Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Midnight Garden - Skirt - Part IV

Not Right For This Project

Recently, I've been working on finishing the skirt, and this includes a full lining. I prefer my art garments to be reversible or to have a surprise lining inside and so I have been thinking of ways to embellish the linings to compliment the outside. Since this is a lining, beads, sequins, rhinestones or anything 3D is out - those things would be scratchy and distracting to the wearer. What does that leave me? Quite a few things, actually: painting, stamping, rubbings made with Shiva paint sticks, appliqué, and embroidery to name a few.

One of my ideas was to use fabric paint pens and to trace from my original artwork the flowers and vines to make up the appliqué on the outside. To that end, I traced my artwork with a Sharpie marker so that I could see the lines, taped it to a window and started tracing onto the fabric:

This is what I ended up with:

While it's not bad, and certainly pretty in it's own right and easy to do, it's not right for this project. For some reason the classic appliqué on the outside doesn't work with the paint pen on the inside for me. I really had hoped that it would be.

Now what? Well, I have to come up with something else, that's all, and I have. The linings will be appliquéd, too, but there will be fewer (a lot fewer!) flowers. I'm only going to do a few clusters in the corners, plus one lily each for the skirt and jacket and a few crickets. For the moment, I'm going to finish the skirt and then add the applique to the lining once I'm finished with the jacket appliqué.

While I'm not happy about this recent development, I'm ok with it. I've come to the point as an artist where I know what works for me when I see it, and I know not to proceed with something that's not quite right or doesn't make me smile. Is this always an easy point to come to? No, of course not. It does help to remember though, that what doesn't work for one project, may work for another.

Parting Shot: Sort of new patterns. These are my latest treasures from eBay and are in mint condition! The jumper on the left has a great tab detail on the shoulder straps. The one on the right is by Anne Klein and both the center and right patterns contain 3 garments per pattern. Maybe one those will work for this year's SWAP?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Midnight Garden - Skirt - Part III

Quilting: Round 2

The last time I mentioned the quilting, I had decided to go back and quilt in additional single lines to make a plaid-like pattern in combination with the twin needle diamond quilting. I got the sleeves done with the silver thread and they look great. I started on the skirt, held it up to the mirror to check the progress and, well, guess what? The sky clouded over and the birds stopped their singing. The silver thread was just too much! All I could see the was silver threads! I couldn't see all the rest of the quilting. I can't imagine what it would look like on the jacket body - what a fight between that and the flowers. Below you can see a sample of the waistband that has the silver single line quilting:

This photo was taken with the flash on, so it's not as obvious the difference in color. I think this might have worked had there been less contrast between the two thread colors. If this would have been a medium blue contrasted with the navy, the effect would have been nice. As is, it is over bearing.

So, you already know what I did. Yep, that's right, all that silver stitching had to come out. I'm working primarily on the skirt at the moment and will redo the sleeves in a few weeks, as I'm trying to finish the skirt completely next week! After some replacing of thread, this is what I've got:

This version is much more subtle and will enhance the flowers, but not compete for attention with them. I have one back completely done and all the lines going one way done on the other back and on the front, and am hoping to complete the entire skirt tonight.

Q/A: Sigrid said, "Those Easter dresses are so lovely. Did you keep all you children's clothes you made yourself?" Thank you! Actually, no I haven't kept them all - there'd be no way I could. That would be a lot of clothes! I've only kept the important outfits - the Christmas, Easter, Birthday dresses and a few other things of importance like the first day of school.

Parting Shot: She's got fabric instincts! I placed my red fabric for the trench coat on the floor last night to try some cutting layouts. There are quite a few pieces and I wanted to make sure I could cut them out of the fabric I have. I turned around to get the pieces and guess who came in and made herself at home?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Midnight Garden - Jacket - Part XXV

Just an Update!

I thought I'd post a little update on where I'm actually at with this project. I'm still appliquéing 2 flowers and any related leaves per day. I realized there were a few places where I need an extra flower, so the flower count is up to 72 or so, I think. Here's what the jacket looks like so far, by Tuesday, I'll have one half completed except for the lilies:

While the lighting isn't great for this picture, it is interesting to note that quilting isn't very obvious. I won't be able to put in the additional silver lines until I'm done with the appliqué.

I bought lining, a zipper for the skirt and some larger jars of paints so that I can stamp flowers onto the lining. I'm actually looking forward to that this coming week!

I also bought some fabric paint pens for experimenting. I'm still trying ideas for the collar, cuffs and peplum. I'm hoping that I can still cut flowers out with the wood burning tool. I'm working on the right combination of colors and embellishments and will post the results when I get something that makes me smile. Like before, I want these flowers to compliment, not overpower all the appliqué.

Parting Shot: Houston Ribbon. American Beauty came home yesterday, and in the expertly and carefully packed box I found the ribbon:

Friday, November 09, 2007

Midnight Garden - Jacket - Part XXIV

I Hear Crickets!

