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.


Monday, 4 April 2016

Dungeness revisited at last

At last we found a break in the weather that combined with a window of nothing to do, (surprisingly difficult to find even though we are retired), so we headed off last Wednesday and have enjoyed a lovely mix of sunshine, light showers and temperatures up to 24 degrees in our motorhome.

We hadn't had the chance to visit for eighteen months, so I was incredibly pleased to be able to update my source photos.

I found myself becoming increasingly obsessed with the washing flapping on the lines, with the bulk of the power station in the background, it just seemed so incongruous. 

Having been using a drier for the past 5 years as we now live in an apartment, I'd forgotten how satisfying that sound is. That coupled with the simplicity of the houses and their setting gave me a great feeling of nostalgia. 

I stayed a while sitting in the sun enjoying the opportunity to sketch this lovely home with its original railway carriage on the left of the building.

I finally managed to tear myself away and look for more textural inspiration, which is never in short supply along the beach.

I loved the contrast of the colours of this discarded carpet against the rust of the roof of a shed that had finally given itself up to the winds.

This one has been a favourite of mine ever since my first visit, but now it has almost lost its roof and most of the panels are gone.

But what remains has provided this wonderful texture that time and weather have created.

This too is a beautiful pattern I found on a concrete shed wall, the five leaf shaped patterns look almost like a lino print, making the whole wall look like a work of art.

I love the contrast of this next image, the netting looks fragile against the metal and the composition (as found) is perfect.

And this next one reminds me of a framed piece of work by a contemporary artist.

I took this just for fun because it was there, and I knew I couldn't take it home with me, in fact the next day only the tail was left.

A little bit of art photography for a change, as I'm not a photographer.

The last 2 images are fairly random, just taken for their pattern and colour qualities. 

It was a lovely visit, and has reaffirmed my connection with Dungeness and has made me determined to finish the 'Lady Launchers' project. 

Friday, 18 March 2016

Lace panel 1

Having finished editing all the portraits I have now started preparing for the digitising of the lace sail.

So far I have only created a very small sample for this piece so I had no idea how it would look in reality.

First of all I selected an area in the top left corner of the design and working to the shape of my Mega Hoop digital embroidery frame I traced out the first panel using a light box.

The next stage was to import the image into the software and digitise the design, which basically involves drawing over it with a Bamboo tablet and stylus, which is a lot easier to control than a mouse.

Then came my favourite task (not) of removing as many connecting threads as possible.

I stitched the design out onto calico, the final piece will be on silk organza, and in the interest of saving money (and keeping the design colour thread back for the real thing), I used a yellow thread to stitch it and couldn't see it! So I decided to outline the whole piece with a fine liner pen.

I quite like the result against the yellow stitching. You might also see that the top half of the design has been stitched in triple running stitch and the rest in single. Somehow I must have gone back to the default stitch, there's such a lot to learn when you want to push the software to the limit and don't yet have quite enough knowledge. Something I'm very familiar with.