I am currently taking a course with the Royal School of Needlework in the UK. The lastest project is Quilting, it is also my first attempt at quilting and so was quite exciting. The piece is small, will become a wall hanging and looks like this:
I had to use english, trapunto, italian and Kantha quilting, it was really fun to combine all of the these techniques!
If you haven't heard of these techniques before, here are some definitions for you (I wasn't sure on a couple of them!):
English quilting - This technique uses a combination of back stitch to define the main motifs, surrounded by a running stitch pattern. The running stitch pattern is not random, we had to select a traditional pattern to use.
Trapunto quilting/Stuffed - A shape/motif is worked in back stitch, the piece is turned over and the backing fabric cut. The shape is then stuffed and the hole sewn up.
Italian quilting/Corded - The technique is worked by stitching a channel, traditionally this was a running stitch, then a cord (either cotton or wool) is passed through the channels.
Kantha quilting - is a technique that comes from West Bengal. It is made up of old saris layered with other fabrics.
The layers are secured together with a running stitch, there are traditional motifs that are often included, these are usually animal or plants. If a motif is used the shape is then echoed with a running stitch as seen in the example.
If these aren't correct please let me know, then I can update my paperwork!
The goldwork is amazing. How are the threads applied?
Mostly goldwork threads are couched, that is you use a strong sewing thread to stitch over the gold thread to attach it to the fabric. You then take the gold threads through to the underside and stitch them to the back of the fabric to secure them.
There are some exceptions - the tail is a technique called cut work. The threads are made up of a small wire that is wound like a spring, so the centre is hollow. You can then pass a need and thread through the centre of the spring to attach them to the fabric.
There are several different types of padding that can give different effects. The one that is most obvious is the basketweave section on the neck. Hard string (literally the white string that you have in your kitchen draw) is stitched on first at regular intervals, you then lay the gold thread over the top and add a discreet catching stitch over the gold, between the pieces of hard string. By varying the number of times and intervals that you catch the thread, ou can create different patterns. It is all very clever and LOTS of fun.
The last couple of months have been super busy, but I have had a chance to do some stitching (!) My lastest project is whitework and I started with pulled thread work. LOVE pulled thread work!
For those who haven't encountered pulled thread work, I describe it like this: "You know when you are stitching and everyone tells you not to pull to hard on the thread because you will distort the fabric? well you get to break that rule in pulled thread work!"
So here is the finished thing! (well not quite, I still have to mount it!)
Before the end of last term, I finished this piece, it is my advanced gold piece, or as I like to call it Extra Sparkly Fun Time!
Some progress shots for you, underneath the craft felt is carpet felt - ewwww, its horrible, itchy and shreds very easily - the little fibres go up your nose, not good!
thank you for all your kind comments, I really enjoyed this piece (for the most part)
the hair is made up of stranded cotton and rayon thread (all I had) and stitched down in bundles of three. I started just near the neck and worked my way up to the top of the head, as I worked up I started to add in light shades of thread to give her highlights!
You start by working out how long you want the hair to be and then double it and add a bit extra. You fold the thread in half and stitch it down in the fold then add a holding stitch over the top of the thread as close to the fold as you can so that it can't be seen, you can use this to determine the direction you want the hair to lay. Don't smoosh all of the bundles of thread too close together as the hair will end up too bulky. When you are done adding the hair, you can trim it if it was real hair. Be careful with tidying up the cut off ends - in this instance I actually "waxed" her legs and surrounding area to get rid of all the fluff. And yes it did feel a little bizarre to do that!
For my applique project I wanted to explore the world under the sea. I was inspired by a vintage travel poster, but the project doubled in size when I found two beautiful pieces of dyed habotai silk at the knitting and stitching show at Alexandra Palace in the UK which was used for the background. After 7 seven weeks I came up with this:
its huge! although most of the stitching takes place in the lower half of the piece. As this was a project for my course with the Royal School of Needlework, I had certain criteria I had to meet. I had to include 6 types of edges, they were corded, couched, satin stitched, folded, machined and frayed.
Working all of this in was a lot of fun, particularly the frayed edges in the waves and making cord with stranded cotton.
Some of the close ups:
The fan coral in the bottom right hand corner was two layers of organza with stitching over the top. The larger veins are wires which have been couched over, this allows the coral to be shaped slightly
The turtle was fun to do! he is made entirely separately from the rest of the piece and then stitched on - he is sooooo cute!
A lot of the elements are stitched, however all of the fish and the turtle come from a beautiful fabric I found. The clarity of the images on it was AMAZING!
Working out the stitching was lots of fun and I used beth8144's brilliant Undersea Hoopla piece as inspiration!
I did some planning with sampling the stitches to make sure they worked together.
The image comes from a photograph I took a few years ago. I photocopied and enlarged the picture in black and white as this would give me a good representation of the final piece. From the photocopy I took a line drawing of the basic shapes and some of the more obvious areas of light and dark to act as a guide. The line drawing was traced onto tissue paper which was then stitched onto the fabric (over the pencil lines). I also took photocopies of the line drawing and "coloured" it in using a pencil. This gave me a better understanding of the areas of light and shade.
This is the planning process I go through before starting a design, there was no chart as such (like in cross stitch). I used the black and white photocopy as a reference while stitching and of course the outlines that were tacked on, but some decisions are made as you go. Does this make sense??
Goldwork is a technique where most of the threads used are stitched down to the fabric as opposed to stitching through the fabric (if this make sense). It is called couching. Most of the stitched areas are padded with felt and a couple of areas (in the bottom right and in the middle at the top) have soft string padding, with metal purls stitched over the top.
This technique is traditional used on royal, military and religious garments.
It is a fantastic technique which is so different to most hand stitching.
The last technique is blackwork, which is fun and frustrating to do! the image is stitched using repeating geometric patterns, you create light and shade by adding too and breaking up the patterns and using different weight threads.
Work continues on my RSN course, I have now completed two more projects since my last post and broken up for Christmas.
The first project was silk shading
Although I am not happy with the final results, I think it was a good first attempt at this technique.
The second technique has to be my favourite so far, it is called Goldwork, but I like to refer to it as Sparkly fun time Yay!
It is in for marking at the moment, and I will find out the results in the new year. I LOVED every minute of this technique, despite the fact that it was quite repetitive.
I am also working on some more black work designs for practice, the first of which is this:
it will eventually be a whale tail, based on a picture I took a few years ago at the Vancouver Aquarium. I have converted a couple of my own photos into stitch and get a real sense of satisfaction from it, so in the new year I plan to spend alot more time with my camera!!