Good morning everyone. In this Stitching News, I start with further discussion on how I have been working through the preliminary work for my first assignment. For new readers, this is part of the Machine Embroidery Course that I started at the beginning of lock down. I am thoroughly enjoying it, and am constantly discovering all sorts of things about myself, as well as my very simple basic sewing machine. I often have “play” sessions and have a wonderful selection of painted, printed, textured papers I shall be able to dip into for years!!
I have also included an applique sample, and a stitched sample as well as my method of presentation for the work from Unit 3. I have other work in progress, nothing to do with the course and so like many of us, I always have something to hand! I have never been a “finish one project before starting another” kind of person, although I have every respect for those who like to work in that way.
My assignment! My second blog in June explained my initial thoughts about this project. If you would like to refer back to that click on the link. You will need to scroll down on the site.
Since then I have had a few weeks with ideas just being mulled over in my mind while I was working through the rest of the unit. Fresh ideas developed gradually which was exciting and inspired me to start sampling for this work. So I started afresh by going back to my sketch book where I had made those initial drawings, and I have actually removed a page from that sketch book, where I had sketched some of the original pieces of art work. I have stitched a little folded fabric edge to the left of the page, so that I can attach it to another page when I put all my ideas/sampling and work together in my book on this project.
The photo above is the page that I tore out of my old sketch book. I have now painted the drawings. referring back to the original source has clarified the detail in the original artefacts which has been really useful. I had already prepared some pages for my “project book” and this addition will have to be folded as it is a little too long.
On the back of the page I had drawn some different birds that I found on a photograph of a remnant of fabric. The birds were just outlined in a dark thread, so I have painted a couple of these, and am going to incorporate one of them into my hanging. Furthering my research as well as painting in the detail has been really helpful and has helped me to formulate my ideas. The piece of work will consist of three narrow hangings; the centre one will be bold and colourful and will feature three Kingfishers, (naive in their own ways).
The other two hangings, one on either side of the kingfishers, will be entirely free-machine stitched onto a fabric which is has a subtle monochromatic palette and will not detract from the vibrant centre! I have used this fabric in different guises already during this course, and I think it will be really suitable for this purpose. They will be narrow; one 2″ wide and the other 3″ wide. The centre colourful “tree trunk” measures 1″ wide, so the 1,2,3, series of measurements will work very well together! The monochromatic colours will not overpower the central panel, and the subject matter very nicely complements that of the central feature panel.
This is the stitched sample where I have tried out a range of the fabrics, and media I intend to use. I like the kingfisher although I don’t like the use of the cream scrim on the face; that area needs to be a smooth fabric.
I have used a heavy linen on the tree trunk in places, which works very nicely and I shall incorporate more of that and a little less of the scrim! I think it is going to be fun to work on, and I am looking forward to it. I can see in the photo now that I need to slightly tone down the acid green scrim… a little tea should do the job!
Below are another couple of samples from the last Unit. The first one is bonded applique, where I had to admit to Anne that I had to bend the rules slightly in order for my subject matter to work. She pointed out that if this had been a certified C&G course, the verifier would not have been too happy, but she said, as it isn’t…. flexibilty was allowed!!
Several years ago Jenny, a very longstanding lovely friend who lives in Gloucestershire gave me a delightful calendar one Christmas. It depicted some of Charley Harper’s bird drawings, I have been a fan, ever since!
I decided to use some sketches I drew at the time for my sample. I cut out the shapes from my chosen fabrics, and bonded them in position. …adding no further detail at the time.
For several days I considered the little piece of work before making any more progress on it. I felt it needed more, but wasn’t sure what! Playing around I laid some organza shapes over it, and this transformed it for me.
This is where I then transgressed, because I decided that a machine stitch around the edges of the organza shapes would be far too harsh, and totally detract from the other features I had yet to add, so I hand stitched them in position, which for me, in this context worked! (I have a lovely tutor and obviously expressed my concern to her about the hand stitching).
