Monday, January 28, 2008

Chutes and Ladders

Yes the game! I've played this with my fair share of three and four-year-olds, but I sure didn't intend to play it with my work. Here's how I almost got to the finish line. I hopped out of bed at 5:30 AM yesterday and started working on samples immediately. I had gone to bed with some stitching ideas and woke up with another one, so I whipped up some little fabric sandwiches to experiment. I knew I wanted to work with black, cream and grey threads.

Idea #1 (bottom right square) was to use free motion or decorative machine embroidery stitches to outline each square and then free motion stitch down each element within the squares, black on white and white on black. I also tried variegated thread through the black and black thread on the cream ground (top two squares). Idea #3 was a variation on this (above) where I considered stitching horizontally across all the cream colored squares and vertically through the black ones. Idea #4 would run horizontal rows of stitching all across the surface about a half inch apart. You can see this one on the bottom half of the second sample below. Idea #5 would stitch one-inch rows horizontally and then vertically to repeat the square shape with a small grid over the larger one formed by the pieced squares.

After considering my options, I chose stitching 1/2" parallel horizontal lines across the surface. Since it's a wide surface, I marked the edges with a ruler, put on the walking foot and started stitching 1" rows, turning the whole piece after each row to minimize distortion and pressing pressing PRESSING every few rows, checking to make sure there were no ripples or wrinkles. Yikes my aching shoulders by the end of the day but victory, I completed all the 1" lines. (This is the part where I think I'm about to win the game, and all I have left to do is stitch more lines between each 1" line so they're 1/2" apart. Piece of cake, right?)

I jump out of bed early again this morning, determined to finish the stitching and I DO. I go to iron the black cotton backing one last time and now the sun is shining through my window and in the beautiful sunshine I suddenly see that I have ironed down two rows with noticeable puckers that ironed down into folds on the backing about 20 rows in from one end. Bad chute, bad bad chute. I try to rationalize how I can leave it the way it is, that no one will ever notice. But alas, I will -- so I am pulling out rows of stitching until I can iron out the wrinkles and resew the lines so that I get a perfectly flat back. So be it.

In the silver lining department, I'm pleased with my stitching choice. These parallel lines are reminiscent of the lines on ruled paper and I find them very soothing and pleasing. Make me want to add some hand stitching.

Luckily, I have a DVD to watch while I rip out rows of stitching. I love Indy and foreign films. Since I'll have to resew these lines tonight, the letter forms and adding the darker value reds will have to wait until tomorrow, but then I'll be on the home stretch. Hopefully all ladders ahead and no more landing on the chutes for this big gamer!

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