Nina's Textile Trail

My OCA Textile Tales

Part 3 Creating Shapes and Three-dimensional Forms – Stage 2 Developing ideas and Stage 3 Applied fabric techniques.

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Using the above drawing, tentatively drawn from a photograph of an echinacea in my garden, I roughly traced the image in two different thicknesses of fine liner and then acrylic ink using the pipette.

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I was encouraged by the acrylic ink drawings which made me think of layers of voile, net, lace and black stitching and the using the idea to explore shadow applique.

I didn’t have a fabric selection to match this drawing so created a small collage in black and white using ribbon and lace.

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Feedback from my last assignment had also suggested developing my use of the different stitches and feet rather than just free-hand embroidery.  Examples of this are very well demonstrated from page 36 of Stitch, Dissolve, Distort  (Valerie Campbell-Harding & Maggie Grey (2006) Stitch Dissolve Distort with Machine embroidery (Batsford).  This book has also been a valuable resource and dragged and distorted stitch is something I’d like to explore further.  Before completing the small collage above, I familiarised myself with the present stitches on my machine and experimented with changing stitch length and width.

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Shadow applique had caught my interest in both Contemporary Applique and Transparency in Textiles. (Dawn Thorne (2009) Transparency in Textiles (Batsford).

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I stitched a small sample, appliqueing a very fine pink chiffon to some tulle using herringbone stitch.  I like the technique but it needs refining.  I think the pink chiffon is too fine and might fray away, an organza might be better and I also intended using a different fabric for the flower centre although the different thread created some contrast.

Taking the shadow idea and applying it my original drawing, I traced the design onto tracing paper and stitched the outline.  I intended to remove the paper but as I was tearing it off, I liked the look so decided to leave the remains on.  I stitched another piece of net with the petal detail through tracing paper and removed the paper and then stitched both layers together out lining the flower.

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I am very pleased with this, I really like the painterly effect the layers and the cut threads.

I’m not sure why I didn’t continue developing this immediately as I was so excited by it, but I digressed to try some other techniques from Fusing Fabric. (Margaret Beal (2007) Fusing Fabric (Batsford))

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I like the technique.  I appliqued pieces of lace, voile & net to the cotton fabric background with black cotton machine stitch, cutting away each petal with the soldering iron after stitching.

I like the subtle differences in texture provided by the lace, voile, organza and net.  The shine shows well on a matt background.

I don’t really like the white cotton and I didn’t before I started so it probably wasn’t the best choice originally.

I don’t like the overall look, there isn’t enough contrast between the flower and background and it lacks interest in colour or detail.

Try – different background? coloured cotton/voile/ white thread, bigger?

Not such good ideas – I really don’t like this:

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I used a peach silk for the background and white thread.  Perhaps I still appreciate the subtle differences in texture provided by the petal fabrics against the matt background and the orange lutrador (it’s a little paler in reality than the photograph), but the white lace stitched with white thread onto peach silk says something about my grandmother’s under garments and the combination doesn’t appeal at all!  So at this stage, I much prefer the shadow applique approach with the black thread.

Returning to my preferred sample, I enlarged the original drawing, first by 150% and then again to 160% on the darkest setting.

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I love this, it doesn’t look like it came from my tentative, nervous hand!

I then traced the design onto vilene stitch and tear and stitched it onto the net and tore away the excess from outside the outline.  This has potential and I like the matt net/tulle rather than the ‘shiny’ crystal type.

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Progressing this idea, I traced the design onto stitch and tear and layered it in an embroidery hoop with a layer of silver organza and stitched part of the design.  I then added a layer of crystal net and stitched more of the design, added a layer of grey organza to the top, stitched the outline and cut away the outer fabric with the soldering iron:

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This has worked to some extent.

I like the shadow effect of the layers on the petals.

I don’t like that the stitching with the cut ends is enclosed, preferred the rawness and texture of having those on the surface.

I don’t like the roundness of the top outline, it detracts from the jaggedness of the flower centre.

I like the subtle difference of the grey organza against the outer layers, but perhaps it should just have been on the petals.

On second thoughts, I prefer the matt net/tulle to the organza.

For the flower centre I’ll try the ‘Dots, webs, and tufts’ illustrated on page 90/91 in Helen Parrott’s book ‘Mark Making’ (a small sample is attached to the drawing below in the bottom right hand corner).   (Helen Parrott (2013) Mark Making (Batsford))

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Having reviewed all the work completed in this section, I decided to develop this further.  The following is an unsuccessful attempt from which I learnt to be more careful in my preparations:

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Although during the stitching of this I realised the organza wasn’t working in the way I’d hoped, which enabled me to change my choices for the final sample, the biggest error I made here was to assume the organza was synthetic.  I did hold a soldering iron to it but I wasn’t very thorough or observant because when I came to distress it with the heat gun, I discovered that the organza wouldn’t melt and when I checked with the Crafty Computer Website, realised it was silk organza.

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Having experimented with lots of different types of applique and produced some examples, I had intended to work on the above piece as my final sample, before re-reading the course notes and realising I probably needed to do a more traditional applique piece.  If I take this forward in future, for the petals, I would applique the grey organza (third picture above), with similar stitching, ie. more lines and less cut stitches, but use similar stitches for the centre of the flower.

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