Saturday, 13 March 2010

Spirograph I - setting up

With the design and tracing paper taped as best I could to the table, I traced the design with a transfer pencil, including marking the edge of the design with a dotted line. This will help me when I come to make up the hanging.

I cut a piece of linen a bit larger than the design, and tacked the transfer to it, pencil side down. As the transfer is so large, I was worried about the transfer shifting when I ironed it, so as well as tacking round the edge, I also tacked around the spiral shapes, to keep them as static as possible.

This photos shows the rather wobbly lines of the transfer in some places - it's a good job it's going on the back!

I then cut out the silk matka the same size as the linen, stitched them together, and neatened the edges. I find that oversewing the edges with an overlocker strengthens them for stretching onto a frame.

It was the stretching that came next. I'm using my biggest frame, but it's still not quite wide enough for all the design to be visible in one go. I'll do as much as I can here, then I'll need to unlace the sides, wind it on, and lace it up again. The stitching isn't going to be raised so this isn't a problem, but if I was using any padding on a design, wrapping it round one of the stretcher bars would squash it and could catch on the top fabric rolled on top of it, so it wouldn't really be an option. As it is, my main worry was that some of the top fabric would be rolled against the transfer, which might rub off; to prevent this, I cut a piece of muslin and put this between the two, to protect the silk.

A clean slate!

With the frame turned over, you can see the transferred design, ready for stitching through to the front.

Seen closer up, you can see a very good reason why the transfer is on the back and not the front: no matter what I do, it still smudges.

In case you're wondering why I don't trace the design directly onto the fabric using a lightbox, I prefer to get the whole design on in one go, in case I go wrong somewhere and don't get things lined up correctly.

Getting everything set up is always the worst part, but it's absolutely necessary to take time over it and get it right, or your embroidery will never work out properly.

Stitching next!


  1. transferring on the back is one of the best lessons i ever put into practice! thanks, as always, for the guidance.

  2. Hi Ruth,

    I'm really enjoying seeing your process and progress on this project!

    Yvette Stanton

  3. Hello Ruth and followers,
    I stumbled upon your work and love it. I am a painter, but am interested in your designs and process. I am a spiro-graph fan from 1968.
    Mary O'Rourke Mariutto, Chicago, USA