Finished this pair of socks last evening. Been working on them for a couple of weeks – a pair of socks (women’s size 7-8) takes me on average 25 hours. I worked on these a bit while I was away. I already had the first sock completed. I was just past the heel on the second when I packed them to take with me. I got the gusset done while I was away. I did most of the finishing of the foot these past two evenings. I enjoyed working with this patterned yarn and the blending colour for cuff, heel, toe was a perfect match – that doesn’t always happen.
I started a new pair last evening as soon as these were off the needles.
It turns out my efforts to represent the shading of the child’s body with layers of differently colored fabric was misconstrued and interpreted as “clothes” by the majority of people who viewed the piece. Very few spontaneously saw him as naked. This was because the contrast between the lights and darks was too great – an artifact of the limited pallet of flesh-toned shades of fabric I was able to assemble.
So I darkened the ligher elements with crayon and wax pastels and stabilized the shading using a hot iron which melts the applied surface wax into the fabric. Now the child is seen as naked.
I’m much happier with how people are responding.
Same pattern, cut out with the same modifications I used with the pink pants, and these came out larger – had to take in the sides 3/8″ at the top and from mid hip to hemline. Obviously the difference is the fabric in spite of the fact there’s no spandex in this fabric either….
The front has turned out fine, happy with that, but below the bum is a wee bit baggy. Not much I can do about that at this point – the pants may tighten up a bit with washing, although I prewashed the fabric. Sitting in them may also round out the backside some.
The pants are certainly wearable.
This morning I dug out some navy cotton twill (no spandex) that I will wash tomorrow, as well as some prewashed beige cotton twill – both will get made into pants when I get back from Toronto (going to my niece’s wedding coming weekend). I also found a prewashed length of French navy blue light weight cotton/linen blend to use for a loose shirt. Once those garments are done, the pants with the stretched out spandex will go.
Tomorrow, I intend to interface the silk dupion I’ve had waiting to be made into a quilt. I’ll get that project started next.
These pants were cut based on the modifications I made to my basic pattern in San Francisco – a small addition to the centre front crotch area, a 3/4″ drop in the front waist, and 1/4″ addition to the side seams because the fabric had no spandex.
This is a jeans pattern but I thought this wool/polyester fabric was a bit too “dressy” to turn into jeans so I left out all the top stitching, omitted the back pockets, and used a single seam for a neat hem.
Have to say they turned out pretty well – although everything that could go wrong did! I started by putting the zipper on the wrong side of the fly front, had to redo it, pockets went in fine as did the side seams, but I screwed up threading the embroidery machine and I had to take out a stitched (not yet cut, fortunately) buttonhole not once but twice. After rethreading the machine and doing a practice buttonhole (which I should have done in the first place) the third try was fine. Only then did I cut it open.
I’ve just finished cutting pants out of a beige fabric which I will sew tomorrow. The beige fabric I used for pants in San Francisco turned out to be dreadful – it’s a stretch twill and it now has a permanent stretch across the front where the spandex has failed – very visible. So once these new beige pants (with almost no stretch) are done, the SF pants will get tossed.
That’s the same fabric I used for the light and dark blue pants I made earlier in the spring – they’re starting to show the same permanent stress marks across the front so they’ll have to be replaced. This time, I’ll use a cotton twill with no spandex in it. The original fabric wasn’t a cheap fabric, either.
So lesson learned – stay away from fabrics with any amount of spandex – they may be intended to provide a comfortable fit with some give but the quality and durability is variable and pants take a good 5-6 hours of work. Too much time for such a limited result!
Here it is – just done:
It always amazes me how much finish work goes into one of these pieces – inner border, wide mitred outer border, backing, hidden binding, hanging sleeve. And a lot of it is hand sewing – I’m getting better at hand sewing, but it’s still awkward; I’m having trouble pulling the needle through with my thumb and first finger, especially if I’m trying to get through multiple layers of fabric!
