A Very Frivolous Project – First Stage

Starting The Necklace

Starting The Necklace

My brain really wasn’t working very well just before Christmas, and I found it hard to settle to some of my more challenging projects, like the Masterclass. Add to that, the fact that everything had to be cleared away before Christmas because my window for embroidering is also the window for the Christmas Tree, and you won’t be surprised that I found myself with fingers itching to do something, and no idea what to do.

Fortunately, I saw an idea (before I went to the Knitting And Stitching Show in Harrogate) in the magazine “Mollie Makes” for a beaded necklace of outsize sew-on gems attached to felt, and so having bought some materials there, I was ready prepared for the situation.

In the magazine the sew-on gems were black and white, which is all very classic and Chanel, but not my style – I like real colours in my clothes as well as my embroidery! I planned to wear the necklace with a rather difficult purple-pink dress, and since I knew that I wouldn’t be able to match the purple I got sew-on gems in gold, teal and white.  I used a grey pre-felt for the basis and then needlefelted onto it a layer of silk throwster’s waste in purple, teal and blue. It looks more purple and less blue in real life.

When I was trying to plan the arrangement of the beads and gems, I found myself over-thinking everything, so in the end I forced myself to make lots of arrangements very quickly and then photograph them. This meant that I could look over the photos, scrolling from one to another until I settled on an arrangement that was fairly pleasing and furthermore, I had the photograph to refer to when I started stitching. We’ve all become so accustomed to digital cameras now that it is hard to think how I would have tackled that before – I certainly wouldn’t have used a film camera because first, I am simply not a good enough photographer, and second, it would have meant waiting for the film to be developed.

I know a design tutor who says that the student who draws flowers from life will create a better design than the student who develops their designs from photographs, and I am inclined to agree – it is certainly the case that when I was designing counted cross stitch the designs I drew were better than the designs from photographs I scanned. However, in this case I was was using the camera as a sketchbook, and I think that that worked really well.


  1. I can’t wait to see what this looks like when it’s finished!
    I’m sure that the silk will have resulted in a lovely, elegant shimmer.
    I know what you mean about using the camera as a tool. Since my studio table is high (lovely for my back!!), I often don’t have a good ‘visual’ regarding which areas are too lightly decorated (like in a project like the pre-felt bits rug), or whether things are ‘even’ or ‘really circular’, etc.
    When I hold my camera up high and take process photos, I can adjust things without having to climb up on chairs to see!! Giggle.

  2. Not at all frivolous Rachel, it’s lovely that you are going to create something for yourself to wear and enjoy. I love the colours you are using. Digital cameras are wonderful design tools.

  3. coral-seas says:

    Frivolous is fine … and fun. I look forward to seeing your beading.

    My stitching area has to be cleared to make space for the Christmas tree 🙁

    Everyone else is saying “when can we put the tree up” I am delaying it to the last minute 🙂

  4. Mary Martin says:

    I bet it’s going to be beautiful, and the colors you chose are great. I love Mollie Makes, I’ve managed to grab every issue except the first. I think we all need something fun to work on from time to time. I’m having a hard time settling back into the routine of classes (I’m taking 3 from Tricia right now) so I’m working on old projects that are piling up. I’ve been drawing out my own ideas too but I’ve got so much framed up now that I’m not letting myself do anything new until “old business” is finished.

  5. Penny says:

    This is already looking good! Love the colors! I have a beading friend who always lays out the beads ahead of time and takes pictures. When I first saw her do that I thought ‘wow – I would never have thought of that’ – since I’m relatively new to digital cameras. Its a wonderful tool!

  6. Lady Fi says:

    Looking forward to seeing how it turns out!

  7. Yes I’m also intrigued to see the result. I hear that magazine is really good. xx

  8. You always choose the most intriguing projects to tackle. This one will be very interesting for us all! I love the finished Christus Natus Est – has a quiet dignity about it that the original glass one didn’t really. Also love seeing your books which inspire your some of your work – I must do a post about my books at some point. HNY! xCathy

  9. Alex says:

    Yes, I’ve succumbed to Mollie Makes as well! Now I’m eager to see the next stage of this collar.

  10. I’m looking forward to seeing the fiished item! I use the camera a lot – not always taking photos, but looking at a block or quilt through the camera somehow gives a sharper view of it.

  11. I think that approach of ‘just doing it and not thinking to much’ is sometimes the best. Look forward to seeing the piece develop.

  12. karen says:

    we all need frivolous from time to time but I think this will be sumptuous!

  13. Penny B says:

    I think of my camera as a design tool. I sketch from it and then I sketch from the sketch and then again and again! But then sometimes I forget about all that and go straight to needle and thread!

  14. Janice says:

    Love the colours and not absolutely sure from the description what you’ll do next (brain on a bit of a go-slow) but I’m sure it will be beautiful! If I drew something it would be infinitely poorer than if I worked from a scanned photo! I also find I notice more in a photo than I do in real life. Often, these are not good things – like a lamp post growing out of a person’s head, etc…

  15. Susan says:

    Oh good! I love frivolous projects. I know what you mean when you say your hands are itching to do something. Looking forward to seeing the necklace with the dress and with you! Can we get a full picture please when it’s done??

  16. Elmsley Rose says:

    How very weird. I did *exactly* the same thing with ideas for sequins on the scallops of The Butterfly a few days ago – used my camera as a sketchbook. Yet to post…
    Have fun with the necklace project. I don’t see it as “frivolous” but “fun” as opposed to ‘serious academic” stitching. 🙂

  17. That’s a great use of photography, very smart 🙂 And I like the colours you’ve chosen – I’ll look forwards to seeing it completed!