The Camberwell Panel – Another Long Project

Photograph of the SS Camberwell

Photograph of the Camberwell

The Camberwell Panel was a commission from my cousin. I documented the design and progress of the work for her while I was doing it, and she has given me permission to share it with you as well.

The Camberwell was the ship her grandfather retired from in 1938, and when we found this photo in the family home,  we thought it would make an ideal subject for an embroidered panel. Although the Camberwell was a merchant vessel (a collier, in fact), the looming prow in the picture reminded us of the liner posters of the 1930s, so that was to be the inspiration for the panel.

That idea in turn lead me to decide to use appliqué as the basic technique, embellished with embroidery. The flat blocks of colour used in the posters of the period would be most easily produced by appliqué, and it is a technique that I’ve never used seriously before. I thought it would be fun to try.

Camberwell "Sketch"

Camberwell "Sketch"

So I began by scanning the photo and then tweaking it digitally to get a sketch. With Master Mariners on both sides of my family tree, the last thing I wanted was to get the rigging wrong!

Once I knew what size the panel was to be (decided on the basis of where it was to hang) I could use a projector to project it at the appropriate size and create a basic pattern.

Then I spent some time playing with colour schemes. We settled on something vaguely reminiscent of the the Art Deco period …


  1. Jan says:

    You definitely like to try new things all the time, don’t you? This looks like a very interesting project. Can’t wait for you to share a little more of it. I think the applique idea is well suited to the task.

  2. That’s an incredible ship. Did I mention how much I love ships and the sea…?

  3. karen says:

    looks like you are planning from here. seriously though I know all about lost ”mojo” it is so frustrating. let it go for a while, it may be christmas getting in the way.

  4. Lady Fi says:

    Wow – what an ambitious project!

  5. Looking forward to seeing how this develops!

  6. Janice says:

    Another ambitious project. I love the idea of following the inspiration of the 1930s cruiser posters, and appliqué will be a great way of achieving that. The digital tweaking to get the sketch is a great idea. Even I could ‘sketch’ that way!

  7. […] fabric over the sky and sea fabrics, with some padding to raise it. I checked with my client (my cousin, remember!) to be sure that she was happy with raised and padded appliqué, rather than wanted […]