Lines, Marks, Stitches, 6

Despite what I wrote in a recent post, that idea has been sidelined for the moment. I realised I was trying to put two ideas together that weren’t going well, they were blocking my way forward and I was stuck. I unpicked what I’d done so far, reviewed my thumbnail drawings, cleared away fabrics, got out others, tidied my work table and got ready to make a fresh start again the next morning.

Intending to use lines of arcs as in several previous works, I auditioned some sheer fabrics, stitching them with metallic thread onto the black background. They were hard to photograph:

I selected the right end one, which looks best with the duller gold I stitched it with. I pre-applique with machine basting, and although in this image it was a straight line, now with curvy shapes I’m using the longest stitch set on the widest zig-zag, which is easily pulled out once the edge stitching’s all done. Pulling the top thread from the stitching is a breeze using Gutermann’s Skala – one of those multi filament threads many call bobbin thread. I always use it for machine pieced patchwork and have done for decades. The seam is as strong as anything else, the stitching is so fine the seam lies ultra flat, and as I say, and it’s quick and easy to undo any seam that needs to be redone.

The fabric shape is machine basted with the longest/widest zig-zag into place, that stitching being removed once the applique is complete.

This work will be1.8mw x 0.9mh, so there’s a lot of sewing to be done while I think about how I’ll quilt it, and whether to use batting or just a third layer of fabric between front and back.

Though I’ve become pretty speedy with the hand applique, it occurred to me perhaps this wasn’t the smartest technique to use in a big piece, and yet I felt compelled to. I found myself recalling an exhibition of the layered textile art of Nena Bardaro I visited here in 2017. She’d used fairly sheer fabrics in her quite large appliqued works, and I began wondering if she’d stitched the raw edges down or whether they’d been finely turned under… When I read that post, I felt really silly to have fogotten the most fascinating technical detail of those works – her ‘stitches’ were lots and lots of tiny melt marks made with non-specified heat tool that fused those nylon fabrics together. I feel a bit better – that must have been almost as time consuming, obsessive perhaps, as what I’m doing right now.

A Nena Bardaro work detail – stitch-like melt marks that fused the layers of nylon.

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