I say this once in a while to my classes when I've asked a question and they all just stare blankly at me as if I had green skin and spoken in Martian. Today, however, the crickets are singing a happy song because they're going to be appliquéd into whatever place I chose among the flowers on the jacket. Here's how I made the crickets.

First, I chose the size of cricket that would look appropriately proportioned to the flowers. I took my original drawing and reduced and enlarged it on the photocopier to get many sizes. In the end I chose a cricket that had been reduced to 75%.

For this type of applique, I machine embroider or satin stitch a design onto several layers of tulle. To even be able to stitch on the tulle, I use a stabilizer made by Sulky called Solvy. It will dissolve in water, so that when I am done with the stitching, I can get rid of the stabilizer by rinsing the whole piece. Solvy is also clear, which make it ideal for being able to trace the stitching lines from the original artwork with a fine point Sharpie marker. You can see the cricket partially traced below.

Once the artwork is traced, I layer the traced piece of Solvy, several layers of tulle (silver in this case) and another layer of Solvy and pin the whole thing together. This whole unit is then taken to the machine and the design is stitched.

Here's what the cricket looks like after stitching. This one is only a sample. You can see that off to the side I've tried out various stitch widths and tensions to determine what will work best for this project. I also tried out some various types of stitching within the cricket. I decided that the stitching is too dense and obscures what the object really is. Notice that there are some notes written in red.

Once the stitching is complete, the piece is rinsed in water to remove the stabilizer and allowed to dry. I then trim all the excess tulle from around the appliqué and it is ready to be attached where ever I desire. I included a few objects in this last photo so that you can see the scale of the cricket. He's not very big, but will add an interesting touch to the flowers.

Q/A: After seeing my daughter winter church wardrobe capsule, Dina wanted to know, "Do you let your daughter pick fabrics or yourself?" I do let my daughter pick out the fabrics and patterns within reason. I only have one rule concerning her clothes and that is that they must be modest. You can dress with the current fashion and not be immodest! She and I are not the same person, therefore we both have our individual tastes. She likes many colors and embellishments that I wouldn't pick for myself (like pink!) and I like a lot of cute trendy styles she doesn't. What I try to do is let her chose for herself and express her own personality, within the limits of modesty.

Parting Shot: Ginormous Paisleys! This is one of my latest treasures from eBay. It is a piece of vintage fabric that is about 4 yards long and has some of the largest paisleys I've ever seen. I was attracted to it by the bright colors! That is an 18" ruler in the photograph ! I'm not sure what I'd use this for, but is is beautiful. The scale might be a bit much, and obviously I won't be able to cut it into something with a lot of little pieces.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Midnight Garden - Jacket - Part XXIII

Time to Regroup

You know, there comes a point in every project where I have to really think about the direction of the project and what I have planned and take a critical look at whether everything is coming together just right. After a few days of thinking of those things regarding Midnight Garden, I've decided to make a few changes.

You're not going to get rid of the flowers, are you?

No, of course not. I really like those, working on them is actually a pleasure and I'm really happy with the result.

Good. You're not as crazy as I thought.

What are the changes? Well, I had originally planned on a reversible ensemble. After seeing the flowers come together and all the time I'm planning on spending on them, I've decided to really make them the star of the show and make the suit with a lining, not reversible. I really think the other side would compete with the flowers. The other problem is that the styles of each side are too disparate. This means there would not be cohesiveness in the piece of artwork and that the elements would fight for attention. I already have a plan to use the metal templates/wood burning cut out flowers in another way in this project and in another project entitled "Forget Me Knot".

I am also going to do more quilting work, which means it will take a little more time to complete, but will enhance the whole ensemble. Take a look at the sample below:

I've added additional single lines in silver Superior Glitter thread to create a plaid-like effect with the existing midnight blue double needle quilting. I really love this and it has brought a smile to my face! The smile alone tells me that I'm headed in the right direction.

The custom carved stamps will not go to waste, either. I am planning to stamp the lining fabric with flowers in Jacquard's Lumiere paints in shades of silvers and blues.

While I'm a bit disappointed that I can't use every idea for this project, I think these changes will make for a better piece of artwork as a whole. To be honest, if I used every single idea I had for a particular project, I'd have a train wreck! Sometimes taking away elements is as important as adding elements to a piece of art. So, when a project isn't headed in the right direction what do you do? Once you get through it all, how do you know when you're on the right track?

**Thank you all for the congratulations on American Beauty's latest adventure! Every ribbon is more precious to me knowing that I have friends all over the world ready with a kind word and encouragement when the road gets rough!**

Q/A: Shorty wanted "How do you sew those flowers on? I looked but can not see one little glimpse of a thread." They are stitched on by hand with the intention that the stitches are not seen. I stitch all the individual pieces on with what is known in the quilting world as an appliqué stitch. In sewing, it is basically the same as the fell stitch, except that the thread is stitched at the very edge of the piece so as not to show at all. (For more information on the fell stitch and how it is formed, check this post.)

Parting Shot: Sunrise, yesterday. I pulled out of the garage to catch the bus and saw this amazing sight. I ran back into the house to grab the camera and got this shot, and made it to the bus on time!