How to

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

How use a baking paper stencil

This post describes how to use a baking paper stencil using examples from my dream scroll.


Baking paper

pencil preferably 2B

A project

sewing materials



1. Draw a shape or complex design on the baking paper

2. Pin the baking paper to the material going through all layers.

baking paper stencil

3. Sew through the baking paper stencil and materials.

Baking paper stencil 2

I’ve magnified the picture to try and show the stitches but white on white will still be hard to see.

4. Tear the paper away. There is no need to be neat about this step. This can be cathartic.

5. Do the next step in your project. Which in my case looks like this:

dream scroll 2

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

How to create a scroll wall hanging

divisions 4

This post explains how to create a fabric wall hanging in the style of a Chinese or Japanese scroll. I’ve been very influenced by traditional Japanese culture over the years including learning the language for roughly a decade. This is the inspiration behind the method.

Materials and tools
Backing Fabric – buy more than you think you will need.
A finished piece of textile art or art on paper
Thread in two colours, one to match the backing, one to match the art.
Tailors chalk
A tape measure
A round dowel – larger than the square dowel
A square dowel
A rip saw
A file
A pencil
3.5 mm nylon cord, chosen because it won’t stretch after hanging
1 mm artistic wire sold by bead shops (optional)
pliers (optional)
flat nosed pliers (optional)
A sewing machine

1. Wash the backing fabric to remove sizing or starch, dry, and iron the fabric. If you need to put the project aside for a day or more, iron it again.

scroll diagram

2.  Place your art on the backing fabric. The space at the top should be twice the space at the bottom. The shorter the piece of art the narrower the vertical edges should be when finished.

scroll detail 1

3.  Mark the top edge with chalk. I’ve used a photo manipulation program to make my chalk line clearer.

scroll detail 2

4. Wrap your fabric around the circular dowel and mark alongside the fabric edge.


scroll detail 35. Starting from the mark you just made, repeat with the square dowel.

scroll detail 46. Measure the total from the bottom of the marks. Draw a new line at the top at that distance from the first. Move your art up by the same distance so you can see how the process works.

scroll detail 57. Now is the time to decide on how wide you want the borders and don’t forget to add hem allowance.  Cut your backing fabric out.

8. Take the backing fabric and overlock or zig zag over the edges. (And I’m sure you don’t need a pic of that!)

9. Measure the bottom of the fabric and add two cm. Mark this on each dowel in pencil.

dowel10. Place the dowel so that the longer end relative to your mark is on the table. Face the table so the rip saw is in your dominant hand and the dowel is being held down to the table with the other. Rotate the dowel as you go to minimise the wood under the saw at any given point. When the short end is about to fall place something under one end of a similar height to the table for a cleaner cut.

11. Repeat on the other dowel before filing back any rough edges.

scroll detail 6

12. Working on the back: Pin and hem the vertical seams.  If you are using wire, it needs to be added when you pin the hem. Straighten the wire with your hands or flat nose pliers. Leave extra wire at both ends for later.

13. Measure the horizontal seams by wrapping fabric around one dowel at each end. Pin in place, remove the dowel and sew. When complete insert the dowel back in.

winding wire14. If using wire, wrap the four loose ends around the dowels.

scroll detail 715. Mark on the back where the art is to go on the front. This gives you space to embroider on the back. Mark all sides or you might make a mistake like this one:

scroll mistake


16. Turn your backing fabric over and pin your artwork into place. Change colour thread on the machine and sew the artwork down.

scroll detail 917. Cut a piece of nylon as long as your dowel. Wrap the nylon around the dowel and knot into place.

divisions 418. Ta Da! All finished.



Price $400. Contact Anita Morris to buy.

Buy card of Divisions detail

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Basics of machine reverse of appliqué

The basics of machine reverse appliqué are simple, provided you know the basics of using a sewing machine. In addition to the machine you will need embroidery scissors with a sharp point.


1) Use triple (straight) stitch

This prevents the cuts in the cloth from fraying. It is also a pain to unpick triple stitch. You can see it has taken a few tries to get the square mostly square. I’ve left the stitches in of the other lines rather than unpick them.

2)  Choose two materials to start with, preferably with contrasting colours. My sampler top layer blue with a large rose pattern, the red bottom layer has a smaller floral pattern.

3) Sew a shape, any shape. It is important that there be no gaps in the sewing. Again stops the cloth fraying.

4) Inside the shape try and separate the layers. Use the point of the embroidery scissors to start a cut in the top layer. Cut around the edge of the shape. Congratulations, you have finished your first piece of reverse appliqué.  Sometimes you will cut through the second layer, which can be patched from the back.


Design for reverse appliqué is done by combining shapes together until you have a design. You don’t have to cut every sewn shape out. I’ve used a grid on my sampler to make a check pattern.


Divisions (c) Anita Morris 2014

Divisions for example is based on a grid overlayed with a right angled triangle. The one design difficulty with reverse appliqué is that to cut out a straight line you need to sew a narrow rectangle. Truly fine lines need to be embroidered.

Friday, January 17th, 2014

How to choose an Artist Society

This post is about joining artist societies or if the focus is on a medium usually considered a craft it might be called a guild. Examples in this post are from Melbourne, Australia. Two years ago I joined the Embroiders Guild of Victoria and found it a positive experience. January is the time to sign up to an artist society because memberships generally run for a calendar year.

The best way to find a good artist society is by word of mouth. This year I’m joining the Waverley Arts Society because two different artists have recommended it to me and I now live close enough to make joining worthwhile.

Artist societies offer opportunities to exhibit, classes, ongoing study groups. In 2012 I exhibited the above piece “Mushrooms” in the Embroiders Guild annual members exhibition. Last year I was unfortunately too busy to have a piece to exhibit. I’m at the beginning of my artistic career therefore this was an excellent opportunity. In January 2013, I went to a class using digital prints and cutwork, also known as reverse applique. I’m hoping to explore both techniques further in the coming year. If you’re considering a medium specific society, but are uncertain about committing, try a short course through CAE or one of the Tafes. Sometimes it is possible to take a class with the society without joining. Wait till next year to join, and this year go the the annual members exhibition.

Some things to watch out for when joining an Artist Society. Politics or cliques, an atmosphere that encourages conformity, and exclusivity are all signs of an unhealthy group. Every group of humans of earth has politics, a school, a church, a nation, all have politics. But if you can sense the politics as soon as you join a group, it’s a sign of an unhealthy group. If a group is unwelcoming, it may have cliques. When cliques form a group is divided against itself, which is again unhealthy.  An atmosphere that encourages conformity is where anything that is new and different from the pieces already produced by the group is criticised.  An artist needs to explore different avenues, expose yourself to as many different influences as possible and develop your own style.  A group which encourages conformity is stagnant and if you stay, you too will stagnate.  Some artist societies require that a member refer you. The may seem exclusive but it is more likely that the group is more insular than others. This has similar problems to conformity.

Artist societies offer numerous opportunities to artists but there are pitfalls too. Consider this when joining an artist society

(C) Anita Morris 2013-2014

All content © Copyright 2016 by Anita Morris.
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