In the last month, July 2021, or so I’ve had a lot of ins and outs with family situations and my mind has been scattered. Well, life has its twists and turns. For some reason I found myself in my art work area one afternoon, confronting three bottles of fabric paint and some white cotton yardage.
I had originally bought the white fabric to make mask interiors. I’ve got a big collection now so this fabric is just hanging around. It’s maybe 44″ x 30″? 24″? I didn’t measure it. I just laid it out on the table and started painting. Did I mention that my fabric paints were black and white? Not enough scope of color for me, so I grabbed some of my acrylics paints. And, I have some acrylic paint markers – supposed to work on all surfaces, so things should be fine.
I started working at random, starting in the lower left corner. Now I have this image.
Next, I am going to decide what its next stage should be (I believe it will involve sewing). I showed it to a friend and she has some ideas. I’d welcome anyone’s suggestions here, too.Then one afternoon I will find myself in the basement again…what will happen this time?
Here is a small fabric piece made in August, 2020. It is about 6″ x 6″.
Just for fun, here is a photo of the back of the piece. You can see the stitching and you can also see where in my careless haste to keep moving along I sewed scraps of fabric to the back. No idea I did that until I looked, later.
You may remember that I recently wrote about doing some fabric art, in a return to a medium I worked in 20 years ago or so. (Look here if you want to see that post.) I’ve tried out a bigger work, roughly 24″ x 24″, and I’ll show it to you today and discuss its composition.
All right. Here is the fabric art. It’s called “Mother Nature Greets You”. You will notice its edges are still raw – I have not yet decided how I will finish it, or how it should be displayed. But I can discuss that later. First, take a look.
Here’s how I constructed the piece. It’s the same method I used in making the many fabric wall hangings I created and sold in the 1990’s-eaerly 2000’s.
I take a piece of lightweight canvas (in this case I cut it to about 24″ x 24″). I compose the image as I go – I don’t usually draw anything out or make plans. In this case, I chose a selection of fabrics and started off on the right side of the image. At that point I didn’t have an idea for how it would end up – in fact, my plan was to sew a little area, then see what it was looking like, and then sew some more.
I lay the fabric pieces on the backing, making sure there is overlap with adjoining pieces, and then I pin them. I know there are adhesives and so on for this purpose these days, but I used pins in the past, and I am comfortable with them. Also, I do not want additives or stiffening or anything of that nature in the piece – just fabric and thread. That’s just how I feel about it.
Next, using the regular machine stitching settings, I sew around the fabrics, catching all of them just enough to keep them in place. I choose thread color as the idea strikes me – sometimes I match the fabrics and sometimes I contrast and sometimes I just choose a color I like. I remove pins as I go.
Jumping ahead, after I have the entire piece laid out and sewn this way, I then move on to free-motion stitching. Here is a close-up of how that looks:
All right. Back to the process of making this particular piece. I sewed down the fabric you saw in the earlier photos, and I meant to progress slowly through the image, thinking the idea for what it would be would come along sometime. But, as it was, I got an inspiration and I did an area much bigger than I planned:
And then I just went on from there… I think I did the rest of the piece all at once, after this point.
It’s awkward to handle a piece of this size with all the pins and so on, but… I just move on and handle things as they happen. If gaps appear between fabrics or there are other glitches, I just stick on more fabric or sew down the folds or whatever it takes. It all ends up ok.
It’s interesting to take a look at the back. For the bobbin threads, I usually use white or black, but I don’t really care. At the moment, after having reviewed my thread collection which was based on projects I did in the past (a more muted color time in my life!) I am using the “ugly” colors as bobbin thread.
Look, you can see the ghost image of the face in thread.
Which brings me to a design point. I think that some open areas in the composition are essential – in this piece the face is my example. I also considered using a closely-spaced zig-zag stitch to outline the face and hands, but decided not to, as I wanted them to emerge from the chaos of colors and shapes rather than to be set apart.
The point I’m making is – the type of stitching is as much as design element as the fabric placement.
After finishing the entire image, I let it rest for a few days, and I made some adjustments and revisions by adding fabric as needed. For example, if you compare the earlier photo of the face with the finished on, you can see I changed it to achieve a different expression. It’s very much a collage process that I go through.
Finally I think I have an image I like. Here it is with its edges cropped.
I am not sure how I want complete the piece now. In the past, I would simply add a backing by sewing a piece of fabric to the image, right sides together, and flipping it (like making a simple pillow) – then topstitching around the piece and adding a hanging sleeve.
Somehow I’m not wanting to do that anymore. The smaller pieces I made, shown in the earlier post – I sewed a piece of watercolor paper to the back with a machine stitch all the way around it. That method will not work with this piece, too large.
I’ll give it some thought. In the meantime, here are some more detail shots. Thank for reading and going along this process with me