Sunday, 16 May 2010

My Stitched Self (3)

I thought that dressing tiny Stitched Self was going to be plain sailing. I was wrong! I couldn't make up my mind what she should be wearing. It was the same frustrating dilemma I have most mornings in front of the wardrobe, but on a miniature scale.

I had an idea to make her a tiny patterned silk tunic top, and team it with a diminutive denim skirt, but I couldn't find the right fabric. I thought it would be cool to cut her top from a vintage silk scarf, but visits to all my local charity shops came up with nothing suitable and I didn't want to cut one of my own up. Buying new fabric to make clothes with just felt like cheating, as it occurred to me that I wouldn't actually own the same top (or anything in that fabric) in real life, so it just didn't seem appropriate. It all became rather obsessional!

But then I had a brain wave - how about I make a copy of one of my own dresses, and make the fabric for it too? So that's what I did. I photographed my trusty and much worn purple toadstool dress, worked on the shot in Photoshop, then printed the image onto a sheet of printer cotton. When the fabric was dry, I cut the pieces for the tiny dress, setting in the sleeves was very fiddly work. I finished by edging the neckline in lavender coloured ribbon and, finally, Stitched Self has some clothes!

The idea for the knitted Uggs came way before the dress as I had some bits of an old brown sweater lying on my desk from another project. I only wear my knitted Uggs indoors (I just never understood the idea of woolly footwear outdoors where it's invariably wet!) Stitched Self, however, will be heading off to London in hers very soon!
Does she look like me?
Stitched Self is not too sure...

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

My Stitched Self (2)

Tiny Stitched Self now has a face and hair! She is still as naked as the day she, but now she looks like a real doll instead of an artists mannequin.
I was determined not to simply use wool or embroidery thread as hair, sadly my real life hair just isn't that bouncy and mane-like. And so, I cut brown satin and organza ribbons into small petal-shaped pieces and sewed them in an overlapping fashion until I had created the long bob shape my real life hair is in. A lot of my work is about texture rather than colour, so I'm pleased to have a similar technique in part of my Stitched Self - the effect created by the overlapping ribbons -plus I added some strands of embroidery floss here and there, tacked down with cotton to keep them in place.

From my last post you will see that her poor little face was very plain indeed, it put me in mind of a fencing mask. I felt it needed some subtle sculpting to give it some definition and features so I used a few little stitches, pulled tight, here and there to create something of a nose and mouth - not easy at this size! Then it was time to sew on her Coraline inspired black button eyes, the tiniest I could find at just 5mm. A few pink stitches for a mouth, and - she lives! Albeit with a vaguely amused expression. I suppose I should get her dressed now!

Monday, 3 May 2010

My Stitched Self (1)

Stitch London announced an interesting experiment in stitchery the other day. There is to be an exhibit at the Science Museum in London this summer to commemorate the re-opening of their 'Who Am I?' gallery, and all are invited to make a tiny sewn version of themselves. The collection of models will go on display from the 30th June. You can either knit or sew your Stitched Self and patterns for 'blank bodies', plus the rest of the details, are available here. Exciting Stuff!

Challenges of this kind make my head buzz, and I knew instantly I had to do something Coraline inspired. I also knew I didn't just want to do a 'flat' doll and knitting or crocheting a 3d one from the patterns was out of the question. So, I started to draw up pattern pieces for my tiny self. It was only then I realised how very tiny the Stitched Selves had to be! Approx 15cm (6 inches) tall, which really makes for the smallest doll I've ever sewn. For something of this size all the seams need to be on the outside. It was quite a task to make everything as neat as possible and I used a pale biege embroidery silk to give smoother stitches. To make things even harder, I used the cotton lining fabric from a pair of vintage 1970's curtains for my 'flesh', which I thought was very apt, but it frays like mad. However, this all adds to the weird, slightly disheveled, 'Miss Haversham' effect that is a trademark of so much of my work, and has turned out to be highly suitable for making creepy voodoo effigies!

A few evenings later and the basic body of my Stitched Self is ready - here she is! Admittedly, she came out spookily more human than I had imagined. The exciting stuff comes next: hair, features,!!

Naked, featureless, tiny me.

Scenes from Dr Frankenstitches workshop.
Below, I had to use a cocktail stick to stuff the legs!

Amongst cotton reels and pins for scale.