A bit of stitchery – pre Workshop 6.

My next workshop involves manipulating fabric so it’s definitely time to practice my free machine stitching.  I have in mind the type of layering and the effects I would like to achieve.  I recently bought another sewing machine, a Singer, and have it set up specifically for free motion work.

My beautiful Husqvarna and I have never really managed to achieve anything more than a mess with this technique.  It’s a wonderful machine, highly calibrated and fully digitized, but I find it hard to manage all the setting changes needed.  After extensive research on the internet I found some instructions, way better than the machine manual, telling me what to do.  I finally got some average results but it was time-consuming and difficult so I purchased a less complicated Singer and am starting to get to grips with how to stabilise the fabrics, move them around whilst stitching and getting a consistent speed.

So my manipulating fabric workshop will be the result of much hard work and a huge learning curve.

Having been trying out various thicknesses of fabric and stabilizer over a few days, and feeling a little more confident, I moved to using the flower foot attachment which has been sitting in my drawer for 6 months awaiting the new sewing machine.Flower-foot-attachment

This picture shows the foot which, when using, is attached to the sewing shaft after removing the normal foot and its attachment.  The feed dogs are put down and as you sew the disc rotates and the arm clicks over the ridged notches on the cog – so forcing the disc and fabric to turn in a circle.  Very smart idea.

Some adjustments to the sewing machine are required, the main one being that the presser foot pressure has to be increased to the maximum to grip the fabric as it turns (no feed dogs of course).  It is recommended that you start with a felt base as it is the easiest when learning how the foot works.  Flower-foot-2Two hours after starting I gave up on the Singer.  The maximum pressure on the foot wasn’t enough to hold the fabric in place and I couldn’t get a circle as the fabric slipped out of alignment.

I moved to the Husqvarna and increased the foot pressure and, unbelievably, it worked perfectly.  Flower-foot-3

Some circles I went around once and some I did several times to give a thick dimensional ring.

The flower foot booklet shows  how to adjust the disc to get bigger and smaller circles, one inside another, how to make them spaced and how to keep them satin stitch tight.  It also covers making circles using fancy machine stitches.

Flower-foot-1The hardest part I found was to get the smaller circle placed correctly inside the outer one.  I guess that will come as I do more.Flower-foot-4

Here you can see some of my earlier disasters followed by a lovely thick perfect circle.  I changed threads, going from rayon to polyester and then to a much tougher 12wt variegated cotton (right).

It was all going so well and I was ready to start using it on my workshop sample.  The crunch came shortly thereafter when the wire spring holding the arm onto the disc cogs snapped, and you can see the broken piece in the photo.  My supplier has been excellent and sent me another one out immediately (still waiting for it over a week later).  It was from a faulty batch she had received so I’m relieved that it was nothing I did that ruined it.

Meantime, whilst I check the mailbox daily, I’m back on the Singer doing more free motion stitched manipulated fabric samples for the workshop and although it is slow going I’m hopeful for some decent outcomes in a technique very new to me.

About Claire B

I'm a passionate printmaker, paper-maker and a poor sketcher (which I'm working to improve). I've stitched from early childhood and am a perpetual student, loving learning and participating in everything creative.
This entry was posted in Assignment 3: Reveal & Conceal, Textiles 1: Exploring Ideas and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to A bit of stitchery – pre Workshop 6.

  1. kath says:

    Claire, these look great! I had my machine fixed and now it does free machine embroidery too (& straight stitching doesn’t skip stitches any more, yay). love the circles you’ve made! I only had a few mins to try it before having to pack for next trip & leave. so I just made a few random swirls, nothing this good. well done!

    • Claire B says:

      Really, really having fun on this prep for the workshop. Just hanging out for the new flower foot to arrive so I can get the piece finished.
      Have you posted anything on your blog Kath? I’ll have to have a look where you are up to.
      Enjoy your trip, even if it is work related. You might get 5 minutes to look around at something wonderfully creative hopefully.

      • kath says:

        thanks. yeah I’ve been posting to the blog – in bits & pieces. I should fix the structure one day. mostly it’s been airport -> hotel -> work -> hotel (repeat) -> airport but I’ve been noticing the hotel room fabrics & decor more this time. lots of circles & lines so I was going to post a blog about it
        I’ve never heard of the flower foot – sounds like a good idea. for my attempts I’d taken the foot off & just moved the fabric around (careful not to sew my fingers).
        I had been saving for a bernina 1008 as I’d read some ebooks of Sue Stone’s and she mentioned she uses a couple of them for her work. maybe I won’t need it anymore. will see how it goes.
        have fun with your workshop, sounds like it’ll be great!

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