! I’m happy that you’ve kept it . I use to draw a cloud in every landscape (irrespective of the theme) when I was a little girl 🙂 and it was the one which caught my attention as soon as I saw your piece,some habits never go I guess :).