Sunday, 26 February 2012

Module One. Chapter Eight.

 I have continued to combine shapes from the cut and fold exercises in chapter 4 for these samples.
I have noticed that  I am using the same shapes in different combinations to produce the samples in these last three chapters; some shapes offer more design possibilities than others and depending on elements needed, such as padding, some shapes are less suitable than others.

My preliminary drawings with possible shape and stitching combinations.

I tried out some of the built in stitches on my sewing machine (bottom of picture), some of these might be useful on larger samples but a bit overwhelming on small samples. The flecks of white thread showing indicate the tension needs adjusting as I used a bobin thread for the samples. The top of the picture shows some free machine embroidery practice - it always takes a bit of practice to achieve the correct speed of movement of the fabric in order to achieve fairly regular stitches and also to get the thread tension correct.

This sample comprises a background layer of painted muslin, a cut and bonded shape with a stitched and cut shape on top. Hand stitching has been added extending around, and radiating from, the central negative space, 3 rows of running stitch have been used for each line then a darker thread has been woven trough the central row of stitches in each line. The negative spaces mirrored left and right have also been outlined in stitching and these 3 negative shapes are padded.

I did think about using some of the same shape combinations from previous chapters in order to show a design progression; however in each chapter I have tried to select the best shape combinations to illustrate the particular exercise therefore the same combination doesn't always suit the additions of the next chapter. I have tried to show my thoughts with some of my selections.

My next sample comprises a painted calico background layer with a bonded shape overlayed with stitching in a shape taken from my cut and fold exercises.

When I did the drawing for this sample I particularly liked the central shape and thought I would pad this area in order to highlight it, however, it would have been better to use a more contrasting thread as the stitching blends too much with the fabric of the bonded shape. Taking this into consideration I decided to pad the 4 corner shapes instead.

This sample uses 3 different coloured shot silk fabrics. The magenta squares are bonded to leave a cross shape centrally then the cut and fold shape is bonded at a 45 degree angle with the internal corners leading the eye to the cross shaped negative space. Machine stitching in a grid pattern frames the shapes as well as adding cross shapes in the central area. A bright contrasting thread has been used with hand stitching around the 4 squares but unfortunately this doesn't show up in the photograph as well as in reality - it is a slubbed thread so some of the thicker stitches show up better than others. This sample has been left without any padding - if I omitted the central stitching or added another backing to the piece before outlining the squares with stitching I could pad the central area.

The next sample comprises a painted polyester cotton fabric background, a simple bonded shape in a cotton fabric and a sheer chiffon bonded shape. Machine stitching has been used mimicking one of my cut and fold shapes then hand stitching has been added to frame the central oval shape which has been padded.
I did want the machine stitching to blend slightly with the top shape rather than contrast completely but I think that using a thread that complemented the lower shape instead would have given this sample a more multilayered dimension. I do like the extra dimension added by the padding though as the effect created is almost that of an extra layer with a 'new' cross shape highlighted.

This next sample comprises a background layer of satin fabric, a bonded shape in shot silk fabric and the same shape in a bonded fabric, machine stitched radiating lines in zigzag stitch with additional straight stitching machined around the central diamond shaped area.

Unfortunately this sample has not scanned or photographed very well, I think this is due to the high sheen of the satin. The stitching is, in reality, a quite vivid lime colour that contrasts well with all the layers. It was difficult to achieve a very padded effect; because the top shape is created from bonding layers of sheer fabric and threads the additional Bondaweb used to bond the 2 shapes to the background has made this area very stiff and inflexible.  Creating this sample again I would only bond one of the shapes and make the other a stitched and cut shape thus reducing the weight of the central portion making it easier to pad.                   

