The little things (or scraps!)

Late last year Cora and I had an exhibition with our friend Michelle, which was made up of textile pieces inspired in some ways by Michelle’s photographs.  I thought I would share with you the process of making 2 of those pieces.

The inspiration photograph was of floor tiles taken on Michelle’s travels. As soon as I saw it I loved the photo, probably because it was blue (my favourite colour) but I immediately thought of somehow making tiles with textiles.

Michelle Hill bluetiles

I really don’t know how these ideas come to me, except that sometimes I just wake up with them.  So I decided to try creating the background of the tiles with tiny weeny scraps of blue fabric (because of course I have heaps of blue fabric).  Unfortunately I don’t think I took a photo of all the scraps cut up, but here is the leftover mess.  You get the idea, I grabbed bits of fabric and ran over them with the rotary cutter until they were so tiny they were annoying.

Then careful not to sneeze….. I placed them on a piece of soluble stabiliser in a random fashion within the boundaries of a marked square.  For my samples I made the square 10 cm (4 inches).  The larger tiles ended up being 30cm (12 inches)

I placed another piece of soluble fabric over the top and then started stitching grid lines using free motion embroidery and a variegated thread.3 1st pass

Then I washed the stabiliser out. Using one of the pieces as a stitching sample, when it was dry I placed it on soluble stabiliser again and tested various threads to see what would show up well for the main pattern design.

After the success of the blue sample I decided that to be fair to the other colours of the rainbow I really should try stepping away from the blue and use some other colours.  So I made 3 more and followed the same process finally stitching the design on the surface of the tiles using some soluble stabiliser underneath.

Washed out the soluble and left it to dry….


And these are the finished pieces.

8 finished

These are the coloured tiles framed (when I asked my teenage daughter for help on a name she suggested Ninja Turtles…..)

9 framed

Larger piece framed10 larger piece

Hung in the gallery with the inspiration picture.

11 in gallery


It’s now been a while since I made these, and I am thinking about what I can try next using these techniques.  Will keep you posted!

Until next time,




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