Thursday 12 March 2020

2020 #5 Mark Making: Slow Stitch with ETS {by Keren Baker}

2020 Topic 5: Mark Making

Hi everyone, it's Keren with you today, and I'd like to share with you an experiment of two halves using bleach to make marks plus some wonderful freeing slow stitching.

For a while I've wanted to use PaperArtsy stencils and bleach on denim. I have loads of denim pieces ready to upcycle and had a sewing project in mind. It didn't work at all, for reasons that I'll share shortly, but I thought I'd begin by showing the set-up in case you fancy trying out the same technique.

Things to note are the mug of bleach ( and eventually bleach solution) in a bowl so if it did spill, it went into the bowl. My plan was to use the rubber end of a pencil to make my marks using the Tracy Scott stencil PS159

Here's my finished frame, and I'll share a bit about how I ended up creating it and the thought process behind it.

The whole denim dyeing thing was a complete failure. After 2 attempts where the neat bleach had absolutely no effect on the denim pieces I did a little research and it turns out that just like ordinary dyeing, you need a high cotton percentage in the fabric. The synthetic element increasingly in jeans such as elastane, is a hindrance to the bleach. I could have probably found a mostly cotton piece, but by that point (with deadline dates looming ;-) ) I grabbed some dark teal fabric that I knew was all cotton and started the bleaching.

You can see the strength of the bleach. I wanted a more subtle effect but when making so many small marks, I couldn't stop the bleaching process with a vinegar solution without impacting the next layer of bleach marks. I began by doing a 50/50 bleach/water solution and decided to change up the application tool. I needed something larger.

So I had my blending tool to hand and using a new sponge, I daubed through the stencil, having wiped a little of the solution off on the side of the mug first.

On the next photo you can see the bleach beginning to react with the cotton. This is the fun part; you have to decide when to stop the process. I sprayed the area with the vinegar solution (50/50 vinegar/water) as I moved down the fabric. Do it in a well ventilated area too!
Once you're happy with the bleaching, chuck it into the washing machine or in a bowl of hot soapy water. Wash it well.Once dry, I had to work out what to do next as my original plan had been wiped out.

I popped it into an embroidery frame and found some brighter embroidery threads than I'd originally considered. You can see that the bleaching process went lighter really quickly. Speed is of the essence in this technique, and forget about control- it's more in control than you are!!

The next part was so joyful. I love stitching but tend to have more structure and use the sewing machine a lot. Paring it all back and having no plan but making marks instinctively was a freeing experience. Choosing different sized stitches and colours adds to the texture. I had initially planned to stamp more of Tracy Scott's minis onto the piece but felt it would have looked cluttered. Maybe I have 'layeritis' or something! 

Sewing a running stitch, backstitch and French Knots built up the feel of the piece. 'Slow stitching' is currently so popular- the idea of hand stitching or embroidery and taking your time. Being present and engaged with your piece. 

After using some areas to focus my stitches onto, I wanted to add one of Tracy Scott's insects to the sewing. Her ETS27 set was just perfect.

I had already added interfacing onto the plain fabric before I stamped on it. I do find using a stamping platform great for fabric as you get a much stronger image. As I was considering my bee, I thought about its flight amongst the flowers and how they often pick up pollen on their legs. The French Knots gave the look of leftover pollen!

I added knots everywhere linking the 'pollen' and giving movement to the design. Making marks had never been so much fun!

I did have plans to make a little zipped pouch with this piece, but it looked so at home inside the frame, that I trimmed the excess off the back and now have a lovely vibrant piece to hang on my wall!

I thoroughly recommend both the bleaching and slow stitching. I loved how by using different marks you could echo the fur on the bee or the 'pollen' french knots. Making marks with a product that creates a reaction is a great experiment as you just don't know what you'll end up with. Planning the final look will give you the clues to what sort of marks you need to make. I did struggle a little with not being to control the process, but it's good for me to let go a little! I am definitely trying it out with a fully cotton piece of denim and can't wait to see the contrast in colours. Do have a go at slow stitching, apart from its relaxing nature, you end up with a real organic result. 

Keren xx

Instagram: @craftstampink
Pinterest: @craftstampink


Miriam said...

This is amazing! Great experiment.

PaperArtsy said...

Glad you figured out that bleach trick and the stitching looks fab!!!

Jinnie said...

Bleaching is a great technique to use. The only problem is that bleach and vinegar should never be mixed, as they can create toxic chlorine gas. There are products that can be used to neutralize bleach that are used in pools, but I'm not sure what they are. I've used Decolorant on fabrics rather as it is less hazardous.

Keren Baker said...

Thank you for that info-I’ll see if I can edit what I’ve written x

Etsuko said...

So lovely project Keren, idea is great. xx

Lisa Hoel said...

this is so cool!! Thanks for all the how-to!

A Pink said...

Such inspiring Creativity , Keren and what a fabulous piece of 'art on the round '. Love the effects of the stencil blleaching with both the end of the pencil and the blending foam and the colourful hand stitching ( mark making ) is so 'darn' ( see what I did there ;) ) cool . You are on very creative lady . Tfs, delighting and inspiring

Lucy Edmondson said...

So clever, Keren!x