These are some of my fabrics, all of which I have used and stitched in the past.
I really enjoyed doing these samples and feel a lot more confident that I can make the machine stitch where I want to go. Not yet perfect, but better!
I found this old photo of mine and thought it had possibilities, but after a couple of drawings I simplified it into the design below.
I wasn’t totally satisfied with the stitch samples I chose for the top image, more so with the second.
I used a very dark blue to start with and then because it didn’t seem to show up very well, I went over the stitching with a slightly lighter blue. I’ve used gold thread in some places.
I decided to take the poppy seed heads as an actual image and work with that.
When I came to stitch, I re-positioned the colours as I preferred them this way. I dyed the satin brown, before printing with claret dye the image I had painted on to paper. This sample has a warm tone to itand is fairly muted in effect. The threads are yellow, purple, red and blue, with each outline done in yellow.
For this sample I printed on to a furnishing fabric remnant. I thought the rounded shapes in the fabric would make an interesting background to the image. I discarded the yellow colour . I know the effect is very subtle with the colours I have used – red, pink, blue, pale blue and purple with silver over the pink and pale blue, but I like it. The silver thread glitters nicely in the actual piece, though I don’t think the scan shows this. This is my favourite piece.
Samples 1 and 2 – The colours are quite stark, with well defined lines. The narrow lines give more interest by breaking up the blocks of colour. 3 and 4 – The lighter touch of the automatic patterns gives a much more subtle effect.
The complementary colours in the lower sample are dynamic together, yet quite subtle. I like the way you can get one colour to dominate over the other depending on how you layer them and the different effects this can give.
Taking the bottom sample first, I like this effect. Even though I have used all three primaries and all three complementaries. the effect is actually quite subtle and interesting. There is a nice blending that is quite harmonious.
In the top sample, I used both one and two threads in the needle, depending on how I wanted one shade to flow into the next.
It was interesting doing the three samples. On the whole, I think the second one is the most successful, because of being able to create more subtlety of colour. I prefer the transfer dyed fabric to the black felt and the cwertical zigzag effect is better than the more horizontal lines.
I felt inspired to make this quilt (45 X 42 cms), using mainly fabrics I dyed myself, plus indigo pieces dyed by a friend. I wanted to try quilting curved pieces which I had been reading about recently. I bondawebbed the additional pieces around the sides and at the top. The stitching is not perfect I know, but I really enjoyed making it and feel quite pleased with the results. I’ve added more purple, but I still feel it conveys the spirit of the painting.
The top sample uses only stitch to try and capture the different colours and fissures of the ice. In the second sample I used a piece of dyed scrim to give a more textured approach, but it was more difficult than I thought as, of course, the stitches immediately compress the texture.
I used free zigzag for this, working horizontally and am quite pleased with the result. Maybe I should have added some stitching for the sky?
In this first sample I used free zigzag with sheers on calico. I know it is not perfect – neither the stitching not the distance between lines, but it was fun to do.
Here I had the feet up and it still is not perfect, but I actually like both of them. I laid a piece of chiffon over the top before stitching with the idea I might burn it back in places, but then decided not to do so.
I enjoyed using free zigzag here to create the impression of the pastel marks and think it has potential.
The other drawings.
I thought I would have another go at this – I used a white and an off-white thread in the needle for the snow, then the same off-white thread and a pale grey for the sky, with a single black thread for the trees. I don’t like this as much, mainly because such heavy stitching has distorted the fabric and turned the zigzag rows into over-emphasized ridges. Possibly the grey is too dark as well – there is little difference in the original picture between snow ans sky.
A further experiment. This has a layer of sheeting backed with 2 layers of stick on interfacing (thin), one layer of scrunched muslin stitched in a few places, a layer of scrim, scrunched and stitched followed by a final layer of scrim, scrunched and stitched. I think this is the most successful sample so far.
I saw these images of the arctic seas and was fascinated by the lines formed, though I did think they might be more open to fabric manipulation than stitching, but you never know….
The above images are an assortment of straight lines, except for the image bottom right where the squares of the fence look like a grid over the contours of a map. All of these could easily translate to stitch, especially the top imagewhich seems to have great possibilities.
I have had the picture of these sacks of cotton for ages, wondering what to do with it – I think it is amazing. I’ve tried drawing the walnuts, both this image and the one in the colour images section, but very unsuccessfully, though I am sure they could work somehow.
This is another abstract collage that I think could translate well into stitching.
I photograph plants and trees a lot – there are so many different shapes and nuances in nature.
This was great fun and I probably could have gone on and on, but wanted to try some stitching.