Now to put the art quilting aside for a while and on to making pants.
I did a bit of thread painting on the background of this piece yesterday during the Art Quilt Class – I wanted to demonstrate how I double up the rayon thread and use both in a single needle, how I stitch the raw edges using a very narrow blanket stitch, how I freely sew flow lines in the background.
Today, I finished up the background by adding a bit more dark fabric to the water and doing quite a lot of stitching for detail (the thread actually becomes lighter the farther from the foreground it is). As well I did some dense stitching along the water edge to suggest foam. I left the darker edge of wet sand clear of stitching because that sand is always packed densely while it’s still wet. The stitching in the sand is intentionally more random to hint at the irregular detail from many footprints.
For the moment Charlie is still a piece of paper. Tomorrow I’m going to work on creating him from 4-6 layers of flesh-toned fabrics from very l light on his right shoulder to very dark at his bum and the backs of his lower legs.
I added my signature while I was working at the machine rather than struggle to add it later. I do the embroidery using the metal hoop which allows me to just place the art piece flat and hold it in place with magnets instead of trying to force it into a double pieced hoop – much easier to position the fabric.
I’m still not sure whether I’ll border this piece or not or whether I’ll use a hidden binding – I’ll see how I feel when the child is assembled and added. Finished dimensions will be approximately 12″ x 10″.
First Swim with Child
OK, so I didn’t wait until tomorrow – I pieced the child this evening. Didn’t turn out badly at all. Now to edge stitch all the pieces – slowly and carefully.
I started these socks just before I went to San Francisco; then I had the carpel tunnel surgery which kept me from knitting for two weeks then only a small amount each day since. However my hand function is nearly returned to normal – these socks were finished last night and a new pair started.
Dots – Completed
Having given the piece a name, I realized the majority of the fabrics I used to construct the piece had dots in them! So to take the idea further, I appliquéd more dots of various sizes to add further detail to the piece, and stitched around the outside edge with rayon embroidery thread using a narrow blanket stitch. Although difficult to see, the 1/4″ binding is also a dotted fabric. Finished size: 12.5″ x 17″.
Tuesday is fast approaching and I’m trying to get the last demonstration pieces sorted out for the art/landscape class.
Taking the idea of the “Portrait” piece – assembled from a range of cutouts of skin-tone printed fabrics, I decided to see what I can create based on this “At The Beach” photo:
At The Beach
One of the “secrets” of successful textile art (whether primarily appliqué or thread painting or a combination of both) is simplicity. The point isn’t to reproduce the detail of the photo but to abstract/simplify it enough that you have a clear background and a subject. In this case, I’m removing dad and the other people and the land on the opposite side of the lake. I just want the nude child and his tentative steps toward to the water:
At The Beach II
So far, I’ve laid down layers of beach sand, set up the water’s edge, and covered the top of the background with fabric for the water. I’m place holding the child with a paper cutout on which I’ve marked the colour blocks – I think I can create him with bits of five fabrics representing the gradations of colour on his body.
The next step is to do a LOT of thread painting to bring out the texture of the sand and to represent the wind on the water. Then I’ll work on putting the child together – I’ve already added fusible web to the back of my flesh-toned fabrics so once I have set up the template pieces, I’ll cut them out and fuse them together.
Finished dimensions of “At The Beach” will be 12″ x 9″ with a hidden binding and no borders/framing.
Another sample I wanted to create was a “modern art” piece of the kind Melody Johnson does:
Her pieces are often small (12″ x 12″), constructed from geometric shapes cut from either solids or hand painted fabric – pieced and appliquéd, usually with a hidden binding.
I just wanted to illustrate the technique – since I don’t use much in the way of solids I decided to dig out whatever prints/batiks I had in my “strips” box. This is what I came up with:
I still have to quilt the piece – I’m thinking I’ll quilt this starting with stitching in the ditch, then add more straight lines of stitching to fill the space; I’ll see once I’ve done the stitching along the seam lines.