Thursday, March 27, 2014

Silk Indulgence, Crazy Patch - Spider Web

I have read that a Spiders web motif on a crazy patchwork piece is a must, a tradition not to be broken.  However, most people shudder at the thought of a spider, so why would we stitch a spider and its web on a piece of our embroidery.  Well it all comes from folklore and the thought that spiders bring good luck.  Have you heard of the fable that you should never kill a spider that you find in your house?  It is thought to bring wealth to the home and family!   In regards to a spider and its web on a crazy patch piece, it is true spiders are meant to bring good luck to weavers and spinners.

Silk Indulgence - Crazy Patch - Spiders Web
I have read that in ancient Greek and Roman myths Arachne was a great mortal weaver. Whilst her work was beautiful her themes were often insulting to the gods.  She boasted about her skill and bragged that her skill was far superior to Athena’s.   Athena being the goddess of spinners and embroiderers and was not impressed with Arachne’s disrespectful attitude and so turned Arachne into a spider to spin and weave her days away!
Whilst spiders are a creepy little creature, their webs are a piece of art.


Dear Diary 2014 - Week 13

24th March to 30th March 2014.

Left:  Design by Joseph Dandridge {1665-1746} Spitfields, London,1718
Right:  Design by Joseph Dandridge {1665-1746} Spitfields, London, 1720
This image conjures an asian influence to me.  I have picked up most of the colours from the images, with a focus on the Yellow, Lemon, Gold, and Lemon/Green,  with a touch Pink, Mauve.  I chose Yellow as the focus for its warmth and cheerful, qualities, that signifies hope and happiness teamed with pink / mauve to provide a playfullness to the piece.

The stitches I have employed are fly stitch, french knot, running stitch, buttonhole lace, ribbon french knot flower and ribbon loop stitch.



Monday, March 24, 2014

Silk Ribbon Embroidery - Miniature Samplers

This weekend I was caught up in a hive of activity, where these Mini, Ribbon Embroidery Samples were conceived.
To create these Mini's,  the Silk Ribbon Embroidery stitches were sewn onto a piece of Satin or Silk Ribbon, then attached, with double sided tape, to a mini card name tag.  The Mini samplers are approximately 4cm wide by 6cm in length. The Silk Ribbon engaged is 2mm, 4mm  and 7mm wide.

Ribbon Stitch and French Knot

Left: Ribbon Loop Stitch  .                 Right: Ribbon Stitch and French Knot

Left: French Knots.             Centre:  Lazy Daisy.         Right: Lazy Daisy and Spider Web Rose

French Knot Rose

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Bullion Knots in Nature

This morning, out walk, i came across these scattered around.

Looking up, I discovered this tree was dropping them to the ground.
It is not the first time i have seen these falling from this tree.
But it is the first time i realised that they remind me of bullion knots. Yes?

Bullion Knots looping around each other, twisting and turning

Bullion Knots scattered around the ground

Bullion Knots popping up and down

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Dear Diary 2014, Week 12

Week 12, March 17th to March 23rd 2014

Dress Fabric, white silk brocaded in coloured silks and silver gilt thread, Spitalfields, London, about 1750-5
The image from this weeks diary page invokes a kind of serenity in me, with the peacful tones of the colours.
I have interperated this with a piece of hand made paper that has bits of petal and twigs through it.
It has a soft, natural feel and look to it. Peaceful, restful and light.

Hand made paper, on gold card and french knots

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Silk Indulgence Crazy Patch, Extravagence vs Necessity

Throughout my research into Crazy Patchwork, i have found that In the Victorian Era, the crazy patchwork quilts were a show piece, piece of art work, more than a functional item and were used to decorate the parlor. It is said that they were made using velvet, silk and brocade fabric, cut and pieced in random shapes. Ladies of leisure spent their time extravagantly embroidering and embellishing the patched pieces of silk and velvet in jeweled colours.
I have discovered that The Victorians were fond of symbolism and included motifs on their crazy patchwork quilts which had special significance to the stitcher or the receiver. Flowers were used for a message of love.  The spider web, is often featured on many quilts because it symbolizes good luck.  Special events including names, dates and verses were worked onto the crazy patchwork quilts. Scraps of special fabric, eg. from a wedding dress would be included in some manner.  Silk thread, was a favourite and the most common stitches used were feather, herringbone, fly and chain.

