For the following exercise I used squares of loosely woven white calico, initially cut into four inch squares.
The above page shows the results of my initial three fabric experiments. The top two samples are simple squares folded, and then cut. The bottom sample uses the negative pieces left over from the middle sample.
The second set of samples shows my initial attempts at fraying the cut squares. The top sample was snipped as per text instructions and then cut edges were frayed. The middle sample was folded first, then cut and frayed. The bottom sample is a simple square, frayed, then turned on the diagonal. Four small triangles were placed in the angles.
The third set of samples includes a fabric square snipped and frayed with four small triangles added to corners. Beneath that is a sample consisting of nine small squares frayed and then arranged to form a cross shape.
The next set of samples consists of two frayed rectangles placed diagonally across each other to form a cross shape, followed by a fabric square, folded, cut and then all the negative shapes were used.
The first of the final two samples is quite interesting in that I began by creating the 'fabric' by bonding some tiny scraps of calico and lots of threads between two layers of Bondaweb. The two arms of the cross were then laid one on top of the other. The last sample is a square snipped as directed in text and then cut and edges frayed.
All in all a fun and relaxing set of samples to make! The loose weaved fabric made it very easy to carry out the fraying aspect, and I really like the disintegration which results. Personally I would like to carry this idea into a sort of contemporary interpretation of seventeenth century whitework samplers.
Top left: Cartridge paper punched with blunt puncher, so had to push holes out with fingers, tearing in process, then folded paper, punched and pushed again a couple of times, crumpled, flattened out, crumpled, flattened, repeatedly.
Top right: Cartridge paper dampened with water, then crumpled rubbing between hands until ripped.
Middle left: Pieces torn into strips then woven together, held in place with glue stick.
Middle right: Crumpled, punched, rubbed.
Bottom left: Crumpled, then put under ring binder machine a few times, crumpled again until torn.
Bottom right:Crumpled, ring binder again around edges and through cente, crumpled again until ragged.
Top left: Free-machine stitching on black paper, crumpled, then wet and rubbed until torn.
Top right: Free-machine stitched with no thread, crumpled, wetted out, rubbed between hands.
Bottom left: Stitched with automatic stitches, crumpled, wetted, torn.
Bottom right: Torn pieces of paper, pieced together with free-machine embroidery.
Top: Tracing paper, doubled over, with bits of thread sandwiched between, then free-machined, burned, rubbed. [This is my favourite sample - love the disintegrated look.]
Bottom: As above, but stitched with automatic patterns.
This chapter was something of a challenge, although once I figured out what I needed to do, it was pretty straightforward. Sometimes the beginnings of new sections, with their call for a new approach to producing samples is a little nerve-wracking, at least until one figures out what one needs to do.
Having stitched my insertion stitch sampler (see previous post), I began to work on the three individual samples.
Simple Counterchange Sample #1 – paper design
Since this was my first sample for this chapter and I had no idea what I was supposed to do, I decided it would be wise to begin with a paper design of my first sample. Having created this, I was much more confident about what was required.
Actual fabric sample: Using richly hued tones of my chosen colour scheme, I bonded bits of threads and fabrics, including dyed muslin torn into pieces, to previously painted Bondaweb. This is a method of background fabric construction which I love, not least for the sheer richness of the completed fabric. I then cut out the design from each piece and swapped them around to form the design. Next came tacking all the pieces to tissue paper, followed by joining the edges with a simple twisted insertion stitch. The designs were embellished with parallel rows of running stitch, and completed with blanket stitch around the outer edges.
Counterchange Sample #2
For this sample I used pieces of the first two bonded felt backgrounds as well as creating two new ones – four different bonded felt fabrics in total. The design I used was taken from Design Sheet C, ‘i’. (See earlier post.) A quarter of the design was cut from each piece and swapped around. I joined the edges with a simple cross stitch and completed the sample with blanket stitch around the outer edges.
Counter-Interchange Sample #3
This sample is based upon a previous exercise from Design Sheet B – exercise vi. (See previous post.) Felt is bonded as in other samples. Shapes joined with simple twisted insertion stitch, while the four squares were joined with machine feather stitch. Individual sections embellished with a variety of machine embroidery stitches and free machining. Finally blanket stitched outer edges to pull the sample together into a cohesive whole.
