Inspiration From the Sketchbook: Follow the Lines

Recording memories in thread is a slow and delightful process. Last month, in my post, Recording Memories in Thread, I drew inspiration from a photograph, but when I began stitching I felt stymied. Could I replicate the swirly leaf shape by eye? Should I try? Knowing myself, I thought it would be better to have a plan. So I allowed myself the ability to embroider a design freehand while taking the time to find a pen or pencil that could be washed out of the cloth (keep reading—I will get to this).

I used a running stitch to embroider my freeform “drawing.” I wanted the thread to appear as a line, so a running stitch was a perfect fit.

To do a running stitch: pass the needle in and out of the fabric. (The stitches on the right side of the garment should be longer than the stitches on the wrong side.)

I love the texture the small cross stitches made and plan to do more of these.

I think the collar is a great place for a short quote, something to remind myself to have fun, embellish, continue to learn and expand. I don’t know what I will sew here but I finally feel the momentum of this project kicking up some dust and know this will be the next area to stitch. Ideas, anyone?

This is a Pilot Frixion ball-point pen and it is sold as an ‘erasable pen’ which has a silicone nib in the place of an eraser and is intended for use on paper. For cloth it works a bit differently but works nonetheless. Go ahead and write, draw and use the pen on cloth. Embroider directly over your penned markings. When you are done embroidering, steam your cloth. Do not touch the iron to the cloth, just hold an iron above the cloth and use the steam function. Then, wash as usual. No more pen mark!

The ball-point aspect of this pen helps the pen move over the surface of the cloth, the mark is a light thin black, and disappears as soon as the steam hits the cloth. Wow! Now, I can really transfer designs from my journal to my clothing, fearlessly—and so can you!

There is also mechanical pencil lead created specifically for fabric, so I tested it out alongside the Frixion pen. It works but I am not in love with the result. The lead pulls at the weave of the cloth and I can see a bit of grey mixed in with the embroidery after washing. So this would be my second choice option.

In my premiere post for Create Mixed Media, I created a Gather Your Sew-plies pattern as a give away for visiting my blog. This pattern is a recipe for a modern day sewing chatelaine, which will hold embroidery scissors, thread, a thimble, and needles. I am releasing the pattern in parts on my blog, so far there are two parts, the purse pattern and a pattern for a Thimble Cinch Sack. I will be making one or two more additions to the recipe: a pocket to hold scissors, and a modifications and embellishment tutorial, so please stop by and check it out.

Next month I will move into surface design techniques inspired by your journal pages (or mine, as the case may be). So stay tuned to begin stamping, stenciling and printing on your clothing using ideas garnered from your journals. I will also update you as to how my stitching is coming along!

Melanie Testa, an accomplished textile and quilt artist, is the author of the recently released North Light book, Dreaming From the Journal Page: Transforming the Sketchbook to Art. She is also the author of Inspired To Quilt: Creative Experiments in Art Quilt Imagery (Interweave, May 09). Melanie often begins her work by sketching in journals using paint and pens, then interpreting her ideas into her fabric works of art. She teaches workshops at major art retreats and other venues nationwide. You can follow Melanie on her blog.


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