My last sample I have tried to make a more complex one. The background layer is a double layer - painted calico with painted muslin on top - this was to give enough body to the fabric for free machine stitching. 4 square shapes have been free machine stitched leaving a negative space between them in a cross shape. Squares of shot silk fabric have been applied on top of the machine stitching; a square of shot organza fabric placed on top to cover the area of all 4 small squares, these layers have then been stitched with a diagonal line across each small square shape then cut on one side revealing an outside triangle of free machine stitching. A small square of painted satin fabric has been placed on top of the organza and machine stitched 5mm from the outer edge then again 1cm outside this line to secure the organza fabric in a square shape. The centre of the satin fabric square has been cut out but the organza has simply been slashed with a cross shape then each corner has been folded out loosely and held with a single french knot hand stitch. Finally a large square of cotton fabric was placed over all layers, hand stitched with 3 staggered rows of running stitch then cut to create a frame. The central cross shape has been padded.

I like the contrast of textures in this sample, not just in the fabrics used but with the stitching and the frayed edges of the silk fabric.

This close up shows the different textures and layers.

I used  muslin fabric as the final backing layer for all these samples - this was a little too light for some of the samples. If the area to be padded is substantially heavier than the backing fabric it is much more difficult to achieve a padded effect on the surface. Fabrics stiffened by the use of Bondaweb are also more difficult to pad. Some of the samples could have been left without an additional backing fabric as the background layer could have been slashed to allow padding. Where a backing layer is necessary calico fabric would be a better choice as it is a firm, medium weight fabric.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Module One. Fabric Swatches

I am quickly getting through my collected fabrics so thought I should keep some swatches for reference.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Module One. Chapter Seven

Stitched layered samples. 

Silk background with two cotton layers; 1st layer positive shape and 2nd layer negative shape. Running stitch used on both shapes.

Painted muslin used for background fabric. 1st layer painted satin fabric stitched using stem stitch, cut edges frayed. 2nd layer cotton stitched with running stitch in variegated thread.

I like the contrast between the stem stitch on the lower layer and the running stitch on the top layer but it might have been better to reverse the order and stitch the top layer using stem stitch; because this stitching is heavier it would appear more dominant in the foreground.

Shot silk background layer, 1st shape from a devoré sheer stitched using french knots, top layer from painted satin stitched with running stitch.

It was quite time consuming to stitch the outline in french knots and then to cover most of the shape up! If making this sample again I would not use french knots on the bottom layer and I would modify the top layer by enlarging the corner squares to give a more cut out shape. This would allow all three layers to show through the shapes in a more obvious way.

Background layer is cotton, 1st shape is organza stitched in a combination of feather stitch and running stitch, 2nd shape is net with a variegated thread couched down with a finer variegated thread.

I am very pleased with this sample, the top layer stands out but the very simple treatment is a good contrast to the detailed stitching on the bottom layer. The lower shape is a very simple one so the stitching adds interest but isn't so much that it fights with the top layer. The sheerness of the net also allows all three fabric layers to mix well rather than just appearing to be two layers on top of a third.

Cotton background, lower layer painted satin stitched with running stitch and vertical stitches around the edge, top layer painted and bonded organza stitched with chain stitch. The same shape has been used in both layers, the positive shape on the lower layer and the negative shape rotated on the top.

Background of satin fabric, lower layer silk fibre fabric stitched with stem stitch, top layer chiffon stitched with three staggered rows of running stitch in variegated thread.
The silk fibre fabric was very difficult to stitch as the fibres lifted very easily and also got caught in the thread. The chiffon fabric has a random bleached out design on it and the stitching blends in very well with this.
I thought I would try a multilayered sample, this one has 4 cut layers on top of the background fabric.
When making the drawing to use as a template 3 layers were quite discernible but 4 became far too complex because several lines layered on top of each other, so making mistakes when stitching through to transfer the design to the front happened often. To avoid these mistakes I used coloured felt tip pens to create a colour coded design that was much easier to follow - this can be seen below in the picture of the reverse side.

Back of sample showing colour coded lines.
I felt it was important to keep the stitching simple with the complexity of the design so I used running stitch throughout varying only the type of thread. As the background fabric is a painted cotton the drawn lines don't show through.