Finally Making Headway

I finally started stitching this piece yesterday. I filled in the sky and worked on the mud flat with blues/greys and brown/rusts (to really see what I’ve done, click on the image).

Under Construction

Today I worked on the land in the distance (still have the headland to work on). Then started in on the vegetation on the bank. First I had to modify some elaborate floral stitches on my machine to get the feel of the taller plants on the edge, next the long dried grass; after that the shorter dried grass next to the gravel (which I haven’t done anything to yet).

I’ve begun stitching the dark lines on the sun-bleached bench; I still have more to do there – just not sure which elements to try bringing out.

The gravel will present a bit of a challenge – I’ll probably use wandering straight stitching with a mixture of lighter and darker thread.

The most difficult element will be Ruby herself – I want to bring in the construction elements of her jacket – cuffs, the yoke and pockets, the collar. I think I’m just going to outline her hair, her face, and her hand, and leave the fine facial detail alone!

Maybe a bit more later this afternoon; if not, I’ll work on the piece again tomorrow.

What’s sticking out in the photo is my attempt to bring a bit of grey cloud to the upper right corner of the piece. I’m seriously thinking about taking out the grey thread and replacing it with the paler blue I used for the rest of the sky. The darker stitching seems a distraction. Retracing the stitching will have to be done v-e-r-y slowly so I can reuse the needle holes from the stitching I’ve taken out! Fingers crossed that it’s doable.

Grey Thread Removed From Sky

I did it – took out the grey stitching in the sky. Looks better. Check on the closeup (click on the image) and you’ll see the needle holes I now have to use as I stitch with lighter blue thread!

At Five Islands IV

I wasn’t going to work on the Five Islands piece today but after lunch I found myself at the cutting table tidying up and before I knew it, I was picking up the small scraps of fabric and adding fusible web to each piece, then cutting them into shapes, next fusing them in place. And of course the next step was to peel the plastic backing from the photo printed on fabric, adding fusible web, fussy cutting out Ruby and the bench and pressing them into place.

Appliqué Assembled

I moved on to selecting thread to use for the thread painting. While I was at it, I added a tiny bit of darkening to the sky with fabric pastels and pressing it to set the colours into the fabric. I might add a bit more grey in the upper right corner of the sky but not until I’ve done a bit of stitching, first.

Selecting Thread

The next step is always the challenging moment – up to this point I can always remove a bit of fabric and try something else, but once I start stitching, the fabric selection is set. In addition, I really only get one go at the stitching because after I’ve picked out the thread there are needle holes (subtle but nevertheless visible). So, it’s take a deep breath and gently hit the foot pedal.

I want to do a lot of thread painting on the mud flats – browns into the blue fabric, blues/greys into the browns to obscure the fabric edges (If I can). Actually, I’ll start with the sky and work my way down to the bottom of the piece, including quite a bit on the bench and the gravel it’s sitting on to blend the two together a bit more.

The last element will be a signature in the bottom left corner in a soft blue/grey so it can be seen but doesn’t jump out – that addition always scares me because I can end up ruining the piece after I’ve put in a lot of work. So far I’ve had no disasters signing a piece but you just never know when the embroidery machine won’t quite cooperate!

Tomorrow I have a “Quilting In The Hoop” class at Sew With Vision (a Pfaff/Husqvarna dealership nearby) for most of the day. However, my calendar is completely free Thursday….

Federer – Completed

Just finished the panel. (It’s actually squarer than the photo shows – its all about the angle I’m holding the phone at).

Australian Open 2018 – Federer’s 20 Grand Slam Win

Finished size: 20 3/4″ x 16 1/2″.
Techniques Used: Raw Edge Appliqué, Thread Painting, Machine Embroidery.

In the end I did less thread painting than I originally intended – I did none on the court walls other than to secure the edges. The grunge fabric provided quite a bit of texture which I decided I didn’t want to disrupt so I left the dark backing alone after embroidering the Jacob’s Creek name and logo. I did the barest amount needed to hint at the shadows of Federer created by the overhead lighting. I did densely stitch the white lines on the court to hold those narrow pieces securely. But that was it.

That’s all the wall art for now. This is #9 of the pieces I wanted to complete for the showing at the Art Labs in Parrsboro end of July to mid-August. Added to the 8 quilts I have ready, the gallery walls will be full.

