Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Eyelets and presentation

Having arrived at a point where I needed to make a decision on how I would hang the 3 sails of the completed project, I started to explore some ideas.

I had always had in mind to hang the sails from pieces of driftwood, but I discovered that although the idea worked with the velum sketches, it proved very difficult to achieve a suitable amount of tension on the organza.

I tried using a flat piece of wood (my wooden meter rule) to see if that was more stable and easier to use, but this wasn’t giving me the tension I wanted.

I was also concerned that this arrangement where each hanging cord would need to be attached to a ceiling when I am in a position to exhibit the piece, could prove problematic.

Another idea that I had been thinking about at the beginning of the project was to make a window frame for each sail, which would connect to the sheds and some of the historic dwellings found on the Dungeness peninsular.

                                                     Early inspiration for the window frame idea

I decided to make a trial window frame using mount board and masking tape, rather than starting with wood, as I thought it would be easier than going straight into lengths of timber. I started by cutting eight pieces of mount board, 2” wide by 32” long as they would be the shortest lengths.

Then I tackled the longest side which measures 43” and required a joining piece to make them long enough as the mount board was only 32” in length. All these pieces were stuck together with masking tape to create the equivalent of 4 lengths of 2”x 2” timber. 

I am delighted with the finished mount board frame and have definitely decided that this will be the final form that the presentation will take.

The frames will stand on a plinth that will have holes drilled into the top allowing a light source, placed inside, to illuminate the sails.

The embroidered eyelets for hanging the sails have now been completed and I will be able to wash off the stabiliser on the completed lace sail.

I have begun to experiment with forms of rope knotting which will be used to attach the sails to the frame.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Decorative hand stiches and a border

Decorative hand stitches and a border 

I’ve spent an enjoyable few weeks adding hand stitch to this piece in limited colours that reflect the environment of the Dungeness  peninsular…

It’s quite difficult to know when to stop embellishing the work as it would be very easy to overpower the digital embroidery.

The next step was to decide on a border stitch for the piece, which proved to be quite difficult.

I tried various different patterns on my embroidery machine, using the stitch size facility to make variations in length while  stitching.

I also tried hand stitching, which you can see in the image below (on the upper RHS), after the stabiliser has been washed away and each design has been cut ready for auditioning.

Having found a couple of very good trims in my local fabric /haberdashery shop I decided to see if they would work free standing on the stabiliser and stay complete when it was washed away, and they did, much to my surprise.

But after offering them up I decided that the two I liked were too heavy.

I finally settled on the design below.

I am now in the process of working out how close I can put the border to the design and how to make a neat turn at the corners.

Monday, 5 June 2017

All 33 hoopings have been completed at last

The lace panel now has all the digitised embroidery completed. It’s taken a very long time but now I  can enjoy the addition of some hand embroidery, which will give the piece texture and accents of colour.

The stabiliser is still in place as it will support the hand stitching and I also need to work a boundary stitch for the whole piece.

Some of the registration marks are still in place as they have been stitched through several layers of stabiliser which will need to be washed off to access the threads.

Once I get towards the end of a project I start to look for inspiration for the next one. I usually examine at least 2 subjects and at the moment I’m considering the famous Ferguson Gang who were a group of forward thinking women in the late1920’s and 30’s. They made it their ambition to raise money in order to help the fledgling National Trust  purchase properties  and land that would otherwise have been lost to the nation.

Part of the National Trust display

Part of the National Trust display

The first property that they helped the National Trust acquire and renovate was Shalford Mill, near Guildford in Surrey.

Part of the National Trust display

The gang had a room in the mill where they hatched their plans, had sleepovers and entertained friends on occasions. It has been faithfully furnished in-keeping with the original style and gives a very nostalgic feeling of the ladies having just left after one of their visits.

Unfortunately no photographs of the room are allowed as it is part of the current resident’s accommodation.

The mill entrance

A very imposing building

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Digitally embroidered lace

I’m finally reaching the the end of the mammoth task of 33 hoopings for this piece of the Dungeness project. Once that is completed I will add hand stitching with silk thread to give a surface texture using subtle colours that reflect the story of this project, which you can see here

I started the final piece using silk organza as I wanted all three pieces to be seen one behind the other, and it has proved to be a delightful medium for making lace patterns.

The design has been drawn onto sheets of velum so you cannot see through them, but it gives an idea of how the piece  will look.

I checked the fabric was on the straight of the grain to ensure that the design would hang true when suspended on a
support, which has yet to be determined.

I then checked the position of the first hooping by placing the hoop grid over first hooping on the calico mock and marking the position top and bottom (the top is seen seen in the red circle in the image above). It was crucial that the design would be stitched in the same position as the mock, so that there would be enough room to accommodate the hoop on the outer edges of the design. 

