Thursday, December 8, 2016

Stitch-Along Decisions

So you want to do the Stitch Along that starts in January.  There are many options and so the diagram I published yesterday (and was likely unreadable) will help get through them.  Lets take half the diagram and examine it now.

The first decision is do you like the design I am stitching.  It is called the Five Senses Design and if you go to the COC Part I class page and have access to it, you can review the entire design both in three dimensions and in full size tracing diagrams.

This side of the digram assumes that you like it as is.  Great! Your design is set and you are ready to go.  Time to think about the techniques you want to do your piece in so you can select a ground fabric.

If you move down the left hand side and say, I want to work it as a counted work design, you have the choice to use a graph and use the same fabric I am using and producing a graph for those students.  If that is your desire, get a piece of the Montrose linen and start working from the cutting and framing diagram on the site to get ready to stitch.
And note that you should put your casket on order.  We have the choice of putting all the panels on the casket at the end of the stitch along (24 months) or at an intermediate point to liberate our frames, changing the over all costs (i.e. having enough frames to fit all of it). I will be breaking up the monthly stitching with finishing of the box.  Decide when you want the box - but you need to order it ahead to have it there the day you finish the embroidery.

Ok, but say you don't need a graph but maybe want to do it on a finer count than 24 per inch.  So that
Five Senses Design for the Stitch-Along
requires you to trace the pattern onto the linen and choose the exact placement of the colors, kinda like a coloring book.  You can use my color placement as a guide.  So going down that decision tree, choose a count, buy a 36" x 36" piece of linen and start working through the instructions for framing and tracing.  One of the important things to get right when tracing is that the linen is square with the traced design and that the stretched linen isn't bigger than the box side.  So there are things to do and think about in the order you are going to do the tracing and framing (on the sheet).   You then need to place a casket on order for the reasons cited above.

Now what if you like the design and want to embroider it instead?  Maybe go for the full gusto (please - I want to see!) and do stumpwork of those figures.  In that case, you will need a 36" x 36" piece of ground fabric that will hold that embroidery well, and if the background won't be stitched over, is tightly woven enough so glue won't seep through the holes.  An easy way to test is to take some extra paper from your trinket box project and wet it with the glue and place it on the back of a small piece of that linen or fabric you are thinking about and look.  Let it dry and look.  If it looks fine - you are set.

I have already worked with the silk satin and the 40 count linen on the website and so I know those work.  One thing to caution against is using a backing muslin.  Choose a heavy weight silk satin and not a thin one, and remember that teachers often suggest backing with muslin because of the weight of the embroidery on the non-supported silk in a frame.  But ours will be glued to a support.  And the Japanese don't line theirs and it lasts unsupported for hundreds of years.  I haven't ever seen a full piece ever done this way in a museum.  What I have seen is the backing used and then cut away with only about a 1/16" of it showing beyond the heaviest parts of the embroidery.  Not sure when this full muslin on the back showed up in our lexicon.  And it is used slavishly like it came down from god.  Why not to do it? Because it will be the part that is glued to the paper and the box and not the silk ground that doesn't have embroidery on it.  When people have asked, I encourage them to cut away the excess backing because their embroidery background will bubble away from the casket.  The only way it won't is if the glue seeps through the muslin enough to bond the silk to the muslin.

After the choice is made, you then join the rest of the flow diagram and get to cutting, framing and tracing via the document on the class site.

Tomorrow - we go down the fork of how to make changes to the design



  1. Thank you for answering the muslin question, what you have said makes perfect sense (about the fabrics delaminating if the glue does not permeate the muslin into the silk layer). After covering (with the archival paper) and finishing the drawers for my double casket. I can confidently say I'm comfortable adding a layer of glue to the back of my embroidery. I'm also confident the paste glue will stand up to least MY time.

  2. The "muslin under your embroidery" mantra comes out of the Royal School of Needlework. Having said that, it was not used under brocades, linen twill and other heavy fabrics. I use the technique all the time on any fabrics that I consider "swishy". It has its place. However, I had thought about the situation with the glue against the box. Obviously muslin would act as a deterrent to making the satin stick to the box. I think I am going to start with the trinket box to get some experience.

    1. Thank you too Barbara for clearing up when muslin should be used. As you know I've followed your technique on most of my crewel pieces but wondered why not on some twill... this is my first experience actually gluing embroidery...Kind Regards....