Thursday, May 1, 2014

Slow stitching

Lately, I’ve had a hankering for handwork, a need to slow down and work with my needle in my hands, more often. Here are some of the projects I’ve been working on, in between my faster moving thread-sketched, fusible appliqued, and wholecloth-painted works. 

The first project has been in progress for about two years. I purchased this denim jacket for $3 at a local thrift shop, and have been embroidering it – with sewing implements including scissors, pin cushions, thread spools, and a tape measure – since then, mostly on long airplane trips, and in my hotel room in the evenings after I teach. I’m using solid and varigated perle cotton, and I just love how it sparkles with color. I mostly have the sleeves still to do.

Here’s a close-up shot showing how I outlined the designs, and surrounded it with “chicken scratch” stitches:

The next one is a needleturn applique project I’ve had in my head for years, but just started today. It is a simple wreath of leaves. I have the first three blocks pinned down and ready to stitch. I want this to be king-sized bed quilt; it will probably need at least 25 blocks! It will be another good “take-along” project. All the foundations will be shades of blue, but different blues, and the leaves are greens, blues, and purples. 

The third project has been in the works for at least three years! It started as a fat quarter of clamp-dyed Shibori that I dyed black, then embroidered with various threads and perle cotton and couched-down threads. Now I am free-motion machine quilting it with a varigated black-gray-white thread.

I often describe myself as a “multiple-personality disorder quilter,” because I love all types of quilting and stitching. I knit, needlepoint, cross stitch, embroider, hand quilt, hand applique, and free-motion thread sketch and quilt. Some of these techniques fill certain needs (hand work is perfect for concentration and relaxation, and can be done while I wait during soccer practices, piano lessons, and orthodontist appointments). Others, such as the machine work, fill my “need for speed,” I suppose. I enjoy the variety.