A Labour of Love

When my mum died, 20 years ago, I dispersed a lot of her “stuff” according to her wishes but also kept a few meaningful bits. Those bits wouldn’t have meant anything to anyone else, but for me, they were her. In every handbag and pocket – albeit dressing gown, coat, dress, cardigan, there they were. Those small, intricate, delicate and decidedly thin white hankies. Always with ironed fold marks and always with some sort of lace edging. I didn’t know what to do with them. I just knew that I wanted to keep them, tucked away somewhere safe. So for a long long time, they have sat patiently, waiting to be picked up once again.

I use various techniques in my work and am a fan of both machine  and hand stitching alike. But my favourite, my absolute bestest thing, is to use vintage lace and give it a new lease of life. I love overlapping the lacy areas so that you can have a glimpse of something else behind it.

When I had my studio built, I used Venetian blinds at all the windows. They work well, easy to angle and dapple the light. All except one. I left the glass panel on the door as I knew that one day I’d make something special to go there. Something personal and fitting. And now I have. For many weeks now, I have been creating a white panel of loveliness. I’ve used many pieces of lace that I’ve been keeping back and I’ve also used mums hankies. One by one, they have been arranged and assembled, moving around as they saw fit- and overlapping each other as if resting on each others shoulders in that comfortable way that only old friends can.

I started my panel by cutting out a piece of muslin. It had to be sheer and easy to stitch through. My aim was for the finished piece to look as delicate and fragile as as a whole, as each tiny section was by itself. The stitching it down was the laborious part, mostly machined to save time. (If it had been smaller, it would have been stitched entirely by hand).Then came the embellishing- where? How? What with? In the end I just put the music on and “did” it, my fingers seemed to know where to go. After each section, I pinned it to the door to see how it looked, then off again. The white panel became a bit cream, then beige and pink in places for contrast.


Now, many hours later I think I’m done. Pleased that the hankies have come out from hiding and have been given a new lease of life for others to enjoy. My mum would have approved I’m sure. There’s something very special about using preloved fabric. It already has a story to tell and these tiny snippets of loveliness certainly did.

I hope you like it mum x