Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Red bat - design and preparation

A new project to work on!  This is quite a small piece, and shouldn't take too long to do, I don't think.  The person it's for has asked for an outline of a bat against a patterned background.  This is on a black fabric, and worked in red metallic thread.  She's also specified a size: no more than 20 cm (about 8") square.

So, here's the design:


The 'crazy paving' background is a Voronoi diagram, which can be calculated mathematically, but is also found everywhere in nature as it's the most efficient way to arrange shapes of varying sizes on a flat surface.  As such, it gives a nice organic look, and makes a nice change from precisely defined spirals and the like.

The fabric it's to be worked on is black silk matka, and I'm transferring the design in the usual way: making a transfer, ironing that onto some fine linen, attaching that to the back of the matka, and stitching over it to make the design on the back onto the front.  Fiddly, but effective.

Here's the first stage, the transfer on the linen (already attached to the black matka, which is why it looks a bit dark):



I'll do the bat first, I think.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Apple tree fire screen - finished

It's all done, and I'm very pleased.  I'm not 100% happy with the shading on the stems, but they're fine, and the new things I tried - paint and glue! - have been very successful indeed.  This was always meant as an experiment, but I'll definitely be using these techniques again in the future.

So, without further ado, here it is:


Next to the wardrobe and the original panel:


And in situ in the dining room:


I think it goes there nicely - I'm very pleased.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Apple tree fire screen - stretching and mounting

I dismantled the fire screen, putting the old embroidery away, and giving the frame a good clean.  There was already a board cut to size for the embroidery to go round, having been used for the old one, so no need to get anything else.  The old one was glazed, but I don't want this to be, so I disposed of the glass.

I want it to seem quite soft, so I stuck some wadding to the board with 505 fabric spray glue:


Centring the embroidery over that, I laced it on the back in the usual way:


That's my name tape on the bottom, for someone in the future to find!

I placed this into the frame:


Then placed the back panel down and screwed it into position:


All done!  I'll show you the finished piece tomorrow.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Apple tree fire screen - applying the embroidery to the background

With the embroidery safely cut out and all in one piece, it's time to add it to the background.

I'd already got that set up and key reference points marked on the fabric to ensure I got the apple tree design on straight.  I laid the embroidery on the fabric, lining it up with the reference marks, and pinned over - not through - some of the stems to hold it in place:


I then started stitching it down, using single strands of the same shades I used for the embroidery itself.

The outer edge of the stems:


The rest of the stems:


The apples:


And finally the leaves:


Finished!  Or finished the embroidery, anyway - the last thing to do is to stretch it onto a board and put it into the fire screen itself.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Apple tree fire screen - cutting out the embroidery

Time to get out the scissors!  The reason I painted glue on the back of the stitching was so I could cut it out without the whole thing falling to bits.  Once cut out, the embroidered slip will be stitched to the background fabric.

This is the same principle as I used for the flowers on St Cuthbert's Banner, if long-time readers can remember that, though in that case there was no glue involved: I cut the flower shapes out slightly larger, so with a sort of seam allowance of linen all round, and then tucked this under as I stitched the shape down.  That was a very fiddly operation, especially as the edges of the cut linen frayed; this time, the use of the glue should make life much easier.

Or that was the theory, and I'm happy to say that it seems to be working, at least so far.  I cut the shape out as close to the embroidery as I could, using small sharp scissors.

Here it is with the fabric cut away from around the outside of the shape:


And then with all the awkward shapes on the inside also cut away:


That's just the embroidery, not supported by any fabric, and with just the thin layer of glue on the back holding it all together.  I told you I was nervous about all this - now you can see why!

It is holding together, however, so now I can stitch it to the marked-up background fabric.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Apple tree fire screen - getting the background ready

Although the embroidery was done onto organza, that's not the final fabric for the finished piece, which is an ivory cotton velvet.  With all the embroidery completed, it's time to get that ready.

I'm going to be applying the embroidery to the velvet background, so in order to make sure I get it on straight, I traced some key points in the design with a transfer pencil, and ironed them onto a piece of linen:


I stitched this to the back of the velvet, then stitched over the lines with a dark yellow sewing thread, to transfer them onto the front:


Time to add the embroidery, so I can't put the next stage off any longer.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Apple tree fire screen - glue...

On the whole, I've never felt that glue and embroidery go together.  I'll admit to occasionally using small amounts of 505 fabric spray glue to hold small, fiddly appliqué shapes in place before I stitch them, but that's all.  I dislike Bondaweb and other fusible fabrics and never use them, and wouldn't dream of using proper glue anywhere near my work.

Until now.

In her description of her technique, Michele Carragher says that she paints a thin layer of glue over the back of the work to hold the stitches in place.  I'm following her instructions for this, so like it or not, that's what I had to do next.

'A thin layer of glue' is a bit unspecific, so I opted for PVA craft glue (i.e. white glue), which I thinned down with about a 1:1 ratio of glue to water, though I didn't measure it out precisely.  Time to get painting!


I painted the glue over the back of all the stitching, and deliberately went beyond it onto the fabric too.  This all made me very nervous, I have to say.  The thought of glue on my embroidery just seems wrong, and I was worried that it would make it stiff or hard, or leave obvious marks.  I was also worried that the water might make the paint run and mark the threads.  I was worried that it may not make the stitching stiff enough, and hold the threads properly for the next stage and everything will unravel.

I'm still a bit worried about that last one, actually, but I think it'll be ok. I'm happy to say that it all seems to have worked out very well.  The paint didn't run, the stitches have dried firm but not hard, and it hasn't marked the front of the work at all.  What a relief!

The next stage is a bit scary too, though I think I'll put it off as long as possible with some necessary prep work!