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Posts Tagged ‘indigo’

Our branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild is having an exhibition at the end of June and a week last Saturday was the deadline for handing in completed pieces of work from the last couple of years to the organisers. We had very helpfully been given a list of all the meetings and workshops to jog our memories so I went down the list, annotating each one as to whether I hadn’t been at the meeting, hadn’t finished it or if it was finished, where it was. There seemed to be two main outcomes – didn’t finish, or made into a card and sent to somebody! The only finished pieces I could lay my hands on for the last two years were my faux driftwood piece…

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…the Chris Gray amulet…

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…and the Brazilian embroidery rose I’d made up into a card but not sent because I couldn’t bear to part with it!

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So it ended up a busy week, so busy that I forgot to photograph both the nuno felting which I turned from this:

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…into a simple seascape and a piece of the paper stitching we did with Alice Fox recently which I mounted as a card.

The kantha fish…

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…was the first to be finished by stitching him onto a piece of indigo dyed fabric with rows of running stitch that merged into the kantha and then mounting over a 7 x 5 inch canvas.

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I also finished a selection of little stitched fragments for my Alice Fox book.

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But the really big finish was my English paper piecing. I get bored easily with the piecing process and when we did the workshop, I chose small equilateral triangles – probably not the best shape in the circumstances! At the end of the day I had a pile of triangles in shades of browns and indigo and absolutely no idea what to do with them.

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Seeing the workshop on the list I wondered if it was even possible to finish the project, but I had what promised to be a lengthy committee meeting that week and repeatedly stitching together triangles looked like the perfect way of passing the time. It was: by the end of the meeting I had all the finished triangles stitched together and an idea very firmly in my head.

Without using half triangles the shapes you can make with equilateral triangles are rather limited, so I created a diamond which I planned to stitch onto this gorgeous piece of hand dyed indigo with some quilt wadding in between and a plain piece of indigo dyed cotton for the backing.

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My trusty Frister and Rossmann coped easily with quilting through all the various layers along the lines of the triangles.

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Then I joined a number of strips of woodland themed fabric in three different brown colourways to get enough and had a go at a tutorial I found online (where else?!) for adding a binding with mitred corners as you go. It worked!!

 

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I tidied the ends up, wrote (no time to embroider) a label…

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…added a hanging sleeve and couched some glittery thread around the edge of the diamond to hide the line where I had machined it down. In hindsight and with more time I would have appliqued it invisibly to the top.

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From a handful of triangles…

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…to a mini quilt…

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…in about three days. I still can’t believe it!

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Our last Embroiderers’ Guild meeting was a full day workshop led by one of our members to make a gorgeous book bound with what I know as French Link Stitch with the aim of using the front to showcase a piece of embroidery. I’ve used this stitch several times to make fabric books but it was my first time using this binding on paper and I love how it turned out.

French link stitch indigo book 1

 

Having only discovered at the last minute that I could actually make it to the workshop, I had to make do with the contents of a bag of fabric scraps that I had hastily grabbed on my way out of the door to find something to use for a cover. About the suitable only piece was this oddment of indigo dyed cloth that was annoyingly only big enough to fully cover one of the boards.

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However, what was left would be big enough if it was joined… So I decided to do just that, using some natural coloured silk thread and boro/kantha type stitching right across the two pieces I wanted to join.

French link stitch indigo book 3I really like the way it turned out, especially the way the join is almost invisible below the layers of stitching.

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Then came the question of what to put on the front. I toyed with weaving scraps of indigo dyed cloth, but they disappeared against the indigo cover. Then I tried some beading on another piece of indigo dyed cloth, this one with a vibrant sunburst in the middle.

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I like the sunburst and I like the beading but… next to the cover, somehow it’s not quite right. The indigo of the sunburst is a different colour and texture and if I did apply the beaded piece to the front then I would lose the marbled pattern behind.

