Side Projects: Potholder/Wall hanging

This is a small ‘slow stitch’ side project that I have been working on sporadically. I wanted to make a functional item (potholder) out of recycled t-shirt and sweatshirt scraps, held together and decorated entirely by hand stitch. I picked out some colours from my collection of cast-off clothing and arranged and re-arranged them until I was happy with the layout. This process is very much like the collage process that I am using in my current coursework. The pieces were pinned in place with a layer of thermal wadding and a backing layer. I wanted the hand stitch to be very apparent on this piece, so selected black quilting thread for the embroidery stitches. I responded to the patterns on the fabrics (stripes) or created my own patterns with tied stitches, running stitch, French knots etc.

I was quite happy with the outcome of this piece: the colour palette, tonal contrast and composition feel balanced, and the stitch adds a layer of interest as well as being functional. I asked myself if my recent work and research into designers’ use of colour had influenced my colour choices in any way? I thought that, in the past, I would probably not have included the beige fabric, but having seen, for example, Paul Smith’s use of muted and bright colours in the same design, I had included one muted colour here for contrast. The lack of precision in the shape (ie, it is not square) and the use of raw edges is also new to me, but the former aspect owes more to my love of the Gees Bend quilters’ work. As a practical crafter, I also ask myself whether this would be a functional item, or purely decorative. I will have to try it out before answering that one!

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