The ghost of a landscape

Battles traumas, wrong decisions, naughty scissors and wrongheadedness, but here it is!  What is worse is that I think I like it.   It doesn’t have the delicate ephemeral  lightness I wanted but it is getting close.  The big panel had to be cut as it could not support its own weight even when dry ,so it is not exactly as I wished.

fBrammerwritten wolds standing  The idea is good but composition and execution need to be pushed further.


No2 is under way.   Another  muslin panel has been sacrificed but  reduced in height  and dried with a ripple to make it more stable.  The excess landscape is layered behind it.  The proportions are wrong – dumpy.  Rather than rush in with the scissors it is going to have a day’s grace.  The text garment is made – more of the garment this time. Again reservations. The pet en l’air has minimum seam, maximum sacque backfabric but achieves this through layers of pleats at the hip and back- maybe too many,  It doesn’t sit comfortably with the rest.  I could add details such as furbelows  ( only frilly bits, but a great word) to the pet and trail them into the landscape panels.     The  dark tree taking centre stage  is one done on water soluble fabric.  It is an open lacy thing that could be placed anywhere or not at all….answers on a postcard please.  . It is  too cluttered?  so it will spend a day or two extra festering before it is decision time.


wwstanding2detailOne key problem is that the detail photos are stronger than the whole view. Should these constructs be parts of  not wholes?

Oh well – back to making the whole   house smell again.  This goo is so bad that I even went for a 6 mile walk in the cold and rain , just to get away – it was more of a squelch actually.




And they’re off!!….. No, they aren’t!…. yes they are…….well, sort of.

Busy week.  Met up with the other textiley makers exhibiting at the York Open Studios, quite a posse of us, all doing a variety of things –  exciting. Went into the York gallery to see the Literature Festival  exhibition and ordered a test batch of greeting cards to be printed.


Blossom Street Gallery


Met up with a local facebook group of sew-ers, (not only did it turn out that I had taught most of them but also that they know where I live!!!)  Went over to the Knaresborough gallery to negotiate over borrowing back some things for the YOS dates – they have sold most of them! Oops.

I have also become detached from the lone remaining braincell, I think it may be in the garden somewhere, dread to think that it might have escaped and  be on the loose wreaking havoc.

As for the work ….. The smelly thing still smells, it is not as I wish but  seems to be the best I am going to get at present. The fabric is stiffer but still flops, it is not rigid. It has a nasty plastic sheen in places. Adding more of the goo adds more to the nasty bits than corrects the problems, so…..

Stitched text onto some very fine cotton and pleated it to make into half of a pet-en-l’air. (A sack back 18thC jacket – lots of fabric, very few seams.)  This has been goo-ed and is just about set. P1170798


I left a lot of waste fabric on the pet to help to meld it onto the big smelly landscape and hopefully they will start to support each other.





franBrammerWolds pet en l'airAnother scrap piece is texted ready to be goo-ed and applied if needed. Have also thought of a system of uprights –  so much for a quick experiment.

franBrammerWolds and petdrying

An idea of the whole – the poles are temporary props.



Decided to do some small intensely stitched bits as light relief…… but only if I can put up with the smell!

blossom st gallery for local linkMajor countdown is starting!   Time to stop thinking about doing things and decide to do them or not, and then get on.

5 major new pieces and the current workbook are now on show in York. They are safe, totally finished , so I can forget about them for a bit. Shame I didn’t make proper records of them before taking in, but too late to fuss now.

The exhibition comes down at the end of March. YOS Logo Short_CMYK 2018 The Open Studios event starts on the weekend of the 14th of April.

2 week turn around. Very do able. Not a problem.

Unless they sell.



Finally managed to visualise the next steps in the written landscape series – it is getting more 3D and less of a ‘picture’ outcome.


I have several mini garments on the go, different scales, fabrics and degrees of completion and finish.  Most are in a light calico – I had some, it is easy to work with on a small scale and the fabric can take a lot of abuse..   The dresses are  early Victorian work dress and mid  Georgian in style. The Victorian is left open with an incomplete skirt, this might become fused into a landscape.  The short frock coat is a muddle of eras- but has a lot of construction still left to do. If you want to know how it turns out and which, if any are used, you will have to wait until I do!

P1170796 There is also a big muslin landscape  panel smelling the house out, drying on a radiator (fabric stiffener!- water based does not mean odourless).   Exactly how these will come together I have no ( too many) ideas. It may become free standing –  or may not. Depends on how well the stiffener works.

Speaking of which…. time for a second coat of smelly goo.

( I think it is a form of thick PVA-type glue – happy times peeling it off the fingers)

It feels very good to be out on a limb again.



How to make a cover button badge



Ok, not one of my most memorable titles but  it will have to do! (sub title – clearing out those scraps and demo pieces)

A simple run through of my making process.

