Posts Tagged ‘straight stitch’

Sample Making Satisfaction

Friday, November 13th, 2020

I have in mind something about 2m wide by about 95cm high, which is largish for me, and with the hand stitching that’s on my mind just now, I’ve been thinking of how to apply large areas of colour – well there’s paint of course …

I’m always inclined to set personal challenges to somehow use stuff already in the house, much of which I bought years ago on some whim or faded intention.  A few years ago I bought several metres of slightly dusty white cheesecloth in an old downtown store – I’ve asked myself a few times since what on earth I was thinking.  The other day from somewhere came the idea that I could paint or spray it, and thought it would go well with what I have in mind (see previous post)  I just happened to have a new can of gold spray paint, it was a nice day, so I cut off 3m x ~50cm, took it outside, and emptied the whole can on it.  Outside, with the fabric folded over so spray passing through the holes would get picked up as it moved through, with re-folding periodically, I regard that as a successful move… though I forgot about an aprin so njow have a new painting shirt, and managed to get some drips on my foot amazingly missing my sandle, and a few drops on the ceramic patio tiles, which didn’t cause any angst anywhere.

Gold gauze and a sandy coloured waxed string machine appliqued with invisible nylon thread to secure the edge, which was then hand stitched with one of my many gold threads.

I suppose I fiddled around for at least an hour, ironing the gauze, and trying several ways to stitch it down, none of which I was happy with until this combo,  so it ticks all the boxes –

  • I can invisible machine applique large sections of this gold gauze, and the edge will not fray and become unstable as I stitch and handle the rest of the piece
  • The effect of this gold gauze is earthy, not brassy – very pleasing.
  • In addition to the horizontal strips I at first tagged it for, I now know I can use it for other shapes that would fray even more on handling if not fo my technical breakthrough.
  • I have a lot of this colour gold thread, but as it’s just the edge being oversewn, it will be much more economical with the feature thread than the oversewn strips on Pandemic Pattern (which did fray, and that was a chosen option, so AOK)



Lines, Marks, Stitches, 3

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020

Of course I love glitter, but using thread the same colour as the background to oversew the strips is a whole other area to pursue. I like the effect of small segments of colour lined up beside each other against the black.

L to R – (a) black quilting thread – marvellous (b) black perle #8 – too thick and shiny, and (c) a shiny polyester thread – too thin.

The glorious straight stitch is my very favourite, with enormous expressive potential in lines that outline shaopes and build into patterns and in groups to infill areas. Previously I’ve posted on some of the ways this most basic stitch of all has been used since humans began sewing fabrics together for preactical purposes, and it was invitable that the element of decoration appeared concurrently. It is a very human characteristic to decorate surfaces and objects in our surroundings, and there are others in the animal kingdom that also decorate, chiefly as part of their routine to attract a mate.

In my last post I wrote “The sewing is very calming and satisfying – a perfect project for these turbulent times.” With the rise of the Slow Stitch movement in the last few years, and appearance in the fibre art of Penny Berens, Judy Martin, Christine Mauersberger, Dorothy Caldwell and many more artists, the straight stitch is hugely popular. Of course, hand quilting uses straight stitches, but I have been creatively stitching with them since long before I encountered quiltmaking in the late 80s. These pieces date between 1986 and 2007:

Upper left, detail “Sunburnt Textures” 1987; Lower left, detail “Desert Tracks 5: 2007;
Centre, detail “Heritage 1”, 2005; Right, detail “On the Edge Of The Golden Mile” 1986

The next image is a collage of details from some more recent works (2004-2016) featuring straight stitch as both quilting and embroidery.

Upper Left detail “About Red” 2015, Upper Right Tetrahedron, “Wave” 2016
Lower Left detail “Ebb&Flow 8 2004, Lower Right detail “Sunburnt Textures 5” 2015

Mark Making And Mending

Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

On textile artist Maeve Coulter’s textile art page is a brief paragraph on her techniques, another on the themes and ideas in her art, plus this single line: “I was raised in a household where fabric was revered, rescued and reused.”  This comment is a common thread running through statements by many textile artists, fabric artists, art quilters, whatever each of us calls ourselves.  The presence of fabric or cloth in our lives is acknowledged, and we tend to revere it at some level for its importance from cradle to grave. It’s frequently expressed in terms of saving, rescuing, repurposing, upcycling, reusing and recycling garments and other cloth items.  The western world has lost a lot of the ‘make do and mend’ concept, and our garbage tips and landfills bulge as  huge environmental problem grows daily.

