Tag Archive | sewing

“I Want to be a Tree!”

I have started doing classes on Sundays –  and with working and doing courses at the Viking Loom on Saturdays, this means  my weekends are now harder work than my week!  Have survived and had a good day today doing trees.

I quite like trees, you might have noticed. Todays venture was titled “I  Want to be a Tree”.  They are a fabulous vehicle for teaching this form of freehand sewing. Lots of potential for experimentation with technique, style, texture and colour.  I totally enjoyed myself.  I have polished off the afternoon watching the men’s final  tennis from Paris, and writing the blog, slowly, is the next way of avoiding going out to mow the lawn.

 

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A matter of moments to gather examples, samples and original artwork!

 

With a wall full of tree-ness we spent the day sketching from sources,  refining approaches and exploring processes.

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This one is just short of being finished – a bit more working into the foliage and the trunk filled in and it should be done.

And as for this one…P1170285

June and July I have set aside and making and doing time. Lots of getting out and thinking so approaches and expectations.

But first must mow the lawn……

Northern College of Costume Exhibition

ncc flyerThink you are not interested? markterry_170509_8660cropThe latest group are putting their efforts on display this weekend and it is worth taking a look.

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This is good old fashioned history based theatrical costume making.

Never wondered how many component parts go into making one Tudor “dress”?  Well, now is the time to start wondering and also have the opportunity to find out.  At the same time you could take a peek inside  a Teddy Boy’s pockets, or ask the ladies about their 1940/50s evening wear.

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I went along as a dresser for the Tudor photoshoot in our local Tudor Barley Hall. Those big skirts over farthingales and the stays can take quite a lot  effort to get on and then to manage. It was so atmospheric in there – I can’t wait to see the photos.

The Teddy Boys stayed in the city centre down one of the seediest side lanes. No romantic Tudor beams for them. The final shoot of the day was at a Neo Classical chapel. A rather busy day.

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Take a look at the complexities of the makes, see what can be achieved with some  ingenuity, hard work  and a lot of know-how and guidance. And then think – this was all achieved in 15 weeks!

I did the course a few years ago, and survived with battered, stitched fingerends and a lot more skills than I started with.

If you are in York, do drop in.

markterry_170509_9194cropallPhotos : Mark Terry

York Open Studios 2017

Well, this is it folks. Nearly ready – just admin-y things to do.YOS 2017 Logo bleed_CMYKLargehttps://www.yorkopenstudios.co.uk/

Open Sat 10 -6 and Sunday 11 – 5.

Do hope you can come, it is excellent fun and usually informative – I have found some fantastic makey – do-ey people in my local area through this event, one, a jeweller, literally just round the corner!  Of course the highlight will be coming to me! No 38 (take away dish or taxi car?).

blog april

Cornish Cliffs

I fancied seeing how far these patterned and transparent collages on top of images could go. I had this elderly left over canvas from a Cornish holiday – elderly painting -Cornwall coast dodgy paint techniques, over thinned colour, uninspired composition.  Not an ideal choice, too big, cheap thin canvas. Nevermind….  Planning involved more dithering than doing, selecting pattern and colour, fabric types and threads.   Did remember to do one important cheat – traced the big tonal areas onto the back.- more later.

Cornish Cliffs -planning  The Cliffs are 2 different patterned silks – big bold patterned stripes and a coarser faded floral for the headland. The proposals for the sea were layers of sheers – to be decided later.

Back cliffs first- vertical patterning to mimic the rock formations, working from the back the first stitching anchored the fabric and then roughly blocked in the shadow areas. I would recommend working from the back – you just roughly place/pin the fabric on the front, flip over, stitch the lines drawn on the back, flip back and trim the excess away.  No worries about placement or accuracy.

The fabrics were build up block by block – already much more vivid than the paint. The stitching from the back worked well to establish the shapes and masses. The decision to use purple as a shade colour didn’t, it was to clean and strong against the fabric, it was removed or adapted immediately.

I got too excited by the sea to manage to record the sequence. (Lie – didn’t expect it to work so didn’t bother to photograph) It is strips and pieces of 2  tone organzas, purple orange, green red, blue orange, sari strips with frayed edges . Stitching was in one colour using a less regular utility stitch ( think its for sewing elastic) A sheer was over laid and  ripped into.  Was hoping the frays and uneven edges will create a sense of depth and movement.    Did remember to record the beach/surf!

