Now that I'm done with all of my doctoral coursework with only the dissertation to finish, I'm taking a little break to do some stitching. I began this wool applique´ and embroidery design based on a contemplative photograph from some of my doctoral dissertation work. Working on this is satisfying in that it is further bringing my scholarly contemplative art making into my everyday life and into a form that I can share with others. I plan to release this as well as several other designs as applique´ and embroidery patterns and kits.
|This is the original contemplative photo I created during a meditative walk in my garden which I based this first wool applique and embroidery design after.|
I did a few wool applique´ projects long ago, so I needed to refresh my memory to complete this design. I have found there is a lot more technical information on wool applique´ out there now which is exciting. I've been gathering what I find on my Wool Applique´ Pinterest board.
Some of my first questions to consider were issues of transferring the design, difference between wool felt and felted wool, and touching up on embroidery stitches I had not used in a while.
For this design I needed to transfer the drawing onto a black wool gaberdine base fabric (recycled from one of my husband's suits). With an abundance of art supplies in my studio, I went with a method that I also have used with my art. I rubbed white chalk/pastel on the back of the design. I gave it a little shake to release loose dust, then I placed this over the base fabric. With I pencil I drew over the lines of the design to transfer the while chalk to the fabric. It was a little dusty but I was surprised at how well the fabric held the chalk line. Then I was ready to start cutting and stitching.
I pulled out all of my wool fabrics and felts. Although I had used both, I had never really paid particular attention to the difference between the two. But now I wondered if there was a difference or not. I knew they seemed different but wasn't sure exactly why so I did a quick search of the internet. A google search on the topic yeilds a lot of information. I found the most helpful explanation offered at oliverrabbit.com: http://oliverrabbit.com/journal/2016/1/11/what-is-the-difference-between-wool-felt-and-felted-wool. The basics: wool felt is created with heat/agitation to bind the fibers together and felted wool is woven wool fabric that is washed and dried - this felts it and puffs it up a little. While reading this I remembered how some wool felt kind of sheds little fibers when you cut it. I was pretty sure I wanted to use felted wool for my current project. I had on hand some white woven wool coating weight, which I was and dried to felt, and just a week ago I was at Cross Stitch Station in Waynesboro, Virginia where I picked up a nice fat quarter of Weeks Dye works over dyed black wool. I ended up only using the white wool.
Threads & Stitches
Upon beginning this project, I felt pretty sure that blanket stitch, which seems to be one of the most common stitches used in wool applique´, would work for this delicate design. I tested it out on my design and immediately knew it wasn't the right stitch for this project. But as I removed the stitches, I realized why it is probably the most popular stitch - it is sturdy and hard to pull out, so it likely lasts a long time even with wear and tear. I began with my all-time favorite, yet simple stitch - the back stitch. I used DMC ecru perle cotton size 5 for the stems. This design has a lot of stems and I wanted some variation in size, so I created the main stems with the aptly named stem stitch. Another favorite of mine is the French knot, which I used on the smaller flowers. I used a whip stitch with regular quilting thread to attach the flowers and leaves. I originally planned to use black wool for the centers of the large flowers, but decided to stitch the centers with black perle cotton size 5.
I decided to make this finished design into a new purse for myself using felted wool from an old sweater. Now I get to enjoy the fruit of my labor that began with my doctoral work in my everyday life - a pleasing conclusion.