where I’m at this week

An emery block was the next Home Sweet Home accessory to embroider and I did begin it but wasn’t happy with my stitching so I put it aside for a few days. That was weeks ago and I’m still not enthused enough about it to pick it up again. It’s not nagging at my conscience though since I didn’t set myself any completion deadlines for this project.

So, if I haven’t been embroidering, what have I been doing?

  • Watching YouTube videos and getting ideas for mixed media things (which may or may not come to fruition).
  • Trying not to be ‘precious’ about things I’ve sewn or made in the past and actually toss them if they’re not worth keeping or re-purpose them.
  • Properly reading and not just skimming through the content of books I have on design and colour and drawing, in the forlorn hope that some of it at least will finally stick.
  • Making a start on a fabric book
  • Joining a newly formed up-cycling group at a local charity shop. More on that as it evolves.

 

I made felt and wired fabric flowers a few years ago for my son and his partner’s coffee lounge but they were looking a tad sorry for themselves by last year so I put them in a bin liner, brought them home and tossed them onto the top of a bookcase. Two weeks ago I finally did something with some of them. Destined to be pages of a kind of reference book made of fabric for finished pieces of work as well as small samples that are currently randomly stored amongst fabric supplies.

Yes, I know that the fabrics in the first piece are not square with each other  – I was after a scrappy random look and yes, the stems are real twigs which will probably snap off in a book but it’s hanging on a wall at the moment, out of snapping danger and we have to experiment don’t we? The background in the second piece was painted a long time ago but why or with what kind of paint I don’t now remember. I free-motion stitched around the edge just to attach it to the stiff interfacing background.

 

yoga block cover

I bought a very firm yoga cushion at class this week but as it was just a rectangular block of compressed foam scraps, I wanted to make a cover for it. I used a kind of faggoting stitch on my sewing machine to join felt scraps to each other on a calico ground fabric and I think that was a better choice of stitch than the simple zig-zag stitch that was used to create a similar patchwork fabric for the twa dugs.

 

 

magnifier cover

I am unable to embroider the Victorian Street crewel work piece whilst seated on the sofa because the frame is wide and it’s just awkward to turn it over in a restricted space, but I wanted something to stitch in the evening so I made a cover for a magnifier I recently acquired. Two of the pieces from Sachiko Morimoto’s book Stumpwork Flowers embroidered way back in March/April 2014 were used for the outer cover and the lining is a synthetic batting which should protect the glass well. One flower on the cover is watercress and the other is viola.  This evening I might add some fancy stitching along the seam as I think it looks a bit plain. I only ever framed one of the completed flowers from the book and the rest have been in a cupboard since. Three down, fifteen to go. Any ideas on what to do with them?

Lowery stand frame adaptor

I bought a frame adaptor for my Lowery embroidery stand so that I could more easily use a roller frame and embroider larger projects without having to remove and re-position the fabric as much I might otherwise have to do if I used a hoop, and the frame can also easily be moved from side to side without much effort.

I recently put the Victorian Street WIP that I started in 1983 or thereabouts onto a large Elbesee Easy Clip Roller Frame but in order for the adaptor’s plates not to dig into the front of the fabric, I turned them to face outwards as you can see in image two. The first image shows the metal plates in the default position, i.e. curving in towards each other. Yes, of course I could have removed the fabric from the roller frame and remounted it as per the Elbesee instructions (i.e. with the back of the work visible on the roller bars) but I haven’t had any loss of tension on the fabric and the frame is still held securely this way so this is how it will remain. The third image shows how the adaptor is attached to the Lowery stand clamp.

needlepoint sampler #2

Yesterday I finished the needlepoint sampler, added a fabric border and attached it to the footstool. Taa Daa! I’m not sure how well it might wear but it adds a nice splash of colour to an otherwise plain carpeted floor. I deliberately aimed for a different stitch in each of the forty areas but as I was typing the stitch list I noticed that I’d used Tent stitch in two sections. Too late now to unpick one of them but I won’t lose any sleep over it. I quite enjoyed doing this but it might be a while before I attempt any of the projects in the charity shop book that got me started on this in the first instance. Stitches used are listed below with the name that was given in the source I found it in but you may know some stitches by other names. If you spot any glaring errors between what stitch I claim to have used and what I actually stitched, please let me know!

 

what if? #2

Using yet another ‘fail’ piece of fabric painting, I placed the cut-out words from what if! #1 underneath and rubbed oil pastels and water soluble wax pastels over them before free machine stitching and couching too. I then roughly cut the piece into strips, and then small squares.

 

This simple six rows of five squares layout used all the squares and that was how I left it overnight.

 

This morning it seemed too safe and boring but more essentially, a pointless exercise if the text couldn’t be read. I also realised that I didn’t need to use all the squares so I selected the text squares, divided some other squares further and settled on this:

It reminds me of graffiti and I like that there are little pieces missing from the text. I also like how I succeeded in turning a fail piece into something I’d be happy to see on my wall.

The painted fabric is blackout curtain lining which doesn’t fray, accepts paint well and stitches through easily. The dark background is cotton sheeting and an additional layer of re-cycled white sheeting was stitched behind that.

what if?

I recently made this small collage piece and thought that if I could see it easily in my workroom and be reminded daily, I might actually challenge myself more often to take a familiar technique several steps further than I currently do. When I have a piece which I consider a fail, I try to work out what has gone wrong and mostly I think it’s my colour choices so even though I have two colour wheels and an Ultimate 3-in-1 Colour Tool within easy reach, and I decide to use colour combinations that compliment each other, what actually ends up on the fabric falls far short of the original expectations. I’ve also always known that putting random colours of paint on fabric and expecting the end result to look fabulous will rarely, if ever work, but I do it time and time again and get the same muddy results or clashing colour combinations each time. I’m never surprised when this happens and I don’t know why I haven’t stopped doing this, but I’m hoping that from now on, seeing my “what if?” collage will be like someone shouting, “STOP! What if you actually think about this before you paint/draw/sew/cut….” Maybe I need several of these collages in strategic places around my workroom. Hmmm.

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Not sure about the heavy border of black soft cord but I think the appliquéd letters are a success. The large piece of painted interfacing the letters were cut from was a fail, but in smaller pieces the poor colour combinations seem more acceptable. I would consider this collage a success but I can’t really explain why. Do you agree? I welcome your opinions and or suggestions for improvement. I’m already working on a second piece using the same letter cutouts but in a different “what if?” manner.

Cotton fabric background coloured with acrylic paints. Letters hand cut from heavy-duty interfacing previously splattered with acrylics, and free-motion stitched to the background. The blue rectangles (painted cotton sheeting scraps) were stitched around the borders using a normal sewing machine presser foot with reduced tension and a very short stitch length. Backing fabric (not shown) of bonded twill fabric.