Boutis: The Straight and Narrow of Silk
Cell Phone Pouch
On the learning curve once again.
As with any type of hand stitching like embroidery or quilting, (or machine stitching for that matter), precision and accuracy are key to a presentable product. Being familiar with silk fabrics from machine quilting and from sewing clothes in a former stitching life, when I started this little boutis pouch on dupioni silk, I was not at all concerned or intimidated by the fact that I was working on silk.
Around the central motif, where all the channels are rounded, the stitching was fairly straightforward and presented no unsual circumstances.
|The above photo is of the front flap of the little phone pouch, where the rose window motif is stitched with a back stitch.|
However, once off of the central motif and onto the body of the pouch, where all of the lines and channels are straight, two things became apparent very quickly.
First: When working with silk, appropriate lighting is crucial. With insufficient light, the lines become muddy and seem to run into each other. When there is too much direct light, or misdirected light, it creates a glare that makes the line disappear entirely. Both were a serious hindrance to me, since most of my hand stitching is done in the evening when artificial light is the only option.
The next two photos both show what happened because I could not see the stitching lines clearly enough. The starting point and stopping point of the lines, especially the short diagonal lines in the pattern to the right and left of the centre vertical channels, almost disappeared. (The pattern is called "points de vauvert". I will be more specific about the stitches I used in this piece in my next blog on boutis). As I was stitching these lines, they all seemed to run into each other.
As I just mentioned above, the second problem was the pen that I used for marking. Although generally I have great success using the water erasable blue marking pen, in this case it was a huge mistake. Because the pen bled dreadfully on the silk, it created a sloppy line that was much too wide to follow with precision, and where the starting points and stopping points were approximate. The result was indecisive and sloppy stitches.
|This is the back side of the rose window motif. You can see how the marker even bled through to the back in some spots.|
|The blue marking pen created messy inaccurate lines throughout the piece.|
My next project on silk is a needle-fold envelope. Two things will change at the outset. In France, I have an excellent lamp with a magnifying lens, specifically designed for hand work. I have ordered the same lamp for myself here in Vancouver, but it is taking it's sweet time in arriving. And secondly, I will audition different marking methods to find one that creates a more visible and more precise line. In the meantime, I have a few other smaller boutis projects on cotton ready to stitch (see my post of Jan.18, 2014) that will keep me gainfully and happily occupied. I'll post updates of todays project as the cording progresses.