For centuries women have used cloth as a tool of comfort and as an expression of beauty within their homes. Creating cloth for warmth, cloth for shelter, our female predecessors embellished these linens with hand stitch using laborious and time consuming techniques thereby enhancing the functional beauty of objects which enveloped and protected their families. Inspired by these women I hope my creations pay tribute to and recognise the devotion expressed in cloth by our female ancestors .







''the use of traditional often time consuming process alludes to the devotion of a mother''. c K. A. Ruane 2007







Sunday, January 17, 2010

phew!!

The relief is because I managed to damp stretch and take half decent pictures, more on that later. For the moment I give you this, what is it? I don't know, a sample, the start of something bigger, pass....It's purpose initially was to provide a means for me to remain productive whilst my brain ticked on all the decisions I needed to make. It didn't work. Well it worked in so far as I have produced something but I am no nearer making any decisions. Anyhow, here it is, different yet the same. Same techniques, same stitches but different because I have used linen ticking behind my cutwork. The deep red gives it something and it was hard to find contrasting colours for the embroidery but I think these are o.k. What do you think? Not too bad? As for everything else........well I need a kick start, a boot up the behind. These phases aren't unusual as I'm sure you know but they are mightily frustrating I can tell you.


now for the big damp stretch reveal......... are we all sitting comfortably? Right I shall begin. I do have a huge damp stretching board that takes up my whole floor but for smaller things I have a simple cork bath mat and that's what I am using here. I tend to use the pins you can buy for a notice board, like the ones here. You can use normal drawing pins but I panic that they may give off a bit of rust or something so I try and steer clear of them allthough when I have used them in the past they have been fine, just don't want to tempt fate. I made this little sample ages ago and it has already been stretched once so I have crumpled it a little purely for demonstration purposes. (here's one I prepared earlier) Probably only British readers will get that little quip!

Now bear in mind that I don't claim to be an expert and this is MY WAY of damp stretching. There may be people out there who think ''oh that's not the right way according to such and such'' but this way works for me so I am happy. I always start at the horizontal edge, in the middle, pin the bottom then stretch the cloth slightly pulling it upwards before pinning the top. Then I work from the centre outwards, one pin to the left and one to the right and on and on until I have pinned both horizontal edges.


here you can see both those edges pinned and the taughtness this has caused.

then it is exactly the same process for the vertical edges. Always start at the centre and work outwards to the edge.



when it is pinned out and I am happy that there are no wrinkles or creases in it I spray it with a fine mist of water, I don't soak it just damp it. For that I use a plant mister, very cheap and available from lots of places, even supermarkets. One important thing to say though, this piece has minimal pins placed quite far apart. On some pieces it will be necessary to use twice this many pins, very close together. It really depends on how ruched the cloth is and this usually depends on how densely embroidered it is, your own stitching tension etc. I have damp stretched pieces that have had so many pins to pull out the wrinkles that the edge of the cloth is not visible at all.
and here it is, damp stretched and wrinkle free.
what a relief that I have finally done that. I will never have to show you again! It will be here for all time if you need to look again.
I am hoping that this week brings a lifting of the fog surrounding my brain and that I make good progress, find some focus and much needed purpose. Keep your fingers crossed for me.......

25 comments:

Cerejeira said...

Thanks for the pics on damp streching!!!
For a long time I just wondered what was all about.
Yes I do the same way but never manage to get the same efect as you.
Well done.

Jackie said...

If thats the way you do then thats the way to do it. You are the champion dampstretcher extraordinaire so I'll go with you.

Miss 376 said...

Very informative, thank you. The stitching looks good too, as alway

Kaye Turner said...

Thank you! The damp stretching is kind of similar to blocking a piece of knitting. And yes, drawing pins DO rust - the voice of experience speaking there. And finally, the ticking behind the cutwork looks really effective.

méri said...

Are you asking me what I think about your embroidery???
Of course you know I don't like it!LOL!!! as usual :)

Many thanks for your advice on damp stretching - I only am not sure what are drawing pins, those we use in sewing works?

