Tag Archive | stitching

Colour works

Busy-ish week – now have the brochures for York Open Studios!, Sent in several entries, booked to do a workshop in the extended Hornsea Arts Festival in October, murdered my giant gate that came apart in a gale and even  did a bit of weeding! Remember the workroom is open Wednesday evening and Friday morning if you want to come and sew or for a bit of advice and tutoring. Email for details….

Colour theories meets practice.  I have tried detaching the “Monet” colours from the image and use them  to construct a new landscape. The step by step is below.

It is a competent little piece but…. sneakily I like the first with the bold gold.  All of this thread work makes me long for spaces and room within the picture. I also struggle with the contrasts – I still draw, and draw a lot so tone is as important as hue, and also mark making- with this concentration on colour these have tended to get left behind. The mid tone colours have blended more than intended ( the pinky-yellowness makes me think of fruit salad chews), I ended adding some small touches of red as focus points in the foreground to pull the distance out a little more but still think it needs more recession. this is already using more colour than usual. While it is bright it isn’t me.  And as for the amount of stitching?  I guess that is why they call it embroidery. img_20190217_104102823

As an antidote I went back to a very limited palette and my normal style – blue, ochre yellow and beige seems to manage very well.  This is a prototype for a ‘pot’ or vase sleeve. I am trialing some of the Vilene CS800 – a thin but tough non woven – it is supposed to be an adequate paintable surface, stitchable and nearly everything able. I liked the notion of a stiffener that works well as a stabiliser while sewing. This at first glance works well- doesn’t tear however much I sew it, doesn’t pucker and the machine doesn’t seem to notice it any more than Stitch and Tear. Shame about the rest of it!

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anything other than the Sprout!

img_20190106_095710824This was last week, rough and scruffy paint to give me some idea of where and what when I roll it up to sew, ( also handy when upside down and stitching!)  It is very sparse and undeveloped with the two blobs waiting for attention on the right- they will become thorn trees.

I worked on this on and off during the week and then took it as my work in progress/demo piece for the open day at Viking Loom yesterday. It has progressed in many ways. This is it now –  the blobs are very sprout- like,  day old boiled sprouts. I do love this colour but at this time of the year the associations are somewhat unfortunate….

IMG_20190113_103426461 The bottom left is just about done – some areas will be plucked to break up the colour and surface, and a top dressing  required on the conifer belt and the major bushes, but they will happen later as part of the ‘balancing’ stage. It is a case of where has all the brown and orange silk gone? Waste putting it in? Never – it peeps through in places and lends an intensity to the colours above.  and most of all it makes the thin spots in the stitch work as a positive rather than look like holes! Really pleased with the mad green varigated section of tufty chenille wool and the scrunched  and shredded bleached sari lengths at the bottom.

Pics below show some of the evolution – working in layers front to back, the type and density of stitch and the fabrics used.

I don’t like working one section up like this but I kept losing sight of the whole and started to get worried by the scale of the thing.  It really does show how dense to work is – the plain calico looks blank and bland, the paint looks flat, the sprouts and tree line look like a bit of nonsense. The other problem is the distortion caused by the stitching. This badly needs stretching before I do more. I had meant to leave the distortions as part of the nature of the beast but the piece is already very out of true.-

Next tasks – fore and middle ground to the right- sort out hillsides, get some flatter stitching in , maybe partially  happen to a sprout or two as well.

I am trying out Instagram (oops), so see daily-ish updates if your life is lacking sproutiness, and of course don’t forget about the upcoming opportunities – every fortnight Wed eve and Friday am  from 23rd Jan – introductions, techniques or project work, as you please.

Machine embroidery workshops and progress!

I have a series of dates avialable upto mid March  for learners and enthusiasts to come and play in my workroom, a chance to get started or to develop  your own ideas.  There is a basic programme but it  is there to be cherry picked or ignored as desired!  I am offering 2 hour sessions  on a Wednesday evening and Friday morning once a fortnight.  Details are on the website.

As for the new Biggish Beastie – Well, did you really expect me to pay any attention to myself? To follow my own guidelines and expectations?  Silliness.

Could not get my head together so sidestepped the problem to find fresh anxieties and questions to avoid.

This was where we left  it – rough patches of fabric, woll stitching, just beginning to map out the major areas and hint at textures. So found the blankness too big, and processes too slow.  Bring out to paint! Lay down some background, make it so I can see what is to happen rather than having to image it all the time.

This was thin acrylic with textile medium and worked in layers to build a bit of surface –  all so high tech –  printing off  scraps of cellophane and combing. It can not be thick because of the stitching to follow and is only the supporting act, not the main attraction.

The first layer of crosshatch stitching has started to weld the conifers together and wandering lines have begun to describe the scale and nature of the belts of vegetation and hedge lines.   There is still far more work ahead than behind but the structure is established . How much of this will be evident at the end? Very little, I expect, but I have more confidence in it now, it is less fluffy ideas and more directed intentions. Does this mean I know how it will look? Of course not? As ideas come together they will have to adapt and compromise untill they fit together, but this is the start of the real dialogue.

img_20190106_095710824Next steps? – Probably map out the treeline and foreground. Start on the empty space in the right bottom corner, but keep the interplay of spaces and concentrations of colour and texture going and build on them.

It needs ironing again. Already.

Poppies

york textile artist logotmbBeen  dotting about and fairly busy, so the only sewing I have done this week is a distraction…is it possible to have pre-emptive brinkmanship?  Talk about organised,  actually made these for an exhibition  I am part of over Remembrance weekend in November.  We are at the Chapel in York Cemetery (beautiful Classical style building and not at all creepy) on Remembrance Sunday – which going to the hundred years since the end of the First World War.

