5.1 Textile – Line to Stitch

Exercise 1

  • Look at my marks from unit 1 and 2
  • Find ones I can translate to stitch
  • Try and imitate the marks using black and grey thread in different thicknesses on plain fabric

As it turns out my marks from unit 1 are not very diverse. I used charcoal and ink, both of which I find hard to imitate with thread. Many of my marks are long and sweeping, playing with the change of width in the mark. Stitch as I think of it at this stage is short. For longer marks I need to combine them in some way which means that the long and sweeping marks become broken into bits. Also the thread has a fixed thickness. So what properties of the line can I translate to stitch and how?

For this exercise I tried to limit my ideas to the line, ignoring ones concerning texture and tone which will be the subject for later exercises.

I started with a simple outline. The fact that it is broken is of little importance here as the eye reads it as a line anyway. Still, I tried to make the parts where the thread is on the reverse side as short as possible.

Flax thread on cotton fabric stained with printing ink

I took one of my cloths I had used to clean my printing utensils and stitched an outline in running stitch around a shape I saw in the stains. The white flax makes a nice contrast to the dark stains. I like the texture of the line and the shiftings in the stains. I like there to be a yellow one.

The flax thread I used, however, does not lend itself to stitching as it frays from repeatedly being drawn through the fabric.

Next I chose one of the simpler lines from my mark making and made something similar using backstitch.

I tried three different threads and found that the fine ones are much more sensitive to uneven stitching. I also found that the reverse side is much more interesting! This was a surprise.

Reverse side from above

For my next piece I used the same materials but tried to imitate the varied thickness of the ink mark by stitching more lines where the ink line is wider and by covering an area with stitches perpendicular to the line. (This maybe is using tone rather than line?)

Black and grey cotton thread on flannel

I think the effect would have been better if I had used black thread only. This is something different. However, I quite like the outcome. The reverse side of this does not work anymore as the grey and black stitches go across each other. I made one version where I worked from the reverse side, making the stitches from behind.

Backstitch worked in reverse

I like the texture of this. It also fills out more and actually has a difference in thickness between straight and round line.

One of my favorite pictures from the mark making unit is one in ink and graphite. I like the energetic broad ink marks in this. How can I make tapered marks in stitch?

Ink and graphite on paper

I tried using a tapered piece of ribbon sown into the fabric as if it were thread. This reminds me more of weaving than sewing and the effect turned out very different from the original in ink. The fact that the mark is partitioned lends it a different character. I stuck to the idea, though, and continued with wool and sewing thread in black and grey for the thinner marks in the ink drawing. While I worked the cut edges of the ribbon started to fray.

Ribbon, wool and cotton thread on flannel

The stitching is sloppy and the ribbon used is the wrong kind but I think this could become something. It looks a bit like a tuft of horsetail with grasses.

To translate the energy in the ink marks to stitch I have to come up with something else. This version is much too static.


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