Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Week 31 - the final piece and prom dress

A bit late with my blog post this week as I have been working really hard to get everything finished. I have now completed 6 hours of fraying and finished my Pylon Sky machine-stitch piece. I am really pleased with it. I think it will look even better hanging up as I have metal rods to go through channels on the back to give it rigidity and weight. I just have to finish the written supporting information to go with it.

I am really excited because it will be possible to hang it in a window in the final exhibition next week.
My other project with a fast-approaching deadline has been to make my daughter's prom dress. This looks better on her than on this mannequin as she is really tall and so the style makes her legs look like they go on forever - it just touches the floor on her. Although this is a really simple pattern for a prom dress, it has been a real fiddle to make as the material she wanted was not wide enough to make the dress as per the pattern (meaning I had to piece the skirt to get the length) and the plunging front felt too exposed to her so I have had to alter the pattern to extend around the sides and put in a lace insert.

She is really pleased with the result - I hope it can stay clean and crease free until she actually gets to the prom next week - fingers crossed it is not raining.
Finally we went on the ferry to France at the weekend so I took the embroidery that I started earlier in the year to carry on with. I am pleased with how it is turning out. The silver birch stems in the background are stitched with variegated black and white embroidery thread so not every stitch shows up white - quite good effect I think.

The dark band across the middle is a piece of brown/black sari silk, with the frayed edges sticking out randomly. Finally the foreground is all in embroidery cotton - multiple colours in the needle to give random shading and variation.

The green at the front is gorse so lots of spiky texture to have a go at next!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Week 30 - Assembling 'Pylon Sky'

Only a couple more weeks till the end of my college course so I have been trying to progress my machine-stitch piece, 'Pylon Sky'.

I completed the fourth panel on Friday and then started to assemble it onto a blue sheer backing fabric. Before I could do this I needed to sew a channel at the top to take a thin metal tube that will be used to hang it.

Positioning the panels was pretty fiddly - trying to line up the colours and the lines, as well as get it square on the fabric. The diagonal ribs have ended up being wider in the centre than on the original design, due to the inevitable distortion of the panels as they were stitched. (With Satin Stitch you put a lot of stitches into each row, which have to go somewhere so they make the fabric buckle).

When I was happy with the position of the panels I sewed them down by hand - I just couldn't face wrestling them through the sewing machine with the distortion and the slippiness of the fabrics working against me.

I then made patterns for the diagonal ribs and the central 'H' section. My plan was to cut them out of blue dress lining but from my sample I knew that this wouldn't be completely opaque and the ends of the Satin Stitch bands would show through when it was hung in the window. Therefore I had to bond the lining fabric to some thicker blue  fabric I had and then cut the ribs out of the whole sandwich. I also had to remove some of the straight stitches around each edge of the panels as in places they showed beyond the ribs. I had sewn these lines originally to act as a marker of the original design and also to catch the ends of the Satin Stitch bands and stop them fraying.

Once I had it all in place I secured the ribs to the piece by stabbing pins right through the ironing board and then bonding on with the iron through a piece of baking parchment - a hot iron and sheer fabrics don't mix well!

I left the centre till last. I had worked out that I could alter the original design by having the 'H' section go over the ribs to neaten them off and in turn tuck the arms of the 'H' under the ribs so that you didn't see them either. I am very pleased with how neatly this has turned out as I was quite worried about the complexity of this central bit.
So here is how it looks now - only got to fray the whole lot! I spent an hour doing the bottom right hand blue section to see how long it would take so I've got a few more hours to go! I have then got to decide how to attach the long edges of each panel to the backing (they are just pinned at the moment) and how to attach a thin rod that I have bought to stiffen and weigh down the bottom edge. I really love this piece though - I will probably be sad when it is finished.

Father's Day this weekend - as I have been busy on my embroidery I didn't have time to create something from scratch so I printed out a photo I took recently and backed it onto black card. It was taken by the river Avon at Stratford where a big flock of swans were fighting for lumps of bread that were being thrown for them.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Week 29 - Progressing 'Pylon Sky'

Last week and this week I have been getting on with my machine-stitch piece. As you can see I have finished 3 of the 4 panels. I decided to make it in quarters as the whole piece is 80cm square and I think that has proved to be the right decision. As I am going to bond the main cross-ribs on afterwards I can hide the join underneath them. It does mean that I have had to cut out each quarter with reference to its neighbour so that the colours will look like they flow across the sky. I am going to fray them once I have finished all 4 so that I can ensure that I am fraying them in equal amounts and getting the subtle effects created by the cutting back and fraying flowing across the panels where necessary. I am really enjoying making this piece and I think it is going to look really strong when it is finished.

I have now finished mounting up my hand-stitch piece. I re-did the clouds in the sky with a thicker thread first. It is mounted on 2 layers of foam-core board topped with a layer of white felt.

On the back it is held in place by lacing it across with sewing thread. You do the long edges first and then the short edges, trimming off the excess fabric at the corners and then finally sewing down the corners. You can see the lines of dirt from handling the embroidery on the frame!
Finally, I had another family birthday card to make this week. I had some pieces left over from my original art work for 'Wasteland' so I used them to create a mini version of the Shepherd's Purse mounted onto a cream card blank, topped with a rectangle of brown paper.