Anonymous said...

Aha! Now I know how you do damp stretching. Thanks.

Also, You asked for opinions so I'll give mine: Not too fond of the ticking behind the wonderful embroidered piece. The ticking stripes going off in odd directions distract my eye. Now you know how much I love your work so I'm giving my humble critique just because you asked.

Jacky said...

Ah ha! Thanks for the little tutorial, now I will know what you mean when you have damp stretched a piece.
Love the peeps of red and white ticking peeping through your latest piece.

Thanks,

Jacky xox

Trekky said...

Thanks for sharing your secret! Your work always looks soooo profesionally finished.

MarieE said...

Thanks so much Karen! I think the clincher was before I wasn't sure whether the piece was damp before or after it was pinned. Now I know! I'll have to give it a try.
Next question is- how many hours do you spend stitching every day? You seem so prolific!

Swirlyarts said...

Stupid question but I'm assuming that you damp stretch rather than iron as ironing would 'squash' the raised bits? As I say stupid question :)

CJ Stitching and Blooms said...

Hello Karen, thanks for the stretching tutorial. Much appreciated. Do you just use water or do you add a bit of starch with it too? Hugs Judy

sparkle jars said...

Thank you for sharing the tutorial on stretching. It's a wonderful tutorial.
I've said it before...I am in awe of your work. I wish I had a book full of all of your beautiful photos.

Marie said...

Thank you for sharing how to do this.
I have learned something new and will use this technique when needed.
As always, lovely stitching! The flower is so much fun! : )

Tiphaine said...

I just fall in love with your work...It is so beautiful...

Marian said...

Thanks for the damp stretching tutorial - I found that very helpful....and not an iron in sight.

Hotter Than... said...

Loved the damp stretching tutorial and the "sample" piece at the start is gorgeous. I love that red - it has a striking quality without being over-powering. It works really well with the other colours you've used in the stitching.

Clever you.

A said...

Forgive me for asking, as i am a novice, but do you use damp stretching just for photos, or is it a technique you use to stretch your piece on frame, much like stretching a canvas? thanks!

changelingthings said...

Thanks so much for this damp stretching tut. I honestly didn't know about it - though it makes sense, especially since I "block" all my knitting in a similar way. All the embroidery books i have talk about ironing the embroidery into a towel so that you don't crush it. I'm going to try the damp stretching from now on though!

Silver Sisters said...

Karen!
Thank you so much for the tutorial! I just finished damp stretching my first piece and wow. what a difference. I really appreciate you putting the time in to make us all this tutorial.

Tammie Lee said...

This is wonderful to see. You make it so simple and I have enjoyed taking in the beauty of your art!

Emmy said...

I always wonderd how you get no wrinkels now I know
Thank you so much

Joey's Dream Garden said...

thank you, that's fabulous! I didn't know about damp stretching, but now I do! Isn't it strange, in embroidery books they tend not to tell you helpful tips like this... hurrah for the internet! :D
Oh and I think, that if a method works then it must be the right way. :-)

Postcards from Wildwood said...

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I know you already showed me your flickr photos about doing this but I didn't understand what you pin TO. Since you have said in the past you can't walk about the room because of all your work being damp stretched on the floor I had this idea you hacked pins into the floorboards!!! Now I understand, and I shall get a cork bathmat! I have lots of pieces of canvaswork and the like that need damp stretching to regain their shape after all that one-way stitching. Thanks again Karen, this is the stuff that is often left out of embroidery books.
Janice.

FredaB said...

Thanks for the tutorial for damp stretching. I had read where you mention it quite a few times and wasn't sure exactly what you meant. Now I do.

Never seen a cork bathmat but if I ask maybe they will have them. Otherwise maybe just a cork board would work.

Your work is justso peaceful and beautiful to look at. You are a master.

Diane said...

Wonderful info, Karen. And I am constantly amazed by your intricate stitchery. The stitches inside each of these petals - each one different - I'm mesmerized. I just want to keep staring and absorbing!

Thank you!
Diane