Monday, April 16, 2012

Week 23/Easter Break - Progressing hand-stitch piece

Bought blue linen
These last 2 weeks have been all about trying to get going on my final hand-stitch piece. Having completed the design a couple of weeks ago it was time to make some decisions about what fabric I wanted to use for the blue panel on the background. A friend at college gave me some duck-egg blue linen which I initially thought would be perfect, as it was like the colour I had in mind all the time. However I had also painted a strip of linen that was more similar to my artwork design - so how to choose?

I laid all the cut pieces out with some of the embroidery threads on both backgrounds and took a photo. When I compared them side-by-side I felt that the colour of the painted piece 'lifted' the composition more. The bought linen was also quick thick and I was concerned whether the edge would show through the leaves and stems on top too much.
Painted blue linen 

I sewed a running stitch line around the edge first to indicate the intended finished size (A3) and then bonded the blue strip on in position with Bondaweb. The ends extend beyond the running stitch line and I oversewed them with a small zig-zag to stop them fraying as I was completing the whole piece. However, I left the vertical edges un-sewed, relying on the Bondaweb to stop it fraying.

Next I traced off the main elements of the design by sticking my artwork on the window and the background on top with masking tape and pencilling in the lines.

I then covered the edges of the white linen with masking tape to stop them fraying and backed the whole piece with a layer of white cotton. This supports the looser weave linen and makes the white area whiter. It is also handy for starting off and finishing threads as you can 'hide' them between the layers.

Finally I bonded on the trees, purple flowers and big leaves to start with before mounting it onto the frame. You can buy wooden frames that are made up of pairs of sticks with interlocking ends in a variety of sizes, all interchangeable. It is a very good product and so far has worked well. I stretched the fabric, folded the ends under and attached it with drawing pins. It was easier than I thought it was going to be and I haven't had one incident of the thread getting caught round a drawing pin yet!
At last I was ready to start sewing. I have discovered that it takes a long time do sew something as precise as this. Before every element I have to decide which stitch  and how many strands of floss I will use. I have done more samples where necessary to check out the technique or compare different effects.
I have researched different repetitive blackwork patterns for the flower heads.
I am going with Octagonal Trellis for the Dandelion head.
I have developed a vertical version of the Dark Fern Pattern for my Knapweed heads and a patterns of squares, sewn on the diagonal, for the Plantain heads. Each diamond has a tiny French Knot in the centre. After sampling I have decided that the patterns look best sewn in a single strand of embroidery floss.

This is as far as I have got. The Shepherd's Purse on the left is complete. The stems are Stem Stitch, the veins on the leaves are Backstitch. The patterns on the seeds are Straight Stitch and French Knots. The flowers are Bullion Knots outlined in Backstitch.


The Knapweed is complete apart from the pink tufts of petals (see samples above). The stems are in a thicker Stem Stitch and the leaf veins are Backstitch.

The Plantain is complete apart from the halo of white flowers (see samples above). The stems are in Stem Stitch and the leaf veins in Running Stitch.

The Dandelion leaves are finished - next the stems. The elements start getting progressively harder from now on as there is less reliance on filling in bonded shapes and more embroidery of whole plants.

So far I reckon I have spent 35 hours on it, not including the design. I am enjoying the challenge of it but it is physically tiring, on the eyes and the shoulders especially.

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