Thursday, April 03, 2008


I was having a real time staying in the studio today. Something that happened last night was distracting me, making it difficult to concentrate. Couldn't shake it off, not even with work. Then I got sidetracked hunting through bins. I hate how many things I can't put my finger on since the last move. I hate how many things I've actually forgotten I have. It started when I decided to review my stabilizer options as lined out in Ann Fahl's book on thread painting, Coloring With Thread. There was a picture of a spring tension embroidery hoop next to the screw tension one like I used to do the lichen. I'd totally forgotten I owned one, but now remembered using it to make a small piece of thread lace. But my mind was a total blank on where it might be. I tried the obvious and not so obvious drawers. I looked through 4 different bins. In the process, I found two different kinds of machine embroidery stabilizer I'd also forgotten I'd bought. I briefly considered using one of them behind my tree trunks, but they struck me as too flimsy to be of any use unless I hooped too. I didn't think I wanted to hoop. So why was I spending time looking for this second hoop? Because it was driving me batty trying to retrace whatever logic I'd used when assigning it a place for safekeeping. By the time I ran across it, purely by accident I might add, I'd made up my mind about how I would stabilize my TIFC for thread painting. Decor Bond ultimately won out and was fused to the back of both the quilt top and the sample. The hour and a half I'd been in the studio felt like 3 hours...not a good sign. I couldn't settle to try out threads. But I didn't feel right leaving yet either, so little time put in and so little accomplished.

So I made myself sit at the machine and at least change the needle to the size I'd need, replace the bobbin and thread up one of the thread candidates. I'd almost convinced myself to stitch a few lines on the sample. What I really wanted to do was something that wouldn't take thought, wouldn't take long, and had a near 100% chance of being successful. A little success of any kind, I'd started to sense, would help me get over this insecurity about the next step on the challenge quilt.

On impulse, I grabbed the leaf-printed batik already prepared with Decor Bond fused to it, a piece I'd been wanting to stitch for ages, and just dived in. If nothing else, it would get me warmed up for the thread painting session, and it'd been calling to me for a long time. Why free-motion stitching intimidates me so sometimes and other times not at all I do not know. I just know that with this piece, I had a pretty clear idea of how I intended to do it. The printing on this fabric is not very strong, so the stitching is meant to enhance the design, bring it out, make it show up, add more leaves where no printed leaves exist. (See this post for how the printing was done.) Usually I want my quilting or stitching to be subtle, to blend, to merely create dimension, texture or shadow. Here the stitching is the focal point, and I used a heavier thread than I normally do. It is a 35 wt Valdani hand-dyed cotton, and I used Autumn (heavy on the rusts) and Robin's Nest (greens to off white). The picture above shows the start of stitching with the Autumn, and the picture below shows a section with both colors of thread. (click on pics for larger view.) It took about half an hour, and made me feel good. Proof positive I accomplished something and with success. My intention is to use this in some sort of handbag.


West Country Mother said...

I clicked on the pics for a larger view as suggested and was glad I did. I like what you've done with the leaves - lovely colours. Your post reminded me about something I was reading the other day - Ursula Baumung who was talking about a piece she'd done called Obsessed. "Scraps on my table and my new sewing machine in the midst. Trying out my new toy, putting together the scraps around me without thinking about what I am doing. Sewing for hours just for fun...what an adventure! When looking at the result of my obsession the next morning, I suddenly realized I had created something unique the night before - the birth of this work" I also think there's something very theraputic about just sewing without thinking or trying too hard. It's enjoyable, and with free machine embroidery, even more so if you have a glass of wine first!

The Idaho Beauty said...

Oh, wine before stitching...I'm not sure about that! VBG Everything else you shared is absolutely true. Sometimes we try too hard and it shows.