sewing secrets

Secrets sewn and sealed

The penultimate parcel arrived from T this week. This enabled me to collate and complete half of the 12 book edition. When viewed as a set the bias-binding belly bands effectively reflect the coloured band at the top of each pattern envelope, although interestingly, this wasn’t apparent when we made the decision.

Drawing upon the framework of collaboration we established throughout the original Meeting in the Middle project, we have achieved the completion of 6 books 8 days ahead of the deadline.  Integral to this process has been a well structured, but realistic schedule which acknowledges both our separate work commitments and distance apart.  In response to this, we identify with standpoints made by Gates, Kettle and Webb and Ravetz within Collaboration Through Craft (2013) and value the importance of negotiation and shared making to increase productivity.  Time spent on the co-ordination of meetings has enabled effective decision making and opportunities to talk through any difficulties together.

The creative practice undertaken within this project has offered opportunities to build upon the approaches to visual communication begun within Meeting in the Middle with autonomy alongside being mindful of each others input so that an overlapping of knowledge and skills is developing.  A shared focus to making work and sense of responsibility to meeting deadlines is very much supported by shared interests within the production of artwork.  We have begun to reflect upon this practice in preparation for next projects.


A testing time!

Despite the 103 miles that divide us, smart phone technology enables us to send and receive images and messages, and subsequently make decisions, almost instantaneously. Starting at 09.49 today, here is a visual journey of a conversation that took place regarding the ‘container’ of the book; it was accompanied by 24 messages and concluded at 10.40am. It resulted in us resolving the final problem. Each element within the 10 photos was made as an immediate response to our discussion, and sent within the 51 minutes of the conversation.


The following emojis supported our conversation 😬☺️👍🏼😬😂😂😬👍🏼😀 !

Positive postings

Another Facetime meeting enabled us to discuss and make decisions regarding a few of the unresolved elements of the project, namely the addition of the bias-binding and how we can attach it effectively and easily, the making of the bag versus belly-band to contain the book and the inclusion of teachers names. We have two weeks until our BABE deadline, so once we have completed some further tests, we will base our decisions on what we can achieve in the time available.
p buttons

The working methodology that we have adopted to develop this project has proved to be highly effective, especially in relation to time management and division of tasks. We have worked to each other’s strengths and the method of sending work backwards and forwards, apart from a slight postal hitch(!), has kept the project moving at a steady pace. The process of receiving the project without knowing fully what to expect, and then adding to it, and returning it has been one of the unexpected pleasures of this project.

Typing times two

Having both completed our individual creative contribution to the project, the next stage is joint production. Having divided the cards equally, we are now beginning the typing element. This is a relatively laborious procedure as we have (foolishly) decided to type all 144 cards rather than photocopy from a master! Developing a range of decorative patterns to represent each of the stories has given us a minor creative outlet within what is a lengthy process – this is sometimes made more arduous by typewriter malfunctions or waiting for the Tippex to dry on the typing errors! Despite the nature of the process it does offer a certain sense of achievement and means that the project is running to schedule.

Over printing

Following the arrival of the images from T, I was keen to get into the print-room as quickly as possible to keep the momentum of the project going. The images look great in ‘real life’ and the stitched elements are particularly effective.
Using some of T’s ‘title’ ideas plus some of my own I was able to plan two or three pages at a time, printing in colour batches, so that I didn’t have to keep cleaning the printing press!
The page size is quite restrictive and means that only certain type could be considered for use. I used two wood-type fonts and two hot metal fonts in various combinations and
followed T’s lead, using predominately red and blue ink, to match her thread colours, plus pink. The image placement on each cover also dictated the size and positioning of the type, but this was an interesting challenge, and by day two I started to introduce decorative elements to accompany the text matter.

Twelve x Two

Having made twelve backgrounds by photocopying found found surfaces onto cartridge paper, I have produced a second layer  of shapes using machine stitch onto tracing paper.  Exploring the linear quality of machine stitch I have made use of red and blue thread to reference sewing markings used in dress making. These second layers will be photocopied onto the first layer prior to letterpress text being added by P.

Photocopying the tracing paper stitched patterns onto the cartridge paper first backgrounds worked well.  Slight adjustments were made in the printing to heighten the colour of the thread by using the colour management settings and two backgrounds were amended to lighten the tone of the first background in order for  the machine stitched line to be seen clearly.

Shared Decision Making

The need to postpone an arranged making day due to work commitments resulted in  FaceTime decision making this morning.  Swift decisions were made within the limited  time frame in order to move the project forward around the illustrations and text.  Determining the order of production led to jobs being shared between us  in order to construct the book within the given deadline.

Both P and I are keen to build on the style of working we established during Meeting in the Middle and share the production of  both text and image.  This is being realised by P adding letterpress text on top of initial backgrounds and both of us typing the selected stories. Both of us will use a blue ribbon and decorative elements in order to draw upon sewing conventions seen in dressmaking patterns.

Whilst I finish the backgrounds, P will edit each story and produce a template to work to.  P will then add letterpress text whilst I construct new backgrounds for additional individual stories.  Each of us will have 2 weeks to type the stories and add any final embellishment which is still to be decided but may include stitched details and bias binding trims.

Following the FaceTime conversation, my first job is to send P the sewing story I am contributing to the book.  Reflecting upon my first sewing projects at secondary school led me to old school reports and reading around Needlecraft and Housecraft education in the 1970’s.




Sharing, planning, resolving


img_5705 cottons threads

Having individually explored different aspects of Sewing Secrets through the design process, we had reached a point where we needed to share and confirm thoughts and ideas. Facetime is an immediate and effective medium, and in this instance it enabled us to verify the number of stories for the book; by discussing the merits of each one we agreed to a total of 12. I am now able to start stitching and progressing the envelopes in time for our next making day. We also resolved thread colours (any colour referenced within the 12 stories has given us our colour palette), choice of typewriter ribbon and discussed T’s image-making and production details – and all within an hour!

Found surfaces, fabrics and imagery

Drawing upon working methods developed in our last project, I have begun to gather a collection of found surfaces, fabrics and imagery to illustrate the stories we have been given.  Original garments have been photocopied to be used as backgrounds to linear outlines of overlapping pattern pieces, hand stitching and embellishment.  I have begun to group the donated stories in order to find links between them to inform the illustrations.  I am interested in making use of the language found within dress making patterns and school text books alongside sewing conventions such as notches, centre lines and stitch lines and objects connected with sewing and stitch.  I plan to explore the use of a machine stitch outline to draw objects and hand stitching to embellish each page on bias binding  which could be added to the edge of the illustrations.