Spode’s Blue Italian pottery inspires an embroidered T shirt


Embroidered cuff on a white T shirt inspired by blue and white pottery (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Rarely do I finish a novel having enjoyed it as much as I did when I came to the end of Susan Sontag’s  The Volcano Lover (1992).  But try as hard as I can, I’m finding it difficult to write about it. I blame a brilliant 10 days of sport. The Third Test Match between England and New Zealand was thrilling over last weekend and on Monday  culminated in a terrific win for England. (3 wins in the 3 New Zealand Tests.) Cricket then neatly and almost seamlessly segued into tennis as Wimbledon fortnight began. With not much rain and plenty of sun, some exciting matches kept us fixed to the sofa from midday until late in the evening (well 10 pm ish). Now, I can do certain things while watching or listening to sport – sewing, ironing, even making notes but the one thing I really can’t do at the same time is writing. (Truth to tell I got little embroidery and no ironing done either.) Although, I have become very skilled at embroidery stitches between tennis points – there’s an awful lot of walking about and sitting down in tennis. Then on Friday another Test Match came along  – this time against India (postponed from last year due to Covid). Fortunes have swung from India to England, back to India again and, dare I even think it, at the end of play today, back to England again, with just tomorrow to go. Supporter’s curse moves me to describe the match as poised. Either way, tomorrow will be unmissable. I

Embroidered cuffs on a white T shirt inspired by blue and white pottery (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Embroidered cuffs on a white T shirt inspired by blue and white pottery (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Design for Embroidered cuff on a white T shirt inspired by blue and white pottery (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Now, when I last blogged readers may have had the impression that I’d embroidered enough T shirts for the time being. Readers may also have had enough of looking at pictures of them. However, I have just one more to show.  This white one I’ve had on the go for some time but I put it to one side when I ran out of threads. When the threads arrived, my interest in the design revived and it was the ideal piece of sewing to have in my hand during all this sport watching and listening. White doesn’t really suit me but I do love blue and white pottery and china – especially those gorgeous borders where Chinese style flowers and geometric patches run their way around the edges of plates or rims of cups and jugs.  The jump from designs on the rim of a jug to the end of a sleeve make lots of sense to me  and once I had the idea it was irresistible.  I nearly had a couple of birds flying between the lotus flowers but perhaps that was a step too far. I shall forever look at this T shirt and think of it as a my celebration of  the 100th Wimbledon. Look below for inspirational blue and white pottery and just a couple of artists (a couture designer and a painter) who show what’s great on pottery can also work brilliantly elsewhere.

Embroidered cuff on a white T shirt inspired by blue and white pottery (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Embroidered cuff on a white T shirt inspired by blue and white pottery (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Curiously, looking back on my stack of embroidered T shirts, I realise they’ve served a useful purpose. Limiting yourself to embroidering a limited area has been a fun exercise in playing about with design motifs and I now have sheets of sketches that I would like to make use of, although not on a T shirt sleeve. To continue the physical act of embroidery also has its benefits as you get quicker and somehow my fingers even seem to have begun to instinctively put the needle in at the right place without me looking very closely. The same seems to go for threading a needle. With one eye on the television I often find I’m looking through the wrong part of my spectacles yet the thread pops through the needle as if drawn to it. I’m trying to develop the accuracy of my left hand now (just in case anything happens to the right one – many years ago my children’s great granny fell down the stairs aged 73 after trying to get one of my children to sleep; she broke her wrist and never knitted again). A bit of ambidextrousness  is a useful technique when you’re confronted by a ready made sleeve as it’s useful to have one hand down the sleeve pushing up the needle from the wrong side. At the moment I’m very far from making this quick or accurate enough and I generally get impatient and resort to the tried and tested sewing hand, but practice makes perfect and all that.

Spode blue Italian dinner plate

A contemporary take on elements of the willow pattern design

Roberto Cavalli couture

Ann griffin Bernstorff: Mrs Sitwell’s Herdsman. One of a series of paintings inspired byGeorge Sitwell’s fantasy of decorating his heard of cattle with the willow pattern design.



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  1. Posted July 10, 2022 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Willow Pattern and Blue Italian do seem to be patterns that are so strong as to survive transplanting almost anywhere, and you’ve definitely done them justice here. And my goodness, yes, it’s useful to keep working on dexterity, as it is on strength – on the old principle of “Use it or lose it”.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted July 16, 2022 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for that, Rachel.

  2. Posted May 21, 2024 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    Have you ever thought about writing an e-book or guest authoring on other sites?
    I have a blog based on the same ideas you discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information. I know my readers would enjoy your work.
    If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an email.

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