Assignment 3 Stage 2: Workshop 6

Manipulating Fabric.

My samples in this workshop all have cutting, layering, bonding and stitching in common but each has been achieved using a slightly different technique.

One of my overriding aims was to use free motion stitching as much as possible to improve my skills.  I see two of my greatest creative shortcomings as sketching and free machine embroidery and I am endeavouring to improve both.

Sample 1

P3-MF-Sample-1aLayers of crystal and glass organza and lightweight wash away (Floriani Wet N Gone) were pinned together with no bonding agent (Vliesofix, Bondaweb or similar).  The design was drawn on the wash away stabilizer before free machining over the lines.

After stitching, the stabilizer was removed and  some of the layers cut away from both the back and front, making it reversible with different colours showing from each side.

P3-MF-Sample-1cHere you can clearly see the difference in colour effects from the front and the back.  Very interesting that the deep red only appears red from one side and quite dull and lifeless from the other.

P3-MF-Sample-1dThe sun finally came out and the close up on the left (the dull red side) is showing a softening of the tree images behind the thinner fabric layer changing the vibrancy of the green bushy area.  On the right is the piece as it blows in the wind and twists across itself.  Very nice because the double layer adds yet another dimension to the colours.  Several large pieces like this hung behind each other with holes in differing places would be something that would be interesting to develop further.

Sample 2

P3-MF-Sample-2aI took the same organza fabrics but ironed Vliesofix to the back of the top three layers.  Vliesofix is a lightweight web style adhesive designed to bond fabrics together adding minimum weight.  The paper backing was removed but the iron was not applied, so the layers were still separate during the stitching process (how would I have cut them back otherwise?).  The same surface stabilizer was used as per the first sample.

P3-MF-Sample-2bThe majority of the stabilizer was cut away and then sections of the layered organza were also removed.  This piece is not reversible as each layer will attach to the one below due to the Vliesofix, once ironed, and the light purple is the very back layer.

A completely amazing and unexpected thing happened when I ironed all the layers together.  Obviously the purple base remained very lightweight and floaty but the other areas turned to thick ‘plastic’.  The Vliesofix had migrated between the layers, adhering to both the organza and the next Vliesofix, and formed a solid shiny surface.  It had also buckled the fabric in the thickest multilayers.  The colours are much more solid and I assume that is the Vliesofix effect.

P3-MF-Sample-2cIt is much harder to see the trees behind this piece, as opposed to the non-adhered Sample 1.  The sun was blazing for 5 minutes so once it was on the table, to show the distorted effects, I saw some scope for shadows.  The piece was lifted up on its side and here is the result.

P3-MF-Sample-2dI wish I had a bigger table and had ironed the black fabric.  Unfortunately the sun is extremely sporadic at present and I grabbed what I could in the few sunny minutes we had.

Sample 3

This time I used a plain dark blue/green organza on the back with a much brighter green crinkle organza on the top.  Bondaweb, which is a very thick solid glue sheet (quite different to Vliesofix) was used to adhere the layers trapping deep blue and antique gold sequins in between.  No stitching was done on these and I forgot to photograph before cutting them out.  They are based on the same idea I used in my hidden gecko piece back in assignment 1 where I did a similar thing but cut the fabric into stylised leaf shapes.

P3-MF-Sample-3aThese are quite rigid but still very see-through but we have no light whatsoever at the moment as the weather is appalling.  So light effects on these will come in Stage 3.

Sample 4

This is my most adventurous piece and I consider it a finished item but also one which could continue to be developed by adding more complexity.

I started with a paper template at 75% scale.  I didn’t want to go too small or I may not have been able to visualise the effect.

P3-MF-Sample-4aI had a lovely silk top that didn’t fit properly so it was time to cut it up and put it to better use.

P3-MF-Sample-4bAbove: Fabric cut into rough triangles.  Overlapping fabric with very fine black tulle pieces of a similar size laid onto Solvy.  Solvy top and bottom fully free motion stitched having removed many, many pins as I went.  Solvy partially washed out leaving a residue as a stiffener.

