Sunday, February 27, 2011

Belated Blog

As I said, Saturday is Stitchin' time, however, I spent a lot of time trying to video my stitches.... and failed.  So here is my blog for yesterday in picture form, instead.
I really love free motion embroidery (FME) in all it's forms and have been studying all the ways to stitch using it.  There are a lot of books and a lot of artists and they all use similar stitches and techniques and some have names and some have several names, but what I observed when I looked at it all is that there is an heirarchy (like a tree diagram) to the stitches, so I will show you that - but later, let's get down to the stitches!
Obviously, most people starting FME start with either straight stitch or Zig zag.  I am going to start with straight stitch, even though in some ways zigzag is easier to start with.
I am not going to look at the technical set-up stuff, because there are plenty of excellent sites with this information: sewing machines for beginners, beginners tute, technical stuff, excellent article from new mexico uni, beginners guide from isew.

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 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. 

This has been an overlong blog... and I still had two more stitches!  But we will go on to those next week, and I will work out how to post my stitch chart or tree diagram as a PDF for you.

On Monday, I will be posting a tutorial for a zipped cover for a sketchbook, that uses circular straight stitch on a large scale, so tune in for that, and later today I will post my sketchbook for this week.