Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Week 5 - Emotive Wire and Braids

Clockwise from left: Energy #1, Energy #2, Love
At college this week we were asked to give the tutor some words to describe feelings and then bend wire and pipecleaners to evoke the words.
The words we chose were
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Love
  • Serene
  • Desire
  • Magical
  • Tranquil
  • Energy
  • Cold

I must admit it took us all while to get into the spirit of this! However, some interesting shapes did emerge once we stopped thinking in 2D.

We were then told to wrap some of the shapes in fabric and bind with yarns and threads. This is where it got a lot more creative and I managed to turn a rather naff yellow pipecleaner star into something more magical.

My ball of anger has flashes of purple and turquoise inside.


Fear was inspired by the thought of being hunched over and back turned.

Tranquil is really all about the purple, blue and white calming colours.

Finally, for me Cold had to be spiky and well wrapped. I coated the long white threads in glue and glitter to make them look icy. This also made them stiffer which worked well. This is my favourite, although I also like Anger and the simplicity of the shape for Energy #1.

The second part of our college class was all about braiding. Starting with thick card braiding plates that we made ourselves and a bag weighted with stones secured with an opened paper clip, we followed various sets of instructions to make our braids.
Various shapes of braiding plate and different numbers of threads produce different kinds of braid. One one in the middle is called 'Christmas Hearts'! I'm not sure any of us in the class really took to braiding but I can see its potential to make an unusual necklace.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Week 4 - Combed lines and Backstitch

It's been a very busy week! Last Friday I went to a workshop on jewellery made out of recycled fabric and leather. I made 2 things - a rolled felt flower and a padded necklace using the pattern of the fabric as my inspiration and adding a few beads for emphasis.  

On Saturday I went with the College to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace. We saw some amazing and beautiful things - most of which we were not allowed to photograph. Here are a few of my favourites.

This is a giant piece inspired by computer circuit boards.
This piece features my favourite kind of subject - cow parsley machine stitched onto sheer fabric.
More seed heads in batik.
In the Upcycling Zone we could sit down and make a corsage - this one is made from old t-shirts. Circles of material with a diameter twice as long as the finished petals are cut out and each folded into a quarter circle. You then sew a long running stitch along the curved edge, threading on the next petal until you have a running stitch through all 5. Then you pull it all up and stitch some straight stitches across the back to pull it tightly into shape. I then covered a button and sewed it in the centre.
On Sunday I made a birthday card for my niece. The dog was ready made so I came up with a design to show him off.
At college on Monday we all bought in our machined samples started the previous week. It is amazing how different they all are. Some of the ladies had already made them into needle cases.

For our design work this week we made cardboard 'combs' and made patterns with acrylic paint. We then put a wash on the background using powdered pigment ink - so easy and so rewarding! You can imagine how this could help you design a piece of printed fabric.

For our stitch work we got our embroidery hoops out and had to complete some set stitches. From top left clockwise these are Ribbed Spider Web, Raised Chain Band (twice), Pekinese and a Woven Spider Web.
Our homework this week was to explore Backstitch. I don't know if I have done what was expected but all these patterns are made using backstitch in various threads. The ones in the right hand column are all laced in some way.

I enjoyed being creative with the lacing but overall I found this took too long for the reward. I can see the point of making yourself try stitches that you have never done before though.
It was such nice weather in the garden this week that I had my own harvest festival with all these goodies!

Finally, one of my library reservations came in and I have been avidly reading Machine Embroidery Stitch Techniques by Val Campbell-Harding and Pam Watts. I was inspired to sew this piece as a result. This uses the same construction as last week (red furnishing fabric background, snipped pieces of red patterned fabric and strands of black cotton on top, covered with a piece of red twinkle crepon). I stitched vertical satin stitch bands mainly using black thread on top and red in the bobbin. However I played with the tension of both to get different amounts of each colour and even turned it over to stitch with the back on top to get the colours reversed.

Flushed with the success of this I fitted a big needle and put both black and red through the needle together to see what happened. To fill in the strips between the satin bands I kept the black and red through the needle and stitched free machine embroidery 'leaves'. I finished off the edge with more black and red together satin bands. I am pleased with the overall result - I think it has a japanese feel with the red and black. I enjoyed trying out the new techniques although it felt like engineering at times with the screwdriver constantly out to adjust the bobbin tension and swapping over the different presser feet.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Week 3 - Continuous Lines and Machine Patterns

In our design work this week we practised continuous line drawing. 
Using a black biro we had to draw a row of pebbles from left to right without stopping or taking our pen off the paper. Once done with the dominant hand we went on to repeat with the non-dominant hand and then covering our hand and just looking at the pebbles and not the paper. We also practised some cross-hatching.

In our stitch work we got our sewing machines out for the first time. Once we had proved that we could handle our machines we were invited to choose a background fabric, a selection of wools and yarns and a sheer top layer. We placed the wools and yarns under the sheer fabric and then used machine stitch patterns in blocks to decorate the surface. This was great fun and it is amazing what you can do with various stitches that you don't normally have cause to use. Here is my finished piece - the amount of embroidery has pulled it out of shape.


I had another go at home - I wanted to use a single colour to get a different effect so I went for a winter-inspired theme. The circles are pieces of satin and twinkle crepon from my stash and I left some areas un-stitched for contrast. The background is a piece of my wedding dress fabric, stiffened with interfacing and the top layer is white tulle.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Birthday Card

It was my daughter's birthday yesterday. I always make cards for family birthdays but this year it had to be in stitch of course! The card features her 2 guinea pigs appliqued onto fabric. Cola (left) is made out of an old coat off-cut with white towelling patches and Wilbur (right) is made from a furnishing fabric sample (never throw anything away). The both had real suede ears and bead eyes and I had to learn how to master bullion knots for their feet. I got the idea for the dandelion clock from a library book I am reading at the moment (Practical Textile Techniques by Ruth Sleigh-Johnson). You could never see this scene in real life - the guinea pigs devour any plants you give them instantly! My daughter really liked the card.
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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Week 2 - Graffiti and Couching

This week we got into colour in a big way! We made a 'group graffiti' using found objects, such as feathers, string, elastic bands, sticks, seed heads, cardboard and our fingers. There was no deliberate pattern or order - just had to cover the lining paper with as many different marks as possible.
Then we had to choose a bit of the whole that appealed to us. Luckily we all wanted a different bit! I went for this section because I liked the blue/green/yellow swishes. 

Next we had to decide on our background fabric and gather our materials - we swapped between ourselves so I got some fabulous orange and black fabrics and yarns from my neighbour. I chose a fuchsia pink background because I wanted to go really colourful.

The tutor asked that we mainly use couching techniques to attach our threads. I really enjoyed this week's challenge - playing with all the bright colours and trying out mad things with pipe-cleaners, feathers, chunky wool and embroidery floss to create a lot of texture.
Here is my finished piece - I am really pleased with it. I don't think I would change much but the feathers were really difficult to sew on successfully.

Materials used - feathers, chunky wool, funky fibres, embroidery floss, sewing thread, sequins, pipe-cleaners, fabric strips and a rolled-up wet-wipe that I had used to clean my hands after the graffiti!

Below are some arty close-ups of different sections so you can see how many stitches there are!