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Archive for September, 2008

I’ve been re-inspired. Thanks to the comments left on my previous post, I returned to some thoughts I had dismissed and I saw how I could use those ideas.

Here’s what I had been pondering about how to stitch–just this fragment from my first cutting of the scarf. I was looking at tiny details and not seeing the whole picture.

After reading the comments, I decided to take another look, this time at the pinned jacket. I tacked the jacket to my “design board” (LOL) and from a little distance, this is what I saw:

I laid it on the floor to get a shot of the front, too troublesome to hang it on the board.

The extra fabric is all bunched up inside, but it’s plain to see that I could do something with the overall design. I lightened and printed the photographs; and then, with pencil, I traced over some major design elements, like this:

What would I do without the computer, scanner, printer, and PhotoShop Elements? Can you see the dark pencil lines? Okay, now I was sure I could do something with these sections and I was ready to cut.

The back was basically okay, but I had to cut out the parts of the scarf that had the pattern I wanted to use on the front. Here’s the first cut piece with very sheer Pellon fusible interfacing that I had cut for that piece. I used it to help me see where to cut the second side.

As you can see, I also used my printed, penciled design as a guide for cutting. The next step was to cut and fuse the Pellon to the cut pieces to stabilize the fabric for the kind of stitching I envision doing on it–beads and textured dimensional stitches. Then I pinned the fused fabric back on the jacket one more time, just to make sure it would still work, with the firmness provided by the stabilizer. I put on the jacket for another look at how this would look on me.

Satisfied that I could make my ideas work, I searched my stash for threads and found that I will have to order some colors I don’t have. But I wanted to try out some stitching on the fabric, so I put that original fragment, fused to Pellon, in a hoop and made a few trial stitches. Thanks, friends, for your suggestions. You’ll see that I’m using them.

Here’s the back of the hooped fabric with the interfacing showing. I’ll be stitching the fused fabric before attaching it to the jacket, so that I don’t have the back of the stitches showing inside this unlined jacket.

Here are the remnants of the scarf, enough for more practice cloths, and probably some left for my stash drawer, instead of my scarf drawer.

The scarf is a really nice fabric that looks and feels like very fine wool. It isn’t. I held an edge to a candle flame and it melted. Still, it looks and feels like very fine fabric.

And now for a shopping spree. I have my DMC color chart and the equivalents for silk threads and after I post this, I will be choosing threads.

See why it takes me so long to make anything?

Thanks, again, friends who commented.

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The next step

Usually I get ideas for designs by doodling. I’ve learned that my first idea is seldom my best, and that I think best with a pencil or pen in hand. Maybe that’s because I’m more of a writer than a visual artist. Making fabric art is something I’ve come to very late in life, and I realize I’m a novice “artist.” That said, in the previous post I’ve shown the first doodles I did seeking ideas for how to shape and position some embellishment on my jacket.

I didn’t feel like doing any more. No motivation and not enough energy to make myself experiment on paper. After a day off, I got the idea to try draping some scarves over the jacket to see if that would stimulate ideas for where to place embellishment. When I took several scarves out of the drawer to play with them, lo and behold, there was a scarf I’ve had and loved for over 30 years, I’m sure. But I’ve had no occasion to wear it for the past 16 years. Its colors are perfect for this jacket.

Wow, I thought, I’ll just put pieces of this scarf on my jacket and embellish them. Using a scarf was not my intent; I just wanted to get placement ideas. So, a little reluctantly, I began cutting the scarf and pinning it in sections on my jacket. Here’s what it looks like, just roughly pinned so I could see the effect. I love the paisleys and the colors would go great with pants I can wear with this jacket.

BUT, when I studied the fabric closely, considering how I might embellish it, I got stuck. I want this jacket to have heavily textured stitches, lots of dimensionality and variety. I could not think of a way I could achieve that effect by stitching over the design of the scarf. Also, it looked a little too symmetrical and too “dramatic” to suit me.

However, the trial was worthwhile, because now I’m ready to cut up some muslin and try placing it on the jacket in various ways. Maybe I’ll even go back to my pencil and paper for some more doodling.

It always takes me a long time to get started on a new project. I have a hard time coming up with ideas I like and making choices and decisions about materials, techniques, stitches, and so on–making a plan. Once I have a plan, I can work steadily, as much as I can. With this jacket, I want to be sure that I will wear it and enjoy wearing it before I spend a lot of time (which it will take to do what I have vaguely in mind) on something I wouldn’t wear.

