Sunday, 22 April 2012

Module One. Chapter Eleven

Resolved Sample
First thoughts – paper experiments
I used brown packing paper to try out various methods to make paper disintegrate. I included threadless machine stitching, needle felting, a hole punch, tearing, snipping, burning, stabbing, pleating, crimping and machine stitching with areas rubbed away.
Paper disintegration sheet 1
This was a useful exercise for trying out methods that might be effective when translated into fabric.
Second thoughts – paper shapes
The image below shows the results of taking a square of paper and tearing it in increasing amounts to disintegrate the shape.
Torn Paper Squares
This exercise is a revelation – I have worked the exercises in this chapter in a random order, I have also worked on ideas for my resolved sample and I find myself going around in circles not quite satisfied with any one of them. Looking at these samples I really like the patterns created by the ‘fracture’ lines – the original cross shape is still apparent despite the increased disintegration in each version.
Third thoughts – different ways of disintegrating a square of fabric 
Page of fabric disintegration 1Page of fabric disintegration 2
The images above show my samples of fabric squares disintegrated using fraying and a page of samples using other methods such as stitching with thread the same colour as the background fabric, bonded thread snippets, a needle felting tool and stitching combined with fraying.
I still have some samples to work but below are some of my preliminary ideas for designs to show growth and disintegration.
Sketched Design 1Sketched Design 2Sketched Design 4

Following on from the torn paper exercise I decided to revisit the designs for my resolved piece. I particularly like the patterns created by the 'fractures' in the paper exercise and I think this effect could be suggested by using chenille effect. Below is my design idea using this technique.

The dotted lines for the part shapes around the edge of the piece represent stitching - I think cutting a layer back to reveal a printed layer as with the central shape would tie the piece together quite well.

Reviewing the sketch I think some hand stitching would further add to the piece so I tried this out using Photoshop.

 I think this does look better - there is an increased feeling of disintegration/growth as the eye travels around the piece. I am undecided about adding hand stitching around the central shape, I think this may emphasise the solidity of the shape but I think I will make up the sample and decide when I see how it looks.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Module One. Chapter Ten.

Hand Embroidery – Insertion Stitch Samples.


A = Herringbone Insertion. B = Knotted Herringbone Insertion. C = Laced Blanket Stitch. D = Italian Insertion Stitch. E = Chevron Stitch. F = Buttonhole Stitch Insertion Variation. G = Running Stitches Laced With Cross Stitches.


Various decorative machine stitches used as insertion stitches.

Simple Counterchange – Sample 1


Bonded felt. Shapes inserted using antique seam. Squares edged with blanket stitch and laced to join.

Complex Counter - interchange – Sample 2


I find the antique seam insertion method is particularly useful for joining small, complex shapes like this as it is neat and unobtrusive. I have used the same stitch to join the four squares vertically and horizontally and blanket stitch to edge the whole sample.

Complex Interchange – Sample 3


Cut and fold shapes cut from fabric and bonded to felt – further cross shape cut from both shapes then swapped and inserted into opposite negative space.

I used a three stage machine zigzag stitch to insert the central cross shapes – the cross shape used has small square negative spaces at each ‘arm’, the machine stitching inserts the shape securely whilst allowing this area to remain visible. This can be seen in the close up image below.

Close up 

The four squares have been joined with the same machine zigzag stitch and running stitches have been added to highlight parts of the design.

Module One. Chapter Nine.

Reverse Applique – Traditional Method


I decided to use some of the procion dyed fabrics from the recent workshop with Ruth Issett for these samples. This sample of traditional reverse applique has a layer of purple muslin, a layer of green cotton lawn and a top layer of silk noil. These fabrics were quite easy to work with, the folds are crisp and being lightweight there is no bulk in the turned edges.

Reverse Applique – Contemporary Method


The sample above has 5 layers of fabric, the lines have been stitched from the inside shape first and the fabric cut away outside the line of stitching.


The sample above also has 5 layers of fabric, this time stitched from the outside shape first and the fabric cut away inside the stitched line.


This sample has 6 layers – I included a layer of painted aida embroidery fabric as I thought the large number of threads would give a good frayed edge – unfortunately the cut edge has lost the colour and has a very grey appearance. I should also have put this layer at the bottom as it is too heavy near the top, the other cut fabric edges are lost below it. It would have been better to omit the aida layer as it is unnecessary and I think it spoils the appearance of this sample.


The shape I chose to use for this ripple effect sample is quite complex and I had to plan quite carefully which areas to cut so that the shape would be discernible. I don’t think the semi sheer fabric used as the top layer was a very good choice as the shape becomes less discernible where the lower layers of fabric are close in colour, also the texture of the top fabric layer conflicts a bit too much with the multi-coloured effect.

I decided to have another go at this sample using a more solid colour for the top fabric layer -


The solid colour gives a more definite contrast to the multi-coloured areas and the shape is therefore well defined.

Embroiderer's Guild Workshops

During the past month I have attended a couple of very useful workshops with the Edinburgh branch of the Embroiderer's Guild. The first of these was 'An introduction to artists' books' with Susie Wilson; we were shown a whole host of different artists' books some by Susie herself and some from her collection, it was so interesting to see the variety of shape, form and subject matter. Following this introduction to the subject we made a variety of simple books from folding and cutting a single sheet of paper; a single stitched signature book and then a folded spine book with board covers and stitched signatures.

Below are pictures of my folded spine book.

I chose to use a variety of different blank papers to create my book, I just need to decide what to put in it now!

The second workshop was a two day one with Ruth Issett. On day 1 we used procion dyes to paint directly onto a A3 size pieces of fabric - I chose a variety including cotton muslin, cotton poplin, silk habotai, silk noil and a silk linen mix as well as some threads. We shaded each fabric from one colour to another or created marks and patterns before rolling the painted fabric up in the plastic sheet it lay on in order to transport them all home where they were rinsed and dried. Rinsing the fabrics was a revelation; I had a very nice piece of silk noil that I patterned resulting in a muddy mess, I was bitterly disappointed but as I rinsed this piece of fabric out the colours were revealed and this proved to be one of my favourite pieces!

On day 2 we were shown how to create small units combining cut or torn pieces of fabric and stitch that could then be further combined or added to in order to create larger pieces of work. I found this workshop very valuable, it has helped me to think carefully about colour mixing and applying colour to fabric and left me with a list of things I want to try out.

It was a real joy to see examples of Ruth's work and to be allowed to look through her sketchbooks and samples; she was incredibly generous with her knowledge and expertise and shared so much information with us I hope we were able to fully express our gratitude.


These are my procion dyed fabrics and threads rinsed and dried ready for the 2nd day of the workshop.


Using the skills learned on the previous workshop I made a sample book of all the dyed fabrics made on the Ruth Issett workshop.


These two pictures show the sample strips inside the book.


A range of threads dyed with the same dyes as the fabrics.