P3-MF-Sample-4cAnother quick burst of sunshine!!  Clockwise from top left: Fabric cut and folded as per template.  Laid out on white paper showing shaping and shadows.  Close up of shadow.

P3-MF-Sample-4dPhotos were taken on different surfaces, at different times of the day, wherever I could get enough light.  Clockwise from top left: Close up of different flower foot circles (a brilliant sewing machine attachment which I can recommend) which had centre fabric removed.  More circles and striped drinking straws stitched into folds.  Fully finished and folded as per the template.  The straws were a fabulous find as they match the zebra stripe through the patterned silk and they finish the piece well and unify the colour scheme.

P3-MF-Sample-4eThis piece can be laid out in different shapes and the straws can be adjusted so they are longer on one side than the other, as can be seen in the photo.  It doesn’t stand terribly well as the fabric is not super stiff.  I could have done that using Paverpol but I wanted a more natural look.  However, wouldn’t it be nice set on a perspex base with holes drilled in so the straws could support the fabric shaping and it would stand and twist?  It reminds me a bit of those striped fabric windbreaks you see in Brighton (England not Australia) when everyone is determined to enjoy themselves, despite the freezing howling wind, because it is their annual 2 week holiday and they absolutely must sit on the beach.

P3-MF-Sample-4gP3-MF-Sample-4fThese pictures show the art work hanging with different lighting.  In the two photos above the fabric was held very still whilst the light was moved from far right to far left so different shadow effects could be seen on the same shape.  The straws were pushed into various positions, particularly where they crossed each other, to enhance this look.

The picture to the left shows the stand I used to support the item and with the light close to the wall it threw a very elongated wall shadow with the straws showing prominently.

This has been a fascinating workshop and one I’ve very much enjoyed.  It has included a large amount of experimentation on my part and taken my skills into new areas and increased my confidence when using the sewing machine more creatively.

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About Claire B

A passionate embroiderer, a printmaker and a poor sketcher (which I'm working to improve). I'm a perpetual student and love learning and participating in everything creative.
This entry was posted in Assignment 3: Reveal & Conceal, Textiles 1: Exploring Ideas and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Assignment 3 Stage 2: Workshop 6

  1. Jane Bodnaruk says:

    great upcycling of clothing. I like where it sits on a surface

  2. kath says:

    great work. it turned out really well. when I saw the holes I thought you’d burnt them & sewed around (I’d just read about this last week). love the shadows too!

    • Claire B says:

      Hi Kath. No, to the burning because the fabric is silk and you can’t use the soldering iron to cut the circles out. It would just turn the fabric black. And I used polyester thread for the free machine stitching as well which wouldn’t burn away.either. It was a painstaking cutting job with tiny sharp pointed embroidery scissors.

  3. Nola says:

    So obviously the solvy wasn’t quite strong enough to support the fabric’s weight with the straws in. I’m wondering about Romeo, which is a thicker version of the same kind of thing. It’s almost like book covering plastic when you pin it on and is much slower to remove than solvy. I’ll try to remember to bring a sample whenever I see you next.

    The result has been a fascinating piece of work, though. I love the shadow effects and those striped straws!

    • Claire B says:

      Hi Nola. Yes, despite Solvy top and bottom it isn’t quite strong enough to hold the piece when displayed on a surface but you can see from the hanging pictures that the horizontal squares sit quite well and don’t droop. Part of the display problem when sitting comes from the fact that most surfaces are slick and smooth so the paper straws slip and slide around.

      I know Romeo and have a bit but not enough for this project. I haven’t got a supplier nearby and will have to order some for future projects because it is about 4 times thicker than Solvy and more residue can be left, giving a lot more strength. Even with the Solvy it still feels pretty crisp but a bit more rigidity would be an added bonus.

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