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Posts Tagged ‘indigo’

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.

French link stitch indigo book 2

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.

French link stitch indigo book 4

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.

French Link Stitch indigo book 5

French Link Stitch indigo book 6

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.

French Link Stitch indigo book 7

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.

French Link Stitch indigo book b

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…

Hokusai-Pic0002-a.jpg_4

…for this:

Hokusai inspired screen print 1

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.

Hokusai inspired screen print 2

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.

Hokusai inspired screen print 3

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.

Hokusai inspired screen print 4

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.

Hokusai inspired screen print 5

And french knots for the foam.

Hokusai inspired screen print 6

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:

Fused fabric cushion

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.

Blue crazy patchwork cushion 2

 

Lots of silk as usual, both fabric and thread.

Blue crazy patchwork cushion 3

Japanese cotton yukata fabric and a vintage print.

Blue crazy patchwork cushion 4

Hand dyed shibori indigo, batik and embroidered silk.

Blue crazy patchwork cushion 5

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

Blue crazy patchwork cushion 6

 

Blue crazy patchwork cushion 7

Blue crazy patchwork cushion 8

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.

Blue crazy patchwork cushion 9

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.

Sashiko fan 1

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

Sashiko fan 2

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.

Boro-style journal 1

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.

Boro-style journal 2

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.

Boro-style journal 3

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.

Boro-style journal 4

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. 😮

Boro-style journal 5

Boro-style journal 6

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.

Patchwork journal 2

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.

Patchwork journal 3

Patchwork journal 4

Patchwork journal 5

Patchwork journal 6

Patchwork journal 7

Patchwork journal 8

 

Patchwork journal 9

Patchwork journal 10

Patchwork journal 11

 

Patchwork journal 12

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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Now the Christmas crazy patchwork is away, I’ve been able to finish a couple of small projects.

The first was the embroidered rock. Last seen looking like this:

I cut off the excess fabric, gathered it round the edge with running stitch and fitted it over the pebble which had been bound with the offcuts of calico to make it a better size.

You can see the calico underside better in this photo. It’s laced across the bottom to give a snug fit.

The flat embroidery has adapted to the curved surface of the pebble even  better than I hoped.

I used a lovely smoky grey piece of commercial knitted fabric rather than felt for the underside as it was soft and flexible, making it better suited to following the curves of the pebble.

The grey fabric was also gathered with a running stitch but the raw edge was folded inside, leaving the folded edge to be ladder stitched to the calico, just under the line of the embroidery.

I’m very pleased with the finishing. The knitted fabric was very forgiving and happy to be eased into nooks and crannies and the embroidery just fell neatly over the top.

It’s about 4″ long and 2.5″ wide and sits perfectly in the palm of my hand.

The second was a small project rather than finishing an existing one; a card for my husband’s birthday and it proves that the sashiko bug is not yet out of my system.

This time, rather than working a kit, I chose a scrap of indigo dyed cotton and used a shippo variation pattern from Susan Briscoe’s book ‘Japanese Sashiko Inspirations’. I drew it out on paper first to make sure I understood the construction and then used a fabric marker to transfer the design to the fabric.

I stitched the design in some of the variegated sashiko thread I bought at Harrogate in November.

Then I used another piece of indigo dyed cloth to back and frame the piece.

It’s just been mounted onto a piece of card and hidden away until Saturday.

The decks are cleared now for me to finish something that has been hanging around since the summer of 2004. More details to follow!

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