Gypsy Caravan for M.E.A.L.

I am a member of the Embroiderer’s guild as well and I really enjoy coming to them meetings, meeting new people and also the challenges we can take up on. The latest one was to create a piece for a 50th anniversary of the Museum of East Anglian Life. We had lots of freedom – it could be small or large and we had a trip to the museum to see the place so that we could choose where we’d like to hang out piece – it could be inside, outside or on the tree. The theme was to celebrate the life in East Anglia.


Olivier and I love colours so we explored the idea of a life of the Gypsy travellers and settled on the wall hanging representing more or less life-sized panel of a back of a gypsy caravan. We thought we have much more time, so we only went to see the caravans in the museum at the beginning of March which then only left us just over 3 weeks to start and finish! 😳 Actually, sometimes it’s better so that you don’t have too much time to think and overthink and you just get on with it.


At Duxford, we saw stand with gorgeous Indian ribbons and we fell in love with them, so we bought some – spend about £60 there. Only after that we drew the design onto large sheets of paper glued together, settled on the fabrics we would like to use and I started to quilt. All the gold designs are raw edge appliqué – the gold fabric was pinned to the top, the whole quilting sandwich flipped and I placed tracing paper with my design on the back and was stitching from the back, only then the excess of the golden fabric was cut away. I love this way of appliqué as it’s easy and fast and I don’t need to worry about tracing my designs onto fabric and getting the lines away afterwards.


The bought ribbons have been used for the frame of the door, bottom rim and also the paisley shapes have been cut individually and spaced to fit the horseshoe border. Leftover of a dressmaking lace was used as a fancy voile with dark green velvet around. After quilting the rest of the background to keep the hanging flat and finishing the edge with binding the last thing was the painting of the floral designs to bring the piece to life.



Actually, the last thing was to figure out how to hang the piece?! We needed to strengthen the edge so it wouldn’t fold back while hanging for a couple of months in the middle of the barn . Originally we wanted to attach it and fit it to an actual caravan but as they are historical items we probably wouldn’t be able to do so. So at the end, it will hang in the museum in an open-sided barn, off one of the beams right next to other real caravans. And to strengthen the edges we used some kind of wires we got from Jasmine’s old foldable fabric house she got for her first birthday and wasn’t really playing with for a couple of years now! It was holding the shape of the house and did just the job for this hanging.


The exhibition is on from 1st May until …  I will be there for the opening evening and will try to take a pics of pieces of other members as well ….

Thank you for reading



  1. So very beautiful!! I am reading a book right now that has a character who has a gypsy wagon called a vardo. She described the painting on the outside and it sounds so much like your design!!

    Your appliqué idea sounds interesting and is something I might try.Is the cutting away of the excess fabric difficult or tedious?

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful work.

    I admire the Brits for having such an emphasis on needlework with the schools and certification. I wish we had something like that in the USA!


    • Thank you Marlette, it is true that lots of “old” craft is still very much alive here in UK. They are big on traditions and I like that about them too.
      This way of applique is not very difficult but it might become tedious if you try to go very small with your design or too detailed. But have a go and you’ll see for yourself.


  2. Vendulka, this is stunning, I really don’t know how you manage to fit everything into your day. I also admire the way Olivier helps and supports you in everything, you clearly bounce ideas off each other, a real partnership. Liz.


    • Thank you Liz, the partnership works for us on many levels and I’m grateful for it every day! And how do fit everything in? Well sometimes I’m amazed how much we can make as well. 🙂


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