  1. First buy your cover button. Mine are large – 39mm across with a  wire loop that makes the shank (which I remove!) .   If you have not met these before, they come in 2 parts – a domed top  and a snap in back .
  2. Prep the back.  I want a brooch back, as I have P1070035yet to find glue strong enough to withstand me, I punch or drill holes and sew the brooch back in place then add glue to make it solid.
  3. Do the fun bit – make the top embroidery.  Handy hints – thin fabric, leave no lose ends to P1070038unravel, and remember it needs to be a bit  bigger than the button top and add on a margin for assembly. I usually aim for a circle about an inch bigger than the button but only cut it out after sewing.
  4. Running stitch around the edge of the embroidery and use to gather in.
  5. Pop in the button top  ( I remove the wire loop that made the shank of the finished button) and pull tight. Get the design centred and push the fabric onto the metal teeth around the inside of the button top.

  6. Line up the button back and snap the two together.


These are fun and quick. What is more impressive is that most of it can happen on the sofa while watching the Winter Olympics!

Badges and brooches.

yos badgesStraight from why do I make them so big, to why are they so small!   Who likes easy…..

These are for York Open Studios – The last few big pieces are so layered and complex they are going to be silly expensive…..   the badges are going to be pocket money prices, so hopefully can fill that little impulse buy spot.

These are fun and quick to do –  only 1.5″  across. They are modified cover buttons  with a brooch back attached, so quite easy to make up and pretty robust.   The only difficulty is the change in scale. It is so tempting to go slow and to be careful – if I do that then I get big awkward stitches, so have to stitch as fast as I dare!

The other limitation is keeping the fabric lightweight – not getting carried away with too much stitching or applique bits – thicker fabric is more difficult to stretch over the button – so I have had to hoop it using my vintage Bernina’s darning hoop rather than using stabiliser. It is so small!!! but does work a treat.

Went back up to Barnyarns on Monday with the ladies who come to my “open \house\” mornings – some of these mini broideries are testing out the new polyester variegated threads –  – their Polyneon range.  Really pleased with them.

Taking work into Blossom Street Gallery next YOS Logo Short_CMYK 2018week for the York Literary Festival – that will be on for the whole of March.

And don’t forget YOS starts the weekend of April 14th.

Revisiting the revisited – waterloo dress




I made this  so long ago!  A decision to hand sew and embroider  means that I still think it owes me big time!

It began as an idea of a Regency dress (think Jane Austen),  from  a Thomas Lawrence portrait crossed with fashion plates from period publications such as Ackermann’s Repository, and  also some extant examples held in various museums , plus Janet Arnold and Nancy Bradbury.  (take a look at some of my pinterest pages!)   The making is recorded in a  blogger blog



This has been revisited once in the attempt to tie costume to histories –  giving a context beyond a personal garment.  Quotations from Lady Louisa Lennox’s letters were machined around the skirt. ( She was  the daughter of the Duchess of Richmond who gave the famous ball on the eve of the battle of Waterloo)     This still too pretty for me so it sat in full sun  and was used to wipe down the windowsill !   It has marks of wear and  subtle staining now, some of the stitching has pulled and the evil muslin has escaped in  places – perfect.



I blame the Winter Olympics – I decided to hand stitch again – the innocent opening line from Magdelene de Lancey’s account ” A Week at Waterloo”, just inside the back neck  (well worth a read – have tissues and a strong stomach).     She wasn’t the only  woman there –  one  served as a  sergeant in the Prussian army,  many more  were on the battle field during the fighting, involved in the conflict, in the care of the wounded  (one had her leg broken by a musket ball as she took her injured husband away from the action.) or in support roles.   The names I  found have I added to the sides, along with a distressing quote from Charlotte Eaton’s account,  did revert to machine stitching for reasons of sanity. Some washing out is still needed – used water soluble fabric as a stabilizer and that seems to like 2 rinses to leave completely.

Waterloo Dress

Soggy frock hanging to dry.



The additions have changed the feel of the garment for me –  it is now just as much about those women as a pretty dress.

It doesn’t matter how careful I am there are always bits!

Remember- have some workshops happening – check the website for dates and info. Also  get the York Open Studios into those diaries – 10 textiley people exhibiting this year!


Consider now that this part is written.  I have sandwiched it between acrylic sheets so that I can’t get to it to tweak.  It is done, dialogue is over, arguments are finished. (hope)


fran Brammer Writing the Wolds wix

I have deliberately left it raw – elements are untidy, thread tails left on, it is after all about histories,  they are never as tidy as we would wish and will soon include now and next so don’t ever really finish.  The layers and fragmented quality is still strongly there, but that is how I see these places –  an accumulation of influences and needs , altered and adapted,  not always coherently or aesthetically.

These pieces should go on exhibition for the Literary festival in York in March and then for the York Open Studios in April.YOS Logo Short_CMYK 2018  Framing decisions are being painful – every thing looks wrong, maybe need more marmite in my life- but it is going to happen, I need to see them out and about.

Looking at them all as a group  is quite unsettling. I have been wolding now for the best part of a year and it is still changing.  I tried to put the slideshow in order, starting with Huggate – strong colour and pattern, then through the abstracts to the last 3 written ones. There is a sense of belonging together but only if you see them all.  Spot the summer ones and the winter ones!

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I have also put a few more dates on my website for starters’ workshops and for the more adventurous, please take a look.