I have two large projects I agreed to do for other people that have sitting around for more than 6 months – I have to get them done and out of the apartment. Then I can turn to making some clothing for myself and think about how to use a couple of fabric collections I bought for quilts a couple of months ago.

So lots more sewing/quilting waiting for me.

Federer

This is as far as I’ve got with this wall art panel at the moment.

I had set up embroideries for the Jacob’s Creek winery logo and the serve speed readout. I tested each embroidery on fabric scraps, made adjustments and tested them again. Then I took a deep breath and started to embroider directly on the panel. One error and the whole project is a goner. I was very lucky – the Jacob’s Creek logo embroidered nicely each time and the serve speed readout turned out crisp and a good size.

Before doing the embroideries, I’d shaded the court and thread painted the surface adding the shadows beneath Federer’s feet (both feet are about 1″ above the court surface – he’s actually in the air in the original photo) as well as the lighter shadows cast by light coming from another direction at the end of the court.

Australian Open 2018 – Federer vs. Cilic

I’m still thinking about whether I want to put in any shading on the court walls or not – if you click on the image you’ll see I used a shaded fabric (Grunge by Moda) – I’m not inclined to follow the random pattern of the fabric; were I to add thread painting, I’d mirror the shading I used on the court.

I’ve stopped for now. I’ve stitched around Federer himself using a fine clear (invisible) monofilament thread. I will likely stitch the shadows on his clothing and body and indicate the colour changes on his shirt, socks, and shoes. Tomorrow. I’ll look at it again tomorrow and see what I think then.

I also have no idea yet what to use to bind/border the panel. When I get the thread painting done, I’ll trim the panel, add the narrow silk inner border, then see what I have in my stash that might complement the panel itself and bring out the colour in it.

On Deck – Finished

Finally done – borders and backing completed. I have to say it’s growing on me. In spite of the fused interfacing I still got some “bubbling” of the fabric. It’s much less noticeable when you stand in front of the actual panel but it is definitely visible in the photo.

On Deck

Finished size: 16  3/8″ x 20 3/4″.

Techniques: raw-edge appliqué, thread painting (done with feed dogs down, and needle in the down position which lifts the presser foot when I stop, so I am able to maintain a consistent stitch length but freely move the stitching as I sew to create curved, flowing lines).

The background is pieced from fabric; the figure was enlarged, printed on fabric, and “fussy cut”. In the original photo the woman was on the left of the image; in this rendition I moved her slightly to right of centre to provide a better context for the direction of her gaze. The dark outer border fabric strengthens the light within the image.

 

 

On Deck 3

I’ve got this far today. Added the windows and the handrail (lots of stitching on both).  Added shading to the decking and stitched the boards.

I’ve positioned (and sort of fused) the woman – now I need to stitch her in place using a clear invisible thread and a very narrow blanket stitch. Then I’ll be able to fill in shadow lines and other colour demarkations. I also need to add her shadow to the deck so that she’s attached to the rest of the image. Tomorrow!

On Deck 3

Finished these colourful socks last evening. They’ve gone in the give-away collection – while I have clothes in these colours I don’t need (actually, I don’t have room for) another pair of socks in my sock drawer!

Colourful Socks

On Deck 2

Today: I added a medium weight woven fusible interfacing (which doesn’t seem to have “fused” – oh well – I’ve stitched it at the edge and around the “finished” image lines), I finished stitching the water, added some darker thread strategically to the headland to give it more depth, did a bit of sewing in the sky, just enough to bring out some clouds.

On Deck 2

Now I need to plan out the windows (the decking is there – I’ll make it more plank-like with permanent markers and stitching with dark thread). The windows I have to think about, so that’s for tomorrow – I need to let that next step percolate and see what ideas emerge in the morning.

Yesterday I visited my friend Marlene – her  Oriental Poppies were in glorious bloom (it hasn’t rained here for a few days although it’s raining today so I imagine I caught the flowers at just the right moment).

Oriental Poppies

The petals just glowed! Simply wonderful. There are lots of buds still to open so she should have more flowers after today’s rain has knocked the petals off the present ones.

I tried, unsuccessfully, to grow oriental poppies both in the garden beds and in my container garden at the townhouse, not enough direct sunshine. I never got much of anything. Marlene’s have been growing in that same location at the front of her house forever – close to 50 years, I’d guess.