And the sky happened. All as one piece of metallic sheer  with an offcut  underneath to ease the bland flatness. The front bit off cliff was the last piece to do – purple orange organza over the dark areas and a fine metallic green yellow as a wrinkly top dressing.  I ripped the green and stitched areas open  to reveal the purple to give shading.

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bit of top stitching and…..

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This felt like a rough and ready process. The stitching isn’t beautiful, even, or using exotic thread. The fabrics are recycled clothing, donations or synthetic, but it does seem to work. Where I had started doing more controlled stitch I have removed it. It drew attention to itself, too self conscious too fit in with the wrinkles and tears. The whole is very sketchy, but it has so much more life than the original. Perhaps the years of painting were just a way of getting over the need for technical perfection. The  patterned fabrics give so much into the mix. The way the patterns fall is  at best a happy compromise, it really makes me respond, to orchestrate rather than dictate what is happening. And as for colour theory – in practice it is best guess.Cornish Cliffs close ups

So what are the essentials for free hand machine work?  an obliging machine who doesn’t know any better, an appropriate foot that lets you see what you are doing, a seam ripper that doesn’t hide, and really sharp scissors. Only trouble is I now appear to have more scrap fabric than before!

Come and see my work , may be even see some others as well, April 22,23 & 29,30. Click on pic for link to the website.

YOS 2017 Logo bleed_CMYKLarge

Silk Mill Dress

Or …..And this was Sunday… or A story of a miniature Georgian dress.

Want to work from this ,

An account of John Lombe’s silk-mill at Derby, 1791, from Wm Hutton’s History of Derby.

“….The raw silk is brought in hanks, or skaines, called slips, and would take five or sixdays in winding off, though kept moving ten hours a day…... The workman’s care is chiefly to unite,by a knot, a thread that breaks; to take out the burs and uneven parts, ……. The threads are continually breaking; and to tye them ‘is principally the business of children whose fingers are nimble. The machine continually turns a round bobbin, or small block of wood, whichdraws the thread from the slip, while expanded upon a swift suspended upon a centre. The moment the thread breaks, the swift stops. One person commands from twenty to sixty threads. If many cease, at the same time, to turn, it amounts to a fault, and is succeeded by punishment. From the fineness of the materials, the ravelled state of the slips and bobbins, and the imprudence of children, much waste is made, which is another motive of correction; and when correction is often inflicted, it steels the breast of the inflictor.”

Wanted to base  it on an extant silk garment from the era, or a contemporary portrait. Settled on this – drawn up by Janet Arnold, so I had shapes to work from, the dress is in the Manchester collection.

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That  was 9am, it is now late afternoon. It is not quite finished, but my hands hurt so a rest is required. Did the text on the new machine (yet to be named)- a bit ambitious but well…. but all the rest is hand sewn. Haven’t managed to include all the text, but the gist is there, in various degrees of control and legibility.  The shoulder band will define the dress more clearly but I think the collar will change to something more like the LACMA redingote below ( really wanted to do this one all along, bigger scale required though, it is all in the buttons).ma-8195-WEBThis one might be love. “Midsomer Murders” has just come on,  time to vegetate until I get over it!

Update – went back to sewing to get over Midsomer.  Put in the shoulders and finished the bodice front off. Just the collar and then all the usual  dithering about getting the feel right –  ephemeral, used,, ghosting – a bit like an incomplete memory  or an echo. Certainly not squeaky new and toothpaste white!

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Don’t forget York Open Studios is on next month. The next Stitchy Day is April 5th – if you fancy having a go at the freehand thing- check the frantextiles  facebook page for details or email.

Inspector’s coat

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Focus this week has been words and dress again. Thinking and presenting is happening on the landscape side as well as workshops, but that is creative background noise. In the foreground is a mini short frock coat and waistcoat.

I was reading around the early  Factory Acts but found the texts dry and eye watering in just about every respect, so went back to writing on clothing.

 

 

The combining of primary sources with items of dress seems right. Both seem to become more, that little bit of context adds a bit life to the understanding of both. I like the idea of using simple fabric, of ‘ghosting’ the garments rather than finishing them. This isn’t about making replicas or fancy dress. That they are only part there, that what is seen and read is incomplete and only part of the whole narrative feels appropriate.  This of course leads to many mini crises, how much HAS to be done, how much is choice, how much can be undone?