I’m not sure there is enough differentiation between some of these! And I don’t think you could immediately tell by looking at them what emotion is portrayed. So not a total success…
Portraits of Earth is a wonderful book, full of ideas that could be taken into stitch. I did this a while ago, using the picture as a starting point rather than direct copy.
I used a dye palette for these samples. I didn’t use the green in the first image as it wasn’t in the original image, but just loved the juxtaposition of colours.
I used both single and double threads in the needle and in the second piece experimented with leaving bits of fabric visible under the stitching. The threads tied to each piece are samples of each one used for future reference. I am quite pleased with the way the colours interact with each other – they seem to give a feel of the image.
Then I tried some more circles and curves but feel dismally disappointed with my efforts – however hard I try I don’t seem to be able to get perfect and consistent circles.
I wasn’t satisfied with these designs so looked through some books until I found the tulip design which really caught my eye, so I decided to work with this.
I need to practise lettering some more, especially stitching over with a second colour.
This was an interesting exercise which at first I felt I wanted to do as a continuous spiral from one colour into another, but I had too many pieces with too little space to really do this, so opted to do each colour seperately.
I love colour and am very aware of it. I notice that I am much more drawn to ‘broken’ colours – those that mix and meld and give subtle variations in colour and tone, especially the effect of light on colour. No doubt this comes from having trained as a photographer. I find primary colours somewhat stark and would always seek to alter them, so I imagine in stitch it would be a question of layering different tones of colour to break up the basic block, Nature very rarely gives us pure unadulerated blocks of colour. When I dye fabrics, I tend not to stir the solution too much so that I get some interesting results. I have a huge collection of pictures – photos, postcards etc in box files. (I am a terrible hoader of things that ‘might one day be useful’!) It was just a question of sorting through them to pick some out for my notebook.
I also have quite a collection of different fabrics including a lot I have dyed myself. One of my issues has been not knowing how to use the raw materials, so I am sure this course will assist me along this road! I have a lot os threads too and bought a load of rayon viscose threads in 1000m spools as I knew I would need a lot. They are 40s, but I do have some 30s as well.
I have already worked with transfer dyes so did not do further experiments with these except as pieces to stitch.
I really liked this last piece – there is a nice rippling texture to the background due to the interplay of satin fabric, the pattern of the dyes and the horizontal stitching, which draws the eye past the foreground vertical stitching. These two pieces show the difference between being totally haphazard and having some kind of structure.
I think the addition of the dark line helps to give added dimension to the piece. I have left the two lines on the left as they were for comparison purposes.
The black felt has a nappy liner backing. The satin pieces have vilene. The top one has claret, orange and yellow transfer paints brushed and sponged on. The bottom one is claret, purple and blue with added yellow and orange from another sheet on the lower area.
I’ve never used automatic patterns before and really enjoyed the exercise. I particularly liked the colours of the second piece. The top one has yellow, orange and claret transfer paints, brushed and sponged. The second has green and blue brushed, with blobs of claret.
I decided to stitch a sample of all the patterns on my machine (of which this is a part) so as to have a better idea of how they would look.
The first wheel uses the 3 primaries and 3 secondaries. , the second wheel uses the 3 primaries. I am aware that the colours I had are not perfect, but give me an idea of how stitched colours work together.
The next two images are exercises I did a while ago to show the difference between warm and cool colours.
I decided the above colours didn’t work very well as adding black made the reds, purples and blues to muddy, so I used a crimson in the second wheel which worked better.
The above is my first prairie point sample, with a sample of the reverse pattern on the far right.
Trump Tower, New York (Tony Stone Images)
I found this image of shade and light on a building to use as my inspiration for my resolved prairie point sample. I soon realised it would be difficult to get the precise diagonal lines of the image with vertical and horizontal stitching. I was not satisfied with the first sample (and also felt that technically it was not good enough) but I altered the layering of the second sample and how I sewed it together. I feel it is better and demonstrates the original inspiration. The fabrics I used were pieces of hand-dyed sheeting I had left over from a quilting project.
I used cut out paper shapes for the resists with lutradur as the top layer cut away to expose the under layer and used machine and hand stitching with wadding and a backing fabric.
I did this at a summer school course in Oxford with Amanda Hislop. It is made up of layers of muslin and dyed and wetted papers, sandwiching pieces of plant material, dried and then machine stitched, finally rubbed in places with Markel paintsticks. The inspiration came from a photo of plane trees along the Canal du Midi I started working with, plus a photo of the bark and lichen on one tree which I flipped to echo the feel of the first photo.