No, friends, this is not a publication by a religious group. This is an exercise in making a reference guide for your own sewing machine.
Yesterday I took a few hours to document all the stitches that are programmed into my Bernina 1080 Special. I would have done this sooner but for my own impatience to get on with my making.
Basically, you just make a column of stitches, move to the next button and repeat until you have a sample of each stitch. In addition, I changed length and width as I stitched along, making notes in permanent marker along the way.
It wasn’t as boring as I had imagined, mostly because I listened to podcasts while I stitched.
Even though my Bernina only has 28 different stitches, I worked my way through several bobbins of thread. The payout of this exercise is getting to play with different combinations of the stitches that I discovered. My favorite setting is the mirror-image button. This allows me to highlight nice sections of my fiber objects with mirrored embroidery stitches.
I also learned how to couch cord, ribbons and yarn.
If you haven’t made a stitch bible for your sewing machine, I suggest that you give it a go. It may spark in you some creative ideas for future fiber play.
While studying embroidery in books and on-line classes, I learned about a method for practicing stitches by working on printed fabric. The concept is to use the design found in the print as a template for your design, then embroider it with your choice of stitch and thread. This is well illustrated by the designs found in damask napkins. These are often woven with clearly delineated fruits or flowers.
That’s not what I chose to do. I started with some quilting fabrics that had more abstract, textural designs. Here they are:
Settling on the third one, I started to analyze it. Hm. The terra cotta color reminded me of clay, and the geometric print suggested faceted jewels to me. I came up with the concept of jewels in the clay.
Have you ever had the misfortune of losing a beloved piece of jewelry? One minute the necklace was securely fastened around your neck. The next time you checked, it was gone. This has happened to me more than once. The most notable incident was while visiting Paris, where I lost a necklace the very day I was given it. But that’s a tale for another day.
Have you ever had the great fortune of Finding a piece of jewelry? You’ve just locked your car in the parking lot at Lowe’s , glanced down, and there at your feet is a silver bracelet in perfect condition.
This little fiber object will look as if someone dumped her jewelry box into the red dirt. I started out by making some gemstones in colors of amethyst, topaz, ruby, emerald and turquoise. Using the faceted squares on the fabric, I stitched outlines in split stitch and then worked satin stitch over top. The centers of the jewels were made with French knots and sequins.
And here are all the jewels. I added some diamond looking stones made with more sequins and connected the jewels with a silver “chainstitch” chain. The chain follows the lines of the print, which give it a crumpled look.
It took me two days to finish the embroidery. I like the dimensional quality of the work. One feels as if she could just reach down and pick it this lovely lost treasure.
My pieces of hand-painted fabric are now dry. So here we go with the mash up. The first step is to create a warp and a weft from the two fabrics:
Blue fabric on the left is warp. Cut vertically.
On the right is the weft. I made some artistic swoops with this fabric.
Time to get out my Bernina. I will admit that I am not an expert seamstress. My mother, who is, gave me this machine last year. It has languished largely unused on a shelf in my studio, but now it is urgently needed, to assemble my mash-up. First I cut a piece of fusible fabric in the same size as the “warp” fabric. Then I weave the pieces together like this:
After fusing the sandwich together with a hot iron, I start sewing the edges of the weft fabric down. Next I sew the warp fabric edges down.
A quick press and the colorwash mash-up is complete. I used a royal blue thread to give a strong contrast to the watery colors in the fabrics.
Finished piece. On the right, the audience applauds with approval!