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In fact I like my boro mend so much that instead of making it the back, I’m tempted to make it the front and not add any extra embroidery at all.

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Any thoughts?

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Last weekend at our branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild, we had a whole day screen-printing workshop with Dionne Swift, working on images with the theme of ‘Waterways’. I chose a ten year old photograph of one of my favourite places,  Snape Maltings in Suffolk, to work from.

Apologies for a photo of a photo, taken in failing light and light drizzle but it does give some idea of the silvery blue East Coast light that I love, with the reed beds of the River Alde in the foreground and the Maltings, turned into a world renowned concert hall by the composer Benjamin Britten, behind.

Snape Maltings

Dionne’s method involved painting the Procion dyes directly onto the screen, letting it dry and then using Manutex (a seaweed based gel medium) squeegeed across the screen to transfer the print to calico. There was enough oomph in the dyes to give one dark and one fainter impression.

Snape screen print 1

It’s not a bad simple representation of the Maltings but I just can’t get my head around the bright tropical colours. Even the paler impression looks garish against the subtle tones of the source photo.

Snape screen print 2

It was fun to try something new, but not everything suits everyone and this definitely isn’t for me. I had more fun with the second masking method we tried in the afternoon. For this we cut or tore paper to make masks which we laid between the calico and the screen. Then I used a mix of Manutex and procion dyes to create a print with the paper mask.

I’d been doing some art at school based on Japanese ukiyo-e prints, particularly those showing water in various forms and this wave picture by Hokusai was my inspiration…

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…for this:

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I was so delighted with the result of the first pull I went for a second but one of the spiral pieces (top right) moved.

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Then I just went delving in my bag and printed on other bits of cotton I had! This one I washed out when I got home to take out the stiffness from the Manutex. The dye has faded to a wonderful indigo.

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And finally the very last of the ink on the piece of cheesecloth I was using to mop up with. I cut part of the design out to do some experimental stitching and you can see the difference in the washed and unwashed fabric.

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With the whole Japanese inspiration and the indigo colour of the ink, I couldn’t resist some sashiko inspired stitching on a section of the print in a cream silk thread.

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And french knots for the foam.

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Closer to the comfort zone. A good day, all in all, and Dionne was an excellent tutor. Looking forward to our next day to play.

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And that’s not easy to say after a couple of drinks! In the summer I finished this:

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a cushion cover featuring a panel of fused fabric embroidery on blue silk dupion background.

My son, who is just starting his second year at university in London was very disappointed that it was going to our Embroiderers’ Guild exhibition to be sold and to my amazement, asked me if I’d make him a cushion cover featuring my embroidery for his new flat ( a very expensive bedsit).

Together we designed three long panels of crazy patchwork in shades of blue and white which will go on a white silk dupion background and I’ve started stitching.

Blue crazy patchwork cushion 1

I normally highlight blue with yellow/gold, but as James has gone for mostly white furniture (it was the cheapest finish at IKEA and he knows how to make his pennies go as far as possible!) I’m going to use white and silver as accents.

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Lots of silk as usual, both fabric and thread.

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Japanese cotton yukata fabric and a vintage print.

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Hand dyed shibori indigo, batik and embroidered silk.

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Scraps of silk and cotton: plain and printed; commercial and hand dyes.

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These are a great size to put in my travel sewing kit and work on while I’m out and about. I’d almost forgotten all the things I love about crazy patchwork: working with fragments of gorgeous fabrics, having mini canvases to stitch into and enhance and sections small enough for me to not get bored before the next idea strikes.

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I’m so touched that my son actually wants some of my work on display in his bedsit. Oh and the fused fabric cushion didn’t sell, by the way, so I surprised him with it just before he went back for the new term. He was delighted.

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Our February Embroiderers’ Guild meeting was an in-house workshop on sashiko. It’s been a while since I did any sashiko stitching, I was looking forward to it and I wasn’t disappointed. There was plenty of support in the form of loads of sashiko patterns and templates to copy/adapt and crib sheets showing how to stitch the designs corectly.

