Stitching, a reflection of my mood

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I have been art journaling for self care for about 5 years now. I have become used to how intuitive art can express my unconscious and my emotions. Until a few days ago I didn’t realise how much this would also be reflected in my stitching.

I made a really calming piece last night whilst watching Tom Ford’s film ‘Nocturnal Animals’.

If you haven’t seen it it’s quite dark and violent. When I am drawing mandalas in front of a thriller my shapes get very small and tight.

Looking at the above piece now makes me feel calm- I made four with the same pattern of stitches. Normally I get bored doing the same pattern over 4 patches and need to mix the texture and colour up.

I can’t remember what I was watching when I made this one

But I remember being engaged with the plot and finding it stress full. I think I detached from the Ford film because I had to make my self feel remote and mindful to stay with the film. There was a lot of time spent lingering on Amy Adams face…….

I am working on my 5th quilt at the moment and am making small patches and then attaching them individually in a search for ways not to prick my fingers so regularly. I like working like this, the contained space and with my sense of design being restricted. However, I am also having to have another piece on had when it makes me feel too constricted. At the moment this is an apron with big loose circles.

Quilt number 5 – it taxing my design skills. In the last few quilts I have had an overal idea in mind and I just needed to step back from those every so often to check how my ‘vision’ was coming along.

Number 5 is different. I keep having to think about the balance of colour and texture- I can’t just do 5 patches without placing them next to those already attached and thinking about how I need to do the next 5. I am quite pleased with the results. Though some patches have had to have extra bits attached because they were too plain or I didn’t like one patch next to its neighbor.

This was just blue crosses but it was tooo plain and just jumped out at me……

Number 5 so far

I am laughing at my self – I just did some reading around Fords film – I recognised how beautiful it was and that some of the scenes were amazingly framed – with stunning art in – I hadn’t realised that they were originals …..

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.vice.com/amp/en_us/article/jpvydk/nocturnal-animals-art-tom-ford-shane-valentino

Adding colour to my boroinspired stitching

I found some variegated coloured crotchet thread in a second hand shop the other week. I had been searching online for a big ball of rainbow coloured thread but it was going to cost far to much to shop it. The box of cotton balls had many more colours than the rainbow I required but I restrained my self to one of each colour and a couple that went in between below is my stash and my first experiment.

I finished my second quilt with some of the coloured threads- it is a present for someone – I will add a pic when they have revived it.

I bought some plain calico shopping bags sometime ago and decided to add a panel of boroinspired stitching to one side.

These have been great fun to do

I found a Great British Sewing Bee note book kit – I have a few of these – they were produced in 2012 to accompany a TV programme – the consist of a nice quality journal – fabric and instructions to make a loose cover for the book.

It had to be done …..

Boroinspired Christmas trees

I saw a lovely hand sewed Christmas decoration on Instagram and I fancied making something similar

I found some fat squares of tartan fabric and decided to use them with my collection of chambray/ blue cotton fabric

A friend gave me a selection of Christmas tree shapes – I drew around one on to the fabric with a biro – I tried using my blue washable fabric marker but, it didn’t show up enough. I used some of my mattress protective cover remnants and some wadding that I was given as padding. I used thin strips of a red based tartan to add contrast to the blue.

I cut the shapes out on double thickness fabric because when I did them individually I found it very difficult to cut them accurately enough. I pinned the fabric together before I cut out the trees.

I cut around the padding using one side of fabric and then pinned the three layers together

I stitched the fabric pieces to the wadding using running stitch in a rainbow thread- then went around the edges with a simple stitch that goes over the three pieces of fabric ( whip stitch?)

I stitched the tartan to the tree on both sides with running stitch

I am having great fun decorating the shapes with white crotchet thread – using my shashiko/ boroinspired stitching and buttons- I have added ribbon to one shape but decided to add the hanging loops after wards to the others.

