Friday, March 21, 2014

free motion friday

So, It's friday.  Well it is here in Australia.  To start my link up for free motion stitchers out there, I am reposting an old post about  free motion stitching.
A little bit of  preliminary.  If you want to use your machine for free motion, you need to lower the feed dogs and put a darning foot on.   If you are unable to lower your feed dogs, covering them with a bit of masking tape or card will do the job.  A great overview of setting up can be found here.
Above all, relax.  It is just like scribbling and you will find your skill improves dramatically as you practice. When you learned to write as a child, no one expected you to do calligraphy straight off, so don't expect to make a masterpiece straight away.  Just play and practice.

I am going to start with a number of straight stitch techniques.  I hope to continue this series as we go along.
Obviously, if you are not new to free motion embroidery (FME), then don't worry about the tutorial, just link at the bottom so we can all share what you have done.  It doesn't have to be done today or even this week, just post something you have done.

Straight stitch techniques in FME
One look at a quilting catalogue, or leah day's project will show you that straight stitch is extremely versatile and can form a zillion different patterns.  This is because it is basically a line and lines make drawings, so anything you can draw, you can FME.  And let's not forget drawing.  Before you start at the machine it is a good idea to draw out what you intend to sew.  Not only will this help you remember where to move, it will make the result better.
The first thing you will probably do and this is a good idea, is just scribble.  Below are a few examples of just that.
 Try a variety of shapes and even some stick figures or leaves and trees,  Keep it interesting, because practice is the key.
Some patterns you could try:
wiggly lines
zigzag lines
pointy scribble
curvy scribble or stippling
curvy lines that touch
practice the alphabet
write your name
These are not special, perfect examples I made up to show you.  They are just my everyday practice.  If I don't practice nearly everyday, I get a bit rusty.
Don't look for perfection in your lines,
  • firstly because most applications of these lines in FME will not require perfection 
  • secondly, because if it is not fun to do, you are not likely to persist and striving for perfection can be a little boring.
  • lastly because my philosphy is that creativity and perfection are opposing forces.  Think about your purpose.  Is your purpose to create a perfect carbon copy that is cold and lifeless, or is it to create something alive and beautiful that expresses your inner self?  
Now let's look at the three main ways to use straight stitch in FME

Granite stitch
Granite stitch for me, is just scribble, the first thing we do as children learning to draw, which is why I chose it to start. Leah day calls it cat hairball, it is also known when done like in the picture above, as encroaching circles in The encyclopedia of Machine Embroidery, or granite stitch by carol shinn, or spiralling straight stitch by Alison holt and probably as many other names as there are FME artists.
Basically, this stitch is used to fill in large areas and shade by overlapping  or to make trees in the distance as in my itty bitty landscape, here is a close up of  that stitching.
The main thing with granite stitch, is that the circles need to overlap, and if it doesn't look right to you (remember to stand back, no-one looks at art with their nose to it to enjoy it,  only critics do that!), then go over it again, or ask someone else, because you will always be over critical of your own work.  

Here are two straight stitch examples on the transparent collage I showed yesterday.

The dark green blue in the thick top line is  granite or scribbling.  You might be able to see that I went back over with a lighter colour.  This is supposed to represent trees on the horizon.  Beneath that,  in the browny green thread, I have just drawn zig zag lines to represent some grass.
It all looks very messy this close up, doesn't it?
You can see how these simple stitched lines create detail in the landscape, and all it was was a bit of scribble!

Next week I will continue my series.  I will also try to visit everyone who posts.
Just to test out the linky, I will link to my itty bitty landscape post, so there is no need to look at that if you have already clicked through above.