Project 2 Developing Your Marks – Stage 5 Stitches to create texture


I selected 6 images from my previous exercises.  This brief is asking for stitches to create texture and not really concerned with the use of colour, but I still feet I needed to try to find fabrics and threads that would give an idea of the original sketches.

This first image I felt lent itself rather well to machine embroidery.  The streaks of colour look a bit like rockets on bonfire night agains the sky.  When you look closer you can see some of the lines are made up of a combination of several lines of colour which I felt I could develop using different thicknesses of thread or yarn.  Overall I would use the words calm, bright, regular and soft to describe this picture.

I produced a couple of samples using the machine:

This was my first sample where I tried out some free machine embroidery in different colours of thread, varying the stitch length, using straight stitch and a 3-stitch zig-zag.

In this sample I had a background of plain black poly-cotton fabric and overlaid a piece of vintage netting (rayon, I think).  Then I couched over some space-dyed, slubbed knitting yarn and stiched on some ribbons and lines in between.

I love these colours so much and I found some fabulous fabric, a pale turquoise velvet with a silver woven dot.  I imagined the original image as the night sky and the colours on it gave the impression of fireworks.  I then mentally reversed the image into the negative and used the light coloured fabric as a background “sky”.  I hand stitched this sample with lines of darker coloured texture to reproduce the “fireworks”.  I love the way this has turned out and I am only sorry that the sample is so small.  I think it would make a wonderful cushion cover.

A variety of stitches were used, chain stitch, satin stitch, running and back stitches and couching over other yarns.  I also applied more ribbons, some vintage lace and some shot silk dupion.

This next image is one produced from the patchwork of wax resist paintings. Again I would use the word soft to describe this image but also pointed comes to mind.  This image also inspired machine embroidery samples.

I tried a few different ways of filling the basic “eye” shape, outlining and filling in a circular motion, then horizontally and vertically.  They all produce a different texture.  I think I prefer the shapes with no outline.  I also rather like the back.  I wanted to press on and didn’t change the bobbin thread to match the top, so you get an interesting effect.

These samples were produced on a rayon satin fabric using standard machine sewing thread, the lighter making a satin stitch effect and the black more like a drawn line.  On the right I used a buttonhole thread for the black line and the “eyes” were a bit looser, with a slightly darker middle.  I left in the joining stitches and I like the effect that gives.

This image is also one I produced from the patchwork of wax crayon resists.  It gives the impression of lots of layers of stitches in different colours.  I can alsmost see a sunset landscape here so it is a calm picture with smooth lines and soft focus, almost brushed.  I layered up some fabric to stitch on to produce some of the background colours.  Because I chose some densely woven fabrics for their colours it made this sample very heavy-going to stitch with the thick tapestry wools.

I also used embroidery silks, crochet cotton and a fine boucle machine knitting yarn and just let the needle dictate where the stitches went.  I am not quite sure I have captured the layers.  I felt I did not want to overwork the piece as it would have become messy.

This was one of the paintings I produced using sponged acrylics and printing with bubble wrap. Fluffy, soft and bubbly come to mind as words to describe this image.   I love the regularity of the “bubbles”.  I produced the sample below on a linen-type fabric, using basic straight stitching, seed stitch and satin stitch with embroidery threads and made some french knots with a wool-mix knitting yarn.

Again, the original image looks layered with the green shapes showing through the transparent white “clouds”.  I enjoyed experimenting with grading the seed stitch until it covered the backing fabric almost completely and I also like the effect produced by grading the running stitch in different directions.  Looking at this sample, I think I should have kept with the more formal circles filled with satin stitch and experimented more with a fluffy yarn to see if I could capture the white “clouds” and the green shapes in less regimented way.  This is a good example of where pinning up samples and sketches helps you to see things that you may not when you are concentrating working on a small area.

I had fun producing this collage version of an earlier sketch made with wax crayons rubbing over buttons.  There are some lovely textures here provided by the magazine cuttings.  The colours impart a calmness but there is also a brightness and liveliness that come forward when I look at the greenery.  I like that there are ribs and knobbles, swishy grasses and crispy leaves all adding to the vibrancy.

This sample was made using a linen-type fabric base and a variety of stitches in embroidery silks, tapestry wools, ribbon, crochet cotton and cotton perle, knitting yarn and synthetic raffia string.  I enjoyed trying some new stitches – fishbone, basket, fly, and Cretan stitch all feature here, along with backstitch, satin stitch, bullion knots and darning.  I think my favourite is the circle on the left where I have used a space-dyed embroidery silk and fly stitch to capture the sprout leaves with their ribs and wrinkly layers.

This is still one of my favourite images.  It is bold and bright and cheerful with the red and gold colours and familiar flower shapes.  I like the look of the regular positioned but slightly uneven ribs in the background and feel they contrast well with the smooth petal shapes.

I felt the bold design needed to be reproduced on a larger scale and used upholstery hessian as a base fabric and my rag rug hook to hook through knitting yarns, sweet wrappers, fruit nets and instant noodle packets cut into strips.  I also hooked a version of chain stitch with my rug hook and this technique reminds me of the beautiful Indian crewel work upholstery fabrics.

A detail from a Wool Crewel Embroidered Cotton Shoulder Bag, $24.50 at

In this sample I used a chain stitch and a running stitch in a finer thread to get the ribbed background, then made the rose shapes stitching with a space-dyed wool-mix knitting yarn.  I think the chain stitch is better at giving the idea of the printed lines on the original image.  I could add some gold threads to give an accent to the roses.

I think my focusing on colour a bit too much took me away from the original brief and I could have done some more work on making more of the textural use of the stitches and threads.


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