So today I started the final module of the course which is focused on hand stitched applique. I’ve tried applique a few times both hand and machine with mixed results so was looking forward to learning a few tips and techniques and part 1 certainly didn’t let me down. It seems that the puckering I’ve experienced in the past was down to my order of stitching.
The challenge for part 1 was to create and embellish an applique background. I decide to create two different samples – my favourite a mixture of greys and black with limited patterns and an irregular, abstract composition and a more geometric background using strong floral prints. I wanted to revisit samples with strong patterns as I struggled with this earlier in the course and thought I should challenge myself.
After creating the backgrounds I chose two different routes for embellishment – for the floral I went back to the idea of sketching with back stitch using tissue paper as a template and opted for poppies which I thought would complement the floral design. I also used couching for the stems of the flowers. It didn’t altogether work but I’m getting more comfortable with the idea that that’s ok as you learn more sometimes from the mistakes. The bold pattern of the fabric meant that the outline didn’t really stand out so I tried to improve this with some mixing in the needle using my base colour along with a light pink which lifted it a bit but definitely not one of my favourites to-date.
For the monotone/grey sample I thought I’d go a bit freestyle with a random pattern of circles and curvy lines to contrast with the straight edges of the background. I also kept my choice of threads restricted with a selection of pale grey linen, a deep autumnal red linen and white. For the large circle I also revisited mixing in the needle although the combination of linen and silk thread was a little difficult to work with. – I’m quite pleased with this one.
The questions you were asked to consider for reflection on this section were…
- Looking at the sample you created what about your basic background composition works well and what would you change? – I liked the second sample which was less regular as it gave more texture to the composition but I wish I had experimented a bit more when sewing it together with a few different stitch techniques. On the floral sample I liked the use of herringbone stitch on the long strip as it echoed the shape of the patch but the cross stitch on the smallest shape didn’t work as the pale pink didn’t stand out as much as I would have liked against the pattern.
- Could you have gone further with the stitched elements of your design or would stripping away certain embellishments enhance what you’ve made? On sample 1 definitely yes, I should maybe have used a different thread on the flower outline to complement the different background patterns red against the pale pink and maybe a thicker, paler colour against the bold florals. Or I could have used couching for the flowers as well as the stems as this really lifted the design. On sample 2 – no I’m actually pretty happy with this one and liked the restriction on colours of thread.
- How can you envisage using hand stitch appliqué as part of a bigger piece of your own work? I hadn’t really considered applique as a background before, I tend to use it within the main image but this is a technique I’ll definitely revisit and I can already see some options for using this in the same way as I do collage.