This is my sampler of insertion hand embroidered stitches. The stitches used, from top to bottom are:
-knotted buttonhole stitch in pearl cotton #8
-beaded insertion stitch in pearl cotton #8 and size 11 seed beads
-laced insertion stitching, in wool for base stitch and hand dyed rayon for lacing
-twisted insertion stitch using stranded cotton
-cretan stitch in pearl cotton #8,laced with feather stitch using a lovely glittery thread
-sorbello stitch in hand dyed rayon and toped with golden seed beads
-herringbone stitch using pearl cotton #8, with no gap between edges
The knotted buttonhole stitch was the biggest challenge as I attempted to figure out what exactly I was supposed to do! Beginning with Jacqueline Enthoven's wonderful book of embroidery stitches 'The Stitches of Creative Embroidery' I tried to adapt what she called Knotted Buttonhole Stitch on page 160 of her book, but failed to figure out how to work this into an edging stitch. My buttonhole sampler below shows some of my attempts, though most trials were ripped out in disgust! In the end I discovered that Jacqueline Enthoven calls this stitch by another name - Knotted Insertion Stitch, also called Knotted Cretan.
This was a fun chapter to work on, each sample offering many surprises. Beginning with the traditional method I used a very simple adaptation of a shape which has turned up in earlier samples. Hand stitching this sample took a lot longer than any of the other samples, due to the slowness of the hem stitching required to attach each layer. I matched the colour of the threads to the top fabric being sewn on.. Trying to keep the points of the star sharp was difficult!
Here's a link to an interesting site on the topic of molas:
Next I turned to the contemporary methods and these I enjoyed making a whole lot more, especially playing with the colours for each layer. Actually this part took a lot longer than I had initially expected, given that my fabrics have been previously organized into 2 main colour groups according to my chosen colour scheme. What colour is blue-violet? Take your pick!!! The same applies to yellow-orange. So many tints, tones and shades possible!
The first sample illustrating the contemporary method using free machine embroidery incorporated 5 layers of fabrics and 4 layers of free machine stitching. In this sample I began stitching on the outside of the shape (same shape used throughout chapter 8 and previously). I really like the effect of the deep rich hue of the orange against the blue-violet, and I think that the transparent upper layer ( a hnad dyed organza) looks good with the shot silk taffeta immediately beneath it.
The next sample uses the same shape as the one above, but is stitched from the inside out. Again, 5 layers of fabric were used, and once again I really like the strong contrats between the yellow and golds and the violet hue. The final sample looked a bit bare so I added a line of chain stitch stitched over the final free machine embroidered line.
The next sample experimented with faux chenille or slashed reverse applique. I love the feel of this sample. It is very tactile and reminds me of a thick hand made quilt. But it took forever to try and unravel the edges and I wonder if it mightn't have been easier if I had used a design with straight sides rather than curved. In the end it didn't matter - I worked away trying to fray the edges while watching a double episode of the new series of 'silent Witness'!! Oh yes along with a glass of red wine! :-)
The final sample for this chapter is the multi-coloured ripple effect. This is the sample of contemorary methods which I am least happy about as the cut away areas are too small to show the jewel like effects of the richly hued fabrics layered and partially layered. My favourite 'fabric' is the gold netting! Really adds to the impression of jewels!
Samples # 1 + 2:
The top sample, sample #1, consists of a single bonded layer, 2 free machines stitched layers, a hand embroidered shape, and a padded centre.
Sample #2 consists of 2 bonded layers, 2 machine stitched shapes off-set against each other, and a hand stitched shape.
N.B. I found it quite difficult to push the needle through the bonded layers. Note to self: buy a thimble! :-)
1 bonded layer, a free-machine stitched shape, a hand stitched shape, and centre padded.
3 bonded layers, 6 free-machined stitched layers; a partial hand stitched layer, completed by free machine stitching, plus another hand stitched layer.
4 bonded layers; 2 free machine stitched layers; hand stitched shape; centre padded.
Below are the 3 shapes used in various combinations in the samples throughout chapter 8.
With the first 2 samples I was just becoming acquainted with the process. Working on sample #3 I found myself loosening up a little. The real fun though began with sample # 4. At this point I began to think 'what if...'. I loved the layering of the stitches, and as I worked on it, I remembered the layered art cloth which Jane Dunnewold creates with textile paints and screen printing. My favourite innovation in this sample though was the partially hand stitched shape, the outline being completed in free machine embroidery. The 5th sample continued in this vein of layering free machined shapes, while the final sample returned to the simpler presentations of the initial samples, although the actual stitching shapes are more in line with the last 2 samples, eg. partial hand stitching completed with free machine stitching.
