Nina's Textile Trail

My OCA Textile Tales

A Creative Approach – Part 5 – A piece of your own – Stage 3 Developing your Design & Stage 4 Making your Textile Piece

Leave a comment

Following a review of all coursework to date and my theme book, I identified a number of ideas to take forward, but am still really keen to develop the idea of collaging hand-dyed plain and printed fabrics, in particular the tile spacer block originally based on a sketch of footprints in the sand submitted in Assignment 1 as a Sketchbook sample.


In addition, I have identified a vital need to ‘loosen up and let go’.  My angst about doing the right thing and my subconscious or learned ‘neat & tidy’ tendency is inhibiting me, so I am keen that this piece should fight against that a bit and be big and vibrant with visual texture provided by printing and visual and actual texture added with stitch.

From my Theme Book, I am looking to use colours inspired by page 10, heuchera collage, page 16, some hand-dyed velvet and page 60, a magazine cutting of Mark Hearld’s work.  The following colours were mixed using gouache paints


As mentioned I am looking to develop the following from Assignment 2:


Inspired by the colours mixed above, I gathered different types of plain cotton from my stash (cotton sheeting, cotton percale, muslin nappies, calico bandage, heavy curtain fabric, medium calico) and dyed them using procion dyes. The specific colours used are listed bottom left of photograph.


Having stuck the small samples randomly onto the page, I arranged out fabrics in various ways and decided that I would work on a similar scale of pieces to the following in a similar layout


I intend to make a piece approximately 100cm x 60cm on this basis definitely including the grid like block.  This will be the background fabric and will be further enhanced with stitch and possibly other printed fabric.

In considering additional prints, I explored the fern and calla lily work started in the theme book.

First looking at printing ferns using transfer dyes:



The above were all interesting developments, but the synthetic nature of the tyvek, lutrador, sheer and the evolon didn’t seem suitable for the hand-dyed cotton, collaged background.   However, I was really taken with the possibility of stitching the fern and considered different soluble fabric approaches.

I determined that the pattern of the fern could be transferred to soluble paper with transfer dye and stitched a small sample in green, orange and aqua, which were successful.


So I embarked on a larger fern, which was less successful.


It was quite a feat to produce the stitched fern on soluble paper and I might well revisit it in future, but I rejected it as unsuitable for the planned background on this occasion.   It was less successful as I had added a soluble fabric to the paper which made it considerably easier to stitch but much more difficult to wash out.  After three attempts there was still a residue of paper which affected the colour of the thread which wasn’t as good a match as I’d hoped.  Also I used a different fern for the pattern  (it needs replacing each time you iron it to transfer the design), the fronds weren’t as delicate as the first sample and I didn’t stitch them as neatly, I also used different bobbin threads throughout which showed through and affected the overall look.

I continued to explore the calla lily leaf shapes as started in the Theme Book on pages 66-69.



Having waited for some bigger easy cut lino arrive, I was a bit disappointed with my efforts, much preferring the smaller section of a a leaf with some background lines inspired by Mark Hearld’s work.

I also revisited discharging colour as introduced in Assignment 2.



Whilst I was very pleased with one of the prints, the discharging didn’t add value and I felt the same when considering the leaves in conjunction with the grid print, they didn’t work together.

I had also really appreciated the texture produced by printing with bubble wrap and experimented on fabric with ink and discharge paste.


Although quite pleasing the fabric discharging to cream/white didn’t match the chosen background, with the exception of the hand dyed fabric which contained turquoise dye which discharges to a paler turquoise rather than white.  This is included below with the prints chosen for the piece.



After trialling the leaf designs and the grid print, I concluded that the piece could include either the grid or the leaves but not both.   I am still really keen on progressing the grid like print, the attraction is that is that it is an ‘open’ design which lends itself to being continued in stitch.

Also, exploring the different ways I can stitch or echo the grid of the pattern feels like unfinished business.  I have chosen to combine my hand-dyed, recycled fabrics and applique them to calico, then review and consider how the fabric can be used at that point.


Auditioning fabrics. Poor quality photograph but gives an idea of the decided layout after much rearrangement, deliberation and revisiting.

The fabrics were then cut, pinned and machine stitched to calico.  The edges were left raw and the pieces stitched and overlapped by eye.  Some areas were further embellished with with hand and machine stitch before the piece was reviewed to decide how it would be used.


To really appreciate the stitch and piece as a whole, it lent itself to a wall-hanging.  It needed a little more added detail in print and stitch and different combinations were considered.

DSCF4792 DSCF4793

I even checked the leaf again to be sure it wasn’t suitable.

DSCF4795 DSCF4794

I looked at some artists who add stitch to layered fabrics and trialled some stitches.


The more I looked, the more I realised that there was a need to keep it relatively simple and based on lines, crosses or diamonds.  Running stitch, herringbone, cretan and cross stitch all looked well together.

Hand stitch is time consuming and I trialled many stitches on the final piece, unpicking them if they were unsuitable.  I understand that separate samples may have been preferable.

As the piece was nearing completion and I was trying to decide how the stitches could lead the eye, I completed a quick sketch to plan out the remainder of the work.


When I was happy with the stitching, I felt it needed more weight as a wall-hanging.  As it also needed to be posted, I decided to back it with black felt which would give it a bit more substance but be easy to fold for posting.  The felt was stitched to the reverse.  To hang, two small rings were stitched to the felt.   For the photograph, a clothes hanger was used.


The final piece, above, and some detailed shots (a little over-exposed), below.

DSCF4829 DSCF4830

DSCF4828 DSCF4831

Looking back over the assignment, I can see a continuous thread of development from my original idea and the final designs. I felt I made the right decisions at each stage of the design process and was easily able to interpret my ideas within the techniques and materials chosen.

I am pleased to have made ‘a piece of my own’ and think it is successful in terms of being inventive within the medium and coherent as a whole.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s