Producing 6 samples using any earlier designs.
The word embroidery has finally appeared in the chapter heading and I am really looking forward to doing some stitching as it has been a while.
“Produce about six 10 x 10 cm samples using any of your designs”
This is the first instruction for chapter 7 and what a great one it is too. After many enjoyable and fun weeks of working with papers, paints, glue and scissors (and fabric too) I get to do some stitching. I hope I make a good job of this as I am a bit rusty but I am really looking forward to developing some of my past ventures into sewn fabric designs.
I got a bit carried away developing paper ideas! Initially I made 6 designs based on various paper exercises. I wanted to experiment with the coloured fabrics I had in doing these designs, try new things out and learn from any mistakes I made as I went along. (Which I did!)
1.) The first one only had two layers as I was taking a cautious approach to this work. I was wondering how I would do when cutting one layer away. Would I cut through too many layers? I really liked what I produced!
The bottom layer was yellow cotton. The top layer was purple nylon lining material which I had printed with yellow acrylic paints earlier.
On the backing material which was white cotton ( the kind sheets are made with) I drew the shape I was interested in from a black and white paper cutting design from Ch 4. (5a, top right above) The design showed positive asymmetrical star shapes with diamond shapes as the negative spaces.
I used stem stitch to outline the shapes I had drawn. Once I cut away the top layer to show all the yellow the overall effect was very pleasing. I was wondering if I had not shown which shapes were representing the negative and positive images and would you be able to tell which is which. Because I know anyway it is difficult to answer this question myself. I think you can tell because the purple stands out from the yellow and the contrasting coloured stitches on the top layer helps too.
2) The second design was based on a coloured paper collage design from chapter 4( p 58 top l.h.s ). I liked the idea of the shapes overlapping and breaking apart to create other interesting shapes. Also the paper image has a real sense of movement and depth. Again this was an asymmetrical design.
This time I was a bit braver and used 3 layers. I used my lovely yellow homemade fabric for the base layer. Followed by printed, blue silk and topped of with a layer of gold (ish) cotton. I sewed the middle layer on first using gold cotton threads and cross stitches. After cutting away the centre shape I added the top layer and used a contrasting blue cotton thread to sew around the shapes outline, again using cross-stitch. I was not so pleased with this design. The colours did not work well together and the spacing of the fabric on the top layer is not right. There should have been wider gaps at each end and I would have liked more of the blue printed fabric showing. I must admit I was a bit disappointed with this one. I should have used a brighter colour on top, one which was more orange and more in keeping with the print colour on the blue silk. I should also have made a better job of stitching over the outlines to leave bigger gaps. I have learned my lesson!
3)One of my symmetrical samples which I liked very much in Ch 4 p.56 (on the bottom l.h.s above) was the star anise layered design which had an orange centre ( bottom layer), an indigo middle layer printed with yellow motifs and a blue/purple top layer. I knew this would be a challenge to get right because of the small spaces in the central area. It was made even more difficult because my compasses refused to cooperate as I was drawing the design on the calico I was using for backing. ( I should have listened to that niggling little voice as I bought very cheap nasty ones! “Buy cheap, pay dear!”).
I had materials which mimicked the original design quite well. Orange cotton, Indigo cotton, printed with yellow and an iridescent purple polyester material. I used fine gold metallic thread and two rows of running stitch around the indigo fabric’s shape and one row of satin stranded cotton thread around the top layer’s centre and circular border. The stitches look good but the centre wasn’t quite as successful as I would have liked. The photograph makes the purple look more purple than it really is but I think it is a bit overpowering. Something more blue would have blended in better.
4) I am getting braver now as I get the hang of this. So far I have not cut too deeply ( a song has sprung to mind!… The first cut is the deepest…) and damaged any layers. I decided to throw caution to the wind and go for 4 layers! This design was based on a black and white cut out image. Chapter 4 (6a, middle left). Again it was an asymmetrical design. This time I had all 4 layers in place at the same time. Layer 1 was blue silk, next was orange cotton, followed by printed blue cotton and topped with a gold cobweb fibre sheet. I hand stitched zigzags on the top layer and cut away the excess material. I did a running stitch around the next outline and cut it away. I then cut away the centre after tacking the fabric in place with tiny stitches. I then zig-zagged some more stitches over these and into the bottom layer using the same cotton thread. I quite like this one. Using the same coloured thread on every layer which matches the top layer’s fabric gives the piece some unity. The orange layer and the blue printed layer work well together and the blue silk is a nice surprise in the centre. Because blue recedes I hope I have created a feeling of depth here.
In Chapter 4, b&w images, asymmetrical shapes 5a and 5b were created from the positive and negative shapes cut from the same piece of paper. I liked both these images and as I have made 5a (see 1 above), I thought it would be interesting to try 5b too (see b&w image, middle right above). I was avoiding doing this one earlier as I wanted to experiment with different designs and learn some techniques before attempting this one but is was always my intention to do it.
5.) Because I liked the colours of fabric used in (1) I used the same scheme here although this time the bottom layer was purple and the middle was yellow. I added the home-made purple sample as the top layer. Before cutting away the top layer I stitched it around the border of the material and around the outline for the inner shapes with metallic purple embroidery thread. This blended in nicely with the fabric.
I then followed this with running stitches around the inner yellow layer using yellow satin embroidery thread. The shiny thread looks good against the matte fabric and compliments the revealed shiny satin finish of the purple bottom layer.
6. The last design here was inspired by a coloured paper design in chapter 3, on design sheet b.
I looked for a symmetrical design to use as I had focused heavily on asymmetrical designs until now. In the paper image I could see linear marks on the paper from brush marks. This gave me the idea of using the time chiffon material I had which had gold threads running vertically through it. My top layer was purple nylon material. Under this was the chiffon and the bottom layer was gold polyester material.
I sewed chain stitch using purple stranded cotton around the centre star. I then sewed the arms of the background star in using gold metallic thread. Once all the shapes were sewn I cut away the top layer as close to the stitching as I could. I then cut away the chiffon layer around the star arms. There are areas where the top layer can still be seen around the outer star and areas where it has come away easily. I did not want to tamper too much with this as I was concerned the chiffon would also part company from the stitches. I think this is a very pleasing composition which has worked out well. I think this is because the colours, types of material and stitching compliment each other.
I have grown in confidence using appliqué in my designs. I have learned to experiment with fabrics, colours and stitching. I am aware I have not used machine stitches yet but will be doing more of this as I progress through the chapter.
Some time later……I was looking through my work in this chapter and decided I would try to improve the look of (2) above by taking away some of the outer material. I cut the gold material away and some of the blue to show the yellow ‘made’ material underneath. I knew I was taking a risk here but because I did not like it all that much to begin with I felt I had nothing to lose. I don’t actually like it any better after all, but I would never have known if I had not tried! I should have left more of the blue in tact. I was thinking it would have looked better if I had only removed the blue from one side and not both sides.
Top layer gone.
Most of blue gone too!