Monday, April 23, 2012

Week 24 - Reverse applique and machine-stitch design

Having got my hand-stitch design finalised, I turned my attention to my final machine-stitch piece this week. I wanted to use the pylon design that I have included in both my line design and shape design books. My concept is that looking up through the middle of the pylon is like looking through a stained glass window of the sky. I want to make the whole piece in sheer fabrics that give subtle variations in colour as they are layered and cut through plus I could incorporate some pieces of machine-lace created by free-machining on dissolvable fabric.

My tutor approved the concept and gave me some things to think about, such as if it is a window hanging, identify the window it will hang in and make it to the right size!
I had the pylon image so I needed to create the sky design. I experimented with Brusho on wet tracing paper - not a success - before going back to lining paper.

I dampened it all over and then brushed on blues, yellows, orange and red. I had a couple of goes at college but I didn't think they were quite right so I came home a researched dramatic sky images on the internet. The one top right on the left hand piece of paper was the one I chose for inspiration.
I had another go and this is the result. It is approx 80cm square so I had to join the lining paper.

I now have the tricky job of marking on the pylon lines and with it the next lot of decisions - do I faithfully reproduce the lines of varying thicknesses or do I simply represent them? Do I simplify it by missing out some of the lines? Do I want to put in the finer wires and other intricate details for interest? Next week's blog will show how I resolve all these points.
We also learnt a new technique at college called reverse applique. Normally you layer up various fabrics, the grottier and unpromising the better, machine stitch shapes or patterns through all layers and then using small sharp scissors cut through the layers, close to your stitch lines, to reveal different and unexpected colours in your shapes.

As this technique seemed close to what I wanted to do with my pylon piece I chose to give it a go with some of the sheer fabrics I have bought to test it out and use it as one of my samples.


There are 3 blue 20cm squares in this stack plus some other pieces cut into random shapes and layered haphazardly, including a piece of gold lace. I sewed geometric lines using a medium satin stitch. Above shows the front and right the back.

Then I started cutting away layers from the front or back or both. At first I just cut whole areas away around the edge. However, as I got into the middle this was harder to do so I started cutting frayed holes, sometimes cutting colours below away completely.
This is the result photographed against a piece of white fabric rather than on the window, although I like the effect against the window too.

It is quite painterly so I should be able to get a good sky effect using this technique. I like the dark blue thread I used instead of black.

Things to consider are:

  • I need to decide whether I want to treat the sky as a whole image or create the impression of sky almost shape by shape
  • The chiffons (orange and dark blue for example) are bolder than the other types of sheer so I need to use them carefully
  • I had planned to make the whole piece with dissolvable fabric on the top to add stability and also allow me to draw on the pylon stitch lines. However, dissolvable fabric can leave a residue after you have washed it off which could ruin the lovely frayed edges so I will have to sample that too. I also did not experience any difficulty with machining the sheers on this sample.
I have not progressed any of my hand-stitch piece this week - I have been doing some of the written research that we have to present along-side both final pieces (research on 3 british designer-makers plus narrative on our design and sampling processes/results, final costings, health and safety considerations and final analysis on completion).

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