I transferred the marking to the organza and stitched out the first hooping in exactly the right place, as you can see where it lays over the mock.

I was now ready to stitch the remaining 32 hoopings, at the time of writing this post I'm on number 26.

I made a lot of use of the light box when matching registration marks before stitching each part of the design.

I've learnt a great deal during the process of constructing this piece, and realised how important it is to have a solid logical progression when digitising the design in the first place. I will definitely be revisiting the Digital embroidery course that I have been taking, offered by Carol Undy, I highly recommend it to anyone starting out on this style of embroidery or someone who wants to enhance their knowledge. 

Saturday, 18 February 2017

The final construction

At last I've arrived at a point where I can begin the final construction of this project and also have the first glimpse of how the lace panel will look in front of the portraits.

I was quite pleased to see that so far the portrait layer will be seen quite well through the lace, but it remains to be seen how much of the final layer of the women pulling on the rope will be visible.

I selected this piece of lace for a trial as it has very dense stitching and I wanted to know if one layer of water soluble stabiliser would be enough to support it. 

After the design had been stitched and the registration marks added to allow for each separate hooping of the design to be matched, the stabiliser was cut away and the piece was then washed gently in warm water. 

Monday, 9 January 2017

Time evaporates

I can' believe it's been 9 months since I was here last.

A lot happened last year, including a broken laptop which meant I had to have my Mac Book Pro partitioned so it could take Windows 7 in order for me to run the Bernina digitising software. That required it being in the repair shop for a month!

Then it took another 17 weeks for me to work all thirty separate hoopings for the lace sail.

I knew this project would not be easy, but I had no idea just how time consuming it would be. But it has been an invaluable learning experience.

Hopefully I have  now learnt how to make each part of the design join up with the next, using the registration marks created within the design elements.

Everything is now set to be stitched out in the silk organza.

This is one of the first hoopings and you can see on the RHS that it didn't quite work out, due to a small mistake right at the beginning.

I did do one or two other things last year related to the Digital Embroidery course that I had been working on.

I really do like this way of working and am very much looking forward to a new year of discovery.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

A steep learning curve

Digitising and multi hooping are definitely not for the faint hearted. Between now and my last post, I've been struggling to make the second lace panel seamlessly join the first panel, seen on the left of the image below.

However it's not all doom and gloom, I did work out a way to stop having so many floating threads that I ended up with a 'bird's nest', quite a common problem with beginner digitisers apparently.

Having copied the next part of the design to fit the shape of the hoop, and follow on from the first panel, I then decided to break it down into sections and digitise (drawing over the design with the freehand tool on screen using Bernina Designer Plus version 6 software) and using a different colour for each section.

I used the method of drawing where you don't take the pencil off the paper until you've finished the drawing. This meant that there were no breaks in the whole section therefore no float thread as the machine moves from one section to another. It also meant that the start and end points of each section could be placed close to the next section and therefore creating a very short float thread.

It was pure joy to watch the machine stitch each section as a whole with no breaks.

Unfortunately my joy was short lived as I started to work out how I could multi hoop both lace panels together to achieve the first part of the design.

The first surprised was that the software decided that the hooping sequence need to be horizontal, I think it has something to do with the fact that there are several areas where the pattern of the lace is horizontal, and it can be matched up more easily if the hoops are placed in the same direction. 

This is just a guess on my part, if the hooping is good the colour will change to green.

Sometimes more tweaking is required as the software tries to organise a good match and this is when another tool has to be used (the splitting tool) to break up the design and move it slightly to get a better match, I think.

So far this is all experimental as you might have gathered, but I did get the design to go green in the end.

The pink lines are where the software has split the design.

So now I thought I was ready for the first part of the design to be stitched in the correct place, marked out for the sail shape, the blue part of the design.

So far so good, but when it to came to matching up for the second hooping that's where it all went pear shaped. Not only did I hoop up the wrong way round, i.e. the design should stitch from left to right and I hooped up from right to left! I then started with another colour so it would cover over my false start, but I still didn't have a perfect join horizontally for both hoopings.

Finally I managed to stitch the two panels but there is a lot of mismatch here. However the good news is that I've worked out that you have to be scrupulously accurate when butting up each hoop to the previous one, using the registration marks that the software provides.

For me it's definitely worth pursuing because it means I can accurately copy quite loose designs and they will stitch out exactly as I've drawn them. I can't do this with Free machine embroidery as there is always a variation of the design unless you have extreme control over the needle placement. Also there is no need to copy the design onto the fabric, which could be detrimental on silk organza, my choice for the final piece.

There is also the other advantage that the designs are repeatable, which does prove very useful in some elements of my design work.