Wednesday, 14 August 2013

5 starting points for embroidery

We all know that 'blank page' feeling, when you want to create something but don't know where to start. I thought I would explain a bit about how I get started on an embroidery.

1) Use a pattern
Patterns from Day of the Dead Iron on Transfer Patterns by Marty Noble (Dover Pub)

Sometimes I just want to stitch something right away without having to do any planning and this is when I reach for a pattern. I have loads of patterns- I once bought a job lot of vintage patterns of eBay so have a big file of them, I also have patterns from Sublime Stitching and Urban Threads plus books of embroidery transfers I have bought on Amazon. I love the ease of using a pattern, and enjoy putting my own stamp on  the pattern via my colour choices, use of different stitches etc. I embroider most evenings for relaxation and after completing a big project working up a pattern feels like a break!

2) Designing my own patterns

For this piece I wanted to do a Victorian style portrait but with a flamingo instead of a lady! It was inspired by some gorgeous trays I had seen. I made several sketches experimenting with the position of the head and changing the clothing/accessories until I came up with something that I was happy with. I don't have brilliant drawing skills so I tend to do lots of rubbing out. It is very satisfying stitching up something that is 100% my own and these are often the pieces I am proudest of. 

3)Found imagery
Embroidery of Edward Gorey artwork
I also love to take an image I have found and stitch it up. I will often stitch up other people's art/ illustration because it suits a project I want to make or simply because I love the image. I also have used vintage anatomical images, nature photographs and photos of people/objects as patterns. I either copy the image by eye or trace the image. If it is a photo I use the sunny window method or a lightbox and trace the outline and a few basic details then use the photo for reference as I work. I can't speak about this without giving the Illustration Stitch-a-long a shout out here, things seem a little quiet there at the moment but the current theme is a free choice of illustrator - I am thinking I might go for a Spike Milligan drawing or pick something from a childrens book. 

4) Free style!
Sometimes it is fun just to hoop up some fabric and doodle away with my stitching. I don't do this enough but it is liberating! These pieces are a chance to try things out that I might use at a later date rather than an attempt to create something beautiful. I guess I should try and collect some together in a sketch book. I think it would be interesting though to try and 'draw' something using freestyle stitching- no lines on the fabric at all as a guide. It would be scary but playful- and maybe (just maybe) the results would be good?!?

5) Swaps
DOTD owl, own design

Via the swapping community I have stitched things I would never, ever have thought of stitching ordinarily. Because you stitch to a theme and to your partner's specific interests it leads you in the most interesting directions. Some of my favourite pieces ever were made for swaps and I am so grateful to all my swap partners and the organizers of those swaps. There is something about this process that gets my creative process going. I LOVE being assigned a theme! After getting in touch with my partner and finding out their like/dislikes (and engaging in some mild internet stalking of their flickr/craftster likes, pinterest etc) I can get stuck into some brainstorming, image researching and sketching. Lots and lots of lists of ideas are made. It is like being back at art school. The example above was for someone who liked owls and DOTD, they had a wooden DOTD owl on their pinterest- this is different in style to the one they had pinned but I was fairly sure they would like it. Some swappers give you a free reign and this is quite challenging and always inspires me to come up with something unexpected. I have also received some beautiful things in swaps- I have been lucky enough to be paired with some amazing stitchers!

1 comment:

  1. I love this series Sophie, and it's great to see your inspirations and starting points! I must get back to the illustration stitch a long, I've just been crazy busy! ( I love your flamingo btw! ) b.x


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