Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Fabric Collage

I am smitten with fabric collage. I love it from beginning to end. No. 6 is the largest piece I have embroidered and it took 2 weeks to complete. It measures approximately 23 by 16 inches. There were so many times I wanted to abandon it. I loved it, I hated it, I was sick of it, I did not know what to do with it. Now that it is finished, I am pretty pleased with it. I worked on it the whole time in landscape. My husband, "the most interesting man in the world" (from the Dos Equos commercial with the guy who flips the painting in the gallery and then everyone sees it clearly), insisted that it looked best vertically. He was right. I am so happy with the outcome that I am going to have it professionally framed and enter it in the juried staff show at work. 

The fabric pinned in place.

During the collage process I started by taking my inspiration from a painting by Bill Scott. I love his work. His color, line and especially composition are beautiful, but I just could not make it work. I started from scratch at least 3 times then I took this photo so I could "draw" my embroidery lines on the collage with colored pencils to plan everything out prior to making a stitch. I could not be bothered. I need to just start stitching without too much of a plan. I knew I wanted to go back to the embroideries I was doing on a plain piece of fabric using the blanket stitch.


A lot of people seem to like this design (I've sold a couple) and thought I would like to work with it over collage. I also love this stitch in the round. So I started at one corner and worked my way up. I used more collage and raw edge applique for the circular blanket stitch centers.




It was a good experience to work so large. I tried new things because I had lots of space to play. The new piece I am working on is smaller. It is definitely easier to do the collage in a smaller area and I wanted to get something ready quickly because I don't leave the house without a project to work on. 

(Sorry, the colors are really pretty in person. The photos are not "true.")

Baci e abbracci

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Red No. 5

Moving right along with number 5 in the series. This one gave me some issues with the satin jacquard fraying and making a mess. I finally decided to embroider over part of it to stabilize it.


I also was able to use some yo-yo's that were made for another project (zip bags) over three years ago, but were never utilized because I did not like the way they were coming out. My plan is to make a pillow cover with the rest--someday. Like others, I see flowers in yo-yo's and added some stitching to the center to create a kind of black part of the floral disc. I like making yo-yo's and trying to make the flower my own.

My next project will be a break from the series to do something a bit more abstract to hopefully finish in time to submit to a show.

Baci e abbracci

Thursday, February 2, 2017

My Process

When I posted the photograph below on Instagram, 'stitchqueengem' asked me to talk about my process. I thought it would be easier to do so on my blog rather than Instagram.  



I've mentioned this book in a previous post, but will say again that Mandy Pattullo's book, Textile Collage was the first and only book on knitting, quilting, embroidery, or drawing that I read cover to cover. I had been trying textile collage as well as embroidery separately and was not pleased with the composition in the collage (because I was piecing on the machine and limited to joining vertically and horizontally) and was just 'OK 'with my embroidery. I had done some raw edge collage and raw edge applique and was pleased with those pieces but did not 'love' them. Something clicked when I read Ms. Pattullo's book and I again started doing collage with embroidery which led to pictorial scenes with flowers, much like the flowers I have drawn and painted, and using embroidery stitches from other work I have done.

I begin with a piece of muslin with a piece of batting on top. At this time I am working each piece of this series in mostly monochromatic compositions using scraps from my wonderful collection of itsy-bitsy pieces from my quilt-making and a collection of larger scraps from my and my friend's quilt-making. I am also incorporating some cut up clothing, and other cuttings from fabrics that I purchased for these collages. I try to stay away from my uncut fabric collection except for the use of the backing. I have been saving these scraps and clothes for years knowing that I would one day use them this way.

I arrange the pieces and pin them into place. I recently purchased applique pins and really like using them--they are short straight pins. Then I sew the pieces to the muslin/batting background with a matching sewing thread--basically using a tacking stitch as suggested in Pattullo's book referenced above. Then I embellish with flowers using applique and traditional embroidery stitches. Nothing fancy or complicated. 

I am truly enjoying the ease of creating these pieces as much as the final result--I hope that does not sound conceited. I am often hard on myself and do not like what I produce, always comparing my work to other people's work that I like and admire. 

I think the process is super easy and fun. 

Baci e abbacci

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

My Favorite Tools

It was my birthday the other day and I always use that day, week, month as an excuse to treat myself. I purchased the Louise Bourgeois book about her textiles, a spool rack, and a Roxanne Thimble.  I looked into the thimble a couple of years ago when I was hand quilting, but decided it was too extravagant and since I stopped hand quilting and moved onto doing things that did not require a thimble it was unnecessary. My favorite thimble was a Clover leather thimble, it fit like a glove, but it would eventually get a hole and become useless. So I did it. I went out to Macy's jewelry counter during my lunch hour and measured my finger and ordered the sterling silver thimble.