I’ve given up gardening altogether (except for a few phalaenopsis and an occasional amaryllis indoors) – my balcony faces north-east – right now I’m getting the sunrise coming in my living room windows and on my deck but the sun’s completely moved on by 10:00am – not enough direct sun for anything other than geraniums. I wanted to grow hibiscus – I brought two potted hibiscus with me when I moved into the apartment, but once on the balcony I stopped getting flowers – just not enough sunlight.

On Deck 1

Melanie MacNeil, a blogger I follow, had this to say the other day:

…it’s hard to know where to start. I have lists of things done and lists of things doing and lists of things to do! I have a mess in my studio, the product of having several projects going at the same time. What should I do first? What should I write about first?….

It’s like that with the textile art pieces — where to start…in this case with an analysis of the photo and deciding what to include and what to leave out, how close a representation / how abstracted…then sketching the image outlines and proportions on the muslin, choosing fabrics (buying more when you don’t have exactly the right print for the job like I did yesterday), cutting pieces to fill the spaces, adding fusible web to the back and pressing them to the muslin using the underlying sketch as a guide…start stitching at the horizon to make sure those first lines of thread painting are horizontal, next moving more freely to give the stitching some flow.

On Deck

That’s as far as I got today. I didn’t add a fusible interfacing to the back of the muslin – that was intentional, but I can see already the little stitching I’ve done is tightening the fabric so the first thing when I resume will be to add a medium weight woven interfacing to the back of the muslin to provide some stability to the panel.

The women is not fused to the panel – adding her is the final step, but I wanted to see how my proportions were beginning to shape up and I think I’m in the ballpark. She’s a bit darker than I’d like but I will lighten her with the thread I use when I add detail to her. Also where she’s standing behind the windows of the deck is shaded and that will help with her colour tones.

So I’ve started….I have a running list in my head of how to proceed – I’ll carry on thread painting the water, then the sky (wouldn’t you know I gave away my spool of white/aqua variegated rayon embroidery thread — I’ll have to use some of both colours). Still haven’t worked out how I will construct the window frames — they were painted white but appear a rather dark grey/almost black with whitish highlights where the light hits the edges, they’re graduated top to bottom so I will need to use a lighter grey and create the ombre with crayon or markers or both. I’m going to have to play a bit with making the railing appear rounded at the top – single rows of thread in increasingly darker colour, perhaps?

On Deck – 2008

The piece is underway. It will start to move along now.

Hawaiian Flowers

I finished thread painting the Hawaiian Flowers (Plumaria, Anturium, Epiphyllium) yesterday. Today I framed the piece using an off-white piping made from raw silk and a batik fabric border.

Hawaiian Flowers

I’m happy with the thread painting. What I now can see is I should have backed the blue raw silk with some kind of stabilizer like “sewer’s dream” to keep it from stretching. The thread painting has kept the appliqué flat, but the blue background is problematic and at this point there is nothing I can do about it. [I will have to take apart the piece set up on the natural coloured raw silk separating the silk from the batting, fusing sewer’s dream to the back of the silk, then reattach the batting so that the silk will remain more stable when the thread painting is done.]

Hawaiian Flowers – Detail of Epiphyllium

The modified embroidery stitch I chose for the stamen anthers worked out nicely and the colour brightens the whole panel.

I learned quite a bit from doing this piece. Now to apply it to the second one (which I’m putting aside for the moment until I finish framing the Fern pieces.

Abstracts From Scraps – III

A fifth (and for now final) Abstract From Scraps piece — this one assembled from turquoise-ish scraps. I really have kept quite a few small scraps of fabric, boxes of them (all coloured coded: red/yellow/orange scraps, blue/green/purple scraps…). This is definitely a good way to use up a few of them.

Fern 5

I’m enjoying the process of selecting bits of fabric, piecing them (trying to use each fabric just once – although there are a few repeats where I decided to splice two fabrics in more than one spot), building a 10″ x 12.75″ block, then added a few appliqués, finally setting up and stitching out an embroidery.

For some reason, the “fern” seems to have worked quite well as a focal point for these pieces. I could see flowers, or other leaf shapes working quite well, too.

Anyway, this is it for now – although a grey/neutrals panel is kind of whispering to me. However, for hanging purposes 5 is probably a better number than 6, but maybe after I’ve finished the bark cloth appliqués I may come back to this idea and pursue it a bit further. Maybe….

Fern 1

Fern 2

Fern 3

Fern 4