Sharon Boggon has posted about ways of motivating oneself to finish a project.¬† That’s not a problem I have. I work on one project at a time and I finish it. I have no UFOs, but all, all my projects are WISPS, works done very slowly. Once I know what result I want to accomplish, I just keep working on it, eagerly seeing how my ideas work out. As the piece progresses, I want to work on it more and more. I’m like a horse nearing the stable. I want to bolt for home, get it done. My problem is limiting my work time, at that stage, not motivating myself to finish the piece.

I think it’s largely a matter of temperament. I am not able to work as spontaneously as I would like to. I’m a planner. I like to know where I’m going and what I’m trying to achieve before I can get down to producing anything. I’m a slow starter and a fast finisher, fast being relative, of course!

So, back to planning for my jacket embellishment.

As I write here in Baltimore on the East Coast USA, we are getting the effects of the hurricane: high winds and heavy, driven rain.

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The jacket

This jacket just calls for embellishment, don’t you think?

Here’s the back.

This jacket came from Deva. I’ve been buying clothes from their catalog for over 15 years. The company was founded in a rural village in Maryland, Burkittsville, by a husband and wife. When we were living in West Virginia, Ernie and I actually went to their place of business–a home in the village, not too far away from our home. Their clothing is all simply designed, comfortable, casual, made from cotton woven for them; and it is all sewn by women in their own homes.

Not long after we were there, the company was challenged as illegal under an old federal law forbidding sweat-shop labor, aimed at ending the exploitation of poor people in the garment industry around the beginning of the 20th century. The Deva founders successfully lobbied to have the law repealed, so that women who want to work at home can do so. Subsequently, they sold the company to new owners who moved it to North Dakota, where women still make the clothing in their own homes.

If you like comfortable, casual clothing, for men, women, and children–all of which would be suitable for embellishing–check out their website.

Some fabrics I may try out with the jacket. I think, not sure yet, that I want to make a crazy patchwork yoke that would also give me a chance to practice some Elizabethan stitches. Among these fabrics are gifts from my mother, Gina, Nina, Allie, Carole Samples, and my daughter-in-law who once managed the business for a necktie designer. Also a piece from one of Karen South’s fabric packs.

But first, I’m playing with design ideas by photographing the area of the jacket I want to embellish.

Then I joined and scanned the photographs and made thumbnails of them on which to try out some ideas with pencil. This is just the beginning. More ideas to play with.

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Speedy readers

My goodness, within half an hour of posting my last piece, 30 of you had seen it. Well, I’ve edited it and added some links.

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You know, the stated purpose of this blog is “my life in stitches.” That’s because, when I began blogging, it was with the encouragement of bloggers I’d met through online needleart courses and Take a Stitch Tuesday challenge. Stitching and learning to make needleart has been my heart’s desire for the past dozen years, and I loved the courses, taught by Sharon Boggon, as well as the challenge.

But, being me, I couldn’t resist the urge to try to keep up with the other group members. For the past two years, I put pressure on myself to participate, and I enjoyed it. I’ve always liked working under pressure, to a deadline, to meet specifications. I, too, want to have some new details I’ve just stitched to post on Flickr and blog about.

This year, though, I’ve realized that using all my discretionary time (about two hours a day) for stitching was not fully satisfying. Much as I want to make more things, learn new techniques, try new ideas with¬† needle and thread, I also have other interests. I’ve backed off. If days go by without any stitching or designing, that’s okay. If I don’t have anything new to show you, or even if I don’t take the time to show you some of my earlier work, that’s okay. If I don’t blog regularly, as some of my online friends do, that’s okay, too.

I feel a lot better for having recognized, one more time, that I have limitations and that I have to live within them.

For the past week I’ve been enjoying, no, rejoicing, in Bach DVDs–a magnificent, fiery performance of the St. John Passion and a deeply felt, exquisite rendering of the violin partitas by Gidon Kremer.

But I will tell you this: on Saturday I got the cotton jacket I had ordered for the purpose of embellishing it. Haven’t a clue what I’ll do with it, but I’ve started thinking of ideas and I’ve pulled some stuff out of my stash for inspiration.

To be continued.

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