I have hand sewn these, there is no seam or hem finishing or linings, but why not? I could print these documents onto fabric and cut the garments out of that and make them up like good little article of clothing. Why not machine sew?  The text is machined…. and does it matter that the words can be very hard to read? Nope, try reading any hand written document!P1060491

Some of the reasoning I think I understand, it is a touch Romanticism, a touch pragmatic, and very contradictory, of course. I want to take time, to have to sit and think, I want to share not preach or shout, I want it to be as unfinished as I am, and as the original people were in these documents. I have seen a tiny part of them, their world continued without me.  I don’t want this to be subtext driven or a historical crusade.

 

 

In part, this is trying to get below the headlines only approach, behind the obsession with dates and facts which was  my own education. I like history but not museums, nor increasingly, history books, so this is my response. This is personal, it is not meant to be deeply meaningful or massively insightful.

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Glad I have that out of my head, it can live on ‘paper’ and not clutter me up. In celebration I have just wandered up to the local shop for treats, and managed to do that with one leg of my jeans peppered with needles and pins…..not much changes.

 

 

At Last!!!!

p1060412Inspiration Has Struck!

I stripped an old painting from its stretcher ages ago and stored it on the wall for lack of anything else to do with it..

Favourite Indian silk  skirt was no longer viable as a garment – the fabric was so thin it was unkind to take it out in public. So that had been stripped out and also hung on the other wall.

Ohhh, I wonder if……, what would happen when……. So, shut up and did it. Not really such an impossible mix – the painting was of Wharfedale  which had a long history of cotton and silk manufacturing,  even though most of the mills are demolished now, marrying the two  feels right.

p1060411There are no second chances stitching  on a painted canvas – those holes are permanent, get too many and they act as perforations and the whole thing  comes apart ( quite fun finding the point when then that happens). It also has the handling characteristics of adolescent cardboard. You bend it by thumping and never fold it completely. I feel I may now have biceps.

 

It is one way of clearing  the whole table ( cup of coffee, open box  of 500 business cards,  any passing small furry animals…..)

 

Process. Short version.

Layering  sheer and fine fabrics, stitching down, and then cutting away and shredding.

Process.  Long version.

p1060420The sky has non woven fibrous dark layer, stitched in horizontal bands to hold it and the areas of colour in the painting were sewn around. I am still working out how much to pull away, but I like the irregular mottled pattern that is emerging.

The patterned silk covered most of the middle ground with rather large blowsy red roses. Its  background matches the light on the hills  so somehow the roses work? Infallible logic!  The dark sky layer extended down across this. The stitching followed the rose pattern then areas were ripped or cut away, either the dark or both.  Some areas were just thinned out, tweezering  individual threads away to leave suggestions of colour and shapes .p1060417

 

The secondary patch of pattern is bright orange paisley ( ouch, but why not?) The  colour contrast was a bit much so out with the 2 tone organza as overlays. And the hideous ones – crimson/green,  purple/ orange…. This time stitching followed the paint shapes and colour shifts. Snip, snip, rip, and…. didn’t like it.  Lost the coherent structure, the story was compromised.   Back to the drawing and reinstate the idea of linear perspective with the tapering lines.  This is  randomly couched knitting ribbon with a wriggly approach to life,and of course, could use no pins. Quite a good game playing chase the  yarn  across the piece of work just spent far too many  hours on, but the end result is  fluid enough without looking staged.  Now I quite like it.p1060416

“Oh, how traditionally English…”

umm…     Asian  fabric with patterns of a  probably Chinese flower  and Indian symbols placed over a brutal post Industrial landscape….. ummm   romantic view of Englishness.

Like the colour shifts  due to light and viewing angle. Some of the stitching is fairly crude where I was fighting with  physically get the thing through the machine. The canvas has creased – normally this is ‘damage’ and devalues – I see it as a record of its history and as  such far more  relevant to the subject matter than happy perfection.

bsgfExhibition is still on – until the 15th March. I am there next Sunday doing a demo and trying to talk sense. (should be worth watching – but you must promise not to point and laugh)