I then could just add the machine stitched leg and beak details, on top of the organza, finishing with a French knot for the eyes! It is a very simple sample, but on this occasion I felt “less is more”.
The second sample shown below is of Whip Stitch, a totally new machine embroidery technique for me. I knew it would involve changing my sewing machine thread tensions so I had completely procrastinated leaving it to the very end of the unit! However, it has been one of my favourite samples of the unit! Isn’t that often the way; like a dreaded visit to the dentist, it is often the thought, rather than the practicality!
So, whip stitch happens when the bottom thread comes up to the surface of the fabric. So, to start with it is necessary to tighten the top stitch tension (sometimes call the needle thread tension) and/or reduce the bobbin tension. There are also some variations to the basic stitch which I explain further on. Before I did anything else I made a very careful note of how the tension screw on my bobbin looked; ( I drew a diagram) and I also wrote down my top tension reading, also sometimes called the “needle thread” tension reading.
It is important to note that after I had completed all my whip stitch explorations I immediately put my thread tensions back to where they were before I started, and stitched a sample to assess the quality of my stitching.
My fabric for the sample was a hand dyed soft grey colour on which I dabbed a cotton wool bud dipped in bleach. I later added a little water colour paint to the areas, to remove the starkness of the bleach. After experimenting on a scrap of the same fabric I freely stitched, creating these individual flower heads, and noted that I really liked the little “on the spot” knots. I sewed with two or three different combinations of colours at the top and in the bobbin, as you can tell.
When I had finished stitching, I still felt more was needed so I added tiny clusters of bright red painted dots. It just finished it!
The variations that can happen: when you are stitching circles and curves the bottom thread comes up even more to the top due to the tightened top tension and this creates one of the variations called “feather stitch”. Another variation is called “cording” and this happens when you make several tiny stitches, almost on top of each other (free machining) and the bottom thread comes up virtually covering the top stitch. I was pleased that my sample demonstrated the various possibilities. The cording variation is how I made my tiny red stitched “knots” for want of another word! As always, Anne gives detailed explanations of how to prepare the machine and encouraged experimentation and exploration of the techniques, illustrating this with two or three of her own samples.
My finished choice of presentation for Unit 3 was a decision made rather late in the day. Although I had decided at the beginning of this machine embroidery course, that I was going to make a selection of books in which to present the samples from each unit, I changed my mind when I reached the end of Unit 3! It had taken me hours to make the cover for the Unit 2 book, which was to contain the concertina book. Even though it “killed two birds with one stone” and I really love it, it was very time consuming. I am still working on the book for Unit 1, so I needed something effective but much quicker for the Unit 3 samples.
So, here it is! It is a “bucket bag”. It holds all my samples, for which I have cut bespoke backings of mount board. These are a little longer than the samples which hang loosely on them, as I have punched holes in the tops of the boards, and tied the samples in place with hand dyed threads.
I made the bag from wallpaper lining paper. I painted onto both sides of the paper with the left over dye from the fabric dyeing exercise in the unit.
For the handles I made twisted cords from narrow cotton ribbon, (bought as a yarn, again), and I threaded the cords through punched holes and knotted on the inside of the bag.
I reinforced the top of the bag so that any extra stress would not be detrimental. The whole construction is very sturdy, and it stands unsupported too!
There was a lot of work to complete in this unit, and in these blogs I have just presented a few of my samples. I was delighted to be able to send everything in, the 23rd of July. I did take longer than originally intended for this body of work, but as with all adults, sometimes “the best laid plans……”
I have received Unit 4 now and have read it through. Once again there is a great deal to explore and experiment with. We have now completed all the design elements and exercises, and the introduction to Unit 4 says that stitching with allied techniques is the main feature of the second half of the course; i.e. Units 4,5 and 6. Unit 4 certainly looks exciting and full of interest! Our first assignment should be completed, along with the rest of Unit 4. Before I get started on it, I will do some more work on Turvy III
Until next time