Monday, February 22, 2010

Sampling for hanging

Carrying on from the last post, I am finally catching up with myself. In between the first day's playing and posting to my blog last week, I decided to explore getting the whole image digitally printed onto one length of fabric by a commercial printer. When I looked into how to do this I was slightly hampered by not having Photoshop which is what is generally used, so I decided to try using Spoonflower. They print short runs and can work from a JPEG, and although the choice of fabrics is limited, their site is very easy to use and there is plenty of community support, with advice on colour matching. Easy for a novice to try!

I had scanned the image at 600dpi so when I enlarged it to full size, it reduced to 150dpi which is what Spoonflower uses. This is quite a low resolution but as there is no really fine detail in the image, it shouldn't matter. As it is, the file is huge so my computer finds it hard work to handle. I uploaded the file and ordered a fat quarter printed on quilting weight cotton as a sample. As the pattern is 3m long, this is just a small piece from the bottom, but at full width (37cm). Photo 1 shows how I have started stitching into the sample, following the swirls. The colour in this picture is fairly close to life.

Photo 1

I spent some time stitching over the weekend - mostly while hanging around at daughters' dance classes on Saturday -and today started thinking about how to make the curved lines in the earlier sketches that represent navigational instruments. Photos 2 and 3 show the sample with various metallic ribbons and wires laid across it to see the effect. I think it will need to be something very bold and with a reflective surface or the hanging will blend into nothing against grey stone walls.

Photo 2
Above - left to right - Copper wired ribbon, gold/orange wired ribbon, lurex ribbon
Below - left to right - Fine tubular knitted wire, narrow gold cord (could be braided?), heavier knitted wire.
Photo 3

None of these are right but from the point of view of showing boldly, the lurex is closest (but ugly) followed by the heavier tubular wire (too narrow and wrong colour). Really, I would prefer a brass or copper colour rather than gold, and I need to see how to vary the effect. In the sketch, the circular segments are solid at the bottom and become lighter towards the top, as does the background.

Now to practical details. I am stitching the sample (which tries out various threads and stitches so is quite random at the moment) on the printed cotton backed with cream cotton. I have a small offcut, so I think I will try with a different backing - perhaps black felt - as a) the stitching is quite heavy and b) white shows through the needle holes. The printed cotton is quite unforgiving of unpicking as it leaves a trail of white holes behind, so I think a dark fabric behind will help. After stitching, the hanging will be backed with a plain toning fabric and the edges turned in. To prevent sagging, I will machine through the layers unobtrusively, eg by going around the edges of the curved lines, and may need to weight the bottom edge. It will hang from a rod at the top either through a hanging sleeve or tabs - I think this will be decided when I have seen the whole thing and depends on what kind of rod. Old brass would be in keeping with the theme. I forgot to mention before that as the image is so narrow, if a length of fabric is printed, it will be repeated across the width, so I will have plenty left over for making mistakes - sorry, more samples.


ferinn said...

You've made a lot of progress.I like the copper colour against your blues.Could you use metallic organza in part with edges cut with soldering iron for the overlaying structure?

Heather said...

Digital printing is foreign territory to me but I love the way your design is evolving. The stitching is lovely and copper on blue is always good.