We started with a 4.5″ square and then had free rein on the design to use in the middle. I wanted a design I hadn’t stitched before but as I hadn’t brought a ruler or compass with me, I needed something I could draw or construct freehand. This fan shape was one element of a larger pattern based on diamonds but I could see it sitting  nicely inside my square.

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It was easy to draw out and the straightforward lines also meant that I actually finished in the time allowed!

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I was pleased not only with the design but that I also managed to use some indigo dyed fabric of my own without having to buy any more, which was an added bonus! Many thanks to our chair, Penny, for organising it.

I’ve also been knitting, both for myself, using up some lovely hand dyed wool I bought ages ago and teaching my youngest. She’s doing really well although the stitches are so tight on the needles that they squeak! So as a result I haven’t done much more than start the next block for the rusting fragments quilt. This one is eyelets and french knots.

Rusting - eyelets and french knots

A mix of hand dyed variegated cotton from Caron and Stef Francis single strand silk. Just doodling around the rusty patches.

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I couldn’t bear to throw away the scraps from ripping the indigo dyed pages of my patchwork journal so I wove them into a loose pattern which I stitched down with running stitch onto of a piece of coffee coloured hand dyed cotton.

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I love the colour combination of indigo and coffee and decided that this was going to be another journal cover. I covered one board with the stitched scraps and kept the back plain.

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A lengthy induction meeting at work last Monday gave me the opportunity to lace the covers over the boards and also add a piece of indigo dyed fabric to the back of each one.

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I ripped some more indigo dyed pages and as before, used variegated sashiko thread and french link stitch to bind the pages and covers together.

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I was less focussed on the intricacies of the instructions this time so I could concentrate on getting the tension of the stitch more even, especially the kettle stitches at the ends.  Much happier. 😮

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I really am enjoying making these journals. Once the covers are laced and backed (the most boring bit) the binding is satisfyingly quick and being fabric, they feel wonderful in the hand.

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It’s Boxing Day and I’m enjoying the feeling of relief that comes from having got through Christmas and managing to get everything to come together in the right places at the right time!

To be fair, it’s been one of the nicest Christmasses I can remember, but has still had the same amount of preparation as any other. Now it’s just a pleasure to sit back and know I don’t have to worry about buying, wrapping, delivering and (most importantly) not forgetting gifts or cards. The food side is all sorted, now the big meal has been cooked and I feel somehow free, like I’ve been serving a long stretch and am now paroled.

I’m more than ready to turn my back on 2012 and look forward to what I want to do, right across the board for 2013.

It’s a lovely day here and I’ve actually be able to photograph some of the things I’ve been working on in snatched moments. First up, the patchwork journal is finished.

Patchwork journal 1

After leafing through Ailsa Goolden’s marvellous ‘Making Handmade Books’ I settled on  French Link Stitch for the binding.

I chose variegated sashiko thread for the stitching as the colours complemented the covers so well and also because it was smooth enough to stitch easily, yet heavy enough to be right for the demands of the job.

It was my first try at this sort of binding and Ailsa’s superb diagrams and description made it a breeze. Not perfect of course, and it could possibly have been a bit tighter, but I’m very pleased with the look of the exposed stitching.

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I toyed with the idea of heavy handmade paper pages versus fabric but decided that fabric was more in keeping with the stitched spine and anyway, hopefully fabric wouldn’t rip as paper might; always a consideration for the first try at something new.

So I hunted out a load of indigo dyed oddments and experiments that I got as a job lot on ebay. I really am a sucker for the bits and pieces that are surplus to other people’s projects! Some of the patterns, ripped into the right size for signatures, were perfect to showcase as the inner pages of the journal.

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I’m very pleased with the whole project, the way it came together and the look of the final finished journal. This is definitely something I’d like to do again and a journal cover would be great place to display some of my fragmentary pieces.

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