Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Quickly-Stitched Page

I saved this to blog about after it went to the recipient. Just in case she reads my blog. I didn’t want to accidentally spoil the surprise.

Begun & Completed: January 11, 2008

Size: 8” wide x 8.75” tall – to fit on 9” x 9” book page

Materials: Main – piece of cotton fabric (painted with Setacolor and metallic fabric paints, scrunched), iron-on heavy-duty stabilizer. Accents – images printed on HP Iron-On T-Shirt Transfer paper and applied on cotton fabric, various scraps of fabric-painted and stamped raw silk fabric, all backed with Lite Steam-a-Seam 2. Pen – Pitt drawing pen in sepia. Thread – Sulky 12 wt. variegated cotton, size 100 needle, regular cotton sewing thread in bobbin.

Comments: I originally planned on making this 8 x 8 but apparently I can’t measure properly. I experimented with the transfer images first (I’m sure you’ll recognise the images!) and they worked rather well although the results are somewhat stiff. Sure wouldn’t want a t-shirt with this unless it softens with washing! I ironed the stabilizer (like heavy non-woven interfacing) onto the main fabric piece. All the scrap fabrics and the transfers had the Lite Steam-a-Seam2 stuck on. This stuff is different than Wonder-Under or the like. It’s sticky on both sides and you don’t iron it at all until it’s in place where it will be permanent. You just peel off the one paper layer and hand-press it on then cut out shapes, peel off the other paper and hand-press them in place until you’re ready to iron. I think it’s rather sticky to sew through so when this is gone, I won’t be getting more. Then I wrote the words on with the Pitt pen. Even though it’s not recommended for cloth I’ve tested and it lasts pretty well even if it gets wet. I’m obviously not very good with the free-motion embroidery yet. Kinda sloppy but not too awful. I had trouble getting the exact right tensions on top thread and bobbin. Tried and rejected brighter rayon thread and instead used the heavy cotton. I ended with a close zigzag around all the edges.

I’m pretty satisfied with this piece considering I didn’t give myself very long to do it! Only one day. I used several materials that were new to me and got some more practice in on the FME. This page was inserted into the gift book that was presented to Chisako at her going-away party at the Silk Weaving Studio where she worked and sold her lovely naturally-dyed and handwoven scarves.

The wording says:

January 2008

Dear Chisako,

May your heart always be light.

May your threads never tangle.

May your dyes always be brilliant.

May your shuttle always fly.

May your colours sing.

Best wishes from Damselfly


Your friend Louisa

She received the completed book with pages made by many of her friends in different styles and techniques: paper, cloth, weaving, and even a tiny knitted sock. It’s quite a treasure! The small shop was filled to capacity, proving that she will definitely be missed by the local textile arts community. I hope that their move to Japan will be all that they wish and they will find that special place that fills their hearts and becomes home.

Meanwhile and continuing on the Japanese theme I have two more books to review, this time on kumihimo. Both of these are not available through regular sources but I got them from Braidershand and they are both focused on the Hamanaka disk and plate, inexpensive and portable tools to braid on. First we have the world authority on kumihimo, Makiko Tada, who has worked with the manufacturer to develop the foam Hamanaka disks. The latest in her series of Comprehensive Treatise of Braids published by Texte in Japan, is “VI: Kumihimo Disk and Plate.”

Makiko shows how to make round, flat, zigzag, curled and braids-within-braids. She also shares her secrets of how to make jewelry with the shaped braids. The text is in English and Japanese but there are many diagrams that should make it easy to follow once you familiarize yourself with how to decipher the diagramming system. Braidershand also has several smaller booklets available for the disk and plate but they are in Japanese with a small supplement in English from Janis Saunders, owner of Braidershand. Some of the braids are the same and some are different and one might clarify the other, so it’s not a problem to have them all. Which brings me to the next book, or rather booklet:

This one is by my friend Carol Goodwin from Seattle, published by Braidershand, and is titled “Braiding on a Kumihimo Disk – Volume 3: Beaded Braids.” Note there are no Volumes 1 & 2, yet! At 21 pages it’s a slim volume but Carol has developed some really interesting ways to incorporate beads in braids. If you already have Jacqui Carey’s “Beads & Braids”, Carol’s techniques are quite different. And fairly easy to accomplish if somewhat slow compared to braiding without beads. You can also work these braids on the marudai as well as the disk, which I prefer if I don’t have to consider portability.

The Hamanaka disk and plate are made from high-density foam with slots to accept your threads. The foam holds them quite well, much better than the cardboard ones I used to teach braiding on! And they hold up well under regular use. The reason there are two shapes is that some braids are easier to do on one shape over the other. The flat zigzag for instance is much easier to accomplish on the square and Kongo (round spiral) is easier on the round shape. Not that you couldn’t fake it if necessary but they are pretty inexpensive so I would get both, or indeed several so you could have more braids going at once. Besides, chances are you’ll be giving them away when others see how much fun it is!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The gift is lovely!

And your info on kumihimo is perfectly timed since I just bought a purple heart muradai.

Just got to throw a shuttle for a bit first before putting a project on that.

Hugs, Susan