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.
Layers 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.
The 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.
I 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.
The 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.
It 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.
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.
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.
Above: 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.
Photos 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.
This 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.
These 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.