Technical Block: Stitch

Today we started our first technical block rotation off in Stitch. By this time, with the rough guide project and drawing I was really ready to get going and start making. The stitch pathway is extremely intriguing to me as I saw the degree show last year and was amazed by the variety and expansive areas of material exploration that the work showcased.

Aimee began by inducting our group onto the sewing machines. The stitch room is incredible and so inspiring with all the walls covered in sample experiments that only demonstrate to me further,  how diverse the stitch pathway is. Not only was it helpful to be shown the in and outs of these specific machines but also to explore the possibilities of stitches that I had never been aware of on my own machine at home, such as curved lines and irregular zigzags. Playing with tension and stitch width also came into practice here and helped to create some exciting variations. We were also shown how to adjust the settings on the machine to allow for free movement stitching which I had already done previously. I love being able to draw with the threads and combine different colours together for a textured surface. Aimee demonstrated a few techniques that moved further from the simple stitches, using the bobbin to add thicker embroidery threads. The effects she was able to achieve were intricate, visually compelling and surprising as when working in this way you are essentially working backwards, with the back of the work then becoming the front. In a similar way she also wound shirring elastic into the bobbin and with the fabric stretched as tight as possible began free machine stitching. When she released the work from the hoop the elastic contracted and the material immediately became more 3d and textured.

For the second half of the day we were with Isabel, the tutor of the pathway,  who demonstrated how to translate drawings into process. It was so amazing to see how fluid the process was within her mind and what she was able to express with such few materials and supplies. This brought me back to the TED lecture, thinking about sustainability of materials and the designers responsibility to respond to the changing world. She looked at each of our drawings and focusing on a subtle mark or quality improvised an exciting and dynamic technique. I particularly like the comment she made comparing the combination of techniques to recipes and being able to experiment to make up her own. Isabel also showed us images of previous work and opened us up to the idea that the stitch pathway is  very mixed media and goes into much more depth than just simply working with the sewing machine. It was even possible for the work to end up not using the machines at all! This really enticed me and made me consider the possibility of Stitch as my chosen pathway as it immediately appeals to the ways I like to create.  However I am always keeping an open mind and trying not to think too far ahead, but instead relish the experience now.

We were briefed for tomorrow, to source materials to begin sampling and were told to only buy a few fabrics. Although I had some supplies tucked away in my room, Isabel said we should buy new materials as making these choices responding to our visual imagery was part of the process. This was very thought provoking for me as I am always conscious about pushing myself to develop new ideas and possibilities. By using unfamiliar materials I can discover new ways of working and explore the possibilities in depth without being stunted by the conclusions I had already come to of a particular material. I am really looking forward to seeing what I can get, and how the fabrics will influence the direction of my material and stitch exploration.

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