I’m a classic Baby Boomer, and all the mothers of other kids I knew used fabrics carefully, sewing garments with generous seam and hem allowances that allowed them to be handed down and along to other families where they could be taken up, let out, lengthened or shortened.   For a garment to successfully endure all these phases, the fabric needed to be the best quality  possible, and in home sewing for kids especially it has always been false economy to go for cheap fabric.  Our mothers were stay at home mums, as even though they might have worked during the men’s absence fighting WWII, most of those jobs were handed back to men as they returned home.  Clothes rationing lasted in Australia until the early 50s, so our mothers had the motivation and the time to invest in the whole process of sewing, mending and repurposing fabric things.  Plus they mended things to make them last longer.

Straight stitches commonly feature in mending – for example a 3-corner tear

I’ve noticed artists who can claim their work uses all recycled materials enjoy a subtle extra merit, eco brownie points, making the work somehow more worthy because only recycled materials were used.  Google “recycled clothes” for example, you’ll find many pics of inspiring projects from recycled materials, it’s big business.  I guess I might be part way there, as I don’t cut into new fabric if I have suitable coloured/printed/textured scraps or offcuts I can use in my improvisational constructions.  Occasionally I cut up an old garment, but I tend to give away intact clothes I’ve worn a lot or outgrown that still have some use in them.  To go all the way would be to scour op shops and markets, but, to be honest, I have no inclination to regularly do those rounds or hoard bundles of fabrics from used clothes.  I have a close friend who acquires mended fabric whatevers by various means – clothes, sheets, blankets, you name it, she has it somewhere.  The interior of her house has all this wonderful fabric stuff, much of it backed by interesting stories, but you can barely find a place to sit down.  I just do not want to get on that bandwagon  🙂


The Glorious Straight Stitch 3

Saturday, September 21st, 2013

Last year, fibre artist  Kathy Loomis  blogged daily on a hand stitched square, which I failed to register while the project was going, but today I lobbed in to her blog, and found lots of little pictures featuring chain and coral stitches, French knots, fly stitches, and several others used regularly through her samples.  I commented on how my fav. is the Straight Stitch plus any stitch variation which you can do with a ‘stem’ – so stemmed French knots, stemmed fly-stitch,  etc, which in turn reminded her of these very expressive variations, plus another I’d forgotten about till just now – the Cretan stitch, seen in this detail of “Out Back of Bourke” 1987, full pic in pre-1988 gallery on this website.   For all those stitches, and probably more I’ve forgotten, you can make those legs reeeeally long.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Back in 1977 I had a fabulously inspiring creative embroidery class in Darwin, NT Australia, with a woman I can’t find anywhere on the web, Laurel Fraser Allen.  She opened my eyes so wide I couldn’t sleep the night after my first class.  Through her I realized the potential of hand stitchery,  which was so much wider than my own mother’s smocking and counted thread works on linen.  I found Jacqueline Enthoven’s “The Stitches of Creative Embroidery” and studied it but, looking back it wasn’t very ‘creative’, more a stitch dictionary and paper precursor to the diagrammed stuff you see on the internet today by people who style themselves ’embroidery artists’, but really aren’t.  It was very stimulating, though.  In the next few years I bought several books that have stayed with me even if they aren’t  actually here in Montevideo but languish on my bookshelves back in Perth , Australia.  One is Nik Krevitsky’s  “Stitchery, Art and Craft”

Nik Krevistsky  Art and Craft  about which I can find nothing much where you would expect to find info, but let me tell you, it is a fabulously inspiring book that I treasure – lots of straight stich embroideries and woven textures, and I’ll have a read next time I go back.  Between 1977- c.1985  I attended several summer school type courses with prominent Australian embroiderers who taught the English ways of ‘design it yourself’ embroidery on subjects that mean something to you personally – so, I haven’t embroidered anything from a kit and very little from any patterns, instructions, samplers since I was a kid learning how to embroidery a traced linen table doily… which I still have, the crudely crocheted edge and all.  I’ll blog it sometime.    These days I let my needle wander, or ‘draw’ for me.

Looking around for  “contemporary embroidery artists”, I struck gold, there’s a lot there, and I came across two names new to me, whose websites really caught my attention: Kathy Halper whose embroidered drawings in mostly straight stitches explore the world of teens and the social media in which they operate and communicate – quite marvelous, and plenty more images when you search her name.  Then I found Melissa Zexter who embroiders over photographs of portraits and landscapes with various stitches mostly straight, some arranged into meshes and motifs that seem like an interpretive curtain over at least part of the image if not all – heaps more of wonderful images if you search her name.




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