Thursday, 11 August 2016

The joy of stitch

Last Saturday (6 August) was the National Day of Stitch - an initiative to encourage more people to take up stitch and embroidery in all its forms.  Along with other members of the Chelmsford branch of the Embroiderer's Guild, I spent part of the day sitting in one of the main shopping centres in Chelmsford, embroidering leaves and birds, while shoppers frequently rushed past.  Of course some stopped to see what we were doing, and some were even tempted to have a go.  It was particularly nice to see children wanting to have a go.  Other visitors told us of the pleasure they had (or used to have) stitching, knitting, crocheting - and hopefully we encouraged some to look out their needles when they got home.  Some even said they would like to join us at our branch meetings.

Since I have been studying over the last few years, I have been stitching less than I used to, but I always enjoy it when I put time aside for some creativity.  It used to be that I would stitch every day - but with other things taking priority I have seem to have got out of the habit.  That was until about a fortnight ago. For just over two weeks I have once again been stitching every day - even if it just a tiny piece of stitching.  Then one day this week I decided to spend a whole day stitching.  

Rather than worry about design and purpose I decided to find a technique I used to enjoy, with no real purpose but to experiment.  I looked through some of my books and came across "confetti fabric".  I seem to remember first coming across it when I did a class with the late Valerie Campbell-Harding

First a base fabric is sprinkled with something such as bonding powder, or painted Bondaweb, and then snippets of fabric and thread are sprinkled on top.  A sheer fabric, such as an old chiffon scarf, is then placed on top to trap the snippets in a fabric "sandwich" and (remembering a covering of silicon paper to prevent the iron sticking to the work) ironed to glue everything together.  Then the fabric is stitched all over - I used zig-zag stitch for speed.  This not only creates more texture it also ensures everything stays in place.  Then the fabric is cut into strips.  I remember saying to Valerie Campbell-Harding that I rather liked it as it was but she, quite correctly said, it will be better if I continue the process further.

After cutting, the pieces are rearranged and joined together.  It might be just a simple technique, but importantly once I started stitching it got my brain thinking "what if"?  What if I did something this way?  What if I changed this element or added a second colour?  What if I changed the stitch?  I remembered it was a good fabric (with a layer of felt) for a book cover and so I also rediscovered the joy of creating machine made cords, with the possibility of turning my experiment into a finished item.

All in all, I did rediscover the joy of stitching for pleasure - not having to worry about what it is going to be, just enjoying the process.  I hope it won't be long before I can set aside another day for some more experimental stitching.

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