Interestingly not all crazy patchwork quilts were made to be a piece of art.Throughout the early 1800, In North America, the times were hard and many struggled. The colonial women made crazy patchwork quilts, which were a functional necessity to keep warm and were made using old pieces of clothing and blankets and no embellishments.
Click  here to read more about the early crazy patchwork quilts. In particular the 2nd paragraph highlights the use of recycling fabric and old clothes to make their quilts of functionality.
My crazy patchwork is inspired by the Victorian Era, a work of pure silk indulgence. It is more of a show piece, made with dupion silk, embellished with silk thread and ribbon, and adorned with antique lace, tiny charms and beads.
Silk Indulgence Crazy Patch in progress

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Silk Indulgence - Crazy Patch - Colours Choices

Silk Indulgence - Crazy Patch

Colours I have used and a little bit about them
Pink is a softer, less violent red. Pink is the sweet side of red. Both red and pink denote love but while red is hot passion, pink is romantic and charming.  I have used pink on this piece to convey playfulness.
Purple is said to be the colour of good judgment. Purple is the colour to have around you if you are looking for peace of mind. Over time magic and mystery has been associated with purple.
Green is life and renewal. Abundant in nature, green signifies growth, renewal, health, and environment. Green is a restful colour. Because of all the green in nature the colour is reminiscent of spring. Green is a colour that has warming and cooling effect. The colour green denotes balance, harmony, and stability.
Yellow is a cheerful, sunshine colour. It is a warm colour that signifies hope and happiness Yellow shines with optimism, enlightenment, and happiness. Shades of golden yellow carry the promise of a positive future.  Yellow is a colour that stimulates the nervous system, activates the memory and encourages communication. 
Blue is a calming colour.   In many cultures blue is significant in religious beliefs. It is thought to brings peace, and  is believed to keep the bad spirits away.  Blue conveys importance and confidence True blue - someone loyal and faithful. 
Beige is a chameleon, taking on some of the attributes of stronger warm or cool colours it accompanies.  Beige is a neutral colour with a bit of the warmth of brown and the crisp, coolness of white.  I have used the colour beige to provide a calm, relaxing touch to my colours in hand stitching.

As well as being a symbol of good health, gold symbolizes wealth used wisely, known as the symbol for wealth and success.  It is a positive colour, usually favoured by people who are optimistic.    Gold is related to the gods associated with the Sun.

Neutral / Ivory
Ivory is a soft neutral color that isn't quite white and has some of the earthiness of light browns. It is a calming colour that conveys some of the same softness and pureness of white, but is a little richer and warmer.  Ivory represents quiet, pleasantness with a touch of luster.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Dear Diary 2014, Week 11

Dear Diary 2014, Week 11,  10th March to 16th March 2014
Waistcoat woven by Maze & Steer Spitalfields, London

Waistcoats of the 17th century were  abundantly ornamented  with embroidery. Silk and metal threads were often favoured to garnish the fabric, which was quite often silk.

My button has been inspired by the waistocat in the image above. It has been embroidered with french knots and chain stitch, then sewn to a piece of gold card.

French Knots and Chain stitch
Close view of my embroidered button

Monday, March 10, 2014

Crazy Patch Silk Indulgence Process

This past week I have had a focus on crazy patchwork, in particular my Silk Indulgence Crazy Patchwork piece.   
Crazy patchwork is a fabric pieced technique where fabric patches of random shapes are pieced together on top of a foundation fabric. Whilst the piecing can be left as is, embroidery and embellishments are often added to soften and blend the angular patches. The embellishment can be in the form ofmanipulating lace, braids andribbon, notions like beads and buttons are favoured for edges and seams, and a variety of hand embroidered stitches are worked along the seams.  Whilst these crazy patchwork seem crazily put together a lot of time and planning would go into them.
As it has been a long term project that is nearing completion, todays post is to document some of the processes and fabric and notions frequently used with the crazy patch technique.
To begin, you require a foundation fabric. Foundation fabric is the piece that the patchwork fabric is pieced onto. It needs to be a firm weave fabric, usually calico or muslin.
The foundation fabric needs to be cut to the finished size plus a large seam allowance.
Keep in mind that the embroidery and embellishment may shrink the work, so a larger seam allowance may be useful.

The patches of fabric required can be any type of fabric, however the most commonly used are , Cotton, Silks, Satins, and Velvets to name a few.

The fun adventurous part is the Embellishments engaged to adorn the seams and patches. Notions often used are Old doilies and hankies, Ribbons, lace and braids, Embroidery threads, Beads, sequins, buttons, charms, jewelry and trinkets.

The Basic Technique of Piecing a Crazy Patchwork
  • Random fabric patches are stitched onto the foundation fabric.
  • The random fabric patches can be pieced by hand or machine
  • By Hand, the patches are placed with their edges overlapping on the foundation fabric.
  • By Machine, the patches are joined with a sew and flip technique. It is quicker but gives a more angular look than hand piecing. This is where the embroidery and embellishments are good to soften the angles.
Some Tips I have picked up
  • Any fabric can be used for crazy patchwork but there are some points to consider.
  • Choose cottons and easy care fabrics for items that need washing frequently
  • Avoid fabrics that will snag--------for bags etc..
  • When heavily embroidered and embellished work is planned use mostly plain fabrics ---- {so your embroidery doesn’t get lost next to patterned fabric}
  • When little or no embellishment is planned use mostly printed fabrics to add texture and interest.
  • Include doilies, hankies and serviettes.
  • Ribbons, laces and braids can be stitched in as you are piecing or put on later when you are embellishing.
  • Take into account how the finished item will be cleaned: washed, vacuumed or dry cleaned. May be a good idea to attach a cleaning and care label..