The really exciting thing about layering images is that it allows for the cohesiveness of repetition without the boredom of always working within the box, as it were. It also adds immeasurably to the perceived sense of visual depth.
For this sample I returned to the outline shape used in sample #3 for the middle layer, and then superimposed a new shape from my selection of images and shapes on top. The background fabric is hand-dyed cotton poplin; the middle layer is hand-dyed rayon, and the top layer hand-dyed scrim. This sample incorporates a lot of hand embroidery - coral stitch to outline the main design areas in the middle layer, and since coral stitch is a textured stitch it shows through the top layer of scrim; while the top layer of embroidery features sorbello stitch around the main shape, with free-style drawn work in the centre of the shape, with some free-style pulled work outside the shape. Finally to hold all the layers together I worked a border of herringbone stitch around the outer edges of the design. Since I love hand embroidery, this sample was a sheer delight to work!
A couple of years ago I decided it was time to learn how to use my beautiful new Bernina sewing machine. Of course I had little interest in the 80 or so built-in embroidery stitches. No all I was concerned with was how to work free-machine embroidery. Looking for a subject to start with, I found a beautifully coloured autumn leaf on my way home after dropping the younger children at school. I started sketching with it (I think that just might have been the last time I actually did any sketching....oh dear....)and soon had the basis for my design.
After that the real fun started to unfold. This piece grew in the making of it! It is a collection of a number of various techniques I wished to explore, some for the first time, others were ones I had often used before.
The background was hand-dyed, with a layer of painted Bondaweb applied. Next stage was the making of the 4 metal foil leaves following Maggie Grey's instructions in her books. The centre leaves were both free-machined on soluble fabric, one densely, the other a mirror image designed to look more ethereal and lacy. For the top layer, the beaded lace, I turned to one of the stitch patterns on the machine itself, stitching a grid with metallic threads. I then beaded the piece before dissolving the fabric in water. Other elements were a piece of painted canvas as background for central leaves, and water soluble paper as edging around the metal foil leaves in order to help blend them in with the background. These were also quite heavily free machine stitched.
Creating this piece was fun from beginning to end!
For this sample I returned to my file of images gathered at the beginning of this module and using this as the basis started playing around with black paper cut and fold shapes, until I ended up with one I particularly liked. Then I went to my store of hand-dyed fabrics and chose a cotton poplin for background, with a middle layer of rayon and a top layer of scrim. The middle section was hand embroidered with an outline stitch and a space dyed cotton thread, about pearl cotton#8, then cut. Next the top layer was tacked down shifting the motif slightly off to the side, and the shape free machined with a gold metallic thread.After I had cut out the main motif revealing the layers beneath, I decided to add a touch of hand embroidery using a herringbone stitch, in order to pull the design together. I am quite pleased with the overall result, though unfortunately the hand embroidery of the middle layer is almost completely obscured. This happened with the last sample also, though not quite to the same extent this time. Maybe next time I shall succeed in working a design where all the layers are revealed exposing the details of each!
The background for this sample is hand dyed cotton poplin, with 2 polyester organzas layered on top. Free machined the image shape on bottom layer, with some hand stitching to emphasize shapes. Top organza layer with hand embroidery - lines of running stitch. Finally placed some co-ordinating netting on half of design to deepen tones on half of design, held in place with a few cross stitches.
Next day: This sample really didn't work out. It started well, with great contrast between the fabrics selected, but I tried to do too much with it, and in the over kill of stitching and layering, the actual design got lost! I shall re-work it later.....or maybe just one of the designs incorporated....
For this sample I used 4 layers of fabric - 2 transparent fabrics (though 1 is hardly visible, only peeping out at the edges from behind the gold fabric), a gold polyester, and the background is hand-dyed cotton poplin. To add interest I cut the middle layer in half and staggered it's positioning on background. The top layer is a transparent polyester. The middle layer was stitched using apurple rayon thread and free ziz-zag machining. The top layer was stitched in a simple running stitch which held all layers together.
3 fabrics: background is hand dyed cotton; middle layer polyester 2-tone fabric, stamped with original stamp used in earler work; top layer purple lurex.
Stitched throughout in chain stitch, with a thick hand-painted pearl cotton thread, and 3 strands of yellow stranded cotton.