I admit it took about a week to get used to the metal "armour" versus the leather "second skin," but now I love it! I am so glad I made the investment. No other metal thimble ever fit correctly, they were too big or too small so I always went back to the leather. Now that I love my new thimble the only problem I had was getting the needle through the multiple layers of fabric in my collages. When I used the leather thimble, I would brace my first finger against my middle finger to do the job, but that shifted the silver thimble so I started using my first finger in a way that caused pain in my hand and wrist. 

Rebecca Ringquist, during her Creative Bug class, wears rubber finger tips from the office supply store. I have done this off and on, but I am inbetween sizes so again, one is a little too tight, and the next size a little too big. I also don't like my first finger tip completely covered as I have to remove the tip in order to thread a needle, which I do quite often (I like to choose colors while working so I don't pre-thread my needles which is what Ringquist suggests). Today, while embroidering on the train, I decided to cut off the top of the rubber finger tip. Voila! Perfect! Now I can grab the needle to pull it through the layers of fabric and thread my needles without removing the rubber tip.


My beautiful Roxanne thimble and my altered rubber finger tip.

Baci e abbracci

Monday, January 16, 2017

More on the Weight of a Series

My friend and I went fabric shopping on Saturday and I pondered that using textiles to express my creativity has been the one thing that I have stuck with over the last +35 years. Thinking back to my childhood where I frustrated my parents with wanting to try expensive things like the piano, I always came back to drawing. I remember trying embroidery, as a teenager, so I could embroider my jeans like everyone else (I still have the floss and hoop and the leg of the jeans with "Elton John" embroidered on it) but did not stick with it because the only thing I knew about embroidery was satin stitch which was and still is not my favorite.

I was taught how to knit as a child, but only knew the knit stitch and made blankets for my dolls. I turned my Lincoln Log container into a yarn feeder by making a hole in the lid. It was perfect for the skein of yarn (I would bet my last dollar it was Red Heart) and had one pair of aluminum needles. 

The one thing that I stuck with until college was drawing and that won out over textiles until I dropped out of art school and my boyfriend at the time went to a Folk Festival and saw a knitting machine and brought back a brochure. I apprenticed with a couple of local designers and eventually got my first machine--a bulky. I got back into school and eventually graduated from Philadelphia University with a BS in Fashion Design. I continued with machine knitting for years, working full-time in a bridalwear manufacturer digitizing when I graduated, and then part-time while trying to have my own knitwear business. I never got it off the ground for various personal reasons and finally went back to work full-time. 

I did nothing creative for two years and concentrated on my full-time job in insurance. Those two years were the only time I was not doing somthing creative. Eventually I began hand knitting again, this time I learned how to purl. I started drawing again in a journal--not for me--and then just drawing in a sketchbook--without the diary aspect. Then came quilting and packing up the machines to make room for the piles of fabric and sewing machine. Then embroidery. I am absolutely passionate about each phase of textile work I am in, and go back and forth when I get a little bored.

Knowing that about myself, I get nervous when I try to do a series. I don't know why I put the pressure on myself and don't just work freely on anything I want, but I have now started this series of fabric collages and want to make my goal of 25.

The rules are the size: about 6" x 6", flower theme, and each one is monochromatic for the most part (which may change). I am on the fourth one and am still loving it--I hope I make it to 25.

No. 3 Yellow

No. 4 is Brown--stay tuned...

Baci e abbracci

Friday, January 13, 2017

Reject Block

This is one of the many "reject" blocks that I had laying around my studio. I grabbed it one day to take with me to work on during the commute and lunch break because I NEVER leave the house without a project. This one gave me a few weeks worth of stitching time.

By the time I was almost done with the embroidery I came across this book, Crazy Quilting, which was a nice little guide to add to my library.

I decided to "frame" the block with a quilted border and bind the edge. Still in the quilting process as that was started over the winter break and set aside for my collage series. It is sort of like a crazy quilt with lots of stitches including buttonhole-wheel, feather, fishbone, laisy daisy, chain, blanket, backstitch, french knots and woven wheel. All of it is using different numbers of strands of embroidery floss except for the roses. I, again, went into my stash of coned yarn from my machine knitting days and used 3/2 mercerized cotton. (I gave away a lot of that yarn, but kept one cone of each color--just in case. So glad!)

And what is that little sparkly, silver cat in the upper right corner? She is my little needle minder and I love her!

Baci e abbracci