There are 9 of us exhibiting as a textile group so it seemed appropriate to make a hundred poppies between us and hopefully sell them with the funds going to the British Legion.P1180230

These were fairly simple to make, technically a bit twitchy, but pretty effective.

The idea was to make simplified, wearable fabric  variations based on the iconic British Legion poppies. The fabric is a quite light weight fulled wool, which gives it a kind of felted , matted surface so it shouldn’t fray(!) The stitching is intended to give shape and modelling rather than aiming for  decorative thread surfaces.

The problem with free machining is that it causes distortion  as the stitches pull the fabric. This is what I am using to give the 3D shape to the flowers.  I did try with different threads but settled on a very thick top thread and a standard dressmaking thread underneath. The imbalance gave the most exaggerated distortions

P1180231but it took a bit of fiddling to get the tensions right.  The spiral pattern made cones, the petals created  lumps and bumps and it all worked best on a solid piece of fabric not individual petals. I did try, but kept falling off the edge as the fabric constricted so spent forever digging bits and tangles out of the needle race. (Pah)

The finished ones have silk velvet centres and brooch backs. They are simple, direct and hopefully effective enough to be attractive, and to take their place in the group piece.

The new season of workshops is out now – check the Want to Try tab for more details. There are fewer, different  timings and prices, but still in York , small, informal and friendly.

 

 

 

Peeled and resewn

Once it was a flat piece of cloth, then it  encased a stone, then it was broken off and made flat again, showing all the c

landscapestone peeled

First stages- tacked on and a few lines stitched.

uts, folds and pleats  as pattern and scars.

It is now being stitched down to hold its shape and its history.  The backing cloth has had its own saga,  loosely snagged up in elastic bands before tea staining and then  drenched with dilute inks.  The plain cloth was too machined and perfect, this now is offering more.

It is slow at present – hand stitching outwards, following lines and seams. I have tried to raise some, the backing is a bit thick but it is trying to behave.

I have tried various threads, matching the ones sewn with on the stone and also experimenting with the frayed threads of the backing fabric.  It may be an odd shape but I have hopes – It has a sense of landscape,  it has a sense of having evolved rather than being  designed. There are plenty of decisions still to make – blending over some of the edges to hide the fusion of the two  layers of fabric,  how neat to stitch,  how much to stitch, whether to work in some paint, how about pencil marks and shading, or graphite powder?

Some of these techniques are covered in my classes and workshops – check out the list on the Want to Try page.

Badges and brooches.

yos badgesStraight from why do I make them so big, to why are they so small!   Who likes easy…..

These are for York Open Studios – The last few big pieces are so layered and complex they are going to be silly expensive…..   the badges are going to be pocket money prices, so hopefully can fill that little impulse buy spot.

These are fun and quick to do –  only 1.5″  across. They are modified cover buttons  with a brooch back attached, so quite easy to make up and pretty robust.   The only difficulty is the change in scale. It is so tempting to go slow and to be careful – if I do that then I get big awkward stitches, so have to stitch as fast as I dare!

The other limitation is keeping the fabric lightweight – not getting carried away with too much stitching or applique bits – thicker fabric is more difficult to stretch over the button – so I have had to hoop it using my vintage Bernina’s darning hoop rather than using stabiliser. It is so small!!! but does work a treat.

Went back up to Barnyarns on Monday with the ladies who come to my “open \house\” mornings – some of these mini broideries are testing out the new polyester variegated threads –  – their Polyneon range.  Really pleased with them.

Taking work into Blossom Street Gallery next YOS Logo Short_CMYK 2018week for the York Literary Festival – that will be on for the whole of March.

And don’t forget YOS starts the weekend of April 14th.

rules not to follow.

Rule one : don’t have rules, don’t follow them

– Difficult to do, by following the no rule rule I am following a rule  so can’t be following the rule of having no rules, umm. Welcome to my idea of logical and sense.

Rules  make my responses predictable and formulaic. As soon as I make rules the fun goes out it. Yes, there are ways of doing, approaches that work, but they must not become a rut.  The techniques must serve my purposes, not dictate what I can do.

Rule two

Stitching must be neat, lines parallel, corners precise.  Thread must match the fabric and always use the ‘right’ needle. 

Use what you have,  use what you need, use what works. Make not having the ‘right’ colour an asset.  This is a tree with only one green, the variations give it life.

 

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Your tension must be perfect. Either the threads should cross within the fabric or ideally just below for freehand machining. Looping is very very naughty.

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Nah . You sew with 2 threads so why not use both of them?  It can be fun to let the bobbin thread show to give little picks of added colour or tone.,  pull loops through to the surface – get more texture and volume out of that row of stitching..  I am not making seams, there is not going to be that sudden draught  as you sit down too quickly.

Rule three

Keep arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times.  Edges must be neat and all ends sewn in.

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Nope. Surfaces are fun. Okay, sewing through a dense jungle can pose problems but there are always ways and means, from the excellent kebab stick to tissue paper.

Rule four.

Never give up.

Do. Don’t be precious. Let go.

Scissors can be a creative tool. Sometimes the premise is wrong  so putting more and more time into a piece will never work.  Chop it, cannibalise it, use it in another way. Don’t let it hang like a millstone.     This was  one – never happy with it, with the soggy blob of a focal point, now it is in two,   much, much better. machine-emroidery-fran-brammerWill look even better with proper framing