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Dear Diary 2014, Week 10, 3.3.14 to 9.3.14

The pattern on the V&A image below is from a waistcoat. The colours provide an elegance and sophistication to the waistcoat.
This weeks Sample has a focus on Ribbon. I have gathered and ruched sheer organza ribbon and attached to a Ribbon braid., and picked up the colours from the waistcoat image to portray the style from the image.

Sample from Maze & Steer's pattern book, Spitfields London 1789

Silk Indulgence - Crazy Patch

My Silk Indulgence - Crazy Patch piece has been a WIP since 2010.

It is a project that i pick up for about 1 or 2 days a month., have a play, admire the progress, then pop safely away till next time.
It is a work of pure indulgence. Only, Dupion Silk fabric, Gumnuts Silk threads and Silk Ribbon made the grade for this piece of work.
Not surprising to observe that beads, charms and bits of lace have been allowed to join in.
The predominant feature however is Silk Ribbon.  Ribbon embroidery does looks wonderful on crazy patchwork and quilting, where the beautiful stitches are usually worked along the seams of each patch to embellish and adorn.
Ribbon embroidery is an old-worldly romantic embroidery carried out using ribbon and embroidery floss, to create beautiful floral motifs and decorative stitches by hand, on garments and accessories. Silk ribbon embroidery is as old as the history of ribbon and is also known as Rococo Embroidery
Many of the techniques for ribbon manipulation that we use today are taken from earlier examples and recreated in present day ribbons. Ribbon roses, for instance, were very popular with our Victorian ancestors and their ancestors before them. Ribbon embroidery also had its roots in the elaborate embellishments of the French and English ball gowns and accessories and was later seen in examples of fine handwork on Victorian crazy quilts.

Silk Indulgence, Crazy Patch  Lower, left corner

Silk Indulgence, Crazy Patch Lower, centre left section


Monday, March 3, 2014

Simply Stitch 3 - FME


FME, {Free machine Embroidery}, has been unfamiliar territory for me, that is until I saw Karen Ruane demonstrating the technique in her class Simply Stitch 3. The results of Karen Ruane's work with this technique convinced me to experiment.

And so my journey in FME began, equipped with muslin, which is like cheesecloth, and a sewing machine fitted with the free machine embroidery foot.  I was astonished to find how engrossed I became with the free machine embroidery motion, and after a while I noticed that I had drifted along the piece of muslin adding snippets of lace enthusiastically.
Mastering this technique will take a lot more practice, but it has not taken much to convince me to continue on. I am hooked and naturally I am confident that my piece of FME fancies the company of hand embroidery.
I am enchanted with what I have created, my piece is like a dream, frothy clouds that are born to the most magical of worlds.
This image shows the commencement of my FME being adorned with Thread Wrapping and French Knots.

Dear Diary 2014, Week 9

Week 9,  24.2.14 to 2.3.14

Brocaded Silk, probably France  1760s
The colours that sing to me in this image are Apricot and Grey.
Grey is a colour that  is a solid and stable colour, that i feel creates a sense of calm and composure, The color gray is subdued, quiet and reserved and to me it is a relief from a chaotic world.
I have it as the background to my grandmothers flower, which i feel  is fitting, it is there, in the background providing  a conservative, elegant and formal back drop for the apricot which provides warmth and energy

To create this sampler, I have worked  the english paper piecing technique, using the Hexagon cards to form the grandmothers flower motif.   I then added a touch of french knots with silk ribbon.

Dear Diary 2014, Week 8

Week 8, 17th February to 23rd February 2014

Left - Design for woven silk by James Leman {1688-1745}
Right - Design for woven silk by Christopher Baudouin {1660-1739}
Spitfields London, 1718
The two images inspire an Asian influence in me.

The colour focus i have here is on harmonious colours., Colours that are next to each other on the colour wheel.
  • Yellow
  • Gold
  • Orange
  • Brown
  • Blue
  • Green

Materials Engaged
  • Gathered silk ribon
  • Silk ribbon
  • Lace dyed yellow
  • Card
For the sample on the left, I have gathered a piece of wire edged ribbon and secured to the card with ribbon loop stitch in blue silk ribbon.
For the sample on the right, i have dyed a piece of lace yellow and secured to the card with a french knot in blue silk ribbon