Module 5 "Touching Texture"

Module 5: "Touching Texture"

A study based on textured surfaces in landscape.

Friday, 21 September 2018

Certificate, Module 5, Chapter 6: Tucks, Pleats and Gathers. Day 21

The hessian sample from yesterday worked beautifully.  There was enough dressing in the hessian that, when dampened and pressed into ridges, it set in that shape when dry.

It seemed to me that it was just calling out for  random smocking stitches to scrawl their way across the ridges.


I have tried to avoid using colour for this module, as suggested in the student notes, but in this case I couldn't resist this thread, (a gift from a friend) of hand dyed cotton with the merest blush of faint colour, shading from pink through cream to green.  With the warmer coloured thread appearing to advance and the cooler green appearing to recede it seems to add another dimension to this simple piece.  I like this one very much.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Certificate, Module 5, Chapter 6: Tucks, Pleats and Gathers, Day 20

No time consuming smocking today - that will have to wait till another time.  I had a very busy day today with boring, but necessary domestic admin tasks filling the morning, a quick bite of lunch before off to a regular walking group in the afternoon.  So something quick and easy for my sample today.  I had a look at Jean Littlejohn's book "Fabrics for Embroidery" and found a technique that seemed quick and easy, but interesting.  It consisted of gathering and stuffing little circles on a stretchy fabric.  It was very effective, and I could see that Jean's suggestion of combining them with other textures would be even more so.  (All the same, there was a disquieting feeling that there was something a bit rude-looking about the resulting shapes - or was that just my mind?)

3.6.9  Stuffed and gathered circles on jersey fabric

I found two more ideas that were interesting, both of which involved manipulating damp fabric and leaving it to dry and so I prepared the samples and left them to dry.  In 3.6.10, below the top sample shows pleated damp fabric wrapped around a stick and tied at regular intervals.  This will take possibly a few days to dry.  The lower sample is some hessian fabric dampened and then moulded into ridges and left to dry.  I'm not sure whether or not that particular fabric has the necessary dressing to enable it to retain the ridges thus formed, but I'll find out fairly soon.  If it doesn't work then I can try saturating the fabric in PVA or cellulose paste.

5.6.10 Dampened, manipulated fabrics laid on a plastic bag to dry

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Certificate Module 5, Chapter 6: Tucks, Pleats and Gathers, Day 19

I'm in love with smocking!  It is time consuming, even tedious at times and it is so hard to get the stitches even, particularly on the silk fabric I chose to use (I don't know why except I liked the feel of it).  All the same I loved it.  Unpicking the original gathering stitches at the end and discovering the elastic qualities of the resulting fabric was like opening your presents at Christmas.  I can see some mistakes in my stitching and it could be neater, but I am pleased with the results nevertheless and keen to practise more so I can do better.

5.6.8  Completed smocking sample
I particularly enjoyed the chevron honeycomb stitch (see close-up below).  It was quite hard to get the hang of it, but then suddenly it clicked and there was a very pleasing rhythm to the stitch.

5.6.8 (a)  Chevron Honeycomb Stitch

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Certificate Module 5 Chapter 6 Tucks, Pleats and Gathers, Day 18


This little, part-finished smocking sample is all I have to show for half a day's work.  Not having access to a pleating machine in my far-flung corner of the UK, if I wanted to try smocking (which I did) and if I was reluctant to spend over £200 on a machine that I would hardly ever use (which I was), the only solution was to do the initial gathering by hand.  I followed the instructions step by step, from measuring out a grid on the wrong side of the fabric, putting pencil dots at all the grid intersections, through seemingly endless stitching to finally gathering up with several attempts to get the gathers to sit evenly.

At last I arrived at the stage where, my book told me, "You have now completed the preparation."  Soul destroying.  I tried a few smocking stitches, with as much unpicking as stitching (It's awfully hard to get it even!) before I finally ran out of time and overdue domestic chores were beckoning (not least some bread rising).  However I am not daunted and I will get it finished.  I want to try the conventional approach to smocking first so that I know it well before I try experimenting with it.  I think it will be fun so worth all the effort.  (I hope!)  I have new respect now for the lovely smocked dresses that Auntie Jeannie made for my sister and me when we were bairns!

Monday, 17 September 2018

Certificate Module 5 Chapter 6: Tucks, Pleats and Gathers, Day 17

Today I had fun with making yoyos, otherwise known as Suffolk Puffs.  I love these!  Circles of fabric are gathered around the circumference, pulled up tight and then flattened.  They can be joined at their edges to make an open cloth, or, as in this case, applied to a ground fabric.

5.6.6  Suffolk Puffs

This was doubly enjoyable for me as it brought back some lovely childhood memories.  I had a much-loved maiden aunt with whom my sister and I would often stay.  The bed in the spare room was huge, high and blissfully soft with a feather mattress and a honey-coloured bedspread made of silky Suffolk Puffs joined together and showing a contrasting cover underneath the spaces.  Auntie Dodie would light a fire in the grate and I would drift blissfully off to sleep with the flickering fire casting pictures on the wall.  I had often thought that I might some day make a similar bedspread myself, but in view of how long it took to do those 5 little samples, I think I've changed my mind!

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Certificate Module 5 Chapter 6: Tucks, Pleats and Gathers, Day 16

For today's sample, I combined the furrowing technique with shirring.

In 5.6.5, I worked a central panel in furrowing technique with a border of plain shirring on either side.  I worked the furrowing stitches further apart than I did in 5.6.2 so as to give a looser furrowing appearance.  I found that, although there is a certain randomness to the furrowing process, it is to some extent controllable.  Perhaps a topic for further exploration.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Certificate Module 5 Chapter 6: Tucks, Pleats and Gathers, Day 15

Today's sample shows a narrow strip of shirring, where the two long sides opposite each other are each gathered and pulled up.  The strip is then stitched between two plain strips.


I thought this sample reminded me of a tree trunk and could be used to depict this.