A friend asked how big the trees were and if the could be worn as a broach. They are 2.5″ tall so a bit too big for me. I decided to have a go at making a smaller version. It was a bit fiddly I followed the above stages for making it – thumb added for scale

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Thimble research

I am amused at myself. This might be a very boring post – unless you are into a rant about thimbles …..

When I was making my Boro-inspired mini quilt and sewing very intensively recently – I hurt the skin on the ball of my thumb pulling the needle through the fabric. I wanted to find something to protect my skin so that I could continue quilting regularly. I thought a thimble might be just the thing.

For some reason I always thought that you wore a thimble on your thumb. Must be something to do with my dyslexic brain and the ‘th’.

I have struggled to find one big enough because I have large hands (I need to wear Men’s gloves …. ) partially because of the size of my thumb and partially because they are not designed to fit thumbs …. I have not been deterred. One of the annoying things when purchasing thimbles is that they come in sealed bubble packs so you are not able to try them first.

I have been on a thimble hunt online and in haberdashery departments in Edinburgh,London and Newcastle and Amsterdam

I have bought several adjustable ones that cut off my circulation – thimble review below

On my thumb is a Hemline thumb thimble which is very uncomfortable – I had to file the corners because they stuck in my skin – would not recommend

Index finger is a Clover adjustable ring thimble – it digs into my thumb- I think it’s supposed to be worn on my middle finger to push the needles through the fabric

Middle finger is a Prym soft comfort thimble – which is very comfy and soft but doesn’t fit my thumb – you can try these on – I thought I might use it to protect my index finger on my right hand ( I am a lefty) I keep taking it off absentmindedly when I am sewing – if I could find an xtra large I think it would do the trick

Ring finger – adjustable finger shield again by Hemline – it says its adjustable to fit any size ………. not my size

Little finger – traditional metal thimble – nope feels horrid

When we were in Amsterdam the other week I was reminded that the Dutch are tall larger than average- and that they may have larger hands and feet. My step Mum has size 10 feet and she could always find shoes off the shelf when she and my dad lived in the Netherlands. May be they would have larger thimbles?

I visited a quilt shop and had a quick lesson looking at how to do big embroidery using a traditional technique. I have not been doing it properly but when I explained to the shop owner what my problem was -she agreed a thimble would probably be the best option.

Correct position – ( showing the rocker technique ) https://www.threadsmagazine.com/2008/10/29/perfect-your-hand-quilting-stitch

Bird Blocks had a selection of brightly coloured semi hard plastic thimbles in a jar and metal ones to try on in a box – typically the largest sizes were sold out. I did however buy a pink one – that reminds me of Spangle sweets – it’s not very comfortable because the plastic doesn’t let my thumb breathe.

These are available in UK as a Hemline – ‘light weight soft pliable thimble’ it will need me to cut a hole in it some where – they come in packs of two in Scotland and in a bubble pack so no trying on again ……

There is definitely an ergonomic problem – thimbles are just not designed to go on a thumb. However they are not very comfy for my middle finger either….

I bought a leather thimble – which I think will need unpicking and restitching to give me a bit more room. I think I might use it for a bit and see if the leather gives.

Luckily the thimbles have been very reasonably priced so my research hasn’t cost toooo much. I have to say the most effective one so far has been a home made one that I constructed using a gin bottle lid and some plasters ……..

Tea bag sampler

I decided that I needed a few projects on the go whilst I am making my quilt. I can’t really put it in a bag and take it to a coffee shop.

Over the last few weeks I hadn’t been using my teabags.

I made up an A4 quilt and backed it with old felted wool. I have been searching for various blue hues threads. Cotton crochet thread works very well for sashiko stitching. However blue crochet thread is not easy to find off line. Coats do a nice range of colours in a heavy weight cotton thread in their Duet range.

Trisadalia do an electric blue, Anchor a French navy and Gutermann a good navy blue ( just in case you are interested )

I started exploring different stitches – but got bored

So I began layering with more teabags and text – printed onto a teabag print.

In the last post I talked about enjoying working on a small scale ( rather than my quilt) it’s particularly good for working in circles.

I also enjoying disrupting the stitches by layering and ripping off bits of teabag to reveal the blue underneath

The text I am adding is the list of hashtags I use when I post this type of work on Instagram

#sashiko #borostitch #wabisabi #slowstitching #meditate #patchwork #mindfulness #creative #thelittlethings sashikostitching #boroinspired #handsewn #embrioderyart #handquilting#contemporaryembroidery #makersmovement #stichersofinstagram #visiblemending

I have discovered that being more selective and adding a lot of hashtags has improved my interaction with other Instagram users …..

I thought you might like to see the back

A denim bag panel and reflecting on my boroinspired quilt

Over the last five years I have been art journalling or working on ‘A’ sized paper. I have been working intuitively but thinking in rectangles. When I started sewing I loved the newness of the method and the feel of the material (though my fingers and hands are rebelling at the repetition and the skin on the top of my right thumb is rough and pitted where I clip it with the needles) .

I really enjoyed starting my big quilt. It is a rectangle, but I am struggling with being intuitive on such a large scale.

I sewed a bag panel and then started an A4 sampler. I realised I might kid my self that I work intuitively but I am always assessing the design….

I saw a couple of denim bags on social media and wanted to have a go at a boroinspired panel.

I found a denim bag in a shop sale which was decorated on the top 3rd – some of the design was heavily machine stitched – so I covered that section of the panel with patches and stitching. It needed more.

Boro is the Japanese term for mended cloth with sashiko stitching -I read that it was built up with layers over years. To make cloth stronger and warmer.Maybe working so fast over a couple of days means that the fabrics don’t have time to bed down or build up any sense of history.

Anyway, I didn’t like my panel as it was. When I am art journalling- or working in other pieces I have found my self in the mind set – that if it doesn’t look like it is working, I set it aside for a bit or add another layer…..

I looked back at the bags that I liked on social media – a stripy design appealed. So I added another layer to my panel

This ability to assess a design – look at the balance of texture/ pattern / shape is lost for me on my quilt. I am enjoying working on such a large piece and can see that there will be a huge sense of satisfaction when it’s finished, but the assessing, control freak is not a happy bunny. 😂😂😂

Boroinspired quilting

I have always wanted to have a go at making a quilt. I was given a small blue one when the children were small that I always loved.

I have never been able to imagine cutting out the fabric neatly with 90 degree corners and straight lines. Doing some research around my teabag quilts after some one said they looked a bit like sashiko- I discovered the fabulous world of Japanese stitching and boro inspired patching.

There are lots of sources on Pinterest and blogs about the history of /methods online

https://www.architecturaldigest.com/gallery/an-experts-favorite-japanese-textiles#9

Above is an early 19th Century bed cover.

Back to my quilt. I was offered a bag of fabric scraps by a friend if mine. I decided to have a go at making a quilt using an old single duvet as a base.

As a child I remember saying when I grow up I am never going to darn socks – after watching my mother sew little hard circles of stitches into jumpers and socks. So I am amused that the technique mum taught me is now being used to top stitch a whole quilt!!!

My aversion to the effort required to cut neat shapes means that the design will be quite organic and the top stitching will hide a multitude of sins ….

I had a bright cotton skirt that was too busy. It would make a good choice to base all my other fabric colour choices on.

I started at the edges because I thought the hem of the skirt would add strength to the final piece.

I practiced boroinspired stitching on some of the pieces

Then started adding my friends fabric scraps. She has some experience with quilting so a lot of the pieces were cut into rectangles or squares ….

I wasn’t really sure about the yellow but it does lift the blue.

I have been a bit obsessive and made my hands and back ache. So I decided to stop pinning new fabric and sewing it onto the base and concentrate on a bit of top stitching.

Jon and I are enjoying this because me adding fabric pieces is very very messy 😂with needles pins, fabric and thread all over the kitchen.

This is as far as I have got with my design. I am thinking of just adding blue pieces to the middle bit in a nod to the Japanese

history. I am using second hand pieces